>> Friday, November 9, 2007
What if Philips entered the videogames market for a second time after the first CD-i adventure? You wouldn't believe this chance was pretty real, and several contacts were available between Philips and Argonaut to build a chip for CD-i 2. When that turned out to be too expensive for Philips, they did another try collaborating with 3DO who were also having a hard time succeeding in the videogames market. Anyway, Philips President Boonstra cut all costs in their Media division so every new videogames/media plan was shelved. After all those years there are still only a few hints at all those promising plans that never came out.
Inside people were also hinting at an upgrade of the Digital Video Cartridge that should be able to run 3D games, but I never found anyone who could elaborate on this subject. It would mean a different version of the DVC, something like a graphics acceleration cartridge which could be plugged in the same extension port as the current DVC cart. Anyway, it never happened. Many sources close to CD-i who were also full of belief in the format were confident that when Philips had the guts they would be able to show Sony the world. Again, this is ofcourse pure speculation!
In 1995 there were many investigations and debates by Philips about the future plans of their gaming business. All came to nothing after various stages of Research and Development. The core business lines were active in both The Netherlands (Eindhoven) and UK (Redhill, London). Unfortunately CD-i was not a commercial success and it wasn't generating money for new investments. The first goal when developing a follow-up to CD-i was to strengthen the 3D performance (many people recognised that "multimedia" was more about games than anything else) so it could become a games console. However Philips overall decided that the games market (then dominated by Nintendo and Sega, those were even pre-Playstation days) was too expensive to enter. It is very possible that Philips in 1995 did not have the resources (financial, technical, managerial, marketing, games software etc) to make it a success. The company was still turning itself around in those days.
However, this is what an anonymous source told us: "The second gen CD-i player was looking at using an arm processor and we used Argonaut at point, to help spec it out (Jez San being the principle there) out of the UK. Then later we looked at doing work with 3DO and Philips met with them up at their offices on a couple of occasions."
Moreover, Argonaut's Jez San confirms the developments on "CD-i 2": "Argonaut worked closely with Nintendo during the early years of the NES and SNES. Argonaut was fundamental in developing the Super FX Chip for the SNES, which was used in Star Fox. Back then, in the early 90’s, the Super FX chip was the world’s best selling RISC microprocessor-- outselling the ARM and MIPS chips by millions in those years. It was only when the PlayStation came out in the mid 90’s that we got beaten on RISC sales. The entire 3D acceleration market that NVidia and ATI now dominate, Argonaut was there first and we’ve got the patents to prove it. After we built the Super FX chip for Nintendo, we went on to design a chip for Philips for a videogame machine that never came out (codenamed GreenPiece aka CD-I 2)."
Devin elaborates on the existence of the "CD-i 2": "Jez said the same thing to me years ago when I was interviewing him about Starfox 2. Although he recalled the chips codename as 'Project Greensleeves'! Then again he admitted the memory was hazy in this respect so I guess we can let him off. This information was previously released in the RetroGamer issue that covered CD-i. Unfortunately the knowledge seemed somewhat sparse on the CD-i 2 GPU."
Last but one paragraph thanks to Borman, The Armchair Empire