The Nintendo DS (ニンテンドーDS?, sometimes abbreviated to DS or NDS) is a dual-screen handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was released in 2004 in Canada, the United States, and Japan. The console features a clamshell design, similar to the Game Boy Advance SP, with two LCD screens inside—with the bottom one being a touchscreen. The Nintendo DS also features a built-in microphone and supports wireless IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) standards, allowing players to interact with each other within short range (10–30 m, depending on conditions) or online with the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service, which launched later in the console's lifespan. This was the first Nintendo console to be released in North America before Japan.
The system's code name was Nitro, and this can be seen in the model number that appear on the unit (NTR-001).The console's name officially refers to "Developers' System", in reference to developers of new game designs the system was meant to inspire, and "Dual Screen", the system's most obvious and distinct feature.
On March 2, 2006, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS Lite, a redesign of the Nintendo DS, in Japan. It was later released in North America, Europe, and Australia in June 2006. The DS Lite is a slimmer and lighter version of the Nintendo DS and has brighter screens. Nintendo of America refers to the older model as the "original style" Nintendo DS. It is often affectionately referred to by fans as the "DS Phat." On October 2, 2008, Nintendo announced the Nintendo DSi, another redesign of the Nintendo DS, at the Nintendo Fall Media Summit. It was released in Japan on November 1, 2008. It was later released in North America, Europe and Australia in April 2009. The DSi's codename has been changed to "TWL" due to it being a substantial hardware upgrade including a faster CPU and more RAM, and requiring new development kits. Satoru Iwata recently announced in an interview with Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun that the next Nintendo DS iteration will have a high resolution display and motion sensors, defeating rumours that Nintendo were developing a brand new system that succeeded the Nintendo DS. It's also possible, however, that this is the Nintendo handheld console that nVidia were making graphics chips for, as a few nVidia employees had said they were contracted by Nintendo to develop new graphics processors for an undisclosed Nintendo handheld.
The system's 3D hardware performs transform and lighting, texture-coordinate transformation, texture mapping, alpha blending, cel shading, and z-buffering; however, it uses point (nearest neighbor) texture filtering, leading to some titles having a blocky appearance. Unlike most 3D hardware, it has a set limit on the number of triangles it can render as part of a single scene; the maximum amount is about 6144 vertices, or 2048 triangles per frame. The 3D hardware is designed to render to a single screen at a time, so rendering 3D to both screens is difficult and decreases performance significantly. The DS is generally more limited by its polygon budget than by its pixel fill rate. There are also 512 kilobytes of texture memory, and the maximum texture size is 1024x1024 pixels.
The system has 656 kilobytes of video memory and two 2D engines (one per screen). These are similar to (but more powerful than) the Game Boy Advance's single 2D engine; however, the cores are divided into the main core and sub core. Only the main core is capable of vertex 3D rendering.
The Nintendo DS has compatibility with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b). Wi-Fi is used for accessing the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, compete with other users playing the same Wi-Fi compatible game, Pictochat or with a special cartridge and RAM extension, browse the internet.