This Is What’s Powering The 3DS’ Graphics

By Ishaan . June 21, 2010 . 1:14pm


And so, we finally know who’s providing the graphics chip for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s a Tokyo-based firm by the name of Digital Media Professionals, founded by a professor of the Hosei University. On the board of directors of the company is Shinichi Okamoto, an ex-Sony executive who spearheaded development of the PlayStation 2.


DMP are providing Nintendo with the PICA200 GPU chip, first developed in 2006, which is what’s under the hood of the 3DS. The company are advertising features such as per-pixel lighting, procedural texturing, refraction-mapping and anti-aliasing. The tech demo above represents what visual output through the chip looks like when every resource is being channeled toward it, sans any coding or artificial intelligence. Naturally, 3DS games won’t look as great.


Coming from multiple sources, we also have a breakdown and comparison of 3DS specs to those of the PSP. Please note that these specs, being incomplete, do not give you an entirely accurate idea of what the Nintendo 3DS is really capable of. The latter is something only time and the nature of games will tell.


Nintendo 3DS PSP
GPU DMP Pica 200 @ 400 MHz Proprietary
chip by Sony
Resolution Top screen: 400×240 px

(effectively 800×240 px for 3D games, since you render the scene twice)

Bottom screen: 320×240 px

(effective total: 1120×240 px)

480×272 px
Fillrate Maximum of 800 Million @ 200MHz* 664 Million
Vertex Performance Maximum of 15.3 Million triangles per-second @ 200MHz* 33 Million triangles per-second
* Can be clocked to a maximum of 400 MHz, effectively doubling fillrate and vertex performance. A hardware test at HCW reckons this will likely be the case.


Once again, the above data is incomplete, and without further details — including whether or not Nintendo have modified the chip — it’s impossible to accurately judge 3DS performance. As far as having a visual representation goes, at this point, we’d recommend Kid Icarus: Uprising as the only accurate representation of what first-generation 3DS games will look like.

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  • Makes me wonder what NVIDIA Tegra 2 would’ve done for them. Honestly, this really isn’t that much better of a chip than the PSP is currently. I also read somewhere that the PSP2 was going to boast an 800×480 resolution if and when it came out.

    Although, I don’t think we should really be looking towards hardware specifics too much but, still, it’s not much better than the five-year-old Sony console minus the 3D aspect.

    By the by, the Sony GPU is a 166MHz chip with 2 megs of VRAM. Although, its main CPU runs at 333MHz (222MHz before the 3.50 upgrade) w/ 32MB main RAM and 4MB DRAM embedded total. May give you a reason why the GPU benches are so close based on the CPU/RAM totals regardless of Sony having not even half the processing clock on their PSP.

    • “Makes me wonder what NVIDIA Tegra 2 would’ve done for them.”

      It would have sucked that battery of– er, DRY!

  • make a range in the chart with the power that it can vary through as the 2008 pica200 generation has much better specs then that of the pica200 2006 model which is on the chart

  • jarrodand

    The chart quoted uses outdated information btw. Another sourced PDF from 2008 has shown the PICA200 series chips capable of 40m verticies/sec @ 400 MHz. I’m sure DMP’s managed further improvements since.

    • I saw the newer chart at my source, but we honestly can’t say what Nintendo plan to clock this thing at, which is why I put a little note there, mentioning the updated clockspeed at 400 MHz. Don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about these being the “final” specs.

      Rest assured, we’ll keep track of this story and update it once we have more solid info. :)

  • MrRobbyM

    Too bad the resolution isn’t that good.

  • malek86

    I don’t think Nintendo will increase the clock. If anything, they might actually decrease it. That’s what usually happens in portable devices, in order to save battery life.

  • RAVENKam

    I’m a little disappointed with the screen resolution. Of course I’m just nitpicking given how much tech Nintendo is packing into the device. My hunch is if Sony do reveal PSP2 at TGS, they’ll try and trump the 3DS in terms of screen res and graphical performance, not that it’ll make much difference. Nintendo it seems, has already won.

  • cmurph666

    Tekken 7 Confirmed~!

  • Guest

    I kind of wish it was better than that, but if I want ULTRA GRAPHICS I’ll go for PSP2 instead if/when that comes out…if I ever bother getting it in the first place that is. After hearing about Gundam Extreme vs, and the fact that it’s very likely to see a PS3 port from the arcade, I’ve no reason to play my PSP for my Gundam vs Gundam NEXT Plus after extreme is released.

    Although, quite a bit of games are now coming out for PSP…but the only one I was even remotely interested in was Birth by Sleep, and now after all the hype is gone and after hearing about too many spinoffs, I don’t think I’m gonna bother.

  • kylehyde

    Well we have to wait for more detials about the clockspeed and what model nintendo could use.

    Also, the DS was a great handheld (my favorite at the moment) and even it didn’t have a GPU in first place.

  • Chow

    The music in that trailer sounded like Terminator 1, except without the actual main melody playing.

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