Chapter 3 - Hardware Architecture

This chapter describes the hardware architecture of the Nintendo 64 game machine in order to help you write software for the machine. Later sections of this manual describe the details you need to know to program each component.

The Nintendo 64 game consists of a number of hardware components that work together to produce the graphics and audio for the game. The heart of the system is the Reality CoProcessor (RCP). Attached to the RCP are memory chips, N64 CPU and some miscellaneous I/O chips.

The RCP runs the graphics and audio microcode. The display portion of the RCP renders into the graphics frame buffer located in main memory. The video and audio portions of the RCP, DMA frame buffer, and audio data from main memory to drive the video and audio DACs. Figure 3-1 below is a block diagram of the N64 system.

Figure 3-1 N64 Hardware Block Diagram
[Figure 3-1]

3.1 Execution Overview
3.2 Reality Co-Processor (RCP)
3.3 Reality Signal Processor (RSP)
3.4 Reality Display Processor (RDP)
3.4.1 Video Interface
3.4.2 Audio Interface
3.4.3 Parallel Interface
3.4.4 Serial Interface
3.5 N64 CPU
3.6 Memory Issues
3.6.1 Addressing
3.6.2 Data Cache
3.6.3 Alignment
3.7 Clock Speeds and Bus Bandwidth
3.8 Development Hardware