Central processing unit
A central processing unit called a central processor or main processor, is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logic and input/output operations specified by the instructions. The computer industry has used the term "central processing unit" at least since the early 1960s. Traditionally, the term "CPU" refers to a processor, more to its processing unit and control unit, distinguishing these core elements of a computer from external components such as main memory and I/O circuitry; the form and implementation of CPUs have changed over the course of their history, but their fundamental operation remains unchanged. Principal components of a CPU include the arithmetic logic unit that performs arithmetic and logic operations, processor registers that supply operands to the ALU and store the results of ALU operations and a control unit that orchestrates the fetching and execution of instructions by directing the coordinated operations of the ALU, registers and other components.
Most modern CPUs are microprocessors, meaning they are contained on a single integrated circuit chip. An IC that contains a CPU may contain memory, peripheral interfaces, other components of a computer; some computers employ a multi-core processor, a single chip containing two or more CPUs called "cores". Array processors or vector processors have multiple processors that operate in parallel, with no unit considered central. There exists the concept of virtual CPUs which are an abstraction of dynamical aggregated computational resources. Early computers such as the ENIAC had to be physically rewired to perform different tasks, which caused these machines to be called "fixed-program computers". Since the term "CPU" is defined as a device for software execution, the earliest devices that could rightly be called CPUs came with the advent of the stored-program computer; the idea of a stored-program computer had been present in the design of J. Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly's ENIAC, but was omitted so that it could be finished sooner.
On June 30, 1945, before ENIAC was made, mathematician John von Neumann distributed the paper entitled First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. It was the outline of a stored-program computer that would be completed in August 1949. EDVAC was designed to perform a certain number of instructions of various types; the programs written for EDVAC were to be stored in high-speed computer memory rather than specified by the physical wiring of the computer. This overcame a severe limitation of ENIAC, the considerable time and effort required to reconfigure the computer to perform a new task. With von Neumann's design, the program that EDVAC ran could be changed by changing the contents of the memory. EDVAC, was not the first stored-program computer. Early CPUs were custom designs used as part of a sometimes distinctive computer. However, this method of designing custom CPUs for a particular application has given way to the development of multi-purpose processors produced in large quantities; this standardization began in the era of discrete transistor mainframes and minicomputers and has accelerated with the popularization of the integrated circuit.
The IC has allowed complex CPUs to be designed and manufactured to tolerances on the order of nanometers. Both the miniaturization and standardization of CPUs have increased the presence of digital devices in modern life far beyond the limited application of dedicated computing machines. Modern microprocessors appear in electronic devices ranging from automobiles to cellphones, sometimes in toys. While von Neumann is most credited with the design of the stored-program computer because of his design of EDVAC, the design became known as the von Neumann architecture, others before him, such as Konrad Zuse, had suggested and implemented similar ideas; the so-called Harvard architecture of the Harvard Mark I, completed before EDVAC used a stored-program design using punched paper tape rather than electronic memory. The key difference between the von Neumann and Harvard architectures is that the latter separates the storage and treatment of CPU instructions and data, while the former uses the same memory space for both.
Most modern CPUs are von Neumann in design, but CPUs with the Harvard architecture are seen as well in embedded applications. Relays and vacuum tubes were used as switching elements; the overall speed of a system is dependent on the speed of the switches. Tube computers like EDVAC tended to average eight hours between failures, whereas relay computers like the Harvard Mark I failed rarely. In the end, tube-based CPUs became dominant because the significant speed advantages afforded outweighed the reliability problems. Most of these early synchronous CPUs ran at low clock rates compared to modern microelectronic designs. Clock signal frequencies ranging from 100 kHz to 4 MHz were common at this time, limited by the speed of the switching de
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
SmartMedia is a flash memory card standard owned by Toshiba, with capacities ranging from 2 MB to 128 MB. SmartMedia memory cards are no longer manufactured; the SmartMedia format was launched in the summer of 1995 to compete with the MiniCard, CompactFlash, PC Card formats. Although memory cards are nowadays associated with digital cameras, digital audio players, PDAs, similar devices, SmartMedia was pitched as a successor to the computer floppy disk. Indeed, the format was named Solid State Floppy Disk Card; the SSFDC forum, a consortium aiming to promote SSFDC as an industry standard, was founded in April 1996, consisting of 37 initial members. A SmartMedia card consists of a single NAND flash chip embedded in a thin plastic card, although some higher capacity cards contain multiple, linked chips, it was one of the smallest and thinnest of the early memory cards, only 0.76mm thick, managed to maintain a favorable cost ratio as compared to the others. SmartMedia cards lack a built-in controller chip.
This feature caused problems, since some older devices would require firmware updates to handle larger capacity cards. The lack of built-in controller made it impossible for the card to perform automatic wear levelling, a process which prevents premature wearout of a sector by mapping the writes to various other sectors in the card. SmartMedia cards can be used in a standard 3.5" floppy drive by means of a FlashPath adapter. This is the only way of obtaining flash memory functionality with old hardware, it remains one of SmartMedia's most distinctive features; this method was not without its own disadvantages, as it required special drivers offering only basic file read/write capability and was limited to floppy disk transfer speeds. However, this was not so troublesome in the earlier days of the format when card sizes were limited and USB interfaces were both uncommon and low-speed, with digital cameras connecting via "high speed" serial links that themselves needed drivers and special transfer programs.
The fifteen minutes taken to read a nearly-full 16MB card - directly to hard disk - via Flashpath using the slowest PC floppy controller was still simpler and faster than the quickest reliable serial link, without the need for connection and thumbnail previewing, only beaten by expensive parallel-port based external card readers that could do the same job in two minutes or less when connected to a compatible high-speed ECP or EPP port. SmartMedia cards were used as storage for portable devices, in a form that could be removed for access by a PC. For example, pictures taken with a digital camera would be stored as image files on a SmartMedia card. A user could copy the images to a computer with a SmartMedia reader. A reader was a small box connected via USB or some other serial connection. Modern computers, both laptops and desktops, will have SmartMedia slots built in. While availability of dedicated SmartMedia readers has dropped off, readers that read multiple card types continue to include the format, but these have decreased in quantity, with many dropping SmartMedia in favour of MicroSD and/or Memory Stick Micro.
SmartMedia was popular in digital cameras, reached its peak in about 2001 when it garnered nearly half of the digital camera market. It was backed by Fujifilm and Olympus, though the format started to exhibit problems as camera resolutions increased. Cards larger than 128 MB were not available, the compact digital cameras were reaching a size where SmartMedia cards were too big to be convenient. Toshiba switched to smaller, higher-capacity Secure Digital cards, SmartMedia ceased to have major support after Olympus and Fujifilm both switched to xD, it did not find as much support in PDAs, MP3 Players, or Pagers as some other formats in North America and Europe, though there was still significant use. SmartMedia cards larger than 128 MB were never released, although there were rumors of a 256 MB card being planned. Technical specifications for the memory size were released, the 256 MB cards were advertised in some places; some older devices cannot support cards larger than 16 or sometimes 32 MB without a firmware update, if at all.
SmartMedia cards came in two formats, 5 V and the more modern 3.3 V, named for their main supply voltages. The packaging was nearly identical, except for the reversed placement of the notched corner. Many older SmartMedia devices only support 5V SmartMedia cards, whereas many newer devices only support 3.3V cards. In order to protect 3.3V cards from being damaged in 5V-only devices, the card reader should have some mechanical provision to disallow insertion of an unsupported type of card. Some low-cost, 5V-only card readers do not operate this way, inserting a 3.3V card into such a 5V-only reader will result in permanent damage to the card. Dual-voltage card readers are recommended. There is an oversized xD-to-SmartMedia adapter that allows xD cards to use a SmartMedia port, but it does not fit inside a SmartMedia slot. There is a limit on the capacity of the xD card when used in such adapters, the device is subject to the restrictions of the SmartMedia reader as well. SmartMedia memory cards are no longer manufactured as of around 2006.
There have been no new devices designed for SmartMedia for quite a long time now. Smartmedia cards are still available on eBay in used condition with new cards coming up from
The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable; the works of William Shakespeare and Beethoven, most early silent films, are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are dedicated by their authors to the public domain; the term public domain is not applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as "under license" or "with permission". As rights vary by country and jurisdiction, a work may be subject to rights in one country and be in the public domain in another; some rights depend on registrations on a country-by-country basis, the absence of registration in a particular country, if required, gives rise to public-domain status for a work in that country.
The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". Although the term "domain" did not come into use until the mid-18th century, the concept "can be traced back to the ancient Roman Law, as a preset system included in the property right system." The Romans had a large proprietary rights system where they defined "many things that cannot be owned" as res nullius, res communes, res publicae and res universitatis. The term res nullius was defined as things not yet appropriated; the term res communes was defined as "things that could be enjoyed by mankind, such as air and ocean." The term res publicae referred to things that were shared by all citizens, the term res universitatis meant things that were owned by the municipalities of Rome. When looking at it from a historical perspective, one could say the construction of the idea of "public domain" sprouted from the concepts of res communes, res publicae, res universitatis in early Roman law.
When the first early copyright law was first established in Britain with the Statute of Anne in 1710, public domain did not appear. However, similar concepts were developed by French jurists in the 18th century. Instead of "public domain", they used terms such as publici juris or propriété publique to describe works that were not covered by copyright law; the phrase "fall in the public domain" can be traced to mid-19th century France to describe the end of copyright term. The French poet Alfred de Vigny equated the expiration of copyright with a work falling "into the sink hole of public domain" and if the public domain receives any attention from intellectual property lawyers it is still treated as little more than that, left when intellectual property rights, such as copyright and trademarks, expire or are abandoned. In this historical context Paul Torremans describes copyright as a, "little coral reef of private right jutting up from the ocean of the public domain." Copyright law differs by country, the American legal scholar Pamela Samuelson has described the public domain as being "different sizes at different times in different countries".
Definitions of the boundaries of the public domain in relation to copyright, or intellectual property more regard the public domain as a negative space. According to James Boyle this definition underlines common usage of the term public domain and equates the public domain to public property and works in copyright to private property. However, the usage of the term public domain can be more granular, including for example uses of works in copyright permitted by copyright exceptions; such a definition regards work in copyright as private property subject to fair-use rights and limitation on ownership. A conceptual definition comes from Lange, who focused on what the public domain should be: "it should be a place of sanctuary for individual creative expression, a sanctuary conferring affirmative protection against the forces of private appropriation that threatened such expression". Patterson and Lindberg described the public domain not as a "territory", but rather as a concept: "here are certain materials – the air we breathe, rain, life, thoughts, ideas, numbers – not subject to private ownership.
The materials that compose our cultural heritage must be free for all living to use no less than matter necessary for biological survival." The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". A public-domain book is a book with no copyright, a book, created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited. In most countries the term of protection of copyright lasts until January first, 70 years after the death of the latest living author; the longest copyright term is in Mexico, which has life plus 100 years for all deaths since July 1928. A notable exception is the United States, where every book and tale published prior to 1924 is in the public domain.
Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Windows families include Windows Embedded. Defunct Windows families include Windows Mobile and Windows Phone. Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985, as a graphical operating system shell for MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces. Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal computer market with over 90% market share, overtaking Mac OS, introduced in 1984. Apple came to see Windows as an unfair encroachment on their innovation in GUI development as implemented on products such as the Lisa and Macintosh. On PCs, Windows is still the most popular operating system. However, in 2014, Microsoft admitted losing the majority of the overall operating system market to Android, because of the massive growth in sales of Android smartphones.
In 2014, the number of Windows devices sold was less than 25 %. This comparison however may not be relevant, as the two operating systems traditionally target different platforms. Still, numbers for server use of Windows show one third market share, similar to that for end user use; as of October 2018, the most recent version of Windows for PCs, tablets and embedded devices is Windows 10. The most recent versions for server computers is Windows Server 2019. A specialized version of Windows runs on the Xbox One video game console. Microsoft, the developer of Windows, has registered several trademarks, each of which denote a family of Windows operating systems that target a specific sector of the computing industry; as of 2014, the following Windows families are being developed: Windows NT: Started as a family of operating systems with Windows NT 3.1, an operating system for server computers and workstations. It now consists of three operating system subfamilies that are released at the same time and share the same kernel: Windows: The operating system for mainstream personal computers and smartphones.
The latest version is Windows 10. The main competitor of this family is macOS by Apple for personal computers and Android for mobile devices. Windows Server: The operating system for server computers; the latest version is Windows Server 2019. Unlike its client sibling, it has adopted a strong naming scheme; the main competitor of this family is Linux. Windows PE: A lightweight version of its Windows sibling, meant to operate as a live operating system, used for installing Windows on bare-metal computers, recovery or troubleshooting purposes; the latest version is Windows PE 10. Windows IoT: Initially, Microsoft developed Windows CE as a general-purpose operating system for every device, too resource-limited to be called a full-fledged computer. However, Windows CE was renamed Windows Embedded Compact and was folded under Windows Compact trademark which consists of Windows Embedded Industry, Windows Embedded Professional, Windows Embedded Standard, Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows Embedded Automotive.
The following Windows families are no longer being developed: Windows 9x: An operating system that targeted consumers market. Discontinued because of suboptimal performance. Microsoft now caters to the consumer market with Windows NT. Windows Mobile: The predecessor to Windows Phone, it was a mobile phone operating system; the first version was called Pocket PC 2000. The last version is Windows Mobile 6.5. Windows Phone: An operating system sold only to manufacturers of smartphones; the first version was Windows Phone 7, followed by Windows Phone 8, the last version Windows Phone 8.1. It was succeeded by Windows 10 Mobile; the term Windows collectively describes any or all of several generations of Microsoft operating system products. These products are categorized as follows: The history of Windows dates back to 1981, when Microsoft started work on a program called "Interface Manager", it was announced in November 1983 under the name "Windows", but Windows 1.0 was not released until November 1985.
Windows 1.0 was to achieved little popularity. Windows 1.0 is not a complete operating system. The shell of Windows 1.0 is a program known as the MS-DOS Executive. Components included Calculator, Cardfile, Clipboard viewer, Control Panel, Paint, Reversi and Write. Windows 1.0 does not allow overlapping windows. Instead all windows are tiled. Only modal dialog boxes may appear over other windows. Microsoft sold as included Windows Development libraries with the C development environment, which included numerous windows samples. Windows 2.0 was released in December 1987, was more popular than its predecessor. It features several improvements to the user memory management. Windows 2.03 changed the OS from tiled windows to overlapping windows. The result of this change led to Apple Computer filing a suit against Microsoft alleging infringement on Apple's copyrights. Windows 2.0
Homebrew (video games)
Homebrew is a term applied to video games or other software produced by consumers to target proprietary hardware platforms that are not user-programmable or that use proprietary storage methods. This can include games developed with official development kits, such as Net Yaroze, Linux for PlayStation 2 or Microsoft XNA. A game written by a non-professional developer for a system intended to be consumer-programmable, like the Commodore 64, is called hobbyist. Along with the Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation Portable, the most used platforms for homebrew development are older generations of consoles, among them the Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System; the relative simplicity of older systems enables an individual or small group to develop acceptable games in a reasonable time frame. All major sixth generation consoles enjoy some use by homebrew developers, but less so than earlier generations; this is the case because software production requires more resources, accurate emulators do not exist yet, the consoles themselves employ rather complex systems to prevent the execution of unauthorized code.
Homebrew developers must exploit loopholes to enable their software to run. Homebrewing is not only limited to games. Homebrew games for older systems are developed using emulators for convenience since testing them requires no extra hardware on the part of the programmer. Development for newer systems involves actual hardware given the lack of accurate emulators. Efforts have been made to use actual console hardware for many older systems, though. Atari 2600 homebrew developers use various methods, for example, burning an EEPROM to plug into a custom cartridge board or audio transfer via the Starpath Supercharger. Game Boy Advance homebrew developers have several ways to use GBA flash cartridges in this regard. In 2009, Odball became the first game for the Magnavox Odyssey since 1973, it was produced by Robert Vinciguerra. On July 11, 2011, Dodgeball was published by Chris Read. A handful of homebrew games have been programmed for the Fairchild Channel F, the first console to use ROM cartridges.
The first known release is Sean Riddle's Lights Out which included instructions on how to modify the SABA#20 Chess game into a Multi-Cartridge. There is a version of Tetris and in 2008 "Videocart 27: Pac-Man" became the first full production homebrew for the Channel F; the Atari 2600, released in 1977, is a popular platform for homebrew projects. Games created for the Atari 2600 can be executed using either an emulator or directly when copied onto a blank cartridge making use of either a PROM or EPROM chip. Unlike systems, the console does not require a modchip. Although there is one high-level compiler available, batari Basic, most development for the Atari 2600 is still done in 6502 assembly language. Combined with the limited resources of the 2600, it is a difficult system to develop for, some games are programmed for the technical challenge. Several compilers are available for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but like the Atari 2600, most development directly applies assembly language. One impediment to NES homebrew development is the relative difficulty involved with producing physical cartridges, although third-party flash carts do exist, making homebrew possible on original NES hardware.
Several varieties of custom processors are used within NES cartridges to expand system capabilities. The hardware lockout mechanism of the NES further complicates the construction of usable physical cartridges. However, the NES-101 removed the 10NES lockout chip so any game, whether homebrew, unlicensed, or another region of an official game, can be played; the 10NES chip can be permanently disabled by performing a minor change to the hardware. Both the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and Sega Master System benefit from limited homebrew development, as there is no physical lockout mechanism, thereby easing the operation of software on these platforms. Homebrew efforts for the Genesis have grown, as there are now several full games scheduled for release in physical form, such as Rick Dangerous 1 & 2 and a port of Teenage Queen. Pier Solar and the Great Architects, Sacred Line Genesis, Coffee Crisis and Frog Feast for the Genesis and Mighty Mighty Missile for the Sega Mega-CD are examples of homebrew games released for Sega consoles.
The 2018 game Tanglewood was developed using original Mega Drive development hardware. The Neo-Geo Home Cart and Arcade Systems can be tough candidates for homebrew development. Neo-Geo AES and MVS cartridges have two separate boards: one for video, one for sound. If programming a cartridge for the system were to occur, it would involve replacing the old ROM chips with your newly programmed ones as the cartridges are in a sense, Arcade boards. NGDevTeam who have released Fast Striker and Gunlord found a workaround with this. What they did was print out their own board, soldered their own ROM chips into them. Programming for the Neo-Geo CD, however is easier than programming for cartridges; the CDs themselves can contain both sound and video respectively. Depending on the Megabit count for a game program, load times will vary. A CD game with low Megabit counts will load only one time. There are now some full games scheduled for release in physical form, such as Neo Xyx
Sixth generation of video game consoles
In the history of video games, the sixth-generation era refers to the computer and video games, video game consoles, handheld gaming devices available at the turn of the 21st century, starting in 1998. Platforms in the sixth generation include consoles from four companies: the Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Xbox; this era began on November 27, 1998, with the Japanese release of the Dreamcast, joined by the PlayStation 2 in March 2000, the GameCube and Xbox in 2001. The Dreamcast was the first to be discontinued, in 2001; the GameCube was next, in 2007, the Xbox in 2009, the PlayStation 2 in 2013. Meanwhile, the seventh generation of consoles started in November 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360. Bit ratings for most consoles fell by the wayside during this era, with the notable exceptions being promotions for the Dreamcast and PS2 that advertised "128-bit graphics" at the start of the generation; the number of "bits" cited in this way in console names refers to the CPU word size, had been used by hardware marketing departments as a "show of power" for many years.
However, there is little to be gained from increasing the word size much beyond 32 or 64 bits because, once this level is reached, performance depends on more varied factors, such as processor clock speed and memory size. The sixth generation of handhelds began with the release of the Neo Geo Pocket Color by SNK in 1998 and Bandai's WonderSwan Color, launched in Japan in 1999. Nintendo maintained its dominant share of the handheld market with the release in 2001 of the Game Boy Advance, which featured many upgrades and new features over the Game Boy; the Game Boy Advance was discontinued around in early 2010. The next generation of handheld consoles began in November 2004, with the North American introduction of the Nintendo DS; the last official Dreamcast games were released in 2002 and 2007. The last GameCube games were released in 2006 and 2007; the last Xbox games were released in 2007 and 2008. Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 was the last game for the PlayStation 2, released in November 2013; the last PS2 game, Final Fantasy XI: Rhapsodies of Vana'diel, was released in May 2015, marking the end of this generation.
The Sony PlayStation 2 achieved sales dominance in this generation, becoming the best-selling console in history, with over 150 million units sold as of February 2011. The Microsoft Xbox had sold over 24 million units as of May 2006, the Nintendo GameCube had sold 22 million units as of September 2010; the Sega Dreamcast, which arrived prior to all of the others and was discontinued in 2001, came in fourth with 9.13 million sold. The sixth generation began to end when the Xbox was succeeded by the Xbox 360 in late 2005. GameCube hardware was still being produced when the Wii was released in late 2006, but as of June 2008 has been ceased. PlayStation 2 sales continued to be strong into End of 2010, due to the system's large software library, continuing software support, affordable price. In February 2008, the PlayStation 2 outsold both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the United States. Games were still being produced for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube as of 2008, while Dreamcast games were discontinued in 2003.
There were still a few games being produced for the Dreamcast in 2004, but they are NAOMI arcade ports released only in Japan, with small print runs. The PlayStation 2 was still being produced after the launch of the Wii U in 2012, making the sixth generation the second longest generation of all time. Sega's Dreamcast was the first console of the generation and had several features to show an advantage from the competition, including Internet gaming as an optional feature through its built-in modem, a web browser; the console is credited with restoring Sega's reputation, damaged by the earlier failures of the Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, Genesis Nomad and Sega CD. Despite this, the Dreamcast was discontinued prematurely due to numerous factors; the impending and much-hyped PlayStation 2 slowed Dreamcast sales due to the fact that the PlayStation 2 had a built-in DVD player and a huge number of PS1 owners looking to upgrade to the new, backwards-compatible console. In addition, Sega's short-lived support/success of its post-Mega Drive products the Mega-CD, 32X and Saturn had left developers and customers skeptical, with some holding out to see whether the Dreamcast or PlayStation 2 would come out on top.
Sega's decision to implement a GD-ROM for storage medium did save costs but it did not compare well against the PS2's much touted DVD capabilities. Sega was either unable or unwilling to spend the advertising money necessary to compete with Sony, which themselves took massive losses on the PlayStation 2 to gain market-share. With the announcements of the Xbox and GameCube in late 2000, Sega's console was considered by some to be outdated only two years after its release; the previous losses from the Saturn, 32X, Sega/Mega-CD, stagnation of sales due to the PlayStation 2, impending competition from Microsoft and Nintendo caused Sega's revenue to shrink and announce their intention on killing the system in early 2001, dropping the system and leaving the console market in early 2004 in Japan and much earlier in other countries. Sega announced it would shut down SegaNet, an online gaming community that supported online-capable Dreamcast titles. Due to user outcry over the decision, Sega delayed the service's closure by an additional 6 mont