The release of the Mega Drive and Turbografix-16 consoles in 1989 meant that Nintendo too had to come up with a 16-bit machine to stay in the game. It did not release the SNES in Japan until November 1990, known there as the Super Famicom, in the US in September 1991 and in the UK in April 1992, simply because the NES was doing well and new games were still being released for it. When it finally hit the market though, it proved to be a powerful and impressive competitor to Sega's Mega Drive and NEC's Turbografix-16.
The SNES had a much slower processor then the Mega Drive, but it really excelled when it came to its graphics processor. It could produce 32K colors, 256 of which could be displayed on screen at the same time, and had special hardware modes that allowed for effects such as scaling, rotating and transparency. This was the SNES's strong point.
The cartridges (top: Europen, bottom US)
16-bit 65816 CPU @ 3.58MHz
128KB Main and 64KB Video RAM
512x448 with 256 colors from a pallete of 32768 colors
8-channel 8-bit Sony SPC700 digitized sound
This invention from the people at Argonaut is a special chip that is implanted in a SNES cart, like the ones above and is called the Super FX chip. It was specialized to help the SNES to create 3D worlds made by shaded polygons and texture mapping and light source shading. The Super FX chip is a RISC type mathprocessor and a supplemental CPU to the real SNES CPU. With the FX chip in a game the SNES´s speed goes up from 3.58 Mhz to 10.5 Mhz. This is a truth with modifications though. The 'real' speed never exceded the SNES CPU's 3.58Mhz, but with the Super-FX certain difficult graphic calculations could be done faster. (source: nintendoland.com)
Specs FX Chip Architecture: RISC Clock Speed 10.74Mhz Peripheral ROM 16Mbits max Peripheral RAM 1Mbit max Internal Data Bus 16 bits External Data Bus 8 bits Internal Registers 16 bit x 16 Instruction Cache 512 Bytes Processing Advantages: Polygon Processing; Software Sprite Processing