Nintendo's current generation home video games console (as of Q4 2001). Previously known before release as the Dolphin and briefly as the StarCube. The machine is powered by an IBM CPU called 'Gekko' running at 475mhz, and a custom GPU developed by ATi called 'Flipper'. The machine has a total memory capacity of 40 megabytes, 24 megabytes of which are 1-T SRAM (i.e. very fast indeed).
The machine is built on the philosophy of making the most efficient and well-suited device to play 3D games on, as well as making it easy to code for. Hence the reliance on specialised components, with an emphasis on efficiency (Nintendo have worked to resolve bottlenecks instead of throwing more resources at the machine.* So we see another consumer-friendly upshot of this is that the machine is cheaper and smaller than either of its main rivals. Critics who claim the machine is seriously underpowered compared to the Xbox would be more credible if they could point to any game that the Xbox can handle that the GC can't. (Apart from Championship Manager, which I reckon is cheating as it's really a PC game.)
The machine uses proprietary 1.5GB mini DVD's developed by Matsushita, which are more difficult to pirate and load very quickly indeed. The case features a carrying handle (intended to move it around the room/house like a portable TV) and four controller ports into which can be plugged either the utterly sublime controller (the best I have ever used, and I've used them all), or a Game Boy Advance (with the appropriate connector lead) allowing for gameplay elements to be presented on the GBA screen. The machine has ports for a modem or broadband adapter.
Along with the two serial ports, there is a parallel port on the base of the unit marked 'HI SPEED PORT'. As of yet, it is unknown what purpose this port serves, the most likely guesses being that it will be used to add a hard disk drive, an additional bank of RAM (perhaps to bring the machine into line with the Triforce arcade board?), or some combination of these and other enhancements in a forthcoming expansion pak. Although going on Nintendo's past record with expansion ports, there is a possibility that it will never be used for anything...
The main thing that the machine has against it is the ferocity of the competition. Things are by no means as bleak as the N64 days, but it seems optimistic to think that the Gamecube will achieve NES/PSX-like dominance - a 30-40% share of the market seems more realistic. This is certainly good enough to make the machine a viable platform for third party developers, and of course Nintendo will be providing their usual top-notch first party games as well. Panasonic have developed a compatible machine called the Q which can play DVD movies as well as Gamecube games, for those who like an all-in-one box under their TV.
The GC has a bunch of great games already, including but not limited to:-
*By way of contrast, the Xbox's processor may run at 733mhz, but it's a general purpose Intel chip running a Windows 2000 based environment - frittering cycles away at every stage. And it costs more when you factor in the PC-derived hardware needed to support it. Likewise, the DVD drives on the xbox and PS2 incur licensing fees from the DVD cartel.