LGR Oddware – Diamond Edge 3D (nVidia NV1+Sega Saturn)

Greetings and welcome to LGR Oddware, where we’re taking a look
at hardware and software that is odd, forgotten, and obsolete. And today, I would like to talk about
the SEGA Saturn. Hah! Got ya fooled for
a second there, didn’t I? Probably not, actually, if you
know anything about this, but uhh… Yeah, we’re talking about the
SEGA Saturn, sort of. Not really. We’re actually mostly talking about this:
the Diamond Multimedia Edge 3D, specifically the 3240XL model, if you care. And this is not only the first 3D accelerator
containing an NVIDIA chip, but it is also an amalgamation
of hardware goodies for Windows 95 PCs that allowed you to play conversions
of SEGA Saturn games on your PC, in the same way
the SEGA Saturn games let you play them. So, not only with these controllers,
which are actual SEGA Saturn controllers that you can plug into your PC
through actual SEGA Saturn ports, but it also let’s you play the games
rendered in the same way as a Saturn: through quads instead
of traditional triangles. So, let’s take a look at this thing! So the first card in this series of cards
was released in 1995 — November 1995, for $249 for the 1 MB base model. This is a 2 MB version, and there were
expansions available to make it 4 MB and some other things like that
so it got pretty expensive, pretty quickly, and it was actually about twice the price
of a lot of other competing 3D cards. Compared to things like something like the S3 cards,
or the ones by Matrox, ATI or Rendition, this was pretty expensive, and why?
Well, it actually went for more of an all-in-one approach: Including the video card itself, the SEGA Saturn ports that
you could plug into the back, and also a built-in sound card. And the sound card was,
you know, a real sound card! You know, it had General MIDI, 32 channels,
16 bits 48 kHz PCM sound, wave table stuff, and all of the junk that you expect
for a sound card in 1995. The actual video capabilities
weren’t too bad either! At least, for the time period. So, you had the NVIDIA NV1 chipset,
on this Diamond card, at least. There was also a version that
included DRAM instead of VRAM, and that chipset was made by SGS-Thomson —
it was the STG2000. Either one of them had 1 to 4 MB
and included a 75 MHz memory clock, so it could do all sorts of wonderful 3D stuff, but the thing is, it just didn’t do it in the same way
as every other card on the market out there. In fact, it is very similar to the SEGA Saturn
in the fact that it uses quadratic texture mapping. Now, what the heck is that? Well, if you know anything about the Saturn
and the way it renders stuff, then you might have an idea.
This does the same thing. Basically, this uses “quads”, or squares,
instead of triangles to speed up rendering by reducing the CPU workload, at least in theory. This results in fewer polygons
and renders better-rounded objects. So, you could actually make things with squares
instead of just a bunch of triangles everywhere And at the time, with a lot lower speeds
of CPUs and memory clocks and all that stuff, it made sense to use squares, instead
of triangles, at least in some situations, to get better-rounded objects
or models in your game because triangles– you had more
processing power required. Now, as memory got better and better,
this made little sense. And it also kind of made
little sense at the time, because this meant that
there was no support for OpenGL. They didn’t even want to include it!
I read a statement by NVIDIA and SGS-Thomson saying that they didn’t think
consumers would need OpenGL at all, so they just didn’t bother with it. And then by the time Direct3D
came along, and DirectX, this couldn’t do that either, because
it didn’t support rendering through quads, only through traditional triangles
and those types of polygons. They did release a driver or a patch for it
to update it to run DirectX, but only through software!
So you’re effectively running a hardware accelerator in software mode
to run hardware-accelerated DirectX/Direct3D stuff… It made no sense, and it was one of
the many reasons this thing went down. There were some more reasons
it just never caught on. One was the price. You know, you have
all these integrated components in there, making it more expensive,
and a lot of people already had a bunch of expensive components
in their computers that this meant to replace. Maybe this would make more sense
if your computer just didn’t have you know, a sound card, or game ports, or a decent video card. But if you had this stuff, especially for DOS, then this thing made very little sense because if you had, say,
a card by Roland for sound, and maybe even a card by S3,
or with an S3 chip, for video, or, uh, you know, Tseng Labs,
or anything like that, especially for DOS, and DOS
is a big deal at the time, then this just didn’t match up. I mean, if you compare, say,
the sound quality of the General MIDI output of this thing versus something like a nicer Roland card, it’s no comparison. Inside the box, you get some
lovely documentation here. Starting with the user’s guide. It’s a guide for users,
as you might expect. Well, users of the Diamond Edge 3D. Uh, not other types of users. Whatever I’m talking about. Yeah, Diamond did not deal in those people. But yeah, this is just to basically describe how to install the card. And set it up. And some other things as
far as drivers and whatnot. It’s pretty standard as far as, like, how you’d
install another video card. The only thing that’s really
different is installing the little Edge board connectors to the Edge board to actually plug in the
SEGA Saturn controllers. Otherwise, it’s pretty basic stuff.
But we will get to showing that here in a moment. And of course, it also
came with the CD Portfolio. Pretty self-explanatory.
It is a folio port… for CD. And also comes with a couple basic
instruction manuals for some of the games. Although calling them instruction “manuals”… bit of a misnomer.
It’s this, like, most basic installation tips in both Japanese and English. And… that’s it.
No actual manuals here. So, yeah. Just– just for installation. So, otherwise, all you get
are the games themselves. And this really where
all the good stuff is. So we’ve got NASCAR Racing. by Papyrus. This is a version specifically for the Diamond Edge 3D
and compatible cards. A version of Panzer Dragoon. “Not For Resale.” And Virtua Fighter Remix. Also a special edition for this. And you also have the Diamond
Edge drivers, Version 1.0 here. But like I mentioned earlier, there were other driver versions available later. We’re probably just going to be looking at 1.0 here since…
well, that’s what I have. And we’ll just be taking a
look at it in its original form. ‘Cause why not? Now let’s get to
the actual hardware. And there is a bit more
going on here than your typical video card
of the time, or even of now. Um… not so atypical,
though, is the card itself. This just your standard,
like, PCI card. Uh… Not anything too
weird going on here except that it is not
just a video card. As mentioned earlier,
it is also a sound card. So we have sound card inputs
and outputs on the back here in addition to the normal VGA output. And there’s also this little deal here, which may look like an
ethernet jack, and in fact, I think it is the same basic deal, but it is actually for the game port to allow you to plug in
normal 15-pin PC joysticks. You had a little dongle sticking
out the back of your computer. In addition to plugging in
the end of your joystick. So… not exactly… the, uh… most appealing thing ever. But I guess it beats making,
like, twice as tall, or, uh… Yeah, I dunno. They just
kinda had to do it because of the sound card ports. Obviously. Now, the other thing that is really
kind of interesting with this is the fact that you can plug in
SEGA Saturn-compatible controllers. And, so, you have this
little breakout box here. This Edge board, as it’s called.
Just put it in anywhere in your computer. And then you have two little ribbon cables here for Port A and Port B. So, it looks like this here is Port… A? No, this is Port B. Frick. Better get it right, I suppose. And so the little red, uh, part of it connects to Pin 1 there. Uh, let’s see if I can actually… There we go! And then we have, uh, Port A, which goes right here. So, yeah. In the back of your computer,
you basically got, uh… these two… slots in the back taken up. And I’ll show this installed in
a computer here in a moment. And of course, it also comes with two SEGA Saturn pads here. Which curiously, they look a lot like, uh… I mean, just the original Japanese Mark I SEGA Saturn pads. In fact, they have the same model
number on the back: HSS-0101. I’m assuming these are the
original pads it came with. Obviously, I didn’t but this thing new, though. So, I’m just kind of trusting that, uh… the person actually put the
original pads back inside the box when they sold it. And yes, it is fully-compatible with your other SEGA Saturn
controllers that you may have. So, uh, we’ve got this deal here
that came with Nights into Dreams. And yeah. You can just
plug them in right here. And there you go. You got SEGA Saturn pads on your
PC way before the day of U-yes– uh, USB pads and without having to worry about
any sort of cumbersome conversions from SEGA Saturn over to 15-pin joysticks. It’s just right there! That is really friggin’ cool, I gotta say. That’s enough of the close-ups
and technical nitty-gritty. Let’s go ahead and plug this
thing into my older Packard Bell or some other computer
that’s pretty weak otherwise and see how this does.
And we’ll do some comparisons between normal software rendering and the 3D
acceleration provided by the Diamond Edge. Well first up, what you get is some software and it’s not really any kind
of 3D configuration software but you do have this “Media Rack” and some things to mess with
the audio capabilities of the card. Not much to look at nowadays,
but back in the mid-90s this was expected and completely awesome! But yeah, the first game here
we’re going to try is Virtua Fighter. And this right here is just using the
software rendering mode of the game. As you can see, it looks pretty much
like a game running in software mode. The resolution’s not terribly high. It’s running a bit slow.
It’s a little bit choppy. The textures really aren’t that great. The models are a little bit crappy looking. And yes, I have cranked the settings up a bit. It could go higher resolution, but then it
becomes completely slideshow territory. And that’s just par for the course, especially when you’re
running it on a system like this which is with 32 megs
of RAM and 133 MHz. Playing the game with the Diamond Edge 3D 3D acceleration mode, though,
is AMAZING in comparison. Check out that smooth
roundedness of those quads. The nicer floor texture,
the fluid movement. Just everything.
Better shadows, better animation. It is kinda like
night and day, really. And if you’re having trouble noticing,
well let’s do a direct side-by-side comparison
here and you can see that running it in the
3D accelerated mode is just absolutely awesome. This was the big appeal of these
3D accelerators back in the day. Especially with the
limitations of the CPU and other things like that
for software rendering using a 3D accelerator,
especially one like this, really did give it
quite a fantastic look. And it’s also an improvement
over the SEGA Saturn version. I mean, it looks very
close to the arcade, if not even a little
better, if you ask me. Moving right along to Panzer Dragoon. And here it is running in the
software renderer once again. The game’s actually pretty
smooth on this system. It’s definitely not terrible by any means,
as far as the frame rate and all of that for software rendering. And you’ve got a bunch of
nice cool-looking textures underneath that resolution
somewhere. [Laughs] It’s obviously not ideal and
could be a heck of a lot better. And, indeed, it is. Moving on to the Diamond Edge 3D mode, and not only do we have better
resolution, better frame rate, but I think also smoother animation better-looking character
models, maybe by a little bit, and, uh, more stuff going on, too. In fact, if you had the Diamond Edge
with more than 1 MB of RAM, you could enable extra sound effects and some other things that really just
make the game even more eye-popping. And ear-popping, I guess. I guess that what you call
better sound effects? I dunno. But yeah, looking at ’em directly
side-by-side, it’s just awesome. Totally playable in the
software renderer, of course. I would still have loved to have played
this game on the PC back in the day with the software renderer,
but if I had a choice, I mean, obviously you’re gonna
be going with the 3D accelerator. It’s just sharper, smoother,
has more sound effects, all sorts of awesomeness
that you just want if you’re going to be
playing a game like this. ‘Cause this game is awesome
and it deserves the very friggin’ best. And lastly, we’re gonna take
a look here at NASCAR Racing. And this is the software renderer mode. And yes, I am driving backwards because I like doing that
so I can wreck into everybody and it’s just a lot of fun to me. And this is how I am familiar
with playing this game. To me, this looks completely normal. You know, the resolution,
the textures, the frame rate, really. And while you could
make it run a little smoother, you had to really
crank down the graphics in order to be able to achieve
a steady higher frame rate, especially when there’s
a lot of stuff going on. And yeah, there’s always a lot
of stuff going on in this game, especially when you’re crashing. But, man, the Diamond Edge
3D mode is awesome! Higher resolution interiors and gauges.
The menus look better. The environments look better. Everything is– uh, it’s just really impressive. I’ve never seen this game
look so clear and smooth! And just– it doesn’t slow down like crazy when there’s a bunch of crap
flying all over the place when you’re wrecking like a moron. The replay modes are
actually friggin’ watchable. It’s just… awesome! And this is on the same machine,
you know? This is the same specs. All we did was swap out the video card. Don’t have to mess with
CPU, RAM, anything else. It’s just… awesome. This is why I was so into 3D
accelerators back in the day because it took a game that you were
very much familiar with intimately and made it feel like an
entirely new experience. I just– I love this stuff. And you know, I still get a huge
kick out of it, if you can’t tell. And that’s all for this episode of Oddware. I do think that this card
is incredibly interesting and is also very
highly collectible. You know, it’s collectible
to console gamers and, uh, SEGA collectors
and stuff because well, it plays classic SEGA
Saturn games on a PC with a specific renderer
that allows them to look just like the Saturn
counterparts, and better too. It’s also very collectible
to PC people because this is just a weird piece of history.
I mean, it’s the very first card to use an NVIDIA chipset. It’s also very expensive for the time. Well, not very, very expensive, but
expensive enough for it to be prohibitive and as such, not many people bought it. And it’s very rare.
It’s very hard to find these things. And you’ll see them go for absolutely
hundreds and hundreds of dollars, sometimes without anything.
Just the card itself. You know, I would not have
been able to do this video at all if it were not for David. Thank you very much, sir,
for loaning me this card to take a look at in
this episode because I’ve been looking for one of
these for many, many years and was never able to find one. Definitely go ahead and
check out his Twitch page. He streams under the
name The Vine Method, as well as on Facebook, so:
facebook.com/thevinemethod And if you enjoyed this video,
then you probably will enjoy a lot of my others. I’ve done several
other Oddware videos and many more are to come, as well as tons of stuff on retro games
and old PC stuff in general. So definitely check out
my channel for those, or just subscribe to be notified
whenever there are more. You can also check me out on Twitter and Facebook as well as support the show on Patreon,
which helps things like this exist, and also gives you some
perks like signed floppy disks and doing Q&A session videos and whatever else I
happen to come up with. And as always,
thank you very much for watching.

100 thoughts on “LGR Oddware – Diamond Edge 3D (nVidia NV1+Sega Saturn)

  1. I like the Edge midi sound better because it sounds more "console game-ish". The Roland obviously sounds better overall but it has that "too polished" sound that consoles never had back in those days.

  2. I had a clone of this card. Don't remember the details, but it came with 3 games, gamepad ports, but no gamepad. Finding the correct drivers were a pain.

  3. due to this card,i spend lots of time messing with config,sys,and autoexec,bat,in order to get games to work,i remember having to put in a soundblaster command for duke nuke em to work,lol

  4. What about the audio? The Sega Saturn has Pro Logic and Qsound encoded games. Pro Logic needs av receiver, Qsound just needs a stereo amp since most of the Qsound is pre-processed.

  5. Has anyone heard what 8bitdo is doing? They're making Sega Genesis and later Saturn wireless controllers coming in. Wireless Sega controllers will finally stop being a rarity as it was rare back in the 1990s.

  6. 11:43 I wonder what it would look like, software rendering on a much, much, more powerful computer. Just realized that this video is 4 years old.

  7. "Look at the smooth roundedness of those quads"

    I know you're not talking about the shapes. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  8. can this thing be hooked up to a modern PC to play Sega Saturn games? Or were the games made to run on PC and not in the Sega Saturn format? Would be cool if it works on a modern PC to stream Sega Saturn games to Twitch or YouTube.

  9. Is it me or do the plugs on the Sega Saturn controllers look like HDMI plugs. Even the ports look like HDMI ports on a TV.

  10. The Diamond Edge 3D lacked many things that Saturn 3D graphics had, alongside its 2D abilities. For it claiming to be a lot like the Saturn it lacks the Saturn Custom Sound Processor YMF-292F that produces a very unique sound that was featured in games such as Sonic the Fighters, Daytona USA, and NiGHTS into Dreams. While that sound chip might have 32 channels, it probably does not support the FM Sythnesis that the SCSP coule. Another issue is that they tried to combine VDP1 and VDP2 into that one card, to make matters worse the amount of VRAM is lower than that available on the Saturn to push higher resolutions than Hitachi's VDP1 and Yamahas VDP2 could handle through possible upscaling. The minimum amount of VRAM needed for the two video display processors was 4 Megabytes each. Also coming back to sound the Saturn supported 24 bit sampling and audio at 44.1 KHz with its own CPU the 6E8300, they both had their own memory as well accounting for at least 2 Megabytes at minimum.
    However, they did get the joystick ports correct, except for the lack of SEGA peripheral ICs on the board to ease the load of processor.

    The card could have been designed better with licensing the YMF-292F and achieving separate video display processors to be more similar to the Saturn

  11. I remember playing the original Tomb Raider in software rendering and then trying it again after getting a Voodoo 2. No comparison! Great times.

  12. the allure of that card, tho! I remember fawning over that thing as a kid. My brother and I would go to Best Buy almost every weekend to read the latest PC Gamer and walk around dreaming of owning any number of games, desktops and peripherals. But that image of Akira from Virtua Fighter was so damned eye-popping it made me forget all the other crap in the store.

  13. This doesn't impress me. In 90's I've got motherboard Diamond Micronics. And when I wanted to sell it in 2k, PC stock seller answered me he'll gave me 40 USD if I only show him Diamon Micronics motherboard. :))))

  14. There is a switch/ light in a different spot on the dash of the driving game when the diamond edge is in use.

  15. Sega hardware in the mid 90s always rendered in quads. The model 1,2, and 3 rendered everything in quads.

  16. whilst you are playing games with it I suspect it was likely part of a dev kit meant for building games rather than playing them..

  17. Hey man ! I found the Sega panzer dragoon CD !!! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1318763874929729&set=pcb.2296594547296544&type=3&theater&ifg=1

  18. Lol the only reason I ever used to play racing games was to drive the wrong way 🙂 My first proper one was Indianapolis 500.

  19. The 90s were one helluva decade for gaming. There were all kinds of technology surprises. My parents got me a Pb 145B and I was hooked on computers for life. Nowadays working with old technology serves as therapy. Whenever I’m off I get myself a few beers and I “play” with my oldies, it brings such joy.

  20. Should be in the rules of NASCAR that one driver has to drive the opposite of all the others… so entertaining

  21. I think i went from a Riva TNT to two Voodoo 2's in SLI. Played Diablo 1 well. Next to Voodoo 3, then Voodoo 5500 before Nvidia completely crushed that poor company with the GeForce line of cards.. I wonder if somewhere there is a Voodoo 6 card on someones desk that no one will ever see.

  22. If only Nvidia and Sega was not so shortsighted in terms of api support they could have won PC market back then and history of gaming would be very different and would progress faster technically, also such hybrids of consoles and PC could be mainstream nowadays if this thing was marketed and supported right way.

  23. I wonder if those n64 controllers from hotels which featured a telephone connection would work when inserted into the controller port on this card

  24. It would have been interesting to compare the Diamond Edge against the Saturn too, because buying a Saturn would've been another option at the time.

  25. I remember that Diamond Soundcard, it supposedly came with an Awesome MidiWavetable… Playing the first MID-file… omg this SUCKS MONKEYBALLZ!

  26. If you find the time I would really appreciate you recording the full intro for NAscar racing. Like this video but with the obvious altercations that an accelerator brings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaxU9-UNFic

  27. I remember my 400mhz compaq trying to run counterstrike. I'd get about 10fps in software mode. I was about 10 years old so I thought that's just how things were. My brother is 10 years older than me. he stopped by our house and saw me playing it. Idk what he said but he somehow convinced my parent's to go out that day and buy me a geforce 2. I say somehow because every graphics card after that was bought with endless lawn mowings and car washes/vacuuming lol. MAN I was in 30-45fps HEAVEN. It was SOO smooth! It's crazy to think now I'm running 3 monitors with AAA games running in eyefinity. 60+fps at all times, and thats considered "low end" these days.

    oh but those damn smoke grenades… People used to troll with those things. You could bring an entire server down to 5fps if 3 people threw them in the spawn area lol.

  28. I distinctly remember having to place my sound and graphics cards as far away from each other as possible in my PC to avoid noise interference in my sound from the gfx card. Why would they put those two things together?

  29. Ah, 90s gaming adverts. Edgy enough to slice a thick steak.
    Who can forget the Diakatana "John Romero Wants to Make You His Bi#$&!" advert?

  30. DirectX was crap compared to OpenGL or Glide even when running on the card. Running DX in software? Yeesh 😳🤮

  31. Papyrus was the God of NASCAR Racing. EA is the "Satan's cat just crapped on its hairball and then handed it to NASCAR fans".

  32. There is a Roland SCC1 on ebay right now with an opening price of-$1120.04 and it's in Germany. Holy cow that's pricey for an old audio card.

  33. So just found a magazine print Compute Issue 144 September 1992 on Roland. At the bottom it show's the Roland SCC1 priced at $499. So pretty expensive card back then.

  34. I know this is an old video but the thing about the quadratic texture mapping is wrong, the Saturn used quads for rendering its polys instead of tris. It was not to do with the texture mapping.

  35. About OpenGL support way back then, the truth is that very few on these early 3d cards aimed at the gaming community really supported OpenGL. At this time OpenGL was more an API for professional rendering applications and things like CAD. That's even true for the 3DFX voodoo 1 and voodoo 2 cards. The only "OpenGL support" they had was a kind of "mini OpenGL" which was only a subset of the full OpenGL API. And it was accomplished through an OpenGL Mini driver, which was really just a wrapper to Glide. It was really just a workaround for ID to avoid violating a contract they had with rendition. As part of that contract rendition helped ID develop VQuake, the first 3d hardware accelerated version of quake which specifically ran on the renditions virte cards. As stipulated in the contract ID, in return, was not supposed to release a version of the game that had native support for any other card manufacturers. But being impressed by the performance of the 3DFX products, Carmacke wanted to release a version that would take advantage of that. So, the Mini GL glide wrapper was born as a workaround. Probably the only 3d gaming cards of this era that perhaps really supported OpenGL might have been the Permedia 2 based cards and I'm not totally sure about that.

  36. I had a Roland Sound Canvas Card (SCC) in my 386 back in the day along with a regular sound card and a pretty good set of speakers. I would run the game's music through the SCC and sound f/x through the regular sound card. Sounded great.

  37. Those electronic equipment are really expensive in the '90s.Try buying the latest trend and it will be obsolete in a matter of months by another product more powerful and updated.

  38. Thery are 100% MK1 Japanese Saturn pads 😉 we in the UK(and US) got them in our MK2 Saturn, the only difference ours were total Black. Im not PC/Windows techie at all but the second versions of those games look fantastic!! M

  39. This could've been one of the best things in history if if it'd allow you to play regular Saturn games! At least a version 2 release later on, when the Saturn was on the way out on the occidental world…

  40. Nvidia didn't really come into its own until they released the riva128. It was a very affordable 2d/3d combo card with good performance in up to 800×600, albeit with some pretty sad looking image quality after bilinear filtering–at the time it was tolerable.

  41. I've been spoiled by your newer 2160p videos. 🙂 Loved the content, but I couldn't help but constantly thinking "why is it so blurry?" 🙂

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