MiSTer FPGA (computer/console/arcade hardware simulation)

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by elvis, Oct 14, 2018.

  1. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    If you're coming off a Pi, you're going to be getting emulation lag anyway.

    But all the same, I run a GertVGA666 for native RGB straight off the Pi (out of GPIO rather than through the HDMI interface - 6bit per channel only, but fine for emulation of old consoles). If you want analogue 8 bit RGBS, you can get something like a RetroTink (the first model, which is a RPi hat, rather than the RetroTink-2X which is a standalone ADC).

    All much of a muchness. Regardless of any of those solutions, you're going to get lag from the emulator and low speed of the RPi.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  2. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Really interested in this, one question I have though, that DE10 nano board, if I buy this now, in the near future will there be a quicker one out?

    Asking cos I wanna grab one, but would t have time to dig into the msx/486 side of things untill a few months from now anyways.
     
  3. flain

    flain Member

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    I would grab one now, everything is going towards the DE10 nano board for now. It's the first common ground FPGA that's getting serious attention. If a bigger one comes out there will be a lag period where someone needs to port over the IO framework. Apparently the hardest part in porting FPGA cores is connecting up the IO and handling the timings/clocks.

    You can grab just the DE10 nano and still run a lot of the cores without any of the add on boards (most of the best ones!). You can still get them easily right now, the manufacturer still sells them as student/dev boards and shipping is fast from taiwan. I don't know how long it will be easy/quick to get if MiSTer starts getting wider attention.
     
  4. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    That's impossible to know, really. The Cyclone V (what the DE-10 is based on) was first released in 2012, so by modern PC standards it's 6 years old. However it's designed for an industrial and educational market where the "Bigger! Faster!" type nonsense of the PC world doesn't exist. Having a stable platform for a decade is their design goal for those markets, so it's likely to be around for a while.

    But, all I can do is speculate. Like I said before, I'm buying in early next year, as I've got too much crap on leading up to January at the moment. And I'm in no rush - this level of retro preservation is only getting better with time thanks to an excellent community.
     
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  5. flain

    flain Member

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    On the cycle accurate 68K

    Looks like he just sent off the source code to a bunch of other core developers :) He is also going to release the full source of the Atari ST core to the public according to a post he made today. Good things are happening :)

    Also back on the topic of latency - the MiSTer HDMI output always uses a framebuffer currently even when matching the source system pixel clock, however the new scaler that is being developed will allow it to work with no framebuffer very soon. So again good stuff happening, moving damn fast too!
     
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  6. flain

    flain Member

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    My DE10 nano arrived, booted it up with the provided microSD (they come with a 8GB card). The power supply has a US plug which was to be expected but it does take 220V so just a simple adapter does the trick (it's 5V 2A so easy to get another). It boots into a Linux desktop. Next I'm going to try out some of the cores that don't need the expansion boards.

    Being a dev/education board it does come with some good resources to get started with FPGA programming.
     
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  7. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    More videos for the x86 computer lovers in this forum. MiSTer ao486 core with MIDI to SoftMPU 1.9 running Day of the Tentacle for MS-DOS:

     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  8. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    This thing is looking more than a little bit awsome. As much as I've loved playing around with the original hardware I can feel a time approaching when I just want to sit down and get retro without having to pull heavy boxes out of storage, break out the soldering iron to keep it going, etc.

    So nice to see that projects like this exist.
     
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  9. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

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    Neat!
    But, I don't think that is SoftMPU. It looks like a real Sound Canvas and MT32.
    SoftMPU just lets you emulate intelligent MPU-401 mode on hardware that only supports a basic UART MIDI port (eg Sound Blasters and clones)
    You can use MUNT to emulate an MT32 in software.
     
  10. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    So much this.

    I was talking to a friend a little while ago who lost around 90% of his very rare, very expensive retro collection in the Brisbane floods, which was utterly heartbreaking to hear. I asked him if he was insured without really thinking about it, and his response was simultaneously obvious yet flawed me: how do you insure this stuff, for how much, and how do you replace it? eBay prices are all over the place, people want more and more money for this old hardware all the time. It's impossible to keep up with for most stuff, and there's some stuff you just can't even find any more (I'd be buggered if I ever had to replace my Aussie Sega SC-3000H).

    So on top of my constant grief of keeping hardware running, shuffling displays and gear about, and trying to manage the space I have to do what I want to do, actually worrying about my collection being lost/damaged/stolen is a massive concern too.

    MiSTer becomes more and more enticing as a result.

    I think you're right. I'm so out of touch with how that stuff works in hardware (I use FluidSynth in DosBox like a numpty). Either way, impressed me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  11. flain

    flain Member

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    The new USB MIDI support they've been working on in MiSTer should be released soon :). It would be cool if they manage to get soundblaster support. Or anyone remember gravis ultrasound?
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  12. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

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    Yeah man, I run one in my 486 :)

    DosBox will emulate a GUS, just takes a bit of setup. There is also a project on Vogons.org to build a modern replica card.
     
  13. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Could be options there to either get it MIDI simulated on the FPGA, or emulated on the neighbouring ARM chip.
     
  14. flain

    flain Member

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    There has been work/progress on an alternate scaler on MiSTer and it now has a "low latency mode" which puts it only a few scanlines behind (it outputs the first line when the 3rd line is input). Suffice to say anyone complaining about being 2 lines behind is taking things too far :). I tested it out and it doesn't seem to work on my 4K TV but it works perfect on my PC monitor. Also it's still early times and work is still being done.
     
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Modern TVs tend to want pretty strict timing. i.e.: if you're not bang on 50.00Hz/60.00Hz, then it's "out of range".

    Many older consoles were pretty loose with their timings. There's known issues in the NES and SNES (even down to variable "jitter" so that every few frames it's out of spec with the rest), for example, that make them largely incompatible with some modern TVs, even with an OSSC in the mix. That's the same reason why Analogue and Kevtris wrote slightly out of spec modes for the various Analogue Nt / Super Nt consoles that change game and audio speed ever so slightly to allow a perfect 60.00Hz mode (unnoticeable by almost anyone who's not a hardcore speedrunner).

    I'm hoping these same timing tweaks make it into MiSTer cores for the same reasons. Even if slightly inaccurate, it'll solve a lot of problems on modern displays with minimal gameplay changes. (Meanwhile, PAL gamers are all laughcrying to themselves about playing ~60Hz games at ~50Hz for so long).
     
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  16. flain

    flain Member

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    A SNES core and source code was found today, video of the core here
    (not running on MiSTer)


    Source here https://github.com/srg320/FpgaSnes

    It seems to be pretty complete, the main MiSTer maintainer/core porter has already taken a look and thinks it will fit on MiSTer and has said he will begin porting it to MiSTer very soon.
     
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  17. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I've been following FPGA SNES for a while. The author made some amazing progress in a very short amount of time, and I was wondering if/when that work would ever be available in MiSTer.

    Pretty incredible amount of work compared to most of the other consoles and computers of the era. Very impressive.
     
  18. flain

    flain Member

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    This one appears to be something out of the blue, the author only has 2 youtube videos and then posted his source just hours ago with no license (GPL or anything else) or anything like that attached. You'll notice it renders to the right side of the screen would be interesting if we can find any other youtube videos with a FPGA SNES rendering like that.

    The sound seems spot on too (even though the video is via camera audio), games that usually have sound issues on less accurate emulators seemed to sound fine (at least to me).
     
  19. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    The original FPGA SNES author was pretty quiet on the old innertubes. Most of the news I saw was via RetroRGB's weekly updates, and it was quiet for a while. Original media was even just a screenshot here or there, or a forum/twitter post detailing progress made.

    I'm pretty sure the first bit of media I ever saw was a 10 second video showing just the foreground sprites rendering, no background, no music.

    It also renders in 1:1 pixel aspect, so the final picture is in the incorrect ratio. But all of those things are trivially fixed after the fact.

    But yeah, the original video I saw wasn't great quality, and I couldn't tell at the time if it was the same off-centre rendering.

    I'm pretty sure it's been going on for at least 2 years or so. In fact, I think I heard about FPGASNES before Analogue publicly announced the Super Nt. But no surprises that a commercially funded project moves faster than a hobby/part-time one. Gotta pay the bills.
     
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  20. flain

    flain Member

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    Stuff is moving fast! the cycle accurate 68k source from the Ararti ST emulator just got released too.
     
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