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Analogue Nt mini: NES/Famicoms final form - Kevtris FPGA, aluminum, 1080P, $449

Seventy70

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Jul 27, 2014
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As someone who isn't very familiar with this stuff, is there a benefit to this over emulation besides the authenticity or novelty factor?
 

TheWraith

Member
Jan 9, 2013
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Hong Kong
As someone who isn't very familiar with this stuff, is there a benefit to this over emulation besides the authenticity or novelty factor?

Huge difference, as their is no lag and it should be much closer to the original games on original hardware. Try playing some games on a real NES, then on emulation, you'll see the difference.
 

Dreamwriter

Member
Aug 23, 2006
11,624
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It's still emulation and relying on the core's writer ability to properly reproduce everything the NES (or any other system) offers. Whil eit's 'hardware emulation", at its core it remains software emulation, since you have to, you know, actually program/devellop the core.

This will be far more reliable emulation wise than a Retron 5 (which is an android stick with cart slots) but it's still emulation (and there's nothing wrong with that).
I think Kevtris, the core writer behind the NT Mini, put it best:

Kevtris said:
I don't really have much to add on how an FPGA simulation/emulation differs from a PC one, except in the following ways:

An FPGA will have no lag in the best case, and minimal lag in the worst case (i.e scaling to HDMI, etc). A software emulator, on the other hand, will have lots of sources of lag built in. There will be the controller interface aspect, the CPU/processing part, and then the video rendering portion. Some of these can be minimized possibly, but if there's an OS running underneath, I think lag will be unavoidable.

As a ferinstance, my NES core has a "real NES" video output mode where it recreates the exact same voltages and transitions using a DAC to recreate the video signal. There's no lag involved- it is generated in the same way a real system generates its video signal, complete with the same steps and transitions. I guess the lag, if you can call it that, will be a few nanoseconds for the data to propagate through the DAC and be presented on the output pin. My "real NES" video is an exact reproduction (well it looks like that on a scope and on a monitor using direct A/B testing) of what a real system outputs. You'll have trouble making a software emulator do this. As a bonus, I provide an S-video version of this signal too. Unlike a real NES which has composite video only, S-video is easily possible while maintaining everything else exactly the same.
...
Re: writing "code" for an FPGA, IMO writing HDL(hardware definition language... i.e. Verilog) isn't writing code. It may look like code and smell like code, but to me it's describing how a digital logic circuit is formed. It is basically a written implementation of a schematic. The big obvious difference is a piece of code executes sequentially, one instruction after another, while in HDL, every line of code "executes" at the same time.

Also, regarding if an FPGA implementation is an emulation or not, what about my 2600 and 7800? I basically reimplemented the chips used in these systems at the transistor level using the chip schematics, vs. actual black box reverse engineering. Since the chips are NMOS and use dynamic logic, some minor changes were made here and there to simulate this, because an FPGA cannot directly simulate dynamic logic.

The last thing about my FPGA cores is their accuracy. I strive for accuracy, and include many hours of my own research into this, involving making custom hardware and plenty of test fixtures, and logic analyzer time along with reams of custom code. Not many emulator writers can claim this. There's always going to be a "long tail" of bugs but I try to fix 'em all. Of course, software emulators can achieve this too, but that would require mucking around with hardware.

source
 

PumpkinSpice

Banned
Aug 27, 2013
6,334
1
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It's still emulation and relying on the core's writer ability to properly reproduce everything the NES (or any other system) offers. Whil eit's 'hardware emulation", at its core it remains software emulation, since you have to, you know, actually program/devellop the core.

This will be far more reliable emulation wise than a Retron 5 (which is an android stick with cart slots) but it's still emulation (and there's nothing wrong with that).

It's really not emulation. It's more like clone hardware that you can reconfigure. FPGAs are very, very different from software.
 

Beer Monkey

Member
Mar 3, 2005
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The major issues and efforts needed to create things like save states, where actually possible aka often not, using an FPGA demonstrates how it is not 'emulation', where such matters are trivial. It is a huge disservice to compare these devices to the likes of the NES Mini and the Retron(s).
 

RadarScope1

Member
Dec 9, 2007
6,752
1
1,155
It's still emulation and relying on the core's writer ability to properly reproduce everything the NES (or any other system) offers. Whil eit's 'hardware emulation", at its core it remains software emulation, since you have to, you know, actually program/devellop the core.

This will be far more reliable emulation wise than a Retron 5 (which is an android stick with cart slots) but it's still emulation (and there's nothing wrong with that).

It's not emulation. The best way I have heard it described is a "hardware simulation." It really is a fundamentally different process than anything like what we know as emulation.
 

TheWraith

Member
Jan 9, 2013
924
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Hong Kong
Sega Master System core has just been released by Kevtris! Spent my morning with Monster Boy II, in 1080p with scanline glory!

Now that I've spent a few days with the NT Mini I must say I'm very impressed overall, the visuals are amazing, especially now that it supports 5x height in 1080p coupled with 6x width, looks wonderful with scanlines (mine set ay 7F). The customization the console allows you is unprecedented as well. With the rom support the jailbreak allows you I've tried some romhacks like Mario Adventure, Zelda Outlands etc. .. all play perfectly!

Strangely enough the one game that I couldn't get to work in my original Analogue NT, Holy Diver now plays without any glitch! In the original NT I couldn't proceed to the second level without the game crashing with the cartridge I own.
 

cacophony555

Member
Dec 5, 2014
150
3
0
Yep, in addition to Sega Master System, the Nt mini can now reconfigure to become the Game Gear, Colecovision, and SG-1000. Looking forward to seeing what comes out next week!
 

Chittagong

Member
Jun 8, 2004
19,295
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When I'm back from Uganda I'll update all reviews to OP. There have been a lot of great reviews, but the internet is too slow here to go through them.
 

Beer Monkey

Member
Mar 3, 2005
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Yeah, I was excited to hear that. Also, sounds like C64 might be coming soon :)

I want PC Engine (yeah, I know, Kevin got pissed off at shitty PCE community members who don't like what he's doing so it may not happen for a while if at all) and Atari 8-bit computer support so bad. But C64 would be great. I need a Boulder Dash that isn't so ugly as the Colecovision one. :)

Edit: Here's the livestream archive, it seems like Atari 8-bit and 5200 is going to be a go. This makes me insanely happy. My main gaming platform of my high school and college years was the Atari 800XL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Mk8oO6TRl4
 

Mega

Banned
Oct 31, 2007
3,689
1
0
I want PC Engine (yeah, I know, Kevin got pissed off at shitty PCE community members who don't like what he's doing so it may not happen for a while if at all) [/url]

Some idiot named John Locke has been leaving stupid, nasty remarks in the comments section of MLiG and RetroRGB's videos. I suspected it was an elitist moron collector/hardware purist up on his high horse over the threat of the resale value of his games or "plebes not appreciating the right way" to play a title.

I have no issue with anyone who's purely about original consoles, original carts/discs, etc. I have my own healthy collection of systems and games. But these people need to back off and let others do what they want and mind their own business. None of this is taking away from how they enjoy their crap. An FPGA console isn't going to do any harm seeing as adequate PC Engine software emulation has been around for years.
 

ToastyFrog

Inexplicable Treasure Hate
Nov 21, 2004
1,220
1
0
SF, CA
That's interesting to hear. Though I complete forgot the Mini has a USB port. I assume he could make a USB keyboard work? I have a Dragon Quest blue slime keyboard that has been looking for a purpose in life...
 

PumpkinSpice

Banned
Aug 27, 2013
6,334
1
0
That's interesting to hear. Though I complete forgot the Mini has a USB port. I assume he could make a USB keyboard work? I have a Dragon Quest blue slime keyboard that has been looking for a purpose in life...

He said in the livestream that the microcontroller that would handle USB host is already stuffed, and that it might be possible to do USB keyboard if he could run some optimization on the assembler/binary output for the controller but it didn't look likely.
 

Kawika

Member
Jun 20, 2014
527
20
505
Some idiot named John Locke has been leaving stupid, nasty remarks in the comments section of MLiG and RetroRGB's videos. I suspected it was an elitist moron collector/hardware purist up on his high horse over the threat of the resale value of his games or "plebes not appreciating the right way" to play a title.

I have no issue with anyone who's purely about original consoles, original carts/discs, etc. I have my own healthy collection of systems and games. But these people need to back off and let others do what they want and mind their own business. None of this is taking away from how they enjoy their crap. An FPGA console isn't going to do any harm seeing as adequate PC Engine software emulation has been around for years.

As a collector of hardware and an owner of hardware that has breathed it's last. I welcome the FPGA future. I could think of nothing I would want more than an ability to accurately recreate many systems especial ones like PC Engine and Neo Geo. There are games I really want to play on both but the are a lot of hardware issues, costs and fear of spending a lot of money on something that breaks. New hardware can fail but will be much easier to replace.

We are going to get solid Arcade cores in the future and to me thats the most exciting thing. I have no desire to go down that hole but I have so many fond memories of arcade games that console games never really were able to accurately recreate. I just have no desire to inflict arcade collecting onto my family. I feel bad enough with what I already have.

Yes, we all know it can but done on the cheap via emulation but that just adds too much lag for me that I can't enjoy it (unless its a rpg or something).
 

n3ss

aka acr0nym
Dec 16, 2004
2,175
0
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CA
Purchased!

Super excited to play my old collection and some recent new additions I purchased :)
 
Nov 24, 2012
386
2
380
$106 USD just for shipping to Australia! yeah right, fuck off.
The NT mini is already overpriced by at least 200 bucks as is. I'll continue to wait patiently for my number to be called for the OSSC instead.
 

F34R

Member
Sep 11, 2010
1,604
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755
South Carolina
I have not even done the jailbreak (can't figure out how since I'm computer-dumb) but this thing is very nicely priced as is. Love the little machine.

Literally, just put the j/b firmware onto the root of the sd card, plug sd card into NT Mini, turn NT Mini on. That's pretty much it as far as applying the j/b.

Speaking of... new release today: LINK
It's that time again: new firmware friday! Today I have a triplet of cores. These are:

Game King
Gamate
Supervision

A triumvirate of LCD handhelds! These handhelds are fairly obscure, though but I still had fun playing them.

This brings the core count up to a total of 10. The Core Store™ is coming along pretty well I'd say.

totals so far:

NES
Master System
Game Gear
Colecovision
Gameboy
GBC
Atari 2600
Supervision
Gamate
Game King

left to do:

Adventure Vision
Atari 7800
RCA Studio 2
Channel F
Videobrain
Arcadia 2001
Creativision
Odyssey^2
Intellivision
SPC player

Mandelbrot viewer (this probably won't be released on here, because of the total lack of multipliers. or it will be vastly limited. We'll see)

This means I'm about halfway through.

Anyways, enjoy!
 

Yes Boss!

Member
Nov 27, 2007
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Literally, just put the j/b firmware onto the root of the sd card, plug sd card into NT Mini, turn NT Mini on. That's pretty much it as far as applying the j/b.]

Somehow I even failed that. But I was using a Mac so not sure if I was formatting it to Fat 32 or something. Tried so many times...maybe my SF slot on the mini is broken or something.
 

F34R

Member
Sep 11, 2010
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Somehow I even failed that. But I was using a Mac so not sure if I was formatting it to Fat 32 or something. Tried so many times...maybe my SF slot on the mini is broken or something.

Most likely, it's the formatted SD card. I had the same issue. Once I was able to verify it was fat32, it worked just fine.
 

Beer Monkey

Member
Mar 3, 2005
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I paired up the Wii U Pro controller with the 8bitdo receiver. Holy cow, this is amazing, great way to play the classics.

Is there anyway to remap the buttons though? Using Y/B instead of A/B is annoying, and the X buttons are dangerous on some consoles, like Colecovision, where an erroneous button press may reset the game.