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FPGA Based Videogame System

Interest in an FPGA Videogame System  

665 members have voted

  1. 1. I would pay....

  2. 2. I Would Like Support for...

  3. 3. Games Should Run From...

    • SD Card / USB Memory Sticks
    • Original Cartridges
    • Hopes and Dreams
  4. 4. The Video Inteface Should be...



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I don't know what expertise they have at their disposal. But programming emulators is very exact and very niche. The amount of testing and regression analysis is extensive as any one given project moves forward. And crowd testing seems to catch a lot of little bugs that would normally go un-noticed. So there's that.

 

[getting louder]

 

As varied as the number of systems they're trying to do, and do accurately, one or three developers isn't going to be enough. Any one given developer will be good at one system's/family's architecture, and another, yet another. Some of the best emulators today are team efforts involving crowd feedback/testing.

 

[rising to a crescendo]

 

Some of the best emulators in town have been in development for 10, 20 years. Look at Stella, MAME, Altirra, WinUAE, and more. How far do they go back? How much testing have they undergone? A lot! How about kevtris' cores? I don't recall him doing them in a month, a year even.. IIRC it was over a 10-year period.

 

[screaming on the rooftop]

 

Unless they're using someone else's codebase, I don't see how the project will be successful!

That’s exactly what all of these things do. RetroN5, Retro Freak, RetroArch, RetroPie, etc. Problem is, many have non-commercial clauses in their licenses, like SNES9x. It get’s blatantly ignored, just like every time someone put a $0.99 or $5 SNES emulator on the Android Market/Play Store.

 

One way to do it would be to release the non-commercial platforms as a free plug-in but it would be pretty weird to sell an SNES module without SNES support already in the console.

Edited by CZroe

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That is an awesome idea I live the design....

Just been thinking about future Analogue products. I really wish they made something similar to the Polymega, but have it FPGA based instead of software emulation. Maybe the initial cost for the base unit is $200 and each module would cost $100 - $150. I mean I really like the idea of an interchangable console. I doubt Analogue would ever go that route, but it would be pretty awesome.

Polymega_AllModules.jpg

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We are kind of on the same page. I'm saying that the MiST (and MiSTer) skips the long step of writing the cores to Flash. They directly load them from the SD card into the FPGA at runtime.

 

Yes ok. That wouldn't work in this (Mini/Super NT) product class. You'd always have a memory card sticking out the side. Blech!! And people would complain about that! Among other unspoken reasons. So there has to be the intermediate flash step. And the unit has to run cartridges with no SD card in it.

 

If people are looking to segue between systems rather quickly it's not the best solution. But if one week you want an Atari, and then next an NES. Ok. That's fine.

Edited by Keatah

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That is an awesome idea I live the design....

 

Renders always look good. Question is do they even have 1/4th the expertise kev + analogue have? Because. Afterall. It has to actually work!

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"Expansions Not Supported"

 

I presume this means that any rom image that utilizes the FX chip, such as Super Mario World 2 - Yoshi's Island, Starfox, and Stunt Racer are not supported on the jailbroken Super NT? If I get a physical cartridge with an FX chip, will it work via pass-through?

 

Correct. Super Mario RPG and Yoshi's Island both run fantastic on my ststem. You cannot load "chipped" ROMs via the jailbreak firmware.

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That’s exactly what all of these things do. RetroN5, Retro Freak, RetroArch, RetroPie, etc. Problem is, many have non-commercial clauses in their licenses, like SNES9x. It get’s blatantly ignored, just like every time someone put a $0.99 or $5 SNES emulator on the Android Market/Play Store.

 

One way to do it would be to release the non-commercial platforms as a free plug-in but it would be pretty weird to sell an SNES module without SNES support already in the console.

 

I don't like seeing these free emulators being exploited for commercial purposes. But I don't see how it can be stopped. You can't lock it to a certain board or type of hardware. They'll just use that then. And it would be against the charter of making it multi-platform on as much hardware as possible.

 

I would like to see 100% boycotts and refusal to buy. But not everyone knows of the problem. And anyways I don't know how much the buyers care about such things anyways.

 

There are technical countermeasures, but for every one I envision I also see a way around it. OR they're so draconian they won't work without causing issues for the legitimate users. So the problem remains.

 

And what's worse are these self-proclaimed distributors. These middle-men that somehow "acquire the rights" of emulators and sell them outright. Then the companies building the console just say they got it from that guy and he looked legit and everything. There's this whole pyramid starting to stack up. And at every level money changes hands. I suppose it's nothing new..

Edited by Keatah

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Are we on the same page?

 

Internet -to- user's removable SD card. Seconds or whatever..

 

User's removable SD card -to- console's internal flash. Long time. It's the whole firmware.

 

Console's internal flash -to- FPGA, Seconds, fast.

 

The way it's set-up now is that the console can only host one core. There is no menu/mechanism for picking and choosing what core goes to the FPGA. It's not a user function. Whatever core is in the console's flash chip is transfered to the FPGA at power-on.

 

---

 

Analogue could somehow support direct SD -to- FPGA reading. Or perhaps increase the write speed of the console's flashrom that holds all the firmware.

 

In theory, you'd never want on-board flash on any device that is meant to keep changing the firmware on, you'd eventually wear out the flash. Like I'm fond of the idea of letting the cores live on a replacable SD card (so they can be paired with whatever software needs them,) and the system flash is only used for the house-keeping/common components like the HDMI output/scaler/resolution/audio settings so that you're not having to reset them every time you switch sd cards.

 

That said, flip it around.

 

If you have onboard flash, let's say 32GB, that is enough to store every practical non-CD game on the system itself, then you only dump SRAM/cheats to the SD card since those may change a hundred times in a day.

 

 

My point here is say you wanted to emulate an Amiga, well there are a dozen configurations of the base Amiga (500, 2000, 3000, 4000, various RAM and expansion boards, etc) but the software you want to play only works on X configuration. So you put X configuration on that SD card along with that software, and thus it works exactly as expected. Same with the Apple II, most people didn't have the mockingboard but there are quite a few games that use it. The C64 probably has the least number of possible configurations, but the floppy drive is basically it's own computer (it has it's own 6502), just like how the MegaDrive's SegaCD unit has it's own CPU.

 

With the game consoles, eg, 6502-based and Z80-based, those CPU parts are so standard that there is very little difference between the NES CPU and the Apple II, other than the BCD on the stock 6502 and the PSG on the NES CPU. Likewise with the Z80. The Sega Genesis, Sega CD, and Amiga all use off-the-shelf Motorola 68000 chips. The Amiga 68K is 7.16 mhz, the MD is 7.6Mhz, the MD-CD is 12Mhz. In theory, you only need to do one core to service all variations, regardless of the clock speed. In the case of the Apple II vs the NES, those additional features are addressable, so it's not like you can't put a stock 6502 and some other PSG on the same board attached to the same address and get something similar. Hence the nice thing about the FPGA is you can replicate that hardware exactly how it was setup without changing the core itself. So if you know that the NES doesn't have BCD, you no-op the BCD, and the PSG can live somewhere else in the FPGA and be reused in other PSG's or as a NSF player or whatever.

 

I imagine there could be a theoretical "MAME-like FPGA" setup where a configuration file simply lists what parts to turn on, and what address they sit at, thus enabling the possibility of a homebrew game that can use any APU part (eg the SNES APU) with any CPU part (eg the 68K) and that just leaves figuring out what video processor was the most ahead of it's time.

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I agree. The time it takes to flash a new core is acceptable for the Nt Mini and it's less used bonus cores, but I don't want to flash new cores every time I want to switch between SNES, Mega Drive, PC Engine and NeoGeo.

 

I would gladly wait several minutes for my Super NT to switch between those imagined magical cores. That's what I've dreamed about since I first heard of the Super NT, though I know it'll probably never happen.

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I would gladly wait several minutes for my Super NT to switch between those imagined magical cores. That's what I've dreamed about since I first heard of the Super NT, though I know it'll probably never happen.

If you're willing to give up carts, and be patient while open source fixes all the compatibility, you can already switch between NES, PC Engine, Genesis, and Atari cores on a single FPGA device. Just not Analogue's as they are today.

Edited by Newsdee
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I don't like seeing these free emulators being exploited for commercial purposes. But I don't see how it can be stopped. You can't lock it to a certain board or type of hardware. They'll just use that then. And it would be against the charter of making it multi-platform on as much hardware as possible.

 

 

 

There are ways, but they basically run into this brick wall called "I'm sueing you over a product designed entirely to enable piracy", the irony being that the unlicensed use of the emulators allows legal carts to be used with a software emulator that was only designed to play illegally acquired games.

 

Like the only real way to crush the rubbish clones is to not open-source the FPGA cores so that they don't get a chance to produce cheaper compatible hardware by making ASIC's from those cores. That's a genie currently in it's bottle for the SNES.

 

The NES, Master System and MD, those genies were let out of their bottles a long time ago. But accurate NES NOAC's don't exist, but could exist, if say kevtris open-sourced his NES core.

 

At any rate that genie stays in it's bottle until some well-meaning GPL-lover releases their own version, and then there will never be a way to tell who's core is being used in any ASIC design. I'd encourage kevtris and other FPGA developers to put in a trap code that is only triggered by their own test rom that they could use to find these.

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... the story so far ....

 

Super Nt is out, it's a bomb, kerfuffle about shipping-gate.

 

 

side note:

Wolf_ gets booted off the thread 'cause he keeps saying the JB FW is gonna come out (he's certain of it)

JB FW comes out within a week (SD loading only for now, no special chip support)

"that guy" does not use the JB FW 'cause kevtris doesn't say if it is his ... and the guy repeats it so many times .... then zap, we don't hear it anymore (there's a god after-all)

... it seems scan lines have some minor issues ... kevtris is on it

... it seems a few games have some glitches ... kevtris is on it

... it seems people would like HDMI at 60.09 ... kevtris says "thanks but no thanks"

... we don't know how the analog dongle would work ... for the purists hopefully at 60.09 exactly (not sure if at that point the purists should just use their analog SNES over an analog TV but that's just me, I don't really understand, maybe they like component signals ... to each his own)

 

(...in the middle of it all a whole lot of drama)

 

 

did I miss anything?

Should we let the wolf back? (not that I have any power to do so, mind you)

 

Let's talk business, if Analogue sold 10K units that's ~2M$, if they make a good 40% markup that's 800K, hopefully kevtris gets 50% of that -> 400K ...... Shaka Brah

 

One has to wonder if big N itself wouldn't be wiser to just offer kevtris 1M/2M to get an all-in-one NES/SNES FPGA ..... will see, maybe they are too busy suing anyone saying the word "Mario" (ouch, now I'm in trouble) .... good luck with that.

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Nintendo would likely have no interest in an FPGA. If they ever tackled their own clone console approach, it most likely would involve traditional emulation.

 

FPGA's are great and enable relatively small production runs to be viable versus traditional hardware solutions, but in the numbers Nintendo deals with, it's an overly expensive option for the benefits it offers.

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If they ever tackled their own clone console approach, it most likely would involve traditional emulation.

I thought, I thought that they already did (sideload was not intended but that's what you get using stock AllWinner ARM) but I'm sure that's not what you meant.

 

At 40% markup (completely made up number, I know) they'd be stoopid not to ....

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Presumably when Phoenixdownita said "one has to wonder if big N itself wouldn't be wiser to just offer kevtris 1M/2M to get an all-in-one NES/SNES FPGA", he was talking about Nintendo deciding to get into this market with their own modern NES/SNES console that was capable of playing original cartridges and interfacing with original accessories.

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We are kind of on the same page. I'm saying that the MiST (and MiSTer) skips the long step of writing the cores to Flash. They directly load them from the SD card into the FPGA at runtime.

 

You can connect a MiSTer to your network, download a core and FTP it inside the machine's SD card then switch to it from the MiSTer without hard reboot.

 

I am aware the Analogue NTs works differently. Just showing what is possible :)

That's how the nt mini does it as well,it loads the core direct off the SD card without writing it to flash.

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for people who want the firmware 4.0, I uploaded it to my google drive here:

 

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ANP8FBty5IdIz2tIjbVX2GDRFAjsOJV6

 

Tell me wether this works please.

 

Analogue should make the older firmware available in the website. To me seems 4.1 broke more than it fixed. Am I wrong on that?

 

Don't get me wrong, whichever firmware works great...

Edited by leods

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... the story so far ....

 

Super Nt is out, it's a bomb, kerfuffle about shipping-gate.

 

 

side note:

Wolf_ gets booted off the thread 'cause he keeps saying the JB FW is gonna come out (he's certain of it)

JB FW comes out within a week (SD loading only for now, no special chip support)

"that guy" does not use the JB FW 'cause kevtris doesn't say if it is his ... and the guy repeats it so many times .... then zap, we don't hear it anymore (there's a god after-all)

... it seems scan lines have some minor issues ... kevtris is on it

... it seems a few games have some glitches ... kevtris is on it

... it seems people would like HDMI at 60.09 ... kevtris says "thanks but no thanks"

... we don't know how the analog dongle would work ... for the purists hopefully at 60.09 exactly (not sure if at that point the purists should just use their analog SNES over an analog TV but that's just me, I don't really understand, maybe they like component signals ... to each his own)

 

(...in the middle of it all a whole lot of drama)

 

 

did I miss anything?

Should we let the wolf back? (not that I have any power to do so, mind you)

 

Let's talk business, if Analogue sold 10K units that's ~2M$, if they make a good 40% markup that's 800K, hopefully kevtris gets 50% of that -> 400K ...... Shaka Brah

 

One has to wonder if big N itself wouldn't be wiser to just offer kevtris 1M/2M to get an all-in-one NES/SNES FPGA ..... will see, maybe they are too busy suing anyone saying the word "Mario" (ouch, now I'm in trouble) .... good luck with that.

 

Nice summation of the thread hehe.

 

I can't see Nintendo going the FPGA route because their philosophy seems to be to maximize profits. I think we are the audience for the FPGA consoles, and it's probably too small for a big corporation like Nintendo to be interested in. We care a lot about accuracy, and are willing to pay the cost. Although I suppose there have been folks paying $200+ on Craiglist for one of those emulation box thingys Nintendo released... ah, bless their poor ignorant souls... if they only knew what they were buying. Ahh well, anyways, having met folks who are just 'new' to our scene they really know nothing about even the diff. between emulation and running a real game off a real console. Or think that Nintendo's emulation is superior just because of the name brand on the box...

 

Before I go on a tangent there, I'll just conclude in saying we should be damn thankful that Analog exists.

 

Oh, and I feel kinda bad about Wolf... I mean, time heals, and there may be a time to forgive and forget. He's just a passionate person, perhaps. I think he treated others on the board very poorly, but maybe a second chance could be cool... To be human is to err. But you know, I trust in the admins first and foremost, and think the choice was just, whether temporary or permanent.

Edited by brentonius
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Correct. Super Mario RPG and Yoshi's Island both run fantastic on my ststem. You cannot load "chipped" ROMs via the jailbreak firmware.

You should be able to load 96bits aka decompressed versions of Star Ocean and Street Fighter Alpha 2 with S-DD1 chip bypassed, but so far I haven't been succeful in doing that(loads from 0 to 100% then black screen), please chime in, if any one managed.

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Presumably when Phoenixdownita said "one has to wonder if big N itself wouldn't be wiser to just offer kevtris 1M/2M to get an all-in-one NES/SNES FPGA", he was talking about Nintendo deciding to get into this market with their own modern NES/SNES console that was capable of playing original cartridges and interfacing with original accessories.

 

I just realized it was the same person I was replying to both times. Sorry about that, Phoenixdownita. :)

 

Either way, what I quoted was based on perhaps the mistaken impression I had from your first post. I don't see Nintendo ever having anything to do with FPGA's when there are cheaper options.

 

No matter how it was implemented, I imagine the old worry about customer support being flooded with support calls about why their cartridges aren't working that were stored in their attic and basement for 25 years, will keep the concept dead. Especially in light of the success with the NES Classic and SNES Classic Editions that proved to Nintendo that they don't need original cartridge support to sell their emulation boxes.

Edited by Atariboy
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Nice summation of the thread hehe.

 

I can't see Nintendo going the FPGA route because their philosophy seems to be to maximize profits. I think we are the audience for the FPGA consoles, and it's probably too small for a big corporation like Nintendo to be interested in. We care a lot about accuracy, and are willing to pay the cost. Although I suppose there have been folks paying $200+ on Craiglist for one of those emulation box thingys Nintendo released... ah, bless their poor ignorant souls... if they only knew what they were buying. Ahh well, anyways, having met folks who are just 'new' to our scene they really know nothing about even the diff. between emulation and running a real game off a real console. Or think that Nintendo's emulation is superior just because of the name brand on the box...

 

Before I go on a tangent there, I'll just conclude in saying we should be damn thankful that Analog exists.

 

Oh, and I feel kinda bad about Wolf... I mean, time heals, and there may be a time to forgive and forget. He's just a passionate person, perhaps. I think he treated others on the board very poorly, but maybe a second chance could be cool... To be human is to err. But you know, I trust in the admins first and foremost, and think the choice was just, whether temporary or permanent.

 

Wolf was likely banned from the thread because he was being aggressively hostile to everyone he responded to, and spammed the thread repeatedly with inappropriate image macros. All I know is that everyone was warned pages ago to keep on topic.

 

 

 

I just realized it was the same person I was replying to both times. Sorry about that, Phoenixdownita. :)

 

Either way, what I quoted was based on perhaps the mistaken impression I had from your first post. I don't see Nintendo ever having anything to do with FPGA's when there are cheaper options.

 

No matter how it was implemented, I imagine the old worry about customer support being flooded with support calls about why their cartridges aren't working that were stored in their attic and basement for 25 years, will keep the concept dead. Especially in light of the success with the NES Classic and SNES Classic Editions that proved to Nintendo that they don't need original cartridge support to sell their emulation boxes.

 

 

It's more likely Nintendo would just licence whatever cores kevtris has to produce a limited run of ASIC's so they could make a cheaper NES/SNES mini. Why pay $25 for a FPGA when you can pay $0.80 for the ASIC and pocket the difference. You'd think Nintendo would have the plans to their own chips kicking around somewhere. But that's only half the puzzle. It's not just about the CPU, it's also the PPU's, HDMI scaling, and various other things. Get those to a state where a small ARM core could be loaded on a SOC with a SNES + additional expansion chips and a NES core + HDMI scaling and that would justify producing the chip. Then Nintendo could either produce their own 2-slot system to use the original carts, or produce an updated lockout chip that only works with original carts and their own multi-cart.

 

But it's more likely that Capcom or Konami would want to license their SNES stuff. I don't know what the actual agreements are between Nintendo and third parties, but I belive they originally had to purchase all their carts from Nintendo. So the games might have to have the "Licensed by Nintendo" bits stripped from them to sell them again as carts w/o the lockout chip.

 

Which makes me wonder, do games without a lockout chip or with a damaged lockout chip still work on the SuperNT?

Edited by Kismet

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It depends on the subreddit. Some communities have been largely isolated. You hang around like minded individuals long enough and you all start feeding off each other's anger. So when they see someone come in with new ideas they circle the wagon to protect their passion. Neogeo and Tg16 seem to be the worst offenders. Plus all the renewed interest has made their hobby expensive. It went from a basement dweller hobby into the boutique feel of the Nt Mini. Change is scary and humans tend to fear and hate it. All the rich people are ruining their hobby is basically the vibe I get.

 

It's a shame. The good news is that mentality is becoming the minority. People want to experience those games for the first time. I'm all for introducing new ways to do it. So much would be lost if not for the efforts of people like Kevtris. So many new players are getting to enjoy the games we grew up playing. It's surreal

 

I can understand someone who's hobby is now more expensive because of others. I mean, if they had been a collector for years, they likely got things when they were at the lowest. If they recently started while others did, they suffer the increased cost. If the latter is true, they really can't complain too much since they decided to take the hobby up years later.

 

I was in the retrogaming subreddit. That place went from 6 to midnight the moment I mentioned a modern TV. You would have thought I charged in there spouting insults left/right with the backlash I got. I think someone even made a crack about my mom? Was Neo Geo and TG16 really cheap at some point? I've always known Neo Geo to be rather expensive.

 

I revere Kevtris for all his work. Preserving the games I grew up on, especially since I was old enough to be there when Nintendo started (granted, the Nintendo was a Christmas gift to my older sister but it was me who played it). To me, that was the true dawn of video gaming.

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@Kevtris

 

Been messing with your NSF player on the Nt mini. Firstly, thank you for adding it, it's friggen awesome.

 

I noticed there are these characters (A:00 L:00) that seem to relate to something to do with the Sample Channel. Do you mind telling me what they represent?

 

gOcDOFd.png

 

Thank you!

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"that guy" does not use the JB FW 'cause kevtris doesn't say if it is his ... and the guy repeats it so many times .... then zap, we don't hear it anymore (there's a god after-all)

 

 

I assume you're referring to me. If you are, just come out and say my name. I only stated it once with my reasoning (which is pretty reasonable) and then the trolls came at me with all the "it's not going to blow up your house!" and other random oddball comments and continued on about it. I only "repeated" it because they kept asking as if there was some deeper reasoning.

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@Kevtris

 

Been messing with your NSF player on the Nt mini. Firstly, thank you for adding it, it's friggen awesome.

 

I noticed there are these characters (A:00 L:00) that seem to relate to something to do with the Sample Channel. Do you mind telling me what they represent?

 

gOcDOFd.png

 

Thank you!

A = start address of the sample. L = length of the sample. The arrow indicates if the sample is looped. straight = not looped, sample plays once. circular = sample is looped. The A/L values are the values written into the DPCM registers themselves. This mainly lets you see if it is changing the sample and if so which one it is by its address. Some tunes will bankswitch DPCM area though so this isn't sure fire always going to be the case, but it just gives you more information to watch while it plays back.

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A = start address of the sample. L = length of the sample. The arrow indicates if the sample is looped. straight = not looped, sample plays once. circular = sample is looped. The A/L values are the values written into the DPCM registers themselves. This mainly lets you see if it is changing the sample and if so which one it is by its address. Some tunes will bankswitch DPCM area though so this isn't sure fire always going to be the case, but it just gives you more information to watch while it plays back.

 

Thanks man, super informative. Got a few mates who are making a video on some top NES tracks from various games, helping them capture the audio with the Nt mini.

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