NES and Famicom support for the One-Chip-MSX!

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By Jagasian

Supporter (14)

Jagasian's picture

14-07-2005, 02:13

A guy named Kevin Horton aka "kevtris" has been working on a project that is very similar to the One-Chip-MSX, but instead has been targetting recreation of the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom. Check it out HERE. Note that the hardware is very similar to the One-Chip-MSX. Both have DB9 controller ports, composite A/V, VGA, USB, and both also use the exact same FPGA! Kevin basically has all of the NES circuitry recreated in the FPGA, but he has only produced one prototype FPGA console. He is worried that the product won't sell as it will have to sell around $300 (USD).

I have been following Kevin's FPGA NES for a long time now, and I just stumbled upon the One-Chip-MSX. Because the One-Chip is being produced in far larger numbers than Kevin planned to produce the FPGA NES, it can be manufactured for a lower cost per unit. So I have suggested to Kevin that he consider porting his FPGA circuit data to ASCII's One-Chip platform. Of course, he wants to be able to make money off of his work, so it has been suggested that he sell a One-chip upgrade that adds NES/Famicom support, for roughly $50 (USD).

The FPGA NES has many benefits over software based emulation. The main benefit is that the FPGA based emulation is highly accurate circuit-level emulation of the NES. Hence games run on the FPGA NES exactly as they would on a real NES. Anyway, just a heads up on the possibility that the One-Chip could see pixel-perfect NES/Famicom compatibility due to the lovely FPGA used on the One-Chip.

Kiss inaccurate software emulation goodbye. Highly accurate circuit-level emulation via modern FPGAs is the future for keeping retro-consoles and computers alive.

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By Samor

Prophet (2092)

Samor's picture

14-07-2005, 09:21

interesting;
the problem would be the famicom carts though; I don't think they fit in MSX cartridge slots, and it would be cool if it was able to run the originals.

By Latok

msx guru (3828)

Latok's picture

14-07-2005, 09:55

Is it possible to release convertors for the standard One-Chip-MSX cartridge slot? With these convertors, one could also insert other cartridges such as NESgames.....Very interesting, all this!!!!

By Samor

Prophet (2092)

Samor's picture

14-07-2005, 11:12

couldnt zemmix consoles do this?

By snout

Ascended (15184)

snout's picture

14-07-2005, 12:25

Perhaps it's possible to make an USB NES GameReader for OneChipMSX...

By Latok

msx guru (3828)

Latok's picture

14-07-2005, 14:37

That doesn't sound serious, snout. And I WAS Tongue

By Jagasian

Supporter (14)

Jagasian's picture

14-07-2005, 15:07

BTW, I should point out that I am not affiliated with Kevin Horton or his FPGA NES in any way, except that I am a fan/follower of the project, eager to see it completed because I hate inaccurate software NES emulators. I think Kevin is on vacation for a few weeks, so I haven't gotten his take on the 1C-MSX and whether or not he thinks it would be easy to port his FGPA NES to the 1C-MSX. So, could anybody that is affiliated with the One-Chip-MSX or anybody that knows enough about the One-Chip-MSX tell me what they think about compatibility between the two FPGA platforms? Also, any details on developing new FPGA cores for the One-Chip-MSX would also be appreciated. I want to make sure that Kevin has all of the necessary info when he gets back from vacation.

For more info on the FPGA NES aka FPGA Console aka Kevtendo, check out these other forum threads (free registration required for the second link):
Thread at CherryROMs Forum
Thread at NESWorld (free registration required)

If you are really interested, you can poke around the files in Kevin's incoming directory on his web server:
Incoming Files
There are many screenshots of games running on the FPGA NES, reverse engineered circuits, and prototype hardware. You can't direct link to files in the incoming directory because the server prevents it, but you can indirectly see the files by browsing the incoming directory from the above link. Check out "mmc1a.png", "mmc1b.png", and "mmc1c.png" for screenshots of the circuit diagrams for just one type of game cart. That alone should give you an appreciation for the complexity and detail involved in a pixel-perfect recreation of the NES/Famicom.

The FPGA NES wasn't designed to have a cart port. However it was designed to support all other NES and Famicom peripherials that plug into the system's other ports. To compensate, it recreates the circuit of every cart, mapper, and coprocessor, so that game ROMs can be loaded from SD flash cards. Just check out the hardware page for the FPGA NES and see what it has... it should all look very similar to the 1C-MSX. A USB cart reader wouldn't be fast enough to actually directly interface with the game cart, but instead could be used for dumping the game's ROM into memory.

Now the 1C-MSX does have a bunch of pins that connect directly to the FPGA, so a daughterboard addon could be made that allows for a real NES/Famicom cart slot, but then again, how many pins are in an MSX cart slot? It might be possible to make an adapter that lets Famicom and NES carts plug into one of the MSX cart slots. In fact, if one MSX cart slot does not have enough pins, then an adapter could be made that simply uses two MSX cart slots at a time, i.e., it converts one Famicom slot into two MSX slots.

The important aspect of the FPGA NES is that Kevin has spent a year recreating not just the NES/Famicom's circuitry, but also the circuitry of every cart, mapper, and coprocessor. What allot of people don't realize is that the NES/Famicom is not like other consoles. There are hundreds of variations in cartridge circuit boards, with many different mappers and coprocessors used on these different circuit boards. So properly recreating a NES/Famicom that can play any game off of SD flash requires not just recreating the NES/Famicom circuit, but also recreating every cart circuit too. What is just as important is accurately recreating the circuits. The reason every software based NES emulator has inaccuracies or imcompatibilities with some games is because they are not properly emulating all of the NES cartridge circuits. Kevin has reverse engineered each cartridge type (see his table "MaprMatrix" of the 100+ cart types), and instead of recreating them all in VHDL, he has instead recreated them using the lower-level and more accurate circuit diagrams into which VHDL compiles.

So the FPGA NES will, without a doubt, be the ultimate rebirth of the NES. Hooking it up to a TV alongside a real NES and comparing the two, nobody will be able to tell the difference between the real thing and the FPGA recreation!

The FPGA NES is a very high-quality project and porting it to ASCII's 1C-MSX would help sell thousands of more 1C-MSX systems due to the popularity of the NES/Famicom. Hence it would be worthwhile for those affiliated with the 1C-MSX to help me convince Kevin to port the FPGA NES to the 1C-MSX. So much work has been completed on the FPGA NES that it supports more games than any software based NES emulator. Announcing that the 1C-MSX also supports the NES/Famicom could instantly add another couple thousand pre-orders :)

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8247)

[D-Tail]'s picture

14-07-2005, 15:47

Announcing that the 1C-MSX also supports the NES/Famicom could instantly add another couple thousand pre-orders Smilew000000000t!

ASCII starts taking pre-orders of the One Chip Famicom (1CF). According to Dr. Kazuhiko Nishi, the 5000 pre-orders barrier was surpassed greatly so he doesn't have to pre-order the rest himself, from his pocket money! Tongue

By Latok

msx guru (3828)

Latok's picture

14-07-2005, 16:20

I completely agree, Jagasian. The OCM needs to sell 5000 within a month from now, sales aren't up there yet and exploiting the fact a NES can easily be emulated in the FPGA will without a doubt boost sales to the necessary level. It's upto ASCII and Bazix to realize this and use it in their marketing strategy.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9876)

wolf_'s picture

14-07-2005, 16:27

so I haven't gotten his take on the 1C-MSX and whether or not he thinks it would be easy to port his FGPA NES to the 1C-MSX

Is he a hardcore NES freak? I can see an issue with the product-name Smile He'd perhaps prefer to name it:

"OneChipNES, with the option to emulate MSX"

..while we're more like:

"OneChipMSX, with the option to emulate NES"

While the manufacturing is an MSX-advantage ... the userbase might be a NES-advantage..

By Latok

msx guru (3828)

Latok's picture

14-07-2005, 16:30

Therefor the product itself perhaps shouldn't be referring to either NES or MSX, but just to something in general. Marketing wise. Ah well, whatever Smile

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