Nintendo 3DS

This Is What’s Powering The 3DS’ Graphics



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.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.