A patent granted to Nintendo earlier this month, describing a device that would add hard disc, online and TV functions to a console, has sparked rumours about the company's plans - but is actually related the ill-fated 64DD peripheral.
US patent 6,769,989, which was granted on the 3rd of August, refers to a console add-on device which would modify an existing system to include "additional communication and storage capability via a modem and hard disk drive."
The system would also include a cable TV tuner, allowing a "picture in picture" mode whereby users could play games while watching TV in a smaller overlaid window, and the downloading of electronic program guide information from the Internet.
Interestingly given Nintendo's stance on online services on its current console, the GameCube, the patent also describes the device as allowing the download of complete games from the Internet onto the hard drive.
Naturally, given the timing, there has been intense speculation that this patent might represent an inkling of the company's plans for the so-called "Revolution" console, or more likely, a planned add-on for the GameCube.
However, despite only being granted this month, the original patent was actually filed back in 1999, and the picture attached to the patent clearly displays a 64DD unit attached to an N64. The ill-fated peripheral offered many of the functions described by the patent, but was unpopular with consumers and was rapidly discontinued by Nintendo.
This isn't to say that some of that functionality won't make it into Revolution, although in general Nintendo has aimed for pure game devices rather than trying to compete with Sony's vision for building a home media empire based on the PlayStation brand.