The Sega Saturn software development kit was available for both PC and SGI workstations and consisted of a number of libraries build in-house by sega and a few custom 3rd party.
Official Sega Saturn Development Kit (Hardware)
For the hardware side of the Sega Saturn Development Kit check out this post.
There were multiple sets of compilers available to Sega Saturn developers, the most popular being the Cygnus Solutions version of GCC for SH Microprocessors (Supplied by Sega) and the other was the custom SH-2 compiler developed by
Cygnus Solutions were a company that sold GNU products with enterprise level support to make it easier for developers when they encountered compiler issues.
Although the Cygnus Solutions compiler toolchain supports C++ it was reccomended against it by Sega in their official FAQ released with the compilers due to the larger code size output compared to standard C.
Sega Saturn Hitachi Compiler Toolchain
For more information on Hitachi Compiler for the Saturn check out this post.
Some early #SegaSaturn developer documentation from March 1994 pic.twitter.com/K1UlD2jNoc— Shane Battye🎄 🎮 (@shanebattye) December 12, 2020
The SDK didn’t only provide compilers, there was a set of useful tools provided for a wide variety of tasks such as image conversion and debugging.
Latest Known Version: 1.6
BGCon is a command line tool for graphics designers to convert their images into a Sega Saturn ready image format.
It supports the following formats as input:
The only output format it supports is SGA3 with or without header information.
Created by Geoff Caras of
The Igneous Group it is software with included source code to contact a Sega Saturn CartDev kit from a PC.
The HSITool is a command line program that runs on the PC to connect to the saturn development kit. It uses the SCSI and ASPI interface to control the CartDev hardware from the PC.
You can do actions such as read memory or capture audio output. Very useful for debugging as you can get the current registers or even write new register values when at a breakpoint.
The source code is available under
SegaSaturnCoffLoad.png ￼ COFFLoad.exe is a tool to send a compiled Sega Saturn executable (.coff) to a Sega CardDev kit to run the executable on the Saturn.
The source code of this tool is available in the
There were two major libraries for sega saturn developement, the low level Sega Basic Library (SBL) and the high level Sega 3D Game Library (SGL).
Latest Known Version: 6.01 The Sega Basic Library is a low level API for as close to bare metal access to the hardware as you can get, it is ideal for 2D pixel based games.
The Interrupt folder inside the Sega Basic library holds a sample of how to use interrupts called
The sample displays two timers and the Hblank interrupt count. It makes heavy use of the Scroll 2D library to display the text.
It also gives some advice how to do Direct Memory Access (DMA) transfers, which can be triggered by interrupts such as HBlank or VBlank.
The SegaBin contains various 3D format converters and CD manipulation programs.
This includes pre-built executables for a range of PCs such as HP, SUN and Windows. It also contains the source code for the converter tools and a few samples as noted in the table below.
|BINCD||Windows binaries for CD management and emulation|
|BINHP||Unix Binaries for HP computers|
|BINSUN||Unix Binaries for Sun Microsystems computers|
|DGTTO3DT||Source code for the DGT to 3DTable converter|
|DXFTO3DT||Sample files for use with the DXF To 3DTable converter|
|MAN_JPN||Japanese SDK Manual|
|S3DTO3DT||Source code for the Sega3d to 3dTable converter (you can find the executable in the /bin directory)|
|TIMESTMP||A single C source code example for generating a timestamp|
|VCD||JVC drivers for the Saturn Video CD Card|
MFCat is a command line tool that converts a binary file to a
SIMM (Single In-line Memory Module?) file.
rof2bin command line executable converts .ABS files to Binary format files (.bin).
But what are .ABS files?
The SegaDat folder is well as the name suggests a folder with Sega Saturn data files in it. What sort of data you ask?
Well it seems to be data that by default gets put on every disk, including the Sega “Warning Message” that plays when you try to put a game in an Audio CD player. Also it includes fonts used to display the warning message at the start of each game.
It looks like the file
sega_wrn.da is the audio file that plays when you put a sega saturn disc in an audio player.
One of the very nice things about the sega saturn SDK is that it actually contains the full source code to all the libraries that make up the SDK. The C and ASM source files are all located inside the SEGALIB folder seperated into folders based on the library name.
Each folder contains a:
|AWK||Awk scripts for gasm|
|CSH||Cache Simulation library|
|DMA||Direct memory access library|
|DSP||Library to load programs into the Saturn SCU DSP|
|FLD||File loader library|
|GFS||General File System|
|INCLUDE||Header Files (C Includes)|
|LIB||Contains all the prebuilt libraries in both .a and .lib format|
|MAN_JPN||Japanese Manual Documentation|
|PCM||Audio PCM/AD-PCM playback|
|SDD||Sound Driver source code (assembly)|
|SHC||Hitachi SH C compile library source, only seems to implement one function
|STM||Stream System Library|
This contains tons of great samples of how to use all the libraries in the Sega Saturn development kit.
The samples are pre-compiled in the
COF folder as valid Sega Saturn executables.
It also seems to compile
.ABS files into the
ABS folder but I am unsure what they are used for.
|ABS||Build output folder of ABS files (not sure what abs files are, but 1 per sample is created)|
|BUP||Back UP library sample|
|COF||Build output folder of COFF Saturn executables|
|CSH||Cache Simulation library sample|
|DBG||Debug library sample|
|DMA||DMA library sample|
|DUAL||Slave CPU example|
|FLD||File loader example|
|GAME||Demo game source code|
|GAME_CD||Same sample game but with a few additions for CD Music playback|
|GFS||General File system library samples|
|LIB||Start module examples|
|MAN_JPN||Manual/Documentation in Japanese|
|MEM||Memory management samples|
|MPG||MPEG Video sample|
|PCM||Audio playback samples|
|PER||Peripheral samples (e.g mouse, gun, keyboard)|
|SCL||VDP2 graphics examples|
|SYS||Application initialization program sample|
|V_BLANK||VBlank usage sample|
Latest Known Version: 3.02 The Sega 3D Game Library (SGL) is a high level API designed for creating 3D games. It does not provide as low-level access as the Sega Basic Library but the two can be used together.
Note that this can also sometimes be called the Sega Graphics library, both are used throughout the official Sega documentation.
Contains builds of the GNU Free Software AWK for windows.
The GNU Assembler (GASM) uses the AWK files to help assemble source input, so these are sort of like part of the source code of the assembler.
The Demos folder Contains 4 Demos in source code form ready to be compiled using the GNU compiler toolchain for Sega Saturn.
Compile with: GNU 2.7+ (GCC for SH2)) Written in: C
CD Audio demo very simple with only one C source file.
The Chrome demo shows various graphical effects such as gouraud shading, bump mapping and chrome finish for simple objects.
Compile with: GNU 2.7+ (GCC for SH2)) Written in: C This is a demo game where you fly a spaceship (flying saucer) and shoot at enemies below.
Functions that have the prefix CDC_ are part of the CD Communication library.
There are two different sample folders for this library, called sample1 and sample2.
Assembly source code for the Sega Saturn Sound driver interface.
The software for 2D/3D Artists, Designers and sound editors are covered in the following post:
Sega Saturn Artist Tools
For the artist tools used for Sega Saturn Development check out this post.
|VCD||Either VirtualCD or Video CD depending the context|