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FPGA Based Videogame System

FPGA

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Poll: Interest in an FPGA Videogame System (474 member(s) have cast votes)

I would pay....

  1. > $100 (41 votes [8.65%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.65%

  2. $100-149 (66 votes [13.92%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.92%

  3. $150-199 (137 votes [28.90%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 28.90%

  4. $200-299 (131 votes [27.64%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 27.64%

  5. Sky's the Limit (99 votes [20.89%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 20.89%

I Would Like Support for...

  1. 8 bit era games (398 votes [45.96%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 45.96%

  2. 16 bit era games (397 votes [45.84%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 45.84%

  3. Blip (71 votes [8.20%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.20%

Games Should Run From...

  1. SD Card / USB Memory Sticks (414 votes [54.91%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 54.91%

  2. Original Cartridges (299 votes [39.66%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 39.66%

  3. Hopes and Dreams (41 votes [5.44%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 5.44%

The Video Inteface Should be...

  1. RGB (182 votes [18.88%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 18.88%

  2. Composite (155 votes [16.08%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 16.08%

  3. S-video (88 votes [9.13%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 9.13%

  4. Component (126 votes [13.07%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.07%

  5. HDMI (413 votes [42.84%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 42.84%

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#4451 gulps OFFLINE  

gulps

    Star Raider

  • 84 posts

Posted Yesterday, 4:26 AM

The super gameboy runs the GBCPU off the 21.47727Mz/5 which is kinda close to the nominal 2^22hz.   (4.295454MHz vs. 4.194394MHz)  This is a difference of around 2.4% faster.  This doesn't affect compatibility with any GB games, but it does make the audio pitch slightly higher and the games run slightly faster.   The framerates are not synchronized, and the GB still runs slightly slow relative to NTSC.   The SGB2 fixes the speed issue by using a custom rate crystal that is 5*2^22Hz (20.97152MHz).   The hardware is mostly the same on the 2 but they use the GB pocket chip with built in VRAM vs. the original DMG chip + external VRAM on the SGB 1.   The SGB2 also runs slower than the NTSC frame rate.

 

In both cases there is a tear line that slowly moves up? the screen (think it's up) on anything that scrolls horizontally every GB frame.    When you run it on a PAL SNES the SGB1 still runs at pretty much the same rate it does on NTSC, except the frame is sent out 50x a second vs. 60 so it is dropping frames.  This causes scrolling to be kind of "chunky" as a result.

 

I suspect the SGB1 didn't have a link port due to cost issues, and possibly the 2.4% speed issue but it is synchronous (data + clock) so I don't think it would've mattered too much if it ran slightly fast.

 

This means than we need the portable Analogue Nt mini as the "FPGA-Boy"!

 

Design like classic GB or GBC :)



#4452 Shin_K OFFLINE  

Shin_K

    Combat Commando

  • 9 posts

Posted Yesterday, 11:48 AM

My personal guess about the Super NT jaibroken fw is that it is going to include some of the enhancement chips because Kevtris has at least a SA-1 custom board for reverse engeenering :
https://youtu.be/-Mk8oO6TRl4?t=3h8m50s

^^



#4453 cfillak OFFLINE  

cfillak

    Star Raider

  • 53 posts

Posted Yesterday, 12:33 PM

My personal guess about the Super NT jaibroken fw is that it is going to include some of the enhancement chips because Kevtris has at least a SA-1 custom board for reverse engeenering :
https://youtu.be/-Mk8oO6TRl4?t=3h8m50s

^^

I'm hoping if/when there's a jailbreak firmware it'll at least include the chips that are currently simulated on the SD2SNES, even if the different chips have to be shuffled off to a "second" SNES core, like is done with some of the mappers on the NT Mini NES core. SA1 and SuperFX jailbreak support would be amazing, but I understand it may not be possible. This brings to mind 2 questions I've been thinking about regarding the Super NT for awhile now:

 

1. For SA-1 and SuperFX, would it be possible to use a real cartridge equipped with these chips as a "donor cart", so to speak, to just use the real chips for processing, but load the rom from the internal "rom cart" on the FPGA? I assume this would be impossible if there is any interface between SA1 or SuperFX and the ROM on the cartridge, but i would think it would be feasible if the chips only interfaced with system RAM.

 

2. Assume unlimited FPGA space and the successful reverse engineering and implementation of all of the SNES enhancement chips onto a single FPGA core. Could some kind of crazy homebrew be written that could use all of the expansion chips?



#4454 Kismet OFFLINE  

Kismet

    Chopper Commander

  • 171 posts

Posted Yesterday, 2:14 PM

I'm hoping if/when there's a jailbreak firmware it'll at least include the chips that are currently simulated on the SD2SNES, even if the different chips have to be shuffled off to a "second" SNES core, like is done with some of the mappers on the NT Mini NES core. SA1 and SuperFX jailbreak support would be amazing, but I understand it may not be possible. This brings to mind 2 questions I've been thinking about regarding the Super NT for awhile now:

 

1. For SA-1 and SuperFX, would it be possible to use a real cartridge equipped with these chips as a "donor cart", so to speak, to just use the real chips for processing, but load the rom from the internal "rom cart" on the FPGA? I assume this would be impossible if there is any interface between SA1 or SuperFX and the ROM on the cartridge, but i would think it would be feasible if the chips only interfaced with system RAM.

 

2. Assume unlimited FPGA space and the successful reverse engineering and implementation of all of the SNES enhancement chips onto a single FPGA core. Could some kind of crazy homebrew be written that could use all of the expansion chips?

 

1. Donor carts, No it wouldn't be directly possible because of where the chip exists in the cart. The Mask ROM, and SRAM are always connected. At least two pinout maps out there suggest that the south end of the SA1 chip connects to the SNES bus and the north end connects to the MASK ROM along the same bus. The problem I see is that even if the ROM/SRAM is prevented from being accessed by the FPGA CPU, there is nothing stopping the SA1 from accessing it. The most likely scenario here is really to have the SD2SNES or some other flashcart emulate the chip alone if additional FPGA power is needed. But it's likely that all the chips could be emulated by the NT Mini, just not all at the same time (and that's an unlikely configuration.) So you might have to switch between "SNES+SFX","SNES+DSP's","SNES+SA1" modes or something in the same way you'd switch between a GB, SGB, GBC.

 

2. In theory yes, for practical reasons, unlikely. 

 

The SuperFX chip is a RISC CPU that acts like a GPU in modern contexts. In theory you could "overclock" it.

The Cx4 chip is a DSP by Capcom

DSP1-4 are DSP's by Nintendo

S-DD1 is basically a hardware image decompression chip

S-RTC is a real time clock

SA-1 is a faster 5A22 that acts in parallel with the system CPU, hence this requires roughly the same amount of FPGA space as the main CPU

SPC7110 is another image decompression chip plus a RTC

ST010,011 and 018 are all CPU's used for AI in games, of which the latter two are only used in Shogi titles, and the 018 is out of reach for a FPGA, having CPU power closer to that of the GBA.

 

If you could access all of them at the same time, you'd jam up the expansion bus, and it's likely that something like the SA-1 and SuperFX would never be able to communicate with each other.

 

Between the SNES and the Amiga, both systems essentially were early attempts at separating the subsystems to make use of parallelism and waste less bus bandwidth. Where as on the PC at the time, absolutely everything went over a single bus, and manual configuration of addresses and IRQ's were needed. There was no parallelism. If you stuck something like a RAM expansion board into an ISA slot, during the memory test you'd get the onboard memory to test at normal speed, but as soon as it hit the expansion board it would be slowed down to the expansion bus speed, a bus that was shared with the video, sound and other things. I imagine on the SNES, if it were possible to stick something like the SuperFX and the S-DD1 on the same bus, you'd have to use the main CPU to pass data between them, thus slowing the bus bandwidth in half.

 

In theory though, it's a FPGA, you could probably overclock all the chips and the bus. But you'd never be able to get a game to work on to different versions of the JB firmware, let alone any software emulators in order to debug it.



#4455 DadsGlasses OFFLINE  

DadsGlasses

    Chopper Commander

  • 119 posts

Posted Yesterday, 2:41 PM

Just got my SFC NTT Data Controller. Works GREAT with the ColecoVision core.

#4456 cfillak OFFLINE  

cfillak

    Star Raider

  • 53 posts

Posted Yesterday, 2:58 PM

Just got my SFC NTT Data Controller. Works GREAT with the ColecoVision core.

Nice, I recently got 2 from amazon japan via a japanese middleman/buyer site. Now just waiting on my Raphnet adapters. My friend works at WGN and they were going to recycle all of their PVMs/BVMs and I helped him haul them out and ended up with a new in box BVM-201FU for 60 bucks, but no control box. So until i get a control box I can't use RGB on the monitor because of how sync works, but it does accept and autodetect YPbPr without the control box... once I got the necessary BNC to RCA adapters. All of these things I'm buying are causing me to buy other things.



#4457 Wolf_ OFFLINE  

Wolf_

    Moonsweeper

  • 259 posts

Posted Yesterday, 5:31 PM

I'm hoping if/when there's a jailbreak firmware it'll at least include the chips that are currently simulated on the SD2SNES, even if the different chips have to be shuffled off to a "second" SNES core, like is done with some of the mappers on the NT Mini NES core. SA1 and SuperFX jailbreak support would be amazing, but I understand it may not be possible. This brings to mind 2 questions I've been thinking about regarding the Super NT for awhile now:

 

1. For SA-1 and SuperFX, would it be possible to use a real cartridge equipped with these chips as a "donor cart", so to speak, to just use the real chips for processing, but load the rom from the internal "rom cart" on the FPGA? I assume this would be impossible if there is any interface between SA1 or SuperFX and the ROM on the cartridge, but i would think it would be feasible if the chips only interfaced with system RAM.

 

2. Assume unlimited FPGA space and the successful reverse engineering and implementation of all of the SNES enhancement chips onto a single FPGA core. Could some kind of crazy homebrew be written that could use all of the expansion chips?

1) It should be possible, other devices can do it so I see no reason why a fpga couldn't replicate that. Having said that, I think that would be a last ditch way to get the chips working after everything else had failed. Fairly certain Kevtris intends to just support them outright.
2) Sure it would be possible but it will almost certainly never happen because of the power needed to do it and the effort needed to code and implement it all so someone could maybe make a game with it.



#4458 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

Kosmic Stardust

    Princess Rescuer

  • 15,489 posts
  • Location:Milky Way Galaxy

Posted Yesterday, 9:44 PM

My personal guess about the Super NT jaibroken fw is that it is going to include some of the enhancement chips because Kevtris has at least a SA-1 custom board for reverse engeenering :
https://youtu.be/-Mk8oO6TRl4?t=3h8m50s

^^

If Kevtris has something up his sleeve, he's keeping quiet about it. He very well may be sitting on Super FX and SA-1 cores, but another hurdle is if the RAM access is fast enough to interface ie a 22Mhz FX-2 CPU or even the 11Mhz FX and only slightly slower SA-1.

 

There's also a couple of potential snags with release of the jailbreak software on Super NT (not present on the NT Mini) or the Super NT core being present on a future Zimba3000.

 

For starters, if Kevtris is doing work for hire, then his SNES core would be the property of Analogue, meaning Kevtris would explicitly need to ask for permission in order to release a jailbreak firmware with the SNES core. Again, I don't see Analogue having issues with this as it would boost sales of the Super NT.

 

A bigger hurdle is Kevtris retaining rights to his own code if in fact the SNES core is considered work for hire. Generally IP created by an employee during the course of his or her employment remains the property of the company. For instance if a cartoonist working for Disney does an illustration of Mickey Mouse, he cannot turn around and sell prints of it online. So the other cores made during Kevtris' free time are presumably not property of Analogue, but the SNES core is.

 

So if Kevtris designs a "Zimba 3000" system and kickstarts it or starts production of his ultimate FPGA gaming system, the SNES core would have to be licensed from Analogue, which is unlikely for as long as the Super NT is marketed and sold by Analogue.

 

So the next best thing that could happen is the Super NT becomes the Zimba3000, playing both 8-bit and 16-bit software from a variety of consoles. I'm not sure if SNES controller port have enough pins to be reassigned for NES / Famicom carts, but most other consoles would work in theory through pin adapters, save for N64 and GBA being clocked too fast / too advanced for the FPGA.

 

By sheer pin count, Famicom have only two more pins than a full SNES slot plus expansion pins (and some of those pins are duplicate VCC/GND), but not all 58 pins may be directly reconfigurable, for instance special functions like the analog audio input pins.

 

I would definitely pay for a Genesis adapter however, should one ever be fabricated. And Atari as well.

 

For NES, well I still have the AVS but NES cores for the Super NT would be a nice gesture.

 

Wow, that was a lot of speculation on my part... :cool:



#4459 Wolf_ OFFLINE  

Wolf_

    Moonsweeper

  • 259 posts

Posted Yesterday, 10:36 PM

For starters, if Kevtris is doing work for hire, then his SNES core would be the property of Analogue, meaning Kevtris would explicitly need to ask for permission in order to release a jailbreak firmware with the SNES core. Again, I don't see Analogue having issues with this as it would boost sales of the Super NT.

That is correct, but it assumes Kevtris doesn't have those rights already.

I personally am not predicting Kevtris intends to go through with the Z3k on his own as the Super Nt should basically make it redundant (with the exception of the N64) and simply don't see Analogue having much of a desire to strong arm him in negotiations about using code they couldn't get without him to add a massive selling point to their product. They would have neither the leverage nor the desire.



#4460 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

Kosmic Stardust

    Princess Rescuer

  • 15,489 posts
  • Location:Milky Way Galaxy

Posted Yesterday, 10:40 PM

That is correct, but it assumes Kevtris doesn't have those rights already.

I personally am not predicting Kevtris intends to go through with the Z3k on his own as the Super Nt should basically make it redundant (with the exception of the N64) and simply don't see Analogue having much of a desire to strong arm him in negotiations about using code they couldn't get without him to add a massive selling point to their product. They would have neither the leverage nor the desire.

I'm just wondering if Kevtris could retain ownership of the SNES core should something happen to analogue.

N64 FPGA won't be happening for a while yet. It WILL happen, but it will take a long time.

#4461 Wolf_ OFFLINE  

Wolf_

    Moonsweeper

  • 259 posts

Posted Yesterday, 10:49 PM

I'm just wondering if Kevtris could retain ownership of the SNES core should something happen to analogue.

N64 FPGA won't be happening for a while yet. It WILL happen, but it will take a long time.

That is a good question and I suppose it would largely depend upon the wording of his contract. Personally though I'm predicting Analogue to do extremely well with the release of the Super Nt so I can't imagine them going anywhere.

Also yes, I was in no way saying I expect a N64 fpga to be happening anytime soon, I mean the snes just came out. I figure the bare minimum they would want to get out of that is 18 months or they would risk fatiguing the market even at the new low price. And Kevtris should probably take a vacation or something at some point, he's been working like a madman.


Edited by Wolf_, Yesterday, 10:50 PM.


#4462 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

Kosmic Stardust

    Princess Rescuer

  • 15,489 posts
  • Location:Milky Way Galaxy

Posted Yesterday, 11:07 PM

Word. N64 is orders of magnitude more complex than SNES both in CPU complexity, speed, and memory.

#4463 Wolf_ OFFLINE  

Wolf_

    Moonsweeper

  • 259 posts

Posted Yesterday, 11:28 PM

Word. N64 is orders of magnitude more complex than SNES both in CPU complexity, speed, and memory.

Yea, the 18 months thing was under the assumption the product was even ready and given the time it would take to develop and that hardware capable of running it might not be cost effective it could easily be way longer than that.



#4464 Sneakyturtleegg OFFLINE  

Sneakyturtleegg

    Chopper Commander

  • 114 posts
  • Location:Syracuse, NY

Posted Yesterday, 11:46 PM

I believe the work Kevtris is doing for Analogue (NT Mini, Super NT, and future projects) is for sure, the foundation for his Zimba 3000. It is likely an intermediate to long term project. The Super NT may get a few more bells and whistles, but I don't think it is going to be the Zimba 3000. I would guess Kevin wants to design and tailor that from the ground up. He would implement the cores he would have already been paid to develope. This would likely be after his work with Analogue is done and the systems he worked on were no longer in production. I would also think that FPGA technology needs to mature a bit more and become less expensive for a feasible "all in one" system like the Zimba 3000. I guess it would be determined by the cut off point for the systems the Zimba 3000 would support.



#4465 Schizophretard ONLINE  

Schizophretard

    River Patroller

  • 4,701 posts

Posted Today, 1:20 AM

I doubt Analogue owns his SNES core. He is likely just licensing it to them. Kind of like how he would have for the Coleco Chameleon but Mike Kennedy would rather buy cores for cheap from the local "Core Store".

#4466 cfillak OFFLINE  

cfillak

    Star Raider

  • 53 posts

Posted Today, 10:03 AM

While software companies usually own the IP of anything you work on while working there, I think Kevtris is in a unique position to negotiate more favorable licensing. His skills and specific interest in this niche field, along with his proven track record of actually completing cores is probably rare enough that Analogue would be willing to license his core rather than owning the IP outright.

 

Also, now that Kevtris is involved with Analogue in a more official capacity, I can see them going through his other already completed cores to use as the basis for future bespoke consoles. Specifically Gameboy/Gameboy Color and Atari 2600. I would definitely buy a portable FPGA-boy with a GB/C cart slot backlit screen (perhaps at double the native resolution), and hopefully jailbreak firmware to add other portable cores like Game Gear, Supervision, Gamate, Game King etc. as well as any cores that would fit and work with the simple Gameboy style controls. The FPGA could potentially be smaller if the screen is only 480p, so less space for the scaling would be necessary.

 

We'll see what happens once the Super NT is released, regarding jailbreak firmware and Analogue's future plans. If they allow a jailbreak firmware with rom loading and ports of old cores (minus perhaps NES/Famicom, which is understandable), I think their strategy going forward is this:

 

Get the price down to mass market territory, advertise as a way to play your old carts on a modern TV, allow jailbreak features to cater to enthusiasts like us to boost sales and word of mouth. I think they can do this without cannibalizing sales of future consoles. I think they could allow the GB/GBC cores on the Super NT without cannibalizing future sales of an Analogue GB FPGA-boy, because portability and native compatibility with carts and link cables is valuable. The same goes for the NT Mini. They may decide its ok to port the NES/Famicom core to the Super NT, because native (without adapter) compatibility with original NES/Famicom controllers, accessories, cartridges, FDS etc. is valuable and not available on the Super NT. Similarly, a future Genesis core could be ported to the Super NT, even if there is an Analogue Genesis unit that has an AV in for 32X and pinouts for Sega CD units, because those features would be exclusive.

 

Basically, what I'm saying is they want to sell these things to the masses as simple ways to play their old carts with original controllers on their newfangled HDTVs. Your average person, even your average retro gamer, isn't going to care that much HOW that sausage is made and what's running under the hood. As long as they can sell enough to these average people, I don't see Analogue fully locking down each system they make to one core. I may be totally wrong but that's my prediction.







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