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Atari Flashback 9 vs 9 Deluxe vs Atari Flashback X

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1 hour ago, atarifan88 said:

Went back and played it again and no delay on my end.  Not sure if it could be a delay in your TV.  Did you set it to "game mode?"  Good luck!

Yes... TV is in Game Mode.  Like I showed in the audio samples, Flashback 9 is almost twice the audio delay of the Retron 77.  I understand that a little delay is normal and almost imperceptible... and that little delay being what the Retron 77 does.  However, the delay on the FB9 is too much and borders on being noticeable.

 

 

1 hour ago, atarifan88 said:

If you are complaining about less than a quarter second delay, I think that is being a little critical.  Maybe that's why most people, including myself haven't noticed it.  Do you experience any lag in the controller?  That would be something which would make or break enjoyment of a game.

 

No lag in controller or video... only audio.  The slight audio delay is there.  Wouldn't you want it to emulate the Atari 2600 the best possible?  Bill Loguidice mentioned that AtGames have confirmed this delay internally and are looking into it.  Hopefully they will patch it.

 

 

 

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I have not tried compiling or running Stella 6 for the device so far, but I've poked around the FB 9 a bit.  A few basic issues I've noticed.  The version of SDL2 library on the device is compiled to use OpenGL library (as opposed to OpenGL ES), which is not present or supported on the device.  Attempts to create an OpenGL ES screen through SDL fails because attempts but can't load full OpenGL.  Bypassing SDL, attempts to run a test app linked against just OpenGL ES fails due to an X server abort.  The kernel claims to be loading the Mali driver, but the included Mali user space driver is the X Window version, which would seem to have unnecessary performance dragging overhead were it even functional.  I've not yet continued exploring to see whether this is resolvable via customization/configuration, but in basically stock state it seems it will not work.


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1 hour ago, Brad_from_the_80s said:

I have not tried compiling or running Stella 6 for the device so far, but I've poked around the FB 9 a bit.  A few basic issues I've noticed.  The version of SDL2 library on the device is compiled to use OpenGL library (as opposed to OpenGL ES), which is not present or supported on the device.  Attempts to create an OpenGL ES screen through SDL fails because attempts but can't load full OpenGL.  Bypassing SDL, attempts to run a test app linked against just OpenGL ES fails due to an X server abort.  The kernel claims to be loading the Mali driver, but the included Mali user space driver is the X Window version, which would seem to have unnecessary performance dragging overhead were it even functional.  I've not yet continued exploring to see whether this is resolvable via customization/configuration, but in basically stock state it seems it will not work.

I noticed the same thing playing with my Genesis FB and Legends FB 2018. I've tried to compile RetroArch, but I had no video output due to the X11 implementation of the Mali driver. I've tried OpenGL/OpenGL ES/SDL2/X11, no luck. After several attempts I just gave up... 

 

About Stella 6, I have my doubts it it would be possible, reading the Retron77 thread I had the impression that the devs had a hard time to port it, and the R77 runs on a quad-core processor.

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For the R77, we ran into all the issues mentioned above (SDL, Mali, X, etc).  The solution was a customized kernel, SDL, and Mali driver that didn't use X at all.  This can be found at https://github.com/DirtyHairy/r77-firmware-ng.

 

Note that while the port needed all the performance it could get, that was mostly only for the most demanding ROMs (mostly those that emulated an ARM CPU too).  'Normal' ROMs may work fine on a lesser system.  But I think running X is out of the question; it's just too heavy for such hardware.

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There's also a port of Stella 6 (currently in beta) for RetroArch, so that may be helpful too.

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4 hours ago, stephena said:

For the R77, we ran into all the issues mentioned above (SDL, Mali, X, etc).  The solution was a customized kernel, SDL, and Mali driver that didn't use X at all.  This can be found at https://github.com/DirtyHairy/r77-firmware-ng.

 

Note that while the port needed all the performance it could get, that was mostly only for the most demanding ROMs (mostly those that emulated an ARM CPU too).  'Normal' ROMs may work fine on a lesser system.  But I think running X is out of the question; it's just too heavy for such hardware.

I've come across that but maybe need to look at it more closely again.  Lot of overlap with what I've been seeing/researching for the FB 9 (and probably FB X).

 

So far I can build vanilla SDL2 app and it works fine (on X), as long as I don't ask for OpenGL.  This is basically what the stock menu is doing and probably why it is so slow.  I can build custom SDL2, patched for Mali and configured to use OpenGL ES, but the driver of course is for X which always aborts.  So the main roadblock seems to be getting working OpenGL ES on a Mali non-X driver.  I kind of figured the FB hardware might work okay.  It only has 2 cores (1 GHz stock) but 256MB memory.  And I figured with Retroarch could look into adding 5200/7800 cores later if I ever get that far, though I don't know much about those cores or their performance/quality yet.

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At the link I mentioned is a Mali driver that's for Linux framebuffer, not X.  So I know it can definitely be done.  However, without X you lose mouse pointer, etc, so if the current UI depends on it, then I don't know what to say.  For the R77 we just went with Stella UI directly, and one of the reasons for that is it can be used without requiring a mouse.  I guess it depends on how the UI works on the Flashback devices.  I don't have one (haven't used one since v2), so I can't offer any further advice there.

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No need for mouse.  The built-in UI highlights items using primarily just the joystick and joystick button to navigate.  It's simply a little custom SDL fullscreen graphical app and seems a tad clumsy, but it works.  I was thinking to discard/replace the stock UI with something custom anyway.  It lacks some flexibility and features I'd like, and would need more control over what it launches.

 

I don't know yet if I can get away with just using LD_LIBRARY_PATH to supply/replace so's (I did for my SDL2 build, since I can run arbitrary code from SD card, but of course OpenGL ES was still broken), or if I truly need to customize the root partition.  There is also no DirectFB lib, but not sure that's needed.  Seems I have more to explore and test.

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The good news is that I'm fairly certain that Stella 6 can be made to run on this, since it's not terribly different to the R77.  The bad news is it might not be fast enough.  But even if the hardware isn't fast enough in the current iteration, it may be in next years version or the year after.  So there's still some benefit to getting Stella 6 on this device.

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On 10/27/2019 at 5:02 PM, chad5200 said:

Here is a visual waveform analysis comparing the Retron 77 and the Flashback 9 HDMI.

 

Using the same HDMI cable plugged into the same TV input.  Also using the same Joystick.  The ONLY difference is the Retron 77 vs. the Flashback 9.

 

The spike at 3.00 is the pressing of the fire button... after that is the sound of Pitfall Harry jumping.

 

The audio of the jumping sound on the Retron 77 plays .20 seconds after the button press.

The audio of the jumping sound on the Flashback 9 plays .37 seconds after the button press.

 

Retron77-FB9-Audio-Delay-Compare.png.3ff61259e334763e9d09a96286ef619a.png

 

I'm assuming you have Stella 6 on your R77 compared to Stella 3.9.3 on the FB9. Would it make sense to compare the FB9 to Stella 3.9.3 running on a PC (connected to the same TV using the same HDMI cable)?

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I am waiting impatiently for my Flashback X Deluxe and already thinking about that hack to load own ROMs from USB.

 

I also guess when we can flash the own ROM, we could also flash own game collection, right? Have anybody tried that?

Edited by Wizzard
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On 10/27/2019 at 4:15 PM, Bill Loguidice said:

It looks like the slight audio delay in Pitfall has been confirmed internally, but it does indeed vary by display. An update is being planned.

I see that this was fixed for the X. Can we please get it fixed for the 9/9 Gold?

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41 minutes ago, Gotham said:

I don't think it was fixed in X as I still have audio delay on my Flashback X even after upgrading the firmware. 

Wow really? That’s disappointing 

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56 minutes ago, mario64 said:

Wow really? That’s disappointing 

Yeah, a bit. It's.. Not terrible if you're not familiar with the games. I hadn't even noticed it until I upgraded the firmware to add USB games. But for people who grew up with these games, it must be GRATING. 

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On 1/2/2020 at 6:50 PM, Gotham said:

I don't think it was fixed in X as I still have audio delay on my Flashback X even after upgrading the firmware. 

Yeah, I just created another thread about this audio delay in the Flashback X. It is definitely not fixed with 0.1.18 .

 

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On 1/2/2020 at 10:54 AM, mario64 said:

I see that this was fixed for the X. Can we please get it fixed for the 9/9 Gold?

I have a FB9 Gold and notice no audio lag.  Maybe it only affects the regular FB 9?

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Today i have tried to use the original Atari paddles on the flashback x.

They work really great, you have to put them in port 1, and a joystick in port 2 to controll the menu. If you use a second pair of paddles, I think you have to switch between paddles and joystick to navigate thru the menu.

_20200108_191254.JPG

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31 minutes ago, Ronner51 said:

Today i have tried to use the original Atari paddles on the flashback x.

They work really great, you have to put them in port 1, and a joystick in port 2 to controll the menu. If you use a second pair of paddles, I think you have to switch between paddles and joystick to navigate thru the menu.

_20200108_191254.JPG

Wireless joystick an option for menu navigation?

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2 hours ago, Ronner51 said:

Maybe... The flashback x comes with wires joysticks, dont know if wireless work.

The Flashback 8 Gold Wireless controllers don't work with it, but I don't have access to Flashback 9 controllers, so can't say for sure.

 

They DO seem to be different...you can put FB9 Controllers into a "pairing" mode by holding up + fire while inserting batteries, but this does not happen with FB8 Gold controllers.

 

Also, the FBX board does have an antenna on it which is identical to the antenna used in FB9. Someone needs to try pairing an FB9 controller with the FBX.

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9 hours ago, Ronner51 said:

Today i have tried to use the original Atari paddles on the flashback x.

They work really great, you have to put them in port 1, and a joystick in port 2 to controll the menu. If you use a second pair of paddles, I think you have to switch between paddles and joystick to navigate thru the menu.

_20200108_191254.JPG

I just got my FBX, and I tried the paddles as well. But I noticed a bit of lag. The lag is nowhere near as bad as on the FB8, but I definitely noticed it.

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only a second or two. windows 10 blocked the drivers when I did it. I had to use an older windows pc to mod it.

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