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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    Smokemonster reported that the Famicom Disk System went from "oh yeah, kinda working for one game" to "almost everything works perfectly" in about a month. That's insane progress.
     
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  2. flain

    flain Member

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    MiSTer runtime custom scaler switching support


    Also they've ported the new cycle accurate 68K core to the genesis core and are ironing some minor things before it hits github
     
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  3. flain

    flain Member

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    Looks like this thread made front page so a small update on stuff.

    - The SNES core has been out for some time now, it was ported to MiSTer pretty fast. It has superfx support (starfox) and other "special" chips (mario kart works)
    - The cycle accurate 68k is now in the genesis core and also many other cores.
    - They have done a lot more work on the scaler, you now have a whole bunch of filters to pick from if you choose to use a filter
    - Core updates are still happening at a fast pace, sometimes almost daily
    - There is an auto-update script to run from the linux shell to make keeping up easier (i just ssh into it)
    - There are quite a few new cores and lots of general usability enhancements (eg you can now use .zip files instead of needing raw rom files)
    - Furtek has shown some early video of his progress with a neogeo core, however it might end up needing a different SDRAM module to run (a bigger one)
    - A CPS core (Street Fighter 2 arcade etc) is in the works but is early days

    I received my IO board and SDRAM last year. I've had a blast playing genesis games on it (i own a super nt so don't really play snes on it except for testing stuff). The TG16/PCEngine core is absolutely awesome. 8bitdo wireless controllers are really nice to use with it, since i already had some i only needed to buy the usb reciever.
     
  4. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    Is this a good replacement for a mame box ? economics is probably quite low in the big picture, and accuracy is high on the wants
    thinking older 70/80/early 90's titles mostly
    sorry for the noob question. just dreaming of a 2 player mame lowboy or cocktail .... maybe both :D

    edit - so i read elvis's first post again and this time followed the links :o
    but the quest remains, is it more/same/worse accuracy then a mame box, or a pandora box ?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  5. flain

    flain Member

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    Accuracy depends on the core, overall mame is still more accurate and supports way way more systems. FPGA based emulation/simulation has potential to be ultimately better but requires work first.

    One major advantage to MiSTer is that it has very low input lag over hdmi. This alone is enough for pretty much anyone to tell the difference/ improvement when playing certain games (eg super Mario world, smb3, mk II). To put it into perspective I have a retropi that is unplayable on my 4k tv due to lag while the MiSTer doesn’t have the problem.
     
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  6. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    Thanks. Input lag is sucky. Seems like this will get better over time, should be worth watching how it progresses
     
  7. flain

    flain Member

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    on MiSTer the low latency scaler is now released and support is in the NES and SNES cores so far. The other cores should be updated pretty fast if the current pace continues

    Without the low latency scaler enabled the HDMI latency is 2 frames which is still pretty low compared to other solutions
     
  8. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    2 frames is fine at 60hz or is it 2 frames at the games native refresh ?
    either way doesn't bother me. dying in galaga at level 12 because of lag does :)
     
  9. Camm

    Camm Member

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    Excuse the ignorance, but is there any reason why we haven't moved to Cyclone 10 FPGA's.

    Surely we could use the extra horsepower.
     
  10. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Like everything, pros and cons.

    Pros:
    * Faster / more capacity
    * Can handle more complex systems (PlayStation, etc)

    Cons:
    * Costs more
    * Need to find a distributor who can deal in volume
    * Rapidly changing hardware specs become frustrating (especially if your old addon boards are made useless)
    * No benefit to existing cores that already work
    * Development of things like N64/PlayStation will take many years

    The DE-10 platform is an education-focused provider with multi-year support focus, and gives nice long lifespans for hardware availability and support. Plus they can handle the volume needed. A consistent platform means hardware upgrades are compatible for longer periods of time. Faster upgrades means needing faster turn around on addons, and probably invalidates the old hardware you bought.

    Given that these aren't like emulation, they're about capacity not speed. So if a Cyclone V can handle a SNES in totality (all chips simulated and working to spec), then a faster/bigger/more-powerful FPGA doesn't make that experience any better.

    Folks doing the cores for these estimate that the Neo-Geo is about the gruntiest console/arcade core that the DE-10/CycloneV can handle. That means SNES, Megadrive, Amiga are all do-able (we have cores for all of them already), and anything older is fine.

    CPS1 is a maybe (probably not, I'm only guessing), and PlayStation definitely not. But that's starting to creep into some seriously complex FPGA/HDL stuff anyway, as those systems are much bigger. So if someone wants to put in the crazy development hours for those, then yes newer hardware is needed. Kevtris (the super brain behind the Analogue FPGA consoles) mentioned that an N64 would take him many years (maybe even more than a decade) to do to the same accuracy as his existing cores as a one-man operation.

    If the DE-10 system has the capacity for a tonne of 8 and 16 bit hardware, is going to be around for years and years, and people are slowly working on addons (input boards, output boards, etc), then that's a good thing. You're talking around AU$250 delivered to handle dozens of systems, including some really obscure stuff, and tens of thousands of games. Consider what collecting the equivalent would cost you in today's market. As far as experiencing classic gaming on a budget goes, I genuinely think this is one of the best options you can get when it comes to a compromise of cost, accuracy and latency. (Emulation is cheaper/easier but sacrifices latency, hardware collecting is "hardware perfect" but sacrifices cost, maintenance, and is difficult to connect to new displays).

    I don't doubt that this will move to bigger/faster FPGA systems in the future. But for now the system is adequate, and more important than extra grunt is perfecting the current cores to try and eliminate all bugs, decrease the latency for scalers and input boards, get all data formats supported (virtual disk and optical drive handling, etc), get more arcade cores happening, and get the stuff that's out there now to the highest level of quality and accuracy that can be achieved.

    With all of that said, there's no stopping anyone developing bits and pieces on existing dev boards. Much like MAME, there's value here in open source code being shared and people using each other's individual chip implementations to good effect. For example, there are several M68K cores out there of varying quality, and projects are finding success in switching to better implementations. So when you're talking gruntier systems like Capcom CPS2, the work done on the ~8MHz Megadrive M68K will help the 12MHz Neo-Geo M68K and the 16MHz CPS2 M68K, as they're all very similar CPUs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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  11. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    so who here has one ?
    the low input lag has my interest again :)
    whats the level of setup and maintenance complexity like for a casual user ?

    hey elvis, are you still getting one in March ??
     
  12. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Yup. S'me birthday, and that's me birthday present. :)
     
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  13. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    and a week off work to play too ??
     
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    That'd be nice, but I just came back from annual leave and I'm expecting folks to be a quivering mess when I walk back in the office. Generally speaking if I ask for time off again too soon, they start freaking out. :)
     
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  15. flain

    flain Member

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    I have one, getting it running is pretty easy, there is a windows program you can run that will setup the SD card for you to use (like a bootstrapper). Then you just need to drop roms onto it. Once you do that a few of the cores will already be working without any further add on boards, but i do recommend a heatsink as it gets very hot.

    For the DE10 itself i got mine directly from the terasic website and it arrived within a few days, which i was surprised being an international delivery. Then i posted in the official forums (atariage mister forums) asking to get the IO board and SDRAM board, someone contacted me within the hour and i put an order in with them. That took about 4 weeks until he made the boards and sent them to me. Heatsink came with the addon boards, it's just a stick on with a self adhesive, raspberry pi heatsinks work too. Plugging them in is easy. You also need a USB hub, i got a dlink usb 2.0 powered hub with the USB OTG connector on it so it plugs straight in.

    For controllers you can use most USB controllers, i've got some 8bitdo ones i use with my super nt and they also work with MiSTer.

    One cool thing here is the FPGA on the DE10 nano is actually worth about $300USD but you're getting a whole board for far less ($120). This is apparently because intel sponsors/subsidizes the DE10 nano as an education board.

    Once everything is up and running i do recommend plugging it into your network so you can ssh into it. The benefit is you can run an update script and it will update all the cores automatically. Without the script you would need to remove the SD card and manually copy the new core files over and with the pace of updates that is quite tedious.

    Also of note is there are some rom packs floating around, Smokemonster has a pack for it (although its already out of date), i can't post anything here on where to get it for obvious reasons.

    Also in the news is there is a neogeo core working with no sound, so awesome progress. Take a look here: https://www.patreon.com/furrtek

    Ghosts'n'goblins arcade core just got released too and uses similar hardware to a lot of other capcom games so id expect more will be coming :)

    It seems everyday more and more devs are jumping on board which is a great thing. For example the devs that worked on many of the special chip support in the SD2SNES have contributed to add support for many special chips to the MiSTer SNES core (superfx recently being added - eg starfox, starfox2 etc).
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Are there any Australian sellers for addon boards?
     
  17. flain

    flain Member

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    There is a guy called oneleaf86 in the arcade-projects.com forums that is Melbourne based that made some, he probably has spares. You should send him a message and see :). There is a MiSTer thread over there where he posted about it.
     
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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  19. flain

    flain Member

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    I could be wrong but i think that turned out to be the Ghosts'n'Goblins core (ie not Ghouls'n'Ghosts) which isn't actually CPS1 and is earlier hardware than CPS. There is a MiSTer core for it now and some people have got other games working on it.

    It's still pretty cool though because there weren't really any console/computer ports of Ghost'n'Goblins that were any good and the original boards are $300+ and don't have a jamma interface so are more hassle if you actually want the original game.

    edit: actually it might be a new CPS core in development - my original assumption is probably wrong - lets find more info! :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  20. flain

    flain Member

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    On the neo-geo being the "gruntiest" it can do, actually the difficulty they are facing with the neogeo is more the insane IO that the system needed due to the cartridges. Those cartridges are not only the biggest in physical size but had a *lot* of pins (IO) in them. They also have dual fingerboards in the carts, one for sound and one for video (common problems with real neogeo is getting only sound or only video when the connectors are dirty). One of the things furtek (the neogeo core dev) is struggling with is working out which type of memory in MiSTer to use for which type of neogeo memory as the original neogeo has different types of independent memory for different things. Apparently size wise everything will fit on MiSTer but different clocking and speed of the original neogeo's memory types is challenging/limiting which is why there might end up being a different MiSTer memory add on board if he can't solve it.

    All that said - apparently there is enough logic elements in the FPGA to do a PlayStation (at least functionally - fancy stuff like branch prediction and all that jazz they started adding to chips not included).

    Also just to put the logic element limits into perspective, the current working neogeo core (with no sound) uses approx 3800 logic cells and the FPGA in MiSTer has arround 100,000 :).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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