Sega Dreamcast VMU(Visual Memory Unit)







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The VMU, or Visual Memory Unit is a memory card peripheral for the Dreamcast. Its official name was changed by Sega for each of the three key regions:

Japan = Visual Memory System (VMS)
USA = Visual Memory Unit (VMU)
Europe = Visual Memory (VM)
The name was changed from VMS to VMU for the USA market as the name VMS was already owned and in use by the Digital Equipment Corporation for their VMS operating system. It is not known why the name was changed again to VM for the European market. While its most basic function is as a removable storage device the VMU may also serve as an auxiliary display during normal gameplay and, through use of additional software, act as a handheld game console. Console-like features of the VMU include a small black and white screen, speaker, directional pad, and four buttons. Also the ability to download additional games makes the VMU fall under the same jurisdiction as a game system. They were initially only available in white, but expanded to transparent Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black and many other color variations.


Mini Games

Several titles for the Dreamcast included mini-games that could be downloaded onto a VMU. The Sonic Adventure series, for instance, included the Chao Adventure mini-game. In the game players could transfer Chao eggs to the VMU and play to increase the stats of their hatched Chao, where upon they could upload their improved Chao back into the Dreamcast game. In Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, it can display the current health condition without having to go to the Weapon Screen.


Hardware

The VMU is plugged directly into one of two slots on a Dreamcast controller. Two VMUs may be plugged in each controller. When operated independently of the Dreamcast console, the VMU acts as a file manager with limited game console functionality. VMUs may also connect to each other directly to facilitate file transfer or multiplayer gaming. Upon initial use the player is prompted to select from a group of simple bitmap images to serve as the default background for the VMU. This image is displayed while the Dreamcast console is in the operating system menu; it is usually replaced by a simplified logo during regular gameplay. Some titles display custom animations on the VMU's screen during gameplay, while some titles also offer new background images for the unit. The VMU runs on two CR-2032 lithium batteries which are inserted into the rear of the VMU under a screw-secured lid. Without battery power, the VMU still works as a memory card and auxiliary display, but cannot play downloaded mini-games.

Technical specifications
CPU: 8-bit (Sanyo LC8670 "Potato")
Memory: 128KB flash memory. 28KB is reserved for system use leaving 100KB for data storage, which is divided into 200 'blocks' - 1 block equaling 512 bytes.
Display: 48 dot width × 32 dot height, LCD
Display size (width×height): 37 mm × 26 mm (1.46 in × 1.02 in)
Case dimensions (width×height×depth): 47 mm × 80 mm × 16 mm (1.85 in × 3.15 in × 0.63 in)
Power source: 2 × CR2032 batteries with auto-off function
Sound: 1-channel PWM sound source
Weight: 45 g (1.6 oz)

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