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Texas Instruments TMS34020

The TMS34010, released in 1986, is the first programmable graphics processor integrated circuit. It is a full 32-bit processor which includes graphics-oriented instructions so it can serve as a combined CPU and GPU, and it was used as such in a number of high-profile arcade games including Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam.

Design took place at Texas Instruments facilities in Bedford, UK and Houston, Texas, U.S.A. First silicon was working in Houston in December 1985, and first shipment (a development board) was to IBM's workstation facility in Kingston, New York, in January 1986.

The TMS34010 is a bit addressable, 32-bit processor, with two register files, each with fifteen general purpose registers and sharing a sixteenth stack pointer register.[1] Unlike all other microprocessors up to that time, it includes instructions for drawing into two-dimensional bitmaps, arbitrary variable-width data, and arithmetic operations on pixel data. The TMS34010 is not limited to executing hardwired primitives, and is capable of executing any general-purpose program in addition to graphics programs. The TMS34010 is supported by a full ANSI compliant C compiler.

Die of TMS34020
Die of TMS34082


Arcade gamesEdit

The TMS34010 was used in many arcade games from 1989 through 1995.[2]

From Atari Games

From Williams / Midway

From MicroProse Games


  • AmeriDarts (1989)[5]

Video cards and acceleratorsEdit

The TMS chips were compliant with the 1989 Texas Instruments Graphics Architecture standard, and in the early 1990s were used in professional-level TIGA video coprocessor boards for MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, and SCO Unix.[6] In a 1991 article on graphics adapters, PC Magazine reported that the fastest boards for regenerating AutoCAD test images were based on the TMS34010.[7]

The Aura Scuzzygraph, Radius PowerView and Radius SuperView external SCSI graphics cards for Apple Macintosh computers were also based on the TMS34010.

Sun386i used TMS34010 in the CG5 (Roadracer) videocard.

Attempted game consoleEdit

TI made an unsuccessful effort in 1987 and 1988 to convince games makers such as Nintendo and Sega to write 3D games and create a new console market.[citation needed] In 1987 TI provided the first demonstration of true real-time 3D games with stereo sound effects on a personal computer (PC), using a small TMS34010 adapter card (called "The Flippy").[citation needed] The Flippy was designed as the basis of a game development system for consoles and as a PC gaming card in its own right.


The successor to the TMS34010, the TMS34020[8] (1988), provides several enhancements including an interface for a special graphics floating point coprocessor, the TMS34082 (1989). The primary function of the TMS34082 is to allow the TMS340 architecture to generate high quality three-dimensional (3D) graphics. The performance level of 60 million vertices per second was advanced at the time.

The "Rambrandt" Amiga extension card from Progressive Peripherals & Software supported up to four TMS34020, for use in virtual reality simulations.[9] The chip was also used in the Amiga A2410 graphics card found in the A2500 based Unix workstation.


  1. ^ "TMS34010 Product Specs".
  2. ^ "MAME list of TMS34010 emulated games".
  3. ^ "Main Board Schematics".
  4. ^ "B.O.T.S.S. - Battle Of The Solar System".
  5. ^ "AmeriDarts arcade video game". Arcade History.
  6. ^ InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. (16 December 1991). InfoWorld. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. p. 32.
  7. ^ Poor, Alfred (June 25, 1991). "Cover Story: Graphics Adapters". PC Magazine.
  8. ^ "TMS34020 Product Specs".
  9. ^ "PPS Rambrandt".

External linksEdit