Project Status Update

Discuss any suggestions you may have here.
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OldGnashburg
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Project Status Update

Post by OldGnashburg » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:43 pm

Hey MarathonMan, I was wondering if you could open up an official thread discussing your status on the project. For example; every so often you could just give us a little idea on the progress on CEN64 that has been made, saying if you fixed any bugs, or implemented something new, reflecting on your work, asking a question, or even suggest something from us. Just an idea, but with such little input from this forum as of right now, some people may be borderline on wondering whether this project will finish.
Gnash, Gnash, Gnash...

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klarthailerion
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Re: Project Status Update

Post by klarthailerion » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:53 pm

When progress is made in a specific area, MarathonMan generally does make a post about it in the relevant portion of the forum. People already ask questions in various sub-sections of these forums, and suggestions can be made in this very sub-forum (strangely enough titled "Suggestions").

A single running commentary of status on all aspects of the project would best be accomplished through a blog and not a forum, although it could potentially be done in a single thread within a forum. But then what would be the purpose of the rest of the forum?

Patience. Let the man have fun with his project, and don't try to turn it into a chore or an obligation for him.

Presence
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Re: Project Status Update

Post by Presence » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:46 pm

See this post on Emutalk:
http://www.emutalk.net/threads/54131-An ... post451985

You can also follow the commit log on Github:
https://github.com/tj90241/cen64/commits/next-version

There hasn't been a lot of progress lately. Just be patient.

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MarathonMan
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Re: Project Status Update

Post by MarathonMan » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:03 am

As the others have mentioned, I generally post something if I have something worthy of sharing. Lately, as I have posted on EmuTalk, I've been busy with personal things, illness, etc. and experimenting with new things, so I haven't really done much with CEN64 in the past weeks. What I have done, I have not yet pushed as it's not in usable state.

I've been spending a lot of my free time using the CEN64 simulator to develop a something that very strongly resembles an R4300i (read: don't sue/C&D me, MIPS :D) on the cheapest (~50$) FPGA with reasonable specs that I could find. I've managed to write a serial debugging interface that communicates through a cheap (~$5) USB UART. In addition, I've written a SDRAM controller to make use of the FPGA's 256Mbit SDRAM chip and a bus arbiter to permit sharing of the SDRAM between the UART interface and the CPU. From there, I have started implementing the very fringes of the pipeline and testing what I can by making use of the LEDs and UART interface. I doubt I'll be able to implement much, if any, of the caches due to the limited number of LEs on the chip and the lack of block RAM/SRAM, but it's a good starting point for me as I've never experimented with FPGAs or HDL before.
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Kerr Avon
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Re: Project Status Update

Post by Kerr Avon » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:25 am

You know how, whenever someone posts anything interesting on the 'net, there's a 99.999% chance that some idiot will misunderstand it and ask a question that involves something that's either impossible or pure fantasy?

Today, that's me, sorry...

But I have to ask, Marathon Man, is there any chance that what you're doing in hardware could result in an N64 clone? Either by you or someone else down the line? I have to ask, as I'd *love* a (good) N64 clone - something with HDMI input, as some LCD TVs don't work with all N64 resolutions otherwise; I'm a PAL user, and my N64 plays all PAL N64 games, of course, but using my N64 + Everdrive I can play NTSC/JAP games, but some of these just give a black screen. All games work on the other TV in the house (also a CRT), but my console TV just doesn't like some NTSC resolutions (or refresh rates, or whatever the TV objects too). And judging from the official Everdrive 64 forum, I'm far from the only one with such problems. Plus, when you see how good N64 games look on an emulator, it'd be fantastic to see them look that good on a real N64 (well, on a clone).

I've never used a clone console before, and from what I've read they are usually inferior to the originals in compatibility, video output, etc. But an N64 clone that had full compatibility, no loss of quality in audio/video, output in HDMI, had built in save/load states (I can dream...), and maybe even had built in Gameshark functionality, well, that would be *amazing*.

Even if it's not possible, then out of interest, what would other people like to see added to this sadly non-existent N64 clone? Online would be nice, but since games would have to be modded or written from scratch, I doubt it would be used much (if at all), so it's probably pointless. The ability to over-clock the hardware might be better, as I've heard some games (Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, etc) can run better on over-clocked hardware, but this would have to be switchable, for those games that don't support it, or for if you just don't want it enabled. And on the N64, would you get better results if for some games you over-clocked just the CPU, for others you just over-clocked the GPU, and for some if you over-clocked both the CPU and the GPU?

Sorry for day-dreaming! Now back to (the disappointing and harshly cruel) reality of real life :(

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MarathonMan
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Re: Project Status Update

Post by MarathonMan » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:38 am

Kerr Avon wrote:But I have to ask, Marathon Man, is there any chance that what you're doing in hardware could result in an N64 clone?
Yes. This has been, and is, my original goal. I am using CEN64, the software simulator, to verify my hardware implementation where possible.
Kerr Avon wrote:Either by you or someone else down the line? I have to ask, as I'd *love* a (good) N64 clone - something with HDMI input, as some LCD TVs don't work with all N64 resolutions otherwise; I'm a PAL user, and my N64 plays all PAL N64 games, of course, but using my N64 + Everdrive I can play NTSC/JAP games, but some of these just give a black screen.
marshallh is working on digital output for N64, so a clone wouldn't be necessary for this: :)
http://imgur.com/a/DdEuq
Kerr Avon wrote:And judging from the official Everdrive 64 forum, I'm far from the only one with such problems. Plus, when you see how good N64 games look on an emulator, it'd be fantastic to see them look that good on a real N64 (well, on a clone).
heh, should have gotten a 64drive. I haven't had a single issue with mine. I wrote a library so I can upload ROMs to the cart's SDRAM before I power up the console, so I don't need to reflash ROMs to do homebrew development, which is nice.
Kerr Avon wrote:I've never used a clone console before, and from what I've read they are usually inferior to the originals in compatibility, video output, etc. But an N64 clone that had full compatibility, no loss of quality in audio/video, output in HDMI, had built in save/load states (I can dream...), and maybe even had built in Gameshark functionality, well, that would be *amazing*.
Not to sound cocky, but a lot of people are amateurs when it comes to hardware clones. When it's done right, it's remarkable to see it come full circle. If you've seen fpgaboy by costis, you'll know what I'm talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9tIR0htrK8

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Kerr Avon
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Re: Project Status Update

Post by Kerr Avon » Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:24 pm

MarathonMan wrote:
Kerr Avon wrote:But I have to ask, Marathon Man, is there any chance that what you're doing in hardware could result in an N64 clone?
Yes. This has been, and is, my original goal. I am using CEN64, the software simulator, to verify my hardware implementation where possible.
Wow! That's brilliant :D (sorry, I can't find a smiley for "Utterly ****ing fantastic!").

There're a lot of questions I could pester you with, but I know it's very early days, your time is split between real life (work, family, friends, etc), Cen64, and whatever else, and if you had anything definite to say about making an N64 clone then you'd probably have already posted it, so I'll keep quiet (with great difficulty!). Please post any progress that you think is worth posting, though.


Kerr Avon wrote:Either by you or someone else down the line? I have to ask, as I'd *love* a (good) N64 clone - something with HDMI input, as some LCD TVs don't work with all N64 resolutions otherwise; I'm a PAL user, and my N64 plays all PAL N64 games, of course, but using my N64 + Everdrive I can play NTSC/JAP games, but some of these just give a black screen.
marshallh is working on digital output for N64, so a clone wouldn't be necessary for this: :)
http://imgur.com/a/DdEuq[/quote]

I've heard of that project (via the assemblergames.com forums) but it would apparently need soldering to connect it to an N64 (at least that's what I read on the forums) so a clone N64 would bypass the need for soldering, plus a clone would add the potential for other hardware improvements.


Kerr Avon wrote:And judging from the official Everdrive 64 forum, I'm far from the only one with such problems. Plus, when you see how good N64 games look on an emulator, it'd be fantastic to see them look that good on a real N64 (well, on a clone).
heh, should have gotten a 64drive. I haven't had a single issue with mine. I wrote a library so I can upload ROMs to the cart's SDRAM before I power up the console, so I don't need to reflash ROMs to do homebrew development, which is nice.[/quote]

I don't think the 64Drive would fix my TV problem, would it? I thought the N64 was causing the problem by sending out a resolution/frame-rate/whatever that my main TV couldn't cope with, but my other TV could. Does the 64Drive alter the screen picture? I know the Everdrive can force different screen modes, but nothing I've done has made these games work with my main TV.

Kerr Avon wrote:I've never used a clone console before, and from what I've read they are usually inferior to the originals in compatibility, video output, etc. But an N64 clone that had full compatibility, no loss of quality in audio/video, output in HDMI, had built in save/load states (I can dream...), and maybe even had built in Gameshark functionality, well, that would be *amazing*.
Not to sound cocky, but a lot of people are amateurs when it comes to hardware clones. When it's done right, it's remarkable to see it come full circle. If you've seen fpgaboy by costis, you'll know what I'm talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9tIR0htrK8[/quote]

Yes, I suppose most clones are quick and cheaply designed (to minimise cash expenditure, as the clones are meant to make money) and made with the intention of playing the majority of games fairly close to how the original plays them, and with little time spent on the last 5% - 10% of games with problems. Then they are released on the market, buyer beware. The situation is no doubt very different when it's done by someone (or some people) who's motive isn't profit or gain, but actual accuracy and performance of the emulated (or is it 'simulated) machine, especially when they have the skill and understanding necessary to achieve the goals.

Anyway, thanks for answering, and for working on a clone. If it comes to nothing (real life can take all of your free time, when something unforeseen or serious happens) then fair enough, but if it does come to fruition, then it will no doubt be much appreciated by the small but loyal band of N64 lovers.

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