Nintendo 64 audio

Nintendo 64 had an interesting way of doing sound. It had a MIPS R4300 CPU, a "Reality Co-Processor" (mainly a graphics chip, but I think it did more than just graphics), 4 megabytes of unified Rambus RAM, and game cartriges with 4 to 64 MB of ROM (most used 8 to 16). No sound chip, no sound RAM, not much ROM, so for N64 to make sound, the developer had to cut into the fairly plentiful non-sound resources.

Developers without imagination just let their games sound bad. But those who had made their N64 games sound great. 1080 Snowboarding had very fitting metal, rap, techno and narration. Perfect Dark used MP3 compression and several megabytes of ROM to give its characters a movie's worth of dialogue. The Mario games had hum-able tunes and the Zelda games had sound effects for every occasion. Factor 5 created and leased the MORT codec so N64 games could play voice samples compressed 12:1 without using much CPU time. They used it in Rogue Squadron, Battle for Naboo, Pokemon Stadium 2 and I believe Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. And despite taking clock cycles and bytes out of the system, the above mentioned are some of N64's best playing and best looking games.

So N64 could do great sound. But, in order to accomodate everyone, Nintendo has built their latest console Gamecube with a 1.5 GB optical drive, 43 MB of RAM, a dedicated sound chip and a 485 MHz PowerPC CPU. With all that, developers can record music for games just as they do for CD players, and store it all in RAM so the lens can be free to load new game data during play.