A Look at VM Labs’ NUON — A Modern Retrospective

As regular readers are aware, my own basement “Byte Cellar” is host not only to many different home computers that span the decades but to game consoles of varying vintage, as well. Among these, my most unique and treasured is without question the Samsung NUON Enhanced DVD Player / DVD-N501. Originally called “Project X” by its creators, VM Labs, NUON is a multimedia platform featuring four VLIW processor cores — or “Media Processor Elements” — that VM Labs (and many of us tracking the development of the system back in the late ’90s) felt would become the game system to surpass all others and take the world by storm. As it turns out, it didn’t.

Ars Technica has posted a look at this notable — if short-lived — platform in an article by Richard Moss entitled “Remembering NUON, the gaming chip that nearly changed the world—but didn’t: How DVD players and game consoles nearly combined to rock consumer electronics in the ’90s.” It is a superb piece that gives a solid rundown of this system that the market and manufacturers conspired against.

While you’re at it, check out the excellent NUON synopsis video I recently stumbled across by Aaron Nanto. In just two minutes it gives you a nice taste of what the NUON is all about.

I was made aware of the Ars Technica article by way of a tweet from Jeff Minter ( @llamasoft_ox ) who was the champion of the platform, crafting his exquisite Tempest 3000 as a launch title and authoring the embedded VLM-2 (Virtual Light Machine) visualizer.

Other NUON posts of interest:

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