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Beta test for the next major release of Stella

cycle-exact sound theading latest stella

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#1 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 7, 2018 6:30 AM

So, after quite some time in development, Stella 6.0 is ready for its first beta test.  That's right, we're bumping the major version number up one notch.  That should give you an idea of how much has changed with the code.  The changelog is pretty huge, but for now I will only mention the most important features that require testing.  In no particular order, they are:

  • Cycle-exact audio core based on work by Chris Brenner (crispy here on AtariAge).  This is based on code directly from crispy's FPGA project, converted to C and eventually massaged into C++ by myself and DirtyHairy.  Much more accurate sound emulation, in particular E.T. sounds correct for the first time in Stella's history.  Ms. Pac-man interference patterns from mixing audio channels is also present.
  • Sound resampling.  The old core output at 31400Hz (native resolution for the 2600).  However, many systems then had to convert it to either 44.1 or 48KHz, with a resulting 'beating' effect (imperfections/popping/clicking in the output).  The new core does resampling by default, allowing to output in 44.1, 48, or 96KHz, with simple (fast, less accurate) or Lanczos-based (slower, more accurate) resamplers.  Several variations in settings are possible.
  • Improved timing.  The TIA emulation and video output have been decoupled, and done in separate threads.  This allows the emulation to more accurately run at the correct speed while not being affected by variations in video output.  PAL games that ran too fast (or slow) should now work correctly.
  • Minimized CPU usage in the UI (mostly the ROM launcher and debugger).  CPU usage drops to nearly nothing in the UI when nothing is changing; in old versions, it could use up to an entire core.
  • Stella gets a new coat of paint :)  Much improved UI, with several different themes (standard, light, classic) in a more 'flat', modern looking form.  Also many nice flourishes here and there, such as tickmarks, better highlighting, much better text descriptions of items, etc.  Also rearranged items slightly, moving them to more appropriate places.
  • New PAL palette.  Should be much more like the real thing, since it was developed and tweaked by an actual PAL user (I personally don't have a PAL system nor the ability to run one).

There are many more items, but these are the ones that need the most testing.  In particular, please test the following:

  • The accuracy of the new sound core.  If you know of a 'trouble' ROM that is different in emulation compared to the real thing, then feedback on this is most appreciated.
  • Play around with all combinations of the stuff in the Audio Dialog (resampling mode, headroom, buffer size, etc) and report any issues.
  • As with the sound core testing, test any trouble ROMs that run out of spec (ie, not close to either 60Hz or 50Hz) and if possible, compare to the real console.  This will tell us if the new timing code is working correctly.
  • Play with the UI extensively.  Basically open/use/close all dialogs in all parts of the app, making sure that (a) the options are actually shown, and (b) that you don't get a blank screen/missing/not updated UI items.
  • For PAL users, please compare the PAL palette with your actual console, to see that it is more accurate in this release.

Of course, if any other bugs are found, then definitely report them.  But the above is what needs the most testing right now.

 

Feedback can be left here, or by creating an issue on the Github tracker.  Without further ado, the builds can be downloaded here.  Note that there are currently only Windows and OSX builds; I can add Linux if enough people request it.

 

So, vigorously test away and report any issues you find.  Remember, Stella can only be as good as the feedback it receives.



#2 Karl G OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 8, 2018 9:06 AM

I downloaded the OS X version and fiddled with the UI a bit.  I like the UI changes, and I greatly prefer the new "light" UI theme.  The only issue I found was changing the launcher font size seemed to have no effect, even after restarting Stella (even though the changed setting is remembered).

 

I played the PAL60 version of the game, and I hope that these colors are more accurate, since they are closer to what I thought they would be going off of color charts when making this version.  I don't have a real PAL system for comparison, either, though.

 

Edit: I will go ahead and create an issue for the font size on the Github tracker.



#3 DirtyHairy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 6:13 AM

Nearly 40 downloads and only one comment? Come on folks :)

 

The introduction of the new, cycle-exact sound core is a full rewrite of the sound code and required additional, major changes to the scheduling loop in order to make sure the emulation always keeps up with audio playback. We'd really like to hear some feedback on whether the new code works the way we designed it, or whether we need to make additional adjustments before releasing 6.0 stable.


Edited by DirtyHairy, Thu Aug 9, 2018 6:13 AM.


#4 TheHoboInYourRoom OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 9:57 AM

Windows 64-bit version on Windows 10 1709:
Stella crashes after trying to run any ROM from the launcher (a black emulation window appears for about half a second before the emulator hangs).

#5 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 10:11 AM

I could help you stress test it if you make an effort to fix the bugs I've found already instead of throwing insults ;)

 

Doing that while simultaneously posting images of my games and shaking a tin cup for Stella is particularly offputting, however I encourage you to keep posting them since they are great fun to play and great for stress testing Stella. 

 

My feedback on 3.x in the Retron77 is that the software renderer is working fine but you are late calling it just like when you first hooked up DirectX and Keatah and I helped you troubleshoot where it was breaking; you should be able to apply the same fix.

 

(whatever routine you call when the aspect ratio is changed correctly hooks the software renderer instead of making the late call, use that mechanism).

 

imo 3.x is the more important build of Stella to support since it's in a real console, but the PC version is also interesting. Also curious why my games have a tendency to fry in the community build that the Stella team participated in but not in the updated Retron build; perhaps code added to recognize the ROM's is not functioning right?

 

 



#6 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 10:17 AM

Windows 64-bit version on Windows 10 1709:
Stella crashes after trying to run any ROM from the launcher (a black emulation window appears for about half a second before the emulator hangs).

 

First try removing the settings.  In Windows Explorer, go to '%APPDATA%\Stella' in the address bar and remove/rename stella.ini.  Then re-test.  This will make sure it isn't an old setting causing a problem.

 

EDIT:  Also try running the 32-bit version too, to see if it has the same issue.



#7 TheHoboInYourRoom OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 10:48 AM

First try removing the settings.  In Windows Explorer, go to '%APPDATA%\Stella' in the address bar and remove/rename stella.ini.  Then re-test.  This will make sure it isn't an old setting causing a problem.
 
EDIT:  Also try running the 32-bit version too, to see if it has the same issue.


After renaming stella.ini:
- 64-bit version still hangs
- 32-bit version works correctly

I also ran the 32-bit version after restoring stella.ini, and it still works fine.

#8 Karl G OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 10:58 AM

For what it's worth, the 64-bit Windows version is also working for me on Windows 10.



#9 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 11:07 AM

After renaming stella.ini:
- 64-bit version still hangs

 

Did 64-bit Stella work on your system in the past (with 5.1 and before)?  Basically trying to narrow down what has changed from the last stable release.  If Stella 64-bit never worked on your system, then we'll have to look elsewhere for the problem.



#10 DirtyHairy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 11:19 AM

Windows 64-bit version on Windows 10 1709:
Stella crashes after trying to run any ROM from the launcher (a black emulation window appears for about half a second before the emulator hangs).

 

 

With crash: do you mean that it locks up, or that it terminates?



#11 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 11:21 AM

After renaming stella.ini:
- 64-bit version still hangs
- 32-bit version works correctly

I also ran the 32-bit version after restoring stella.ini, and it still works fine.

What's your CPU? Does it support SSE2?



#12 TheHoboInYourRoom OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 11:29 AM

Did 64-bit Stella work on your system in the past (with 5.1 and before)?

Yes it has.
 

With crash: do you mean that it locks up, or that it terminates?

Windows terminates it.

 

 

What's your CPU? Does it support SSE2?

AMD A10-7800. It supports SSE2.


I looked in the Event Viewer and this is what it says:

Log Name: Application
Source: Application Error
Date: 8/9/2018 12:17:43 PM
Event ID: 1000
Task Category: (100)
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: DESKTOP-SFLHB57
Description:
Faulting application name: Stella.exe, version: 5.1.1.0, time stamp: 0x5b690149
Faulting module name: ucrtbase.dll, version: 10.0.16299.522, time stamp: 0xcb7c3790
Exception code: 0xc0000409
Fault offset: 0x000000000006b83e
Faulting process id: 0xbec
Faulting application start time: 0x01d43004d8bbffed
Faulting application path: C:\Users\[REDACTED]\Stella-6.0_pre1\64-bit\Stella.exe
Faulting module path: C:\WINDOWS\System32\ucrtbase.dll
Report Id: 46a9048a-f909-4c95-b570-33925a710326
Faulting package full name:
Faulting package-relative application ID:
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Application Error" />
<EventID Qualifiers="0">1000</EventID>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>100</Task>
<Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2018-08-09T17:17:43.998218500Z" />
<EventRecordID>14536</EventRecordID>
<Channel>Application</Channel>
<Computer>DESKTOP-SFLHB57</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data>Stella.exe</Data>
<Data>5.1.1.0</Data>
<Data>5b690149</Data>
<Data>ucrtbase.dll</Data>
<Data>10.0.16299.522</Data>
<Data>cb7c3790</Data>
<Data>c0000409</Data>
<Data>000000000006b83e</Data>
<Data>bec</Data>
<Data>01d43004d8bbffed</Data>
<Data>C:\Users\[REDACTED]\Stella-6.0_pre1\64-bit\Stella.exe</Data>
<Data>C:\WINDOWS\System32\ucrtbase.dll</Data>
<Data>46a9048a-f909-4c95-b570-33925a710326</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>


#13 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 11:30 AM

No surprises so far.  Replaced my 64 and 32 bit copies.  Below is a recent compile using AtariAge cart 64k ROM SuperChip settings.  Thank you Team Stella!

 

Capture.PNG



#14 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 11:35 AM

 

AMD A10-7800. It supports SSE2.

That's not the most common CPU, so it is good that you test with it. Thanks!

 

0xc0000409 is a stack overflow. That should help a little bit.



#15 alex_79 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 12:24 PM

Great to see that the new sound core is finally ready for beta testing. I couldn't find much time for Stella (and Atari stuff in general) this year, but I hope to do some more serious testing after I'm back from vacation in 10 days or so.

Thank you Stephen, Christian and Thomas for your tremendous work!



#16 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 3:27 PM

Stella crashes after trying to run any ROM from the launcher (a black emulation window appears for about half a second before the emulator hangs).

Please try installing the latest VS 2017 redistributable (or update your Windows installation :)).



#17 DirtyHairy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 4:06 PM

Thank you Stephen, Christian and Thomas for your tremendous work!

 

 

Thanks for the kind words ;)



#18 TheHoboInYourRoom OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 9, 2018 7:49 PM

Please try installing the latest VS 2017 redistributable (or update your Windows installation :)).

That worked! Thank you. :)
 
 

  • Improved timing.  The TIA emulation and video output have been decoupled, and done in separate threads.  This allows the emulation to more accurately run at the correct speed while not being affected by variations in video output.  PAL games that ran too fast (or slow) should now work correctly.

Amazing! This fixes the timing of Maze Craze when it generates mazes.



#19 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:30 AM

That worked! Thank you. :)

 

Good to hear.  I will get the webpage updated for the new 2017 runtimes, as well as those files included in the Stella package releases.



#20 JFD62780 ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:10 PM

Yes, I can confirm that on real hardware, Ms. Pac-Man's opening jingle sounds like 8-bit farts once both channels are playing. ;)


Okay, just betatested using my aural Litmus test of Ms. Pac-Man.

It actually sounds like 8-bit farts!

I cranked up the audio system to 96KHz with Ultra resampling...

It STILL sounds like 8-bit farts!

. . . Thank you. XD

Edited by JFD62780, Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:10 PM.


#21 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:07 PM

Yep, we make no promises that this will make a game sound better.  Just that it will sound like the real console.  Which for some games is complete crap.  But it is correctly emulated crap :)



#22 JFD62780 ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:49 AM

Dude; my nostalgia in this case says the actual console DOES sound better! :P

#23 Arenafoot ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:46 PM

using Win7 32 bit - Stella 6.0 32 bit works great so far - nice change of menu colors too! (Classic and Light) My fav is "Light"!


Edited by Arenafoot, Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:46 PM.


#24 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:13 AM

You can thank Thomas for that.  I have no colour coordination whatsoever, so any improvements you find in the UI are likely due to him.



#25 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:53 AM

...nice change of menu colors too! (Classic and Light) My fav is "Light"!

 

You can thank Thomas for that.  I have no colour coordination whatsoever, so any improvements you find in the UI are likely due to him.

 

Thanks, but "Classic" was already long there, I only added "Light". :)


Edited by Thomas Jentzsch, Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:54 AM.





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