Master System - Technical Specifications

Technical Specifications

  • The Master System's CPU is an 8-bit Zilog Z80. The maximum addressable memory is 64 kB.
  • Graphics: VDP (Video Display Processor) derived from Texas Instruments TMS9918A
    • Up to 32 simultaneous colors available (one 16-color palette for sprites or background, an additional 16-color palette for background only) from a palette of 64 (can also show 64 simultaneous colors using programming tricks)
    • Screen resolutions 256×192 and 256×224. PAL/SECAM also supports 256×240
    • 8×8 pixel characters, max 463 (due to VRAM space limitation)
    • 8×8 or 8×16 pixel sprites, max 64
    • Horizontal, vertical, and partial screen scrolling
  • Sound (PSG): Texas Instruments SN76489 (note that the Master System, Game Gear, and Mega Drive used a slightly altered clone of the newer SN76489A, while the older SG-series used the original SN76489)
    • 4 channel mono sound (3 Square Waves, 1 White noise)
    • 3 tone generators, 10 octaves each, 1 white noise generator
  • Sound (FM): Yamaha YM2413
    • Mono FM synthesis
    • Switchable between 9 tone channels or 6 tone channels + 5 percussion channels
    • Included as a built-in "accessory" with the Japanese Master System (1987)
    • Supported by certain games only
Onboard RAM
  • Boot ROM: 64 kbit (8 KB) to 2048 kbit (256 KB), depending on built-in game
  • Main RAM: 64 kbit (8 KB), can be supplemented by game cartridges
  • Video RAM: 128 kbit (16 KB)
  • Game Card slot (not available in the Master System II)
  • Game Cartridge slot (not included on newer Brazilian models, as these have built-in games)
    • Japanese and South Korean consoles used 44-pin cartridges, the same shape as SG-1000 cartridges
    • All other consoles use 50-pin cartridges with a wider shape
    • The difference in cartridge style is a form of regional lockout
  • Expansion slot
    • Unused, pinout compatible with 50-pin cartridges (but opposite gender) in all regions
  • Width: 365 mm
  • Depth: 170 mm
  • Height: 69 mm:

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