Sega Saturn

The black sega saturn console


The Sega Saturn was Sega’s first true 32 bit offering Released in Japan in 1994 with success. However when released in other territories later in 1995, the Sega Saturn did not fare as well. Partially do to the pricing structure, as it retailed over $100 dollars more than the Sony Playstation and a poor selection of launch titles.  Overall the Saturn managed to go on to sell a total of 9.4 million units worldwide.


Saturns Cpu board



The Sega Saturn had impressive hardware at the time of its release, but its design, with two CPUs and six other processors, made harnessing this power extremely difficult for developers used to conventional programming. Combined with a lack of development tools this resulted in a poor selection of third party titles.

Unlike the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 which used triangles as its basic geometric primitive, the Sega Saturn rendered quadrilaterals with forward texture mapping, similar to the 3DO. This proved to be a hindrance because most of the industry’s standard design tools were based on triangles, with independent texture UV coordinates specified per vertex. One of the challenges brought forth by quadrilateral-based rendering was problems textured surfaces containing triangles. In order to make a triangular shaped object, rendering had a fourth side with a length of zero. This technique proved problematic as it caused texture distortion and required careful reworking to achieve the desired appearance – Sega provided tools for remapping textures from UV space into rectangular tiles. These complications can be seen in the Sega Saturn version of Tomb Raider, in which triangular rocks are not rendered as well as other systems’ versions of the game.


A stack of black and gray sega saturns






  • Two SH-2 32-bit RISC at 28.63Mhz
  • One SH-1 32-bit RISC
  • Two Custom VDP’s at 6.7MHz
  • Motorola 68EC000 at 11.3MHz
  • Hitachi 4-bit MCU


VDP-1 Video Display Processor Operations

  • Maximum Colors on Screen: 32768 (15 bit High Color)
  • Sprite, Polygon, Geometry System
  • 200,000 Texture Mapped Polygons Per-Second
  • 500,000 Flat Shaded Polygons Per-Second
  • Texture Mapping
  • Gouraud Shading
  • Two 256KB Frame Buffers
  • 512KB Texture Cache

VDP-2 32-bit Background and Scrolling Operations

  • Maximum Colors on Screen: 16.7 Million (True Color)
  • 5 Scrolling Backgrounds
  • 2 Rotational Playing Fields
  • Screen Resolution: 320 x 200 – 720 x 576
  • Possible A/V Outputs: Composite, S-Video, Component (RGB)


  • Saturn Custom Sound Processing Unit
  • Yamaha FH1 24-bit DPS Sound Chip at 22.6MHz
  • 32 Sound Slots, each capable of operating as FM Synthesis operator or PCM channel
  • Sample Rate 44.1KHz
  • Embedded 128-Step Programmable Audio Effect DSP

Note: Motorola 68EC000 is used to control sound.


  • Main Memory: 1MB SDRAM (fast), 1MB DRAM (slow)
  • Video Memory (3D): 512KB Texture Cache, two 256KB Framebuffers
  • Video Memory (2D): 512KB
  • Sound Memory: 512KB
  • CD Cache Memory: 512KB


Sega Saturn Games

Sega Saturn Game Reviews





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