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Module based backwards compatible?

Kadve

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Jun 5, 2019
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Just a thought that struck me.

We know historically that there are five major ways to achieve BC on a console; Full on hardware based (first gen PS3, 7800, Wii U etc), repurposed hardware (PS2, Mega Drive etc, where the cpu of their predecessor also serves a separate function), having the same architecture (Wii and presumably Series X and PS5), Hybrid software/hardware (second gen PS3) and full on software (Xbox 360, One, PS vita etc).

Now out of these, Anything that makes use of software will never offer full BC due to the nature of emulating stuff, and with console designs of today, repurposing old hardware isn't feasible either (And reusing the same architecture has been kinda rare until now). That off course leaves the full on hardware based one but which instead has the problem of driving up the price of a console for something not everyone might use/need.

So i was thinking, why not simply redesign the old console (take it down to it's bare essentials, like the Vita tv or Wii mini) so that it can interface with the new one and add BC that way? Not unlike say, something like the modules used by the LaserActive. (which was off course really expensive, but hey, what wasn't with that thing?)

I would at least buy something like that for maybe 100$ or so depending on how old said console was.

Like mentioned, it was mostly just a thought of mine i wanted to share and kinda curious if it would be even feasible to begin with.
 
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Kadve

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Jun 5, 2019
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I think the costs of making those old chips again would be too high for the actual public demand.
Was talking more specifically like a generation or two prior. HW based BC from over 10 years ago is obviously unfeasible. (maybe a dedicated emulator box ? might be to easy to hack though)
 
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Jul 6, 2015
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Just put an emulator in the console. A billion dollar company in Sony could make an emulator 100x better than fans have made with RPCS3, they know the hardware inside and out. They simply don't want to invest the money and time into it.
 
Feb 27, 2014
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This could work, but instead of building all those old chips they could integrate a purpose-built FPGA board.
This is what I dreamt of when the Switch, with its dock, was announced.
A single or multiple docks, each with a FPGA capable of running multiple systems and the corresponding media drive.
Something like:
  • NES - N64 for all cartridge-based consoles
  • GC - Wii U for all disk-based consoles
  • GB - GBA for Gameboys
  • NDS - 3DS for DS-Systems
I'm guessing this would be too expensive for the more modern systems, but I wonder if using a FPGA for NES - N64 would be efficient enough.
 
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M1chl

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Dec 25, 2019
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Emulation nowadays is far better, than playing it on the old hardware, if nothing else you get better performance and in some cases, far better resolution, so it's definitely better than it was.
 

stranno

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Dec 7, 2016
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Two points:

- Every PS3 use some sort of emulation. Even the model with Emotion Engine + Graphics Synthesizer emulates the sound, security and IO (the R3000A) through the SPUs.

- WiiU vWii mode is not hardware based emulation, WiiU is actually a Tri-Core Wii. Since Wii doesnt have any OS (just drivers, the IOS) registers are totally hardware dependant. Espresso is the closest processor to the original Broadway CPU. The Wii GPU, Hollywood, should be also inside the Latte block since, again, it would be almost impossible to run the GX API through the R7xx architecture. The rest runs over virtualization in vWii mode.
 
Jan 29, 2019
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I think the costs of making those old chips again would be too high for the actual public demand.
I think Sony could squeeze whole PS1/2 in a single SOC (including RAM) and run their games naively on this for next to nothing. The CELL + its GPU probably still use too much silicon to make it worth the effort.

Anyway, a software emulation version is much cheaper and has more potential to improve the games--especially for PS1/2-- and even without the blacklisting like MS does. I'm not sure what Sony can do for the PS3.
 

Silvawuff

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Mar 9, 2012
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They could find some emulation/BC solution without a huge overhead, but the real question is why? Companies have been repackaging and selling older games for years now. I think this comes down to business over pro-consumerism., though I think a modular approach would be pretty neat.
 

Agent X

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Jun 7, 2004
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So i was thinking, why not simply redesign the old console (take it down to it's bare essentials, like the Vita tv or Wii mini) so that it can interface with the new one and add BC that way? Not unlike say, something like the modules used by the LaserActive. (which was off course really expensive, but hey, what wasn't with that thing?)
This was actually accomplished more than 35 years ago. Coleco released an expansion module for their ColecoVision system that would enable it to play Atari 2600 cartridges.. Mattel soon released a module for their Intellivision to play Atari 2600 games, and then Atari itself also released their own module for their Atari 5200.

Later, Atari made the 7800, which boasted the ability to play the 2600 games out of the box without the need to buy a separate expansion module. This was a big deal at the time.

When Atari designed the 7800, they also planned to produce another module for the 5200 which would enable it to play the 7800 games. If this device had materialized, then the 5200 would have been the first video game system that could be made backward compatible and forward compatible!
 

Kadve

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Jun 5, 2019
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This was actually accomplished more than 35 years ago. Coleco released an expansion module for their ColecoVision system that would enable it to play Atari 2600 cartridges.. Mattel soon released a module for their Intellivision to play Atari 2600 games, and then Atari itself also released their own module for their Atari 5200.

Later, Atari made the 7800, which boasted the ability to play the 2600 games out of the box without the need to buy a separate expansion module. This was a big deal at the time.

When Atari designed the 7800, they also planned to produce another module for the 5200 which would enable it to play the 7800 games. If this device had materialized, then the 5200 would have been the first video game system that could be made backward compatible and forward compatible!
Never heard about 2600 on 5200 module. But yea didn't mention the coleco/intellivison stuff as i always thought them as clones more than anything. (Unlike the laseractive, whose modules where made under license by Sega and NEC.
 

Skifi28

Neo Member
Jun 28, 2020
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I always thought about that when it came to PS3 BC on the PS4/5. In the end what you mostly need hardware wise is the CPU/SPUs as the GPU can be emulated well enough. Who knows.
 

Esppiral

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Nov 19, 2018
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Software based emulation allows to increase graphic fidelity and performance so that's the better choice.
 

CerealBro1

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Jun 10, 2020
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Honestly, if Sony did that for backwards compatibility they would get absolutely reamed for it and would piss off more people and to a greater extent than if they just did not have any way to play PS3 and below games on PS5. Sony is more than capable of using emulation to make older games playable, they just choose not to
 

Agent X

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Jun 7, 2004
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Never heard about 2600 on 5200 module. But yea didn't mention the coleco/intellivison stuff as i always thought them as clones more than anything. (Unlike the laseractive, whose modules where made under license by Sega and NEC.
The Coleco and Mattel expansion modules were essentially cloned Atari 2600 hardware. Coleco also released their own standalone Atari 2600 clone system, the Coleco Gemini.

It was also kind of odd that Coleco and Mattel both beat Atari to the punch on this. Anyway, here's a page from Atari Historical Society about Atari's 2600 game adapter for the 5200:


The same site also has a page describing the prototype 7800 game adapter for the 5200:


I always thought about that when it came to PS3 BC on the PS4/5. In the end what you mostly need hardware wise is the CPU/SPUs as the GPU can be emulated well enough. Who knows.
Yeah, I've had similar thoughts. To answer the original question that Kadve Kadve brought up in the original post, it would have been nice if PS4 had some sort of expansion slot where you could plug in a module containing some portion of the PS3 chipset. thus enabling comprehensive PS3 game compatibility. PS5 ought to be strong enough to emulate PS3 by now, but if it still isn't capable enough, then they could employ that same concept there.