10 votes

MISTER FPGA: The Future of Retro Game Emulation and Preservation?

8 comments

  1. [5]
    Nmg (edited ) Link
    As an electrical engineer who has contributed to research in FPGAs, I find this freakin' hilarious. FPGAs for me have always been in a certain sweet spot. FPGAs are used for performance tasks that...

    As an electrical engineer who has contributed to research in FPGAs, I find this freakin' hilarious. FPGAs for me have always been in a certain sweet spot. FPGAs are used for performance tasks that cannot be effectively be performed by existing integrated digital electronics and cannot be justified as new integrated circuit designs due to cost and time requirements.

    The fact that retro gamers, of all people, would want to get in on the action is really funny to me.

    2 votes
    1. [4]
      phantomPhreak Link Parent
      Funny haha, or funny sad? It seems like the reasoning for using FPGAs is for cycle accurate emulation and preservation. If they can write how the consoles worked in software, then there would be...

      Funny haha, or funny sad? It seems like the reasoning for using FPGAs is for cycle accurate emulation and preservation. If they can write how the consoles worked in software, then there would be zero difference between a software simulation and the real deal, thus ending up with perfect gameplay and preserving the system itself as software.

      I have been using emulators for decades now, but the retro gaming community is really hyping this solution. Are they missing something? Off base with their ideas? Or is it funny that niche group would happen to stumble on this?

      1. [3]
        Nmg Link Parent
        Well, if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said something like: "I think using this for retro gaming is like buying gold plated coaxial cables for your TV. It very much likely is...

        Well, if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said something like:

        "I think using this for retro gaming is like buying gold plated coaxial cables for your TV. It very much likely is overkill. Reverse engineering the old gaming systems, if it hasn't already been done, and getting cheaply fabricated PCBs with the same or similar parts, is likely a smarter approach. "

        I worked for a company that used a 10,000 dollar FPGA as part of a 30,000 dollar product they sold to test dual fiber optic cables at 100 Gbits/sec. The fact that people would use the same tech to play old video games is funny for the last reason you mentioned.

        Now to be fair, there are a lot of efforts to make FPGAs more accessible. Last time i checked, computer science students don't have any clue what they are nor that they can do cool things with them.

        That actually was part of my research from a few years ago. I haven't really kept up to date with this world (which is why I am trying to hold back some judgement) so perhaps we are getting closer to more widespread usage, to which I say, hack away.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Akir Link Parent
          FPGAs are getting more and more common, actually. You can get your hands on a very basic dev board for about $50 or so, and there are quite a few articles about them on Hackaday.

          FPGAs are getting more and more common, actually. You can get your hands on a very basic dev board for about $50 or so, and there are quite a few articles about them on Hackaday.

          2 votes
          1. Nmg Link Parent
            I guess we are reaching that ubiquitous point, then. I suppose reconfigurable computing is a perfect way to switch gaming systems (so long as you're okay with a slowish clockrate, but probably...

            I guess we are reaching that ubiquitous point, then.

            I suppose reconfigurable computing is a perfect way to switch gaming systems (so long as you're okay with a slowish clockrate, but probably fast enough for retro systems)

  2. [3]
    Slayback Link
    I built one over the holidays and it’s one of the coolest things ever. In seconds I can go from a nearly 100% Amiga experience to a Genesis, to a C64, then to an Atari 2600. Why not just use...

    I built one over the holidays and it’s one of the coolest things ever. In seconds I can go from a nearly 100% Amiga experience to a Genesis, to a C64, then to an Atari 2600. Why not just use emulators? The short answer is accuracy and lag. It feels like the original with HDMI output.

    I’d you’re into retro tech this should be on your radar. I say this as someone with a large console and computer collection. The convenience is amazing, and if you’re really into the scene you know the crazy setups needed to get a pure lag free image on an HDTV. This does all of that, plus a whole lot more!

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      phantomPhreak Link Parent
      I have been considering buying one of these for awhile now. I have tweaked my RetroArch to deal with lag, but it's not quite perfect. Are there CRT shaders yet? I'm one of those weirdos that needs...

      I have been considering buying one of these for awhile now. I have tweaked my RetroArch to deal with lag, but it's not quite perfect. Are there CRT shaders yet? I'm one of those weirdos that needs some sort of scanline look.

      I'm think this would be a perfect addition to my Bliss-box 4-Play, especially when firmware 3.0 comes out!

      1. Slayback Link Parent
        There are shaders and I think the code was borrowed from the open source scan converter (OSSC) project. And it works great with my BlissBox as well! Playing TG16 on it with real controllers is a trip!

        There are shaders and I think the code was borrowed from the open source scan converter (OSSC) project.

        And it works great with my BlissBox as well! Playing TG16 on it with real controllers is a trip!