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"Mathematical!" Bored one day, I decided to explore some math to find out just how many colors the Sega Genesis could really produce if a game developer really took the system seriously. Just thought I'd share my results.

Sega Genesis:
- 9-BIT Color Palette {512 Colors} (320x224 [13:9], 256x224 [10:9])
- 8-BIT Color Palette {256 Colors} (256x192 [4:3] Master System Backwards Compatibility)
- 59.94Hz Refresh at 14.985 Frames per Second (50Hz at 12.5 FPS for PAL Regions)

The Sega Genesis only has 64 KBytes (65,536 Bytes) of Video Memory.
- To display the full color palette on screen at once is impossible due to this limitation as shown below:

   Resolution (320 x 224) x Color Depth (1.125) x Number of Frame Buffers (1) = 80,640 Bytes (79 KBytes)

- Even if the 320x224 video mode could pull from the 8-BIT pool of colors it couldn't display all of the colors:

Resolution (320 x 224) x Color Depth (1) x Number of Frame Buffers (1) = 71,680 Bytes (70 KBytes)

- To make matters worse, Since the way the the Motorola MC68000K Processor was configured it could only address up to 64 colors at a time.
- However, the video processor could post process the already rendered image with a 3-BIT word call the Highlight and Shadow Mode.
- This essentially tripled the amount of colors that could be pulled and shown on screen:

9-BIT Color (512) x (3-BIT Word) = 1,536 possible colors to choose from
64 Colors (Addressed by the MC68000K CPU) x (3-BIT Word) = 192 colors on screen

- But at the max Resolution (320x224) this too is just barely impossible to show:

Resolution (320 x 224) x Color Depth (.948120625) x Number of Frame Buffers (1) = 67,962 Bytes (67 KBytes)

- Though with the max resolution, almost 160 can be generated by the Video Processor as shown:

Resolution (320 x 224) x Color Depth [159 Colors](.914285) x Number of Frame Buffers (1) = 65,536 Bytes (64 KBytes)

- If the video mode 256x224 is used then the full color potential is possible with room to spare.

Resolution (256 x 224) x Color Depth  [192 Colors](.948120625) x Number of Frame Buffers (1) = 54,369 Bytes (53 KBytes)

- Subsequently, if there was a video mode that used a resolution of 288x224 (which would have been closer to the trational [4:3] screens of the time) 192 colors still would have been possible as shown below:

Resolution (288 x 224) x Color Depth (.948120625) x Number of Frame Buffers (1) = 61,165 Bytes (60 KBytes)

- The Genesis can not generate more than 192 colors because of the way the Main CPU is configured. In order to process more colors the sound section (Consiting of the Zilog Z80, Yamaha 2612 FM Operator, and Texas Instruments SN76489) would have to be removed and the input/output lines used for that would need to be rerouted to the color palette ROM chip. Or in the case of the 1992 SNK Neo Geo, have a more powerful/advanced Video Processor that handled all the graphics internally instead of using the main CPU.

- Fun Fact, the 32-BIT/16-BIT 7.68MHz Motorola MC68000K Processor used in the Genesis/Mega Drive could have processed the sound, but it would have hindered the overall power need for other functions of the games. If Sega had used the 16MHz Motorola MC68030 CPU and increased its system ram to 128 KBytes instead, it could have done just that and probably would have increased performance and efficiency at the same time. Also it might have been cheaper to produce and would have used less wattage. However, this is just hindsight, no use trying to fix what was done in the past.

- On another note, the Super Nintendo is rated for 15-BIT Color (32,768 Colors)
- 256 Colors on screen at once, with a max resolution of 512x448
- 59.94Hz Refresh at 14.985 Frames per Second (50Hz at 12.5 FPS for PAL Regions)
- However, to save time in the development of games and space on the limited cartridges of the time, most SNES games used the lesser 256x224 resolution.

-But then you have to consider that the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive(1988/89) came out 3 years prior the Super Nintendo Entertainment System(1991/92). So the difference is as followed in most cases:

Sega Genesis: 192 colors at a 256x224 resolution / 159 colors at a 320x224 resolution
Super Nintendo: 256 Colors at a 256x224 resolution

Only a 64 color difference at the same resolution, despite the SNES having 3 years worth of more advanced hardware and software.
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Jeufufns Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014  Student Writer
Yaaaay! You're back from the abyss of disabledness!
KairuOkami Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh thanks for the watch on my main account! ^w^ 
MrPr1993 Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ey! Are comms on? :3
KNP-Studios Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2014
Draconis-Glade Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2014
Oh! Your back! Your account was disabled for a bit there, everything ok now? :3
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