Nintendo will pull the wraps off Dolphin, its next-generation games console, on 24 August, and unveil a 32-bit Gameboy, the company admitted today.
Dolphin, co-developed with 3D graphics specialist ArtX - now a part of graphics market leader ATI; the Canadian company spend $400 million on ArtX - is Nintendo's response to Sony's PlayStation 2 and Sega's Dreamcast.
Since Dolphin development was announced last year, Dreamcast has pretty much fallen by the wayside, and Microsoft has launched X-box, so Nintendo will have to pull something very impressive indeed if it's to stand a chance of competing with the Sony and Microsoft kit.
Nintendo's N64 was a big improvement on the PlayStation but its superior graphics proved insufficient to take the console market lead from Sony. That goes double now, since Nintendo will also have to face Microsoft, likely to be a far tougher competitor than Sega, Nintendo's traditional rival.
What is known about the Dolphin is that it's powered by a customised 0.18 micron PowerPC processor codenamed Gecko and supplied by IBM. Ancillary chips are being fabbed by NEC in a deal worth over $2.8 billion. Dolphin's graphics will use S3's S3TC texture compression technology, soon to be owned by Via, if the Taiwan's regulators let the deal happen.
Nintendo also confirmed today that Dolphin's launch has been put back to 2001, probably March/April, we suspect. Back in May, Nintendo published its anticipated results for the rest of fiscal 2000, and we noted how its predictions lacked any input from Dolphin, suggesting the very delay the company announced this morning.
Also delayed is the introduction of the Gameboy Advance, the 32-bit ARM-based cellphone-connectable portable console Nintendo had planned to ship this summer, but put back because of component supply problems. Nintendo said it will officially unveil the Advance on 24 August, with availability coming later this year.