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racketboy
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by racketboy Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:40 pm

Tanooki wrote:Isn't the original NT kind of polymega-ish? The maker put out unofficial firmware that fires up all sorts of other gaming systems through ROM on SD card usage.


In a way, but I guess I'm asking if you'd rather have dedicated units without swap out parts that cost more or a modular system that could save money/space/wiring
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by marurun Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:41 pm

We still don't know how the Polymega works internally. Remember, FPGA simulation has the potential to be much more accurate and authentic than software emulation. So while both are pretending to be hardware they're not, FPGAs can actually perfectly model circuits, and emulation only approximates it in software. So I guess I favor a model that's a hybrid of the NT and Polymega concepts.
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by bmoc Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:00 pm

marurun wrote:We still don't know how the Polymega works internally.

The Polymega team has described it as low level emulation using Linux coupled with their Hybrid Emulation technology. Hybrid Emulation being the ability to read data from the carts and interact directly with any special chips like Super FX, SA1, etc.
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by chuckster Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:42 pm

I'm not convinced by linux boxes and "hybrid emulation" as much as I would have been before the Retron 5 showed the limits of such a system. I am however very impressed at the viability of the FPGA options we have seen so far. Of course, FPGA's are relatively expensive so I'm guessing a lot more work is going to go into those projects overall to make them more accurate.

Either way, I think I'd much rather have an Nt Mini type device, (Re-programmable FPGA that can emulate half a dozen different architectures, easy system switching in firmware, etc.) than the Polymega approach (Linux emulation, modular hardware that essentially acts as a cartridge and controller adapter). It seems like a happy medium would be a powerful re-programmable FPGA system built like a Retron5 with all cart ports (and a CD drive) built in, and the company selling cheap controller adapters as well. Basically a Retron 5 with the philosophy and hardware of an Analouge Product (but please restore analog video options). That's the dream for me at least.

Rather than having to swap tops to play new systems, just do it in software, and have all cartridge and disk slots already built-in. It'd be more expensive than a bare-bones Polymega or even console-specific Analogue products we have seen so far, but for people interested in $200 retro gaming boxes, who probably want more than one or two systems emulated, it may even work out to be cheaper than buying standalone modules.
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by marurun Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:50 pm

bmoc wrote:
marurun wrote:We still don't know how the Polymega works internally.

The Polymega team has described it as low level emulation using Linux coupled with their Hybrid Emulation technology. Hybrid Emulation being the ability to read data from the carts and interact directly with any special chips like Super FX, SA1, etc.


So basically, emulation. qualifiers like "low level" and "hybrid" don't really mean much because they have no standard industry definition. They can mean whatever Polymega wants them to mean. It's a Linux-based emulation box with hardware integration. It's a more expensive Retron5. I guess it's neat it doesn't emulate the special chips and can hand off functions to that hardware, but the core functioning is still emulation, and the coordination of it all is still emulated. Also seems like a more complicated than necessary solution for that. And the face that they charge separately for the various modules is a real turn-off. That means more production and distribution costs for Polymega and higher total prices for us.

I dunno. The FPGA model seems like it has every advantage, really, including cost, given the way Polymega is choosing to approach this. At this point the onus is on Polymega to explain to us how this particular model makes sense and what advantage it has over the alternatives. And there are a lot of alternatives right now.
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by Sarge Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:36 pm

It's probably taken until now for FPGAs to get as capable as they are for the price point that makes sense for this kind of stuff. They're kind of a midpoint between a pure hardware approach (and I'm talking about a completely dedicated circuit) and software running on a CPU. Software emulation is probably much easier to maintain and tweak, but you lose some of your speed advantage. (It should also be noted that most FPGAs don't operate at the same frequencies as CPUs, but given their more hardware-oriented nature, they don't have to have those kinds of speeds. Apples-to-apples comparisons are pretty tricky between the two.)

The Polymega thing absolutely sounds like it's just software emulation on a CPU with a Linux-based kernel, not unlike what Nintendo has whipped up for the Mini series. You just get some hardware interfaces to get the data in, and that's really no different than what the Retron 5 is doing. I think it's cool they're trying to tackle disc-based systems, but the modular approach just isn't very appealing to me. The way these systems function, all I really want is a way to rip whatever I'm playing to solid-state storage, and play from there. Perhaps this gives a better interface to do so, but I can also do a lot of this on a PC, at least for disc-based games. (And if you're willing to jump into the world of dumpers, there are options there too.)

Low-level emulation to me implies cycle-accurate. But yes, without an agreed-to definition, it's hard to know exactly what they mean by that.
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by bmoc Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:56 pm

The devil is going to be in the details for sure. If the Super NT can FPGA-ify (that's totally a word) most 8bit and 16bit systems, I will probably be down for one. I doubt it can do anything beyond 16bit systems. If it can mimic a NeoGeo then I won't be able to buy one fast enough. I have no idea if its FPGA is powerful enough for that or not. But I think there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the Polymega as well - mostly space saving, game preservation, and original controller reasons. I might just have to make room for both of them in my setup depending on how the dominoes fall.
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by sevin0seven Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:48 am

Just HDMI? it would also be nice to have backwards compatible for Composite or S-video, heck even (RGB) Components...but that would probably make the price higher. (looks at HDMI to AV converter....meh).
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Re: Analogue's Super NT - FPGA Based SNES

by SpikeSlania Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:42 pm

I just watched a youtube video were John Hancock mentioned that this was announced. Besides after seeing how good the quality of their NES clone console was, I'm also being enticed by the Turrican Director's Cut that sadly will be digital only but comes on each console. Was hoping for it to be in cart form, but I'm sure it won't take too long for people to start making repros of it.
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