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kevtris

FPGA Based Videogame System

Interest in an FPGA Videogame System  

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I feel like calling it a hardware clone has more of a negative connotation than emulation. I can't think of a single hardware clone that isn't a POS, but there are several very good emulators. Maybe all those Retron units shouldn't really be called hardware clones (clone being like for like, which and FPGA is much closer to), but the names already stuck, so is as it is. 

 

I dunno... those SNES clones all have 1:1 SNES 1chip silicon clones in them, as if the original factory just kept producing them when Nintendo stopped buying. This has been happening at least since the GameStation (SNES clone with built-in Game Doctor SF7 or Super UFO). There were also counterfeit SNS-101 consoles 20 years ago and the same chips are going into RetroN2, RetroN3, SupaBoy, SupaBoy v2, etc. Say what you will about their power supplies, housing, controls, etc, but the hardware clone part was as "quality" as a real 1chip SNES. It's the RetroN5, GameFreak, etc that use software emulation with ARM SoCs. Polymega will use software emulation with X86 SoC.

 

Even back in the days of the NES and Famicom there were quality clones, like the Dendy (even had discrete PPU). 8BitGuy even has a video on quality NES clones. Stuff like Game Boy and Game Gear consolidated their chips into ASIC clones during their retail lifetimes and it was really no different from Kevtris' doing the same with FPGA.

 

At this point in time aside from Mister and the Analogue products, what other hardware clones are there?

 

Everything with a NOAC, many of those clone Genesis consoles, every IBM X86-compatible PC ever made, counterfeit SNS-101/SHVC-101 consoles, etc.

 

I was referring to something the the Retron units which I often hear called hardware clones. That is what I meant. But since you mention the Analogue products, it was in vogue for a while to refer to them as hardware simulation. Whether that is definitionally accurate, I don't know.

The physical transistors that make up the logic are physical transistors whether in an ASIC's logic units or from an FPGA's logic units. They're real. That's why I would hesitate to call them "simulated." The only real difference between the two is that the connections between the logic units can be reconfigured in an FPGA (not permanent) but they are permanent from the time of manufacturing for an ASIC... very similar to mask ROM versus EPROM except that you are connecting logic units and not just making connections to represent ones and zeroes.

 

Edit: There are a lot of GBA hardware clones out there too.

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Ah yeah, I would consider those emulation boxes I guess. And yes they are POS
The RetroN5 is an emulation box. The N64 thing from Hyperkin is an emulation box. Most of their other clones are hardware.

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Don't get too far down in the weeds or split too many hairs.

 

NT Mini is the best NES clone console made to date

Super NT is the best SNES clone console made to date

Mega SG is the best Megadrive/Genesis clone console made to date

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15 minutes ago, CZroe said:
58 minutes ago, NE146 said:
Ah yeah, I would consider those emulation boxes I guess. And yes they are POS emoji38.png

The RetroN5 is an emulation box. The N64 thing from Hyperkin is an emulation box. Most of their other clones are hardware.

I was more referring to the current ones like you listed above, but the older RetroN units you mentioned in your prior post I never heard good things about either....Regardless, people can call it what they want I guess, but I think it should be obvious to everyone here anyway the differences with FPGA and whatever other solutions are out there.

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I was more referring to the current ones like you listed above, but the older RetroN units you mentioned in your prior post I never heard good things about either....Regardless, people can call it what they want I guess, but I think it should be obvious to everyone here anyway the differences with FPGA and whatever other solutions are out there.
Tell me about it. I happened to get my first experience with a Hyperkin RetroN2 on camera back in 2016:


The SNES side works a lot better, of course, since it's literally the same die as a 1chip SNES.
  • Haha 2

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I think I remember Kevtris explained he used something "virtual machines" (not his exact words, I believe), but that would be enough for me to call Kevtris' FPGA implementations "emulators".

 

Otherwise, Black Nt Mini is sould out again, DAC is still available as preorder, Mega Sg adapters are still sold out.

Edited by Slipard

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I think I remember Kevtris explained he used something "virtual machines" (not his exact words, I believe), but that would be enough for me to call Kevtris' FPGA implementations "emulators".
 
Otherwise, Black Nt Mini is sould out again, DAC is still available as preorder, Mega Sg adapters are still sold out.

A VM is typically a "guest" operating system running within a virtual machine on another operating system ("host"). Sounds like he's describing his coding/dev setup, not how the FPGA works. The hardware functions in the FPGA are definitely real and not "virtual." :)

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33 minutes ago, CZroe said:


A VM is typically a "guest" operating system running within a virtual machine on another operating system ("host"). Sounds like he's describing his coding/dev setup, not how the FPGA works. The hardware functions in the FPGA are definitely real and not "virtual." :)

Agree, virtual machines don’t really make sense in an FPGA perspective, really. Although there is some code running on the ARM SoC, IIRC. But I’m not really sure VMs make sense there either for these products, to be honest.

 

That said, I’m going to do something dumb and wade into the emulator vs clone debate. If we think a clone is an attempt to recreate the hardware, and that emulation is the act of creating something that imitates the original hardware on some other hardware, FPGAs are in a weird grey area. I can understand the debate, honestly.

 

On one hand, what kevtris does is the same thing that someone cloning the hardware would do: reverse engineer the original by analyzing it and creating a new description using HDL or circuit diagram. Someone writing an emulator is not seeking to create the HDL, but rather software that can run on some foreign CPU. But the FPGA is effectively “other hardware” that runs the clone, so what makes the Super NT different than BSNES?

 

For my part, I think the distinction doesn’t really matter that closely as much of the quality of the final result, but the distinction should probably be what the output of the process is. You could take kevtris’ cores and with tweaks, produce ASICs from them and produce clone hardware that’s similar to the Super NT. You cannot do that with BSNES. 

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I still say they are emulators. Is a Cyclone V a real 68000 + real Z80 + real YM2612/YM3438 + a bunch of other stuff? No. It's a Cyclone V pretending to be those things. Therefore, it's an emulator, and an extremely good one, although it does have a few games that it can't run properly, or at all, in one case (my Gleylancer 2019 rerelease doesn't work~!).

 

So... about those CRAM dots. Those are weird and shouldn't be that way. Is anyone else seeing those?

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51 minutes ago, Steven Pendleton said:

I still say they are emulators. Is a Cyclone V a real 68000 + real Z80 + real YM2612/YM3438 + a bunch of other stuff? No. It's a Cyclone V pretending to be those things. Therefore, it's an emulator, and an extremely good one, although it does have a few games that it can't run properly, or at all, in one case (my Gleylancer 2019 rerelease doesn't work~!).

 

So... about those CRAM dots. Those are weird and shouldn't be that way. Is anyone else seeing those?


What makes a Z80 real? Is it because it has Z80 stamped on the package? Is it because it uses Zilog’s circuit design? Is it because it is an ASIC? Is it because it is a circuit that implements the Z80 architecture as defined by some dead tree document that specifies how the Z80 works? Would custom Z80 designs like Nintendo’s variations used in the Gameboy line count as a real Z80 or not? Is it real if I can drop it into an existing circuit without the rest of the circuit knowing that it’s been swapped out?

 

For a more philosophical question: What’s the difference between someone who got the HDL for a Zilog Z80 and put it on an FPGA versus someone who reverse engineered the Zilog Z80 into HDL and then had an ASIC made at a factory? What’s the difference between using that Zilog Z80 HDL to make an ASIC vs putting it on an FPGA?

 

How far do we want to take this particular Ship of Theseus? :)

 

But it’s not like an FPGA is running a software program though. The programming is just the configuration of signal routing, and is effectively fixed once programmed, until you program it again. It’s more akin to EEPROM (FPGA) vs ROM (ASIC). So once you’ve loaded in the configuration that recreates a circuit diagram, it’s going to have a recreation of that circuit until told to reconfigure.

 

I will point out that compatibility issues aren’t a great argument towards calling something an emulator or not. AMD CPUs are not considered x86 emulators, despite running into the occasional compatibility issues with software. Intel CPUs are not considered x64 emulators, despite the spec being made by AMD. Sony shoved PS1 hardware in the PS2 and yet couldn’t maintain perfect compatibility with PS1 games. Nintendo had compatibility issues with the 1-Chip SNES. Just tweaking circuits using existing designs can introduce compatibility issues, so a reverse engineered circuit is going to be at least as prone to issues.

 

As for the CRAM dots, I’m like other folks who’ve commented that I don’t really go looking for them, or care to have them enabled.

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9 minutes ago, Kaide said:

What makes a Z80 real?

Because I can open up my Mega Drive and see it in there. It's real, not a simulation of one.

 

  

9 minutes ago, Kaide said:

I will point out that compatibility issues aren’t a great argument towards calling something an emulator or not.


I never said otherwise. All I said is that it doesn't work with everything. Go stick your real Virtua Racing into your real 32X and it won't work.

Edited by Steven Pendleton

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56 minutes ago, Steven Pendleton said:

Because I can open up my Mega Drive and see it in there. It's real, not a simulation of one.

 

I notice that you ignore the rest of my post here.

 

But to put it bluntly, an FPGA is no more a simulation of a electronic circuit because the circuit links are re-routable than an EV is a simulation of a car because it uses batteries as the power plant.

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6 minutes ago, Kaide said:

I notice that you ignore the rest of my post here.

Fine.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

Is it because it has Z80 stamped on the package?

The package has nothing to do with it.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

Is it because it uses Zilog’s circuit design?

Partially.

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

Is it because it is an ASIC?

Partially.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

Is it because it is a circuit that implements the Z80 architecture as defined by some dead tree document that specifies how the Z80 works?

Partially.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

Would custom Z80 designs like Nintendo’s variations used in the Gameboy line count as a real Z80 or not?

No.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

Is it real if I can drop it into an existing circuit without the rest of the circuit knowing that it’s been swapped out?

Depends on what you substitute for a Z80. If you use a Z80 in place of a Z80, then yes. If you use something else that is not a Z80, then no.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

What’s the difference between someone who got the HDL for a Zilog Z80 and put it on an FPGA versus someone who reverse engineered the Zilog Z80 into HDL and then had an ASIC made at a factory?

The first person programmed an FPGA. The other made a bootleg Z80.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

What’s the difference between using that Zilog Z80 HDL to make an ASIC vs putting it on an FPGA?

The FPGA can be anything you can program it to be within its limit. The Z80 is a Z80.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

How far do we want to take this particular Ship of Theseus?

I don't know what that is, why/how it is relevant, or why I should care about it.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

But it’s not like an FPGA is running a software program though. The programming is just the configuration of signal routing, and is effectively fixed once programmed, until you program it again. It’s more akin to EEPROM (FPGA) vs ROM (ASIC). So once you’ve loaded in the configuration that recreates a circuit diagram, it’s going to have a recreation of that circuit until told to reconfigure.

Agreed.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

I will point out that compatibility issues aren’t a great argument towards calling something an emulator or not. AMD CPUs are not considered x86 emulators, despite running into the occasional compatibility issues with software. Intel CPUs are not considered x64 emulators, despite the spec being made by AMD. Sony shoved PS1 hardware in the PS2 and yet couldn’t maintain perfect compatibility with PS1 games. Nintendo had compatibility issues with the 1-Chip SNES. Just tweaking circuits using existing designs can introduce compatibility issues, so a reverse engineered circuit is going to be at least as prone to issues.

See post above; agreed.

 

1 hour ago, Kaide said:

As for the CRAM dots, I’m like other folks who’ve commented that I don’t really go looking for them, or care to have them enabled.

Okay. This is all I really care about.

 

13 minutes ago, Kaide said:

But to put it bluntly, an FPGA is no more a simulation of a electronic circuit because the circuit links are re-routable than an EV is a simulation of a car because it uses batteries as the power plant.

I don't know what an EV is and I don't know anything about cars, but I do know that a Mega Sg is not a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.

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Agree, virtual machines don’t really make sense in an FPGA perspective, really. Although there is some code running on the ARM SoC, IIRC. But I’m not really sure VMs make sense there either for these products, to be honest.
 
That said, I’m going to do something dumb and wade into the emulator vs clone debate. If we think a clone is an attempt to recreate the hardware, and that emulation is the act of creating something that imitates the original hardware on some other hardware, FPGAs are in a weird grey area. I can understand the debate, honestly.
 
On one hand, what kevtris does is the same thing that someone cloning the hardware would do: reverse engineer the original by analyzing it and creating a new description using HDL or circuit diagram. Someone writing an emulator is not seeking to create the HDL, but rather software that can run on some foreign CPU. But the FPGA is effectively “other hardware” that runs the clone, so what makes the Super NT different than BSNES?

That's just it: FPGA is no more "other" hardware than a traditional hardware clone. By connecting the same logic units it becomes the hardware needed to natively execute the code without having to interpret and adapt the code to native code.

For my part, I think the distinction doesn’t really matter that closely as much of the quality of the final result, but the distinction should probably be what the output of the process is. You could take kevtris’ cores and with tweaks, produce ASICs from them and produce clone hardware that’s similar to the Super NT. You cannot do that with BSNES.

Agreed. Still, BSNES is actually more accurate in some ways.


I still say they are emulators. Is a Cyclone V a real 68000 + real Z80 + real YM2612/YM3438 + a bunch of other stuff? No. It's a Cyclone V pretending to be those things. Therefore, it's an emulator, and an extremely good one, although it does have a few games that it can't run properly, or at all, in one case (my Gleylancer 2019 rerelease doesn't work~!).

This is the misunderstanding I'm trying to address. Yes, it is a real Z80 or 68000. It isn't a licensed Z80 or 68000, but it is a "real" one in every sense that a Game Boy or ASIC Game Gear has a real Z80. Kevtris literally made a literally a drop-in replacement Z80 in FPGA for a device his employer made (I think it was a medical device) since the original CPUs weren't available anymore. Now Kevtris gets royalties for it.

The late Game Boy and Game Gear systems had the Z80 rolled into a custom ASIC that combined functions exactly like an FPGA. In both cases their custom ASIC started with a bunch of standard logic units just like an FPGA starts with a bunch of logic gates. The engineers create a lithography mask that will connect them in the correct arrangement to clone the original Z80 and add the logic functions of the other chips they are combining. They send that mask to the company offering the standard ASIC and they start producing them with the connections already inside. In the end there is a real Z80 in there and there is a real Z80 in an FPGA version. This is exactly how fabless companies like Konami, SNK, and Capcomn got custom chips made for all their arcade machines and cartirdges. When Jotego or Furrtek decap one of those custom Konami, SNK, or Capcom chips and analyze the die, they end up making a 1:1 replica (baring transription errors) in FPGA. The FPGA really does become that chip inside when the gate array is redefined (loads a new "core" as Kevtris puts it).

This was a fun read where all this is explained without even really discussing FPGAs:
https://medium.com/@WydD/diving-into-silicon-for-the-first-time-73086018e7de

While discussing Game Boy, arcade PCBs, etc it shows how these custom chips were made from standard logic blocks by defining connections. FPGAs also have standard logic blocks made of real physical transistors pre-arranged into standard logic gates though the connections can be re-defined in the field ("field programmable"). That is the ONLY real difference here: FPGA can be changed after it is produced where an ASIC is permanent and requires you to spin new silicon chips when you revise it.


What makes a Z80 real? Is it because it has Z80 stamped on the package? Is it because it uses Zilog’s circuit design? Is it because it is an ASIC? Is it because it is a circuit that implements the Z80 architecture as defined by some dead tree document that specifies how the Z80 works? Would custom Z80 designs like Nintendo’s variations used in the Gameboy line count as a real Z80 or not? Is it real if I can drop it into an existing circuit without the rest of the circuit knowing that it’s been swapped out?
 
For a more philosophical question: What’s the difference between someone who got the HDL for a Zilog Z80 and put it on an FPGA versus someone who reverse engineered the Zilog Z80 into HDL and then had an ASIC made at a factory? What’s the difference between using that Zilog Z80 HDL to make an ASIC vs putting it on an FPGA?
 
How far do we want to take this particular Ship of Theseus?
 
But it’s not like an FPGA is running a software program though. The programming is just the configuration of signal routing, and is effectively fixed once programmed, until you program it again. It’s more akin to EEPROM (FPGA) vs ROM (ASIC). So once you’ve loaded in the configuration that recreates a circuit diagram, it’s going to have a recreation of that circuit until told to reconfigure.
 
I will point out that compatibility issues aren’t a great argument towards calling something an emulator or not. AMD CPUs are not considered x86 emulators, despite running into the occasional compatibility issues with software. Intel CPUs are not considered x64 emulators, despite the spec being made by AMD. Sony shoved PS1 hardware in the PS2 and yet couldn’t maintain perfect compatibility with PS1 games. Nintendo had compatibility issues with the 1-Chip SNES. Just tweaking circuits using existing designs can introduce compatibility issues, so a reverse engineered circuit is going to be at least as prone to issues.

EXACTLY! :)

As for the CRAM dots, I’m like other folks who’ve commented that I don’t really go looking for them, or care to have them enabled.

GadgetUK164's new Mega CD 2 repair video shows them rather prominently on the selection screen for the Sega Classics Collection CD. :)

5b5512db71659d0776986db531ae2b98.jpg

Because I can open up my Mega Drive and see it in there. It's real, not a simulation of one.


That's our point though: You often can't. Open a late-model 2 or any model 3. The 68K and Z80 are embedded in the custom ASIC, exactly like an FPGA.

I never said otherwise. All I said is that it doesn't work with everything. Go stick your real Virtua Racing into your real 32X and it won't work.
 
I'm confused. Why would Virtua Racing not work? Some 32X systems were even bundled with it.

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I don't know what an EV is and I don't know anything about cars, but I do know that a Mega Sg is not a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.

...but it is a Genesis/Mega Drive clone while configured to play Genesis/Mega Drive games.

 

It's a hardware clone in every sense other than the fact that it stops being one as soon as the FPGA is configured differently.

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6 minutes ago, CZroe said:

It isn't a licensed Z80 or 68000, but it is a "real" one in every sense that a Game Boy or ASIC Game Gear has a real Z80.

Okay, there's where part of my argument comes into play, as if it isn't a real actually made by Motorola 68000 (or a contractor if they had them), I'm saying that it's not a "real" 68000.

 

6 minutes ago, CZroe said:

Open a late-model 2 or any model 3. The 68K and Z80 are embedded in the custom ASIC, exactly like an FPGA.

Completely forgot about this!

 

6 minutes ago, CZroe said:

I'm confused. Why would Virtua Racing not work? Some 32X systems were even bundled with it.

I don't know. It just doesn't. Virtua Racing Deluxe works, though.

 

5 minutes ago, CZroe said:

...but it is a Genesis/Mega Drive clone while configured to play Genesis/Mega Drive games.

 

It's a hardware clone in every sense other than the fact that it stops being one as soon as the FPGA is configured differently.

Yes, definitely.

Edited by Steven Pendleton

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Okay, there's where part of my argument comes into play, as if it isn't a real actually made by Motorola 68000 (or a contractor if they had them), I'm saying that it's not a "real" 68000.
These architectures we're officially licensed for others to implement in custom hardware even back in the day. It's how Ricoh built a custom 6502 in their CPU for Nintendo and how the Zilog Z80 ended up inside Nintendo's Game Boy ASIC. 

 

 

The thing is, the patents expired on those and you no longer need to license them to make one that's every bit as "real." A clone 68000 is still a real/physical CPU whether licensed/authorized by Motorola or not, before or after the patents expired. I mean, it isn't a software approximation... right? So it's "real" hardware CPU. This is why "hardware clone" is preferable to "emulator." It doesn't emulate a 68000... it becomes a 68000/68000 clone.

 

If the patents were still in effect then it would be an unauthorized 68000, but a real hardware CPU none the less.

 

If they slapped Motorola branding on an unauthorized 68000 clone back in 1989 then it would have been a counterfeit 68000, but still a hardware clone.

 

I just can't see any angle where these FPGA implementations are anything less than traditional hardware clones and, thus, I think there's no reason to distinguish these as something else ("simulation," "emulation," etc).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To put it another way, I think what Steve is saying would be similar to saying that a repro cart is the same as the original cart. As long as there is a mechanism for the rom to play on the system, then what's the difference? Even if you don't like that comparison, I think the original issue started with referring to FPGA's as emulation vs hardware clones. I don't think either is accurate, only because those words have a commonly understood definition as it relates to gaming in general, and these FPGA systems are neither. Whether you can call them emulation or a hardware clone by the strict definition of the words doesn't matter as far as we're concerned.

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2 minutes ago, CZroe said:

I just can't see any angle where these FPGA implementations are anything less than traditional hardware clones and, thus, I think there is no reason to distunguish these as something else ("simulation," "emulation," etc).

How about this. Knowing what "hardware clone" typically means to your target audience (classic gamers), would you market your meticulously crafted FPGA system as a "hardware clone"? I know I wouldn't....

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5 minutes ago, CZroe said:

These architectures we're officially licensed for others to implement in custom hardware even back in the day. It's how Ricoh built a custom 6502 in their CPU for Nintendo and how the Zilog Z80 ended up inside Nintendo's Game Boy ASIC.

 

 

 

The thing is, the patents expired on those and you no longer need to license them to make one that's every bit as "real." A clone 68000 is still a real/physical CPU whether licensed/authorized by Motorola or not, before or after the parents expired. I mean, it isn't a software approximation... right? So it's "real" hardware CPU. This is why "hardware clone" is preferable to "emulator." It doesn't emulate a 68000... it becomes a 68000/68000 clone.

 

If the patents were still in effect then it would be an unauthorized 68000, but a real hardware CPU none the less.

 

If they slapped Motorola branding on an unauthorized 68000 clone back in 1989 then it would have been a counterfeit 68000, but still a hardware clone.

 

I just can't see any angle where these FPGA implementations are anything less than traditional hardware clones and, thus, I think there's no reason to distinguish these as something else ("simulation," "emulation," etc).

 

 

 

 

Yes, I'm not disagreeing with this. Electronically the FPGA and the 68000 are 100% identical, provided the FPGA is programmed in a way that makes it that way.

 

6 minutes ago, jamon1567 said:

To put it another way, I think what Steve is saying would be similar to saying that a repro cart is the same as the original cart.

Yes, this is basically it.

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To further support my point above, I would add that Steve never said that FPGA's were inferior products, but those arguing with him seem to be trying to convince him otherwise, even though he never made that statement. And I believe that is because we all understand, for better or worse, that "emulation" and "hardware clone" have a typically agreed upon definition in this hobby. So again, I don't think either are accurate terms and FPGA just really needs to stand on it's own as a form of gaming if that makes sense.

Edited by jamon1567

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To put it another way, I think what Steve is saying would be similar to saying that a repro cart is the same as the original cart. As long as there is a mechanism for the rom to play on the system, then what's the difference? Even if you don't like that comparison, I think the original issue started with referring to FPGA's as emulation vs hardware clones. I don't think either is accurate, only because those words have a commonly understood definition as it relates to gaming in general, and these FPGA systems are neither. Whether you can call them emulation or a hardware clone by the strict definition of the words doesn't matter as far as we're concerned.

The thing is, the way these FPGAs are being used fits even the strictest definition of hardware clone and doesn't fit our commonly understood definition of emulation related to gaming in general at all (software interpreting non-native software).

We wouldn't call a counterfeit Little Samson cartridge "emulation" whether it used a mask ROM, EPROM, flash, or whatever else. It's a clone/counterfeit cartridge, but it's still hardware. No one is trying to say that Analogue's FPGA gaming consoles are a real Sega Genesis or SNES. I'm just trying to say that they are as hardware clones in every sense when running their respective cores.

They are hardware clones in the exact same sense that an official 1chip SNES is a hardware clone of the earlier SNES with discrete PPU/CPU or the even earlier one with PPU1, PPU2, CPU, and a modular SPC700. They are hardware clones in the same sense as Hyperkin's SupaBoy and RetroBit's RetroDuo. They are hardware clones in the same sense as any NOAC or earlier famiclones with discrete chips.

The argument that we already have established definitions as they relate to gaming in general is the one I'm making. I'm telling people where FPGA consoles fit into our established distinctions because there has been a lot of misinformation out there leading people to believe it is not equivalent to a hardware clone. It absolutely is. When explained how these FPGA consoles work, it's a lot less "gray" than most think. They are hardware clones for whatever system/core is configured.

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Just want to add to the current discussion that it's a bit disingenuous to equate a "hardware clone" such as an FPGA-based console or platform to a 1-CHIP SNES/SFC as an official "clone" console. As far as I know, there aren't any full incompatibility issues with 1-CHIPs, in the sense that there's no official titles that won't run on it. Instead, there are only a handful of minor inaccuracies. A helicopter or airplane's shadow that doesn't display correctly in some action game I can't recall, some flickering small line in a Street Fighter game... what else is there? In any case, the crucial difference would be not only the type of implementation of such a "clone", but the fact that it is officially vetted by the original manufacturer.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, CZroe said:

The thing is, the way these FPGAs are being used fits even the strictest definition of hardware clone and doesn't fit our commonly understood definition of emulation related to gaming in general at all (software interpreting non-native software).

We wouldn't call a counterfeit Little Samson cartridge "emulation" whether it used a mask ROM, EPROM, flash, or whatever else. It's a clone/counterfeit cartridge, but it's still hardware. No one is trying to say that Analogue's FPGA gaming consoles are a real Sega Genesis or SNES. I'm just trying to say that they are as hardware clones in every sense when running their respective cores.

They are hardware clones in the exact same sense that an official 1chip SNES is a hardware clone of the earlier SNES with discrete PPU/CPU or the even earlier one with PPU1, PPU2, CPU, and a modular SPC700. They are hardware clones in the same sense as Hyperkin's SupaBoy and RetroBit's RetroDuo. They are hardware clones in the same sense as any NOAC or earlier famiclones with discrete chips.

The argument that we already have established definitions as they relate to gaming in general is the one I'm making. I'm telling people where FPGA consoles fit into our established distinctions because there has been a lot of misinformation out there leading people to believe it is not equivalent to a hardware clone. It absolutely is. When explained how these FPGA consoles work, it's a lot less "gray" than most think. They are hardware clones for whatever system/core is configured.

I understand what you're saying and largely agree with you, but I just know I wouldn't refer to it as a hardware clone considering what hardware clones of the past have been. I would consider it something different, and as I stated, if it were my creation, I would market it as something different.

 

Edit: I would especially consider this the case because with the exception of the Super Nt, these all are not dedicated "clones" and they also add several features on top of the systems they're designed after.

Edited by jamon1567
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Just want to add to the current discussion that it's a bit disingenuous to equate a "hardware clone" such as an FPGA-based console or platform to a 1-CHIP SNES/SFC as an official "clone" console. As far as I know, there aren't any full incompatibility issues with 1-CHIPs, in the sense that there's no official titles that won't run on it. Instead, there are only a handful of minor inaccuracies. A helicopter or airplane's shadow that doesn't display correctly in some action game I can't recall, some flickering small line in a Street Fighter game... what else is there? In any case, the crucial difference would be not only the type of implementation of such a "clone", but the fact that it is officially vetted by the original manufacturer.

Not at all.

 

 

 

The counterfeit SNES 1chip consoles and hardware clones from Hyperkin, RetroBit, and everyone else use the exact same core as the 1chip... like the factory just kept making them after Nintendo stopped buying them.*

 

The 1chip has always been said to have been engineered more like an official clone than a true combination of the existing chips using the original engineering specifications, but it seems they farmed out the clone engineering and it resulted in all the unofficial clones we have today. They probably weren't too concerned with that possibility back then since it was the end of the console's lifetime, but that's what happened.

 

This is why I keep using that example.

 

*Either that or they leaked/sold the design or Nintendo used an ASIC that was particularly easy to decap and clone even back in the '90s.

 

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