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Thread: Comparison of 4th generation ("8/16-bit") system hardware

  1. #466
    I remain nonsequitur Shining Hero sheath's Avatar
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    Hmm, but the Arcade Card's RAM isn't just ROM internally since PCE ROM is as fast as the PCE's own internal RAM?
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Hero of Algol Kamahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    Hmm, but the Arcade Card's RAM isn't just ROM internally since PCE ROM is as fast as the PCE's own internal RAM?
    You can't "edit" ROM. ROM can only be written once, and I mean ONCE (some can be changed by blasting the thing with tons of UV light and shit, but still, ONCE).

  3. #468
    I remain nonsequitur Shining Hero sheath's Avatar
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    Crap, what the hell was I thinking. I knew that. Been a stupid week, made me stoopider.

    *slaps forehead* read ONLY memory, mumble grumble.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Hero of Algol kool kitty89's Avatar
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    The Arcade card RAM (like the PCE CD's RAM) is used in leu of hucard ROM, so maybe that's what you're thinking.

    It should also be noted that the card for the standlone PCE CD has 2MB+256kB of RAM (since it would replace the Super CD card too), but just 2 MB for the duo-specific version. (since the Super CD RAM is integrated in that case) That's on top of the 8k work RAM and 64k VRAM. (and 64k ADPCM RAM)

    Also, the 256k super CD RAM bank (including the original 64k of the PCE CD-ROM2) is directly/linear mapped to the CPU, but the arcade card RAM is mapped in banks via a mapper . . . I forget the specific bank size, but it's specifically optimized for allowing fast animation updates. (not faster than if the entire block of RAM could be linear-mapped, mind you, but fast in terms of what bank switching/mapping can allow -so it's also no faster than the 256k linear bank or the original 8k work RAM)
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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    I've just been using flash carts so frequently recently that it blurred the line between ROM and RAM and I didn't realize it. Plus, life happened last month and my brain is fried.

    The ACD Pro should have 2MB+192KB and the ACD DUO should just have 2MB. Both of which combine with the 64KB of the PCE and the 256KB of the DUO respectively. Wait, is that right? I thought ACD cards added up to a total of 2MB.
    Last edited by sheath; 02-02-2012 at 05:43 PM.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Hero of Algol kool kitty89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    I've just been using flash carts so frequently recently that it blurred the line between ROM and RAM and I didn't realize it. Plus, life happened last month and my brain is fried.

    The ACD Pro should have 2MB+192KB and the ACD DUO should just have 2MB. Both of which combine with the 64KB of the PCE and the 256KB of the DUO respectively. Wait, is that right? I thought ACD cards added up to a total of 2MB.
    Some flash carts load into RAM too, including some of the old development system hardware and the Neo Myth. (it uses flash memory for mass storage and "flashes" -or loads- games into SRAM onboard the cart -iirc there's 8 MB of SRAM on that cart)

    That's also why the Neo Myth is faster at loading ROMs than the Everdrive: the everdrive uses onboard flash memory (which takes much longer to be cleared and rewritten) where the Neo Myth uses RAM. (there might be an advantage in the flash storage cards used on the Neo Myth too, I forget)
    The Sega Channel used RAM too, of course. (4 MB of DRAM in that case)

    This is also part of why there was a previous discussion on the possibility of using a cheap 32 MB SDRAM chip on a general-purpose MCD/MD/32x flash cart along with mapper support for several configurations. (like mapping the full 32 MB as ROM/RAM using Sega's existing mapper scheme -used in SSFII, and supporting up to 32MB/256Mb; or other things like genesis-specific games using 10 MB flat mapped ROM/RAM space, 8 MB for 32x without CD -with CD you're limited to 4 MB banks though- as well as banking schemes other than the "SSFII" Sega mapper format -the flexibility to use the memory as either ROM or RAM would be significant for all 3 platforms too, but perhaps the 32x most of all -especially if you made the RAM as fast as onboard SDRAM . . . or possibly even faster if the interface avoided the strict burst-mode access limitations of the 32x -ie allowing burst and single-word random accesses, or perhaps even chained page/burst accesses rather than just fixed 16 byte chunks -with additional page-change overhead between bursts limiting peak bandwidth)

    Or, even if you didn't support page/burst-mode accesses at all, with modern fast SDRAM (even for low-end grades), random access word reads/writes would still be very fast too, such that you'd probably only need 1 wait state per access for the SH2 (ie 2 SH2 clock ticks per access), which would, again, still be much faster than onboard SDRAM for some things due to the rigid constraints of burst accesses (you need 12 cycles per access regardless of whether you actually need all 16 bytes of data in that burst) and also faster than the current RAM carts in the Saturn. (given the 3 cycle overhead -or 4 cycles per access- Chilly Willy mentioned above)

    SRAM could be even faster (like all accesses single SH2 cycles) and easier to interface, but it's still not super cheap . . . nowhere near what it was back in the 90s (much cheaper than DRAM of that period for that matter), but 32 MB of SRAM would still inflate the cost of such a flash cart substantially whereas 32 MB SDRAM chips are very cheap by comparison (probably around 1/10 the cost), and are still relatively simple to interface (and you'd possibly add that logic to the ASIC also being used for memory mapping and perhaps merge the SD card interface too -it really depends on volumes, a small volume hobby project would favor using more off the shelf parts and the smallest, cheapest FPGAs for the custom mapping portions).

    Something like that could probably in the same cost category as the Neo Myth or Everdrive (if similar interest and volumes materialized), and it would retain much of the general functionality of both of those (closer to the Everdrive, but faster load times) with the added homebrew software potential on top of that. (due to the large block of RAM available and flexible mapper options -or even limiting it strictly to the Sega mapper scheme would still be very useful)
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 02-02-2012 at 08:38 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

  7. #472
    Master of Shinobi Thenewguy's Avatar
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    I know this really shouldn't be here, but being that we mentioned it earlier, anyone else played the new (released today I think) 128k version of R-Type on Amstrad yet?




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    Hero of Algol Kamahl's Avatar
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    Not yet, I probably should. It looks damn awesome.

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    ding-doaw Raging in the Streets tomaitheous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kool kitty89 View Post
    The Arcade card RAM (like the PCE CD's RAM) is used in leu of hucard ROM, so maybe that's what you're thinking.

    It should also be noted that the card for the standlone PCE CD has 2MB+256kB of RAM (since it would replace the Super CD card too), but just 2 MB for the duo-specific version. (since the Super CD RAM is integrated in that case) That's on top of the 8k work RAM and 64k VRAM. (and 64k ADPCM RAM)

    Also, the 256k super CD RAM bank (including the original 64k of the PCE CD-ROM2) is directly/linear mapped to the CPU, but the arcade card RAM is mapped in banks via a mapper . . . I forget the specific bank size, but it's specifically optimized for allowing fast animation updates. (not faster than if the entire block of RAM could be linear-mapped, mind you, but fast in terms of what bank switching/mapping can allow -so it's also no faster than the 256k linear bank or the original 8k work RAM)
    The Arcade card pro has 2mb+192k ram. It also has 256k bios rom (ver 3.0). It's made for older CD units that don't have system card 3.0 internally. The Arcade card Duo only has 2mb ram and no rom (it has the special AC interface logic and registers though). 64k CDRAM is already in the CD base. It's separate from the 64k ADPCM. Any hucard that plugs into the CD system (the original all the way up) has direct access to both of this and can use as they wish regardless if there's a CD in the drive or not. So system cards 1.0 up to 2.10 had no ram on them. Only a bios rom. System card 3.0 added 192k of ram to give it a total of 256k CDRAM. It also included a new bios rom. The AC Duo is the only card that does not have the bios rom. The upper 2megabyte address range of the PCE had open bus areas and a hucard can be made to *not* disable the internal rom/setup of a Duo or Super CDROM2 unit. Thus, you can just map stuff into open bus. Obviously you can't do this on the original CD unit, so the Pro card is a combination of the Duo card and the Super system card 3.0.

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    Master of Shinobi Thenewguy's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, I think I disregarded the GX4000 Mode 1 a bit too soon, that Mode is a lot better on GX4000 when you take into account the interrupt features of the system, on top of the higher master palette (4096 colours), as well as the hardware sprites and scrolling taking a lot of weight off of the CPU.

    If they could manage to palette change the screen twice then you'd get a high resolution, with half decent colour use for the background, and respectable colour use for the sprites.

    Possibly like this mock-up I made from a PC-Engine screenshot (I decreased the sections of background to 4 colours each, and decreased the sprite colours to 15)

    The resolution should be higher, but the sprite requirements would probably be very unrealistic for this specific game.


  11. #476
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thenewguy View Post
    Hmmmm, I think I disregarded the GX4000 Mode 1 a bit too soon, that Mode is a lot better on GX4000 when you take into account the interrupt features of the system, on top of the higher master palette (4096 colours), as well as the hardware sprites and scrolling taking a lot of weight off of the CPU.

    If they could manage to palette change the screen twice then you'd get a high resolution, with half decent colour use for the background, and respectable colour use for the sprites.

    Possibly like this mock-up I made from a PC-Engine screenshot (I decreased the sections of background to 4 colours each, and decreased the sprite colours to 15)

    The resolution should be higher, but the sprite requirements would probably be very unrealistic for this specific game.

    The GX4000 does support 16 16x16 15 color sprites per scanline, so with software multiplexing, that mock-up should be feasible.

    That's a very interesting point though: carefully designed 4 color highres BGs (with careful color selection, palette swapping, and dithering) along with high res 15 color sprites on top of that.






    I've also been thinking of the Atari STe some more. It obviously wasn't ideal for the time (either for a console chipset or successor to the ST), but it may have made at least a reasonable successor to the 7800 in a similar budget-minded niche category. (and the chipset was ready for market in 1989, the year the 7800 really started declining, but when Atari Corp was still near their peak PR and overall resources)

    The STe itself was obviously overly complex and expensive for a console, but a derivative that stripped it down to console specs could have been much more practical (much of the added I/O and interface hardware removes -serial controllers, keyboard controller, YM2149, floppy controller, etc, along with a simplified MMU/GLU, 256k DRAM, and maybe add a cheap YM2413 to complement the DMA sound -or rely on software mixed DMA sound alone).
    So you'd have only a handful of custom chips (that could later be consolidated) and a few off the shelf parts (DRAM, CPU, maybe sound chip, etc) all sharing a single bus and using cheap commodity DRAM.

    Color and graphics capabilities were nothing amazing, but relatively decent for lower-end conversions of many 16-bit gen games. (especially ones with single BGs -since the blitter would be slow to manage large multi-layer full-color BGs . . . at high framerates at least) And games actually optimized for it could take advantage of the larger master palette with careful color use and palette swapping. (the fast CPU combined with fill function of the blitter could make for decent polygon rendering too)
    The bitplane graphics have some disadvantages too, but they at least allow the flexibility of using fewer planes to save RAM (smaller textures) and blitter bandwidth (lower color BGs)
    Plus it wouldn't ever suffer from flicker or sprite tearing, just slowdown (from CPU and blitter time-outs), and you could opt to run the whole game at a slower framerate to allow for more complex graphics without intermittent slowdown/choppiness. (like having a game at a solid 30 or 25 Hz -and uneven framerates tend to look much choppier than steady slower framerates)

    And, while any simple ST ports wouldn't be so impressive either, at least they'd bolster the library, and certainly fit reasonably well with a system targeting a low-cost market. (especially compared to the 7800 -which only had the old 2600 games to do that, which were much more dated than ST games in these respective timeframes)
    And, thanks to hardware scrolling, it definitely would be cable of handling 50/60 Hz smooth scrolling games for cases using moderate amounts of sprites and a single scroll plane. (and it would be able to use some similar workarounds as the STe -like dynamic tiling- but with greater overall flexibility in combination with the blitter)


    It would have made sense for Atari to follow along the path they'd established with the 7800 (in terms of a budget-oriented current gen console with emphasis on securing licenses of computer games in leu of arcade/console games -to counter Nintendo's lock-in contracts), but expand on that with the improved resources and PR they'd established since the 7800 was originally launched. (so better marketing, better software support overall, a much greater emphasis on European developer support, etc) Especially if Mike Katz had stayed on to continue manage things in the entertainment division.

    Plus, releasing an ST-derived console very well may have fed back into the STe market with more games supporting the added features. (and more incentive for ST users to upgrade to that over an Amiga -especially if Atari managed to get the pricing right)


    Short of a totally idealized hypothetical alternative (for a console and/or ST successor chipset), the STe was probably Atari's most realistic option Atari had for releasing a new console of their own at the time. (the Panther has significant trade-offs and wouldn't have been market ready for at least another year, and even if Atari had opted to license the Slipstream design from Flare in '89, that too likely would have seen at least a modest delay and also had substantial trade-offs -design requiring PSRAM/SRAM, relying on a Z80 or 808x CPU, heavy bus contention, VDC incapable of single-pixel smooth scrolling -even worse in 16 color mode, 256 colors supported but similarly problematic due to RAM and ROM usage fro framebuffer and textures plus the blitter being much slower with 16 color pixels; and the lynx wouldn't have made sense either -as a conceptual starting point perhaps, but not as a direct chipset ready for conversion to a full home console)

    Aside from dramatically different R&D efforts (and/or a significantly later release), Atari probably couldn't have done much better. (aside from the proposed Sega-Atari partnership over the Mega Drive -but even that could have been a mess too depending how Sega-Atari relations ended up later on, and the whole issue of their conflicts of interest in Europe -Sega's offer was strictly limited to North America, with Sega to retain full control over Europe . . . and Sega would have had significant royalties on top of that -and, of course, it wouldn't be filling the interesting potential niche of a specialized console targeting the lower-end of the market -which ended up being serviced only by old-gen hardware, rather than a low-cost specific current-gen class system)
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 02-08-2012 at 09:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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    The STe was terrible for 89 though - the only machine that would compete in the way you describe would be the Amiga ( and that would have been an interesting alternative history if an Atari Mickey console had come out in 84/85 )

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    Master of Shinobi Thenewguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kool kitty89 View Post
    The GX4000 does support 16 16x16 15 color sprites per scanline, so with software multiplexing, that mock-up should be feasible.
    Well, I'd been looking around for info on the GX4000 for the last week (not actually that easy to find) and ran into a post which said that multiplexing sprites on GX4000 is problematic as it takes time for the system to load the sprite data, so whilst it can easily multiplex similar looking sprites, multiplexing a bunch of different looking objects is a problem, if that's true, that statue is probably going to be out of the equation as it would have to be made from 6+ specific sprites.

    You could make the statue using 1 sprite with full 4x magnification (which makes a low resolution sprite that is effectively the same size and shape of the statue) but that would probably result in a very blocky undefined mess, there's other variations you could try out I guess, 2x magnification + 4 sprites may look alright, but would probably still be using too many sprites anyway. Possibly you could get away with a simpler object, such as a broken plinth, or tree stump at 4x resolution though if you shaded it well.

    But really you might as well get rid of it entirely as there'll be enough problems just getting the player+enemies+bullets+explosions on screen as it is, as the enemies would have to be made of 3 or 4 sprites each. It would help to kill the bird enemy and replace it with another blue enemy which doesn't cross over with the 1st one, drop the bullet regularity. Maybe you could scrape through.

    Of course if the game was designed for GX4000 things would be different anyway, as those birds could be done justice with 3 sprites instead of 4 if they were designed specifically for the system, heck the birds could be small 1x1 sprites pottering about at the bottom of the screen firing at you with just multiple blue enemies as the large foes and it would still look pretty good.

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    Hero of Algol kool kitty89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazyace View Post
    The STe was terrible for 89 though - the only machine that would compete in the way you describe would be the Amiga ( and that would have been an interesting alternative history if an Atari Mickey console had come out in 84/85 )
    The Amiga chipset was obviously better in terms of performance (and probably cost to performance ratio -at least with the multi-chip 1989 STe hardware), but my context wasn't for an aggressively performance-competitive system, but just a semi-decent/mediocre performance design that would be cheap enough to settle into a lower-cost niche in the "16-bit" market. (with performance somewhat on the level of the PC Engine with weaker color -in most respects- and somewhat better sound -depending on the circumstances- while maintaining a lower price point and having some flexibility advantages due to the blitter/framebuffer based architecture)

    Something with performance generally better than the Master System (and much better than the NES) for graphics and sound, plus good overall cost effectiveness, especially for software. (optimize for simplistic single-bus ROM carts with as few pins as possible and slow/cheap ROM, and taking advantage of the decent RAM capacity to facilitate heavy compression in ROM as well as mitigating performance issues of slow ROM)

    Obviously, there could have been much more capable designs that would fit that same cost category -better cost/performance than the Amiga for that matter (with the necessary R&D investments made), but my point was in the context of the viable options Atari had to work with in the 1989 timeframe. (without investing more in R&D prior to that -which could obviously have considerable impacts on the ST line in addition to consoles)

    On the Amiga in General, I'm not sure how well the Micky design would have fit the market in '84/85 even if Warner/Atari had stayed together and Amiga had fulfilled their contract. (due to the relatively high cost of the design -even if they cut it back to 64k) Albeit, if they had pushed it as a console/computer hybrid (sort of like the A8) and released the computer version ASAP (1985 for a 128k system per the contract), it probably could have worked our quite well, perhaps much better than the ST in all regions. (and it could later be reworked into a low-cost console towards the end of the 80s -something that CBM missed out on doing . . . on top of letting the computer hardware stagnate)
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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    Master of Shinobi Thenewguy's Avatar
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    Its quite surprising how many early 4th gen games can be cut down to 4 colour segments, I've been mucking about with the idea of what 4x 4x magnified sprites would look like and I think it's kinda' bearable for a pipe.



    I had more problems decreasing the sprite colours than anything else in the end.

    I wonder if you could line scroll parallax at the interrupt line too

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