US$ 5.00 - NES emulation on ESP32 - Why not UzeBox?

Discuss anything not related to the current Uzebox design like successors and other open source gaming hardware
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feluga
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US$ 5.00 - NES emulation on ESP32 - Why not UzeBox?

Post by feluga » Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:21 am

Hello All,

Have you seen this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFRkfeuTUrU
This is the latest project from Rossumur, the same guy behind Arduinocade and RBox.

This is a $5.00 ESP32 and nothing else. It generates NTSC or PAL plus audio signal directly from its I/O pins.
It has a 240MHz dual CPU and can emulate NES. Its NTSC/PAL driver (hardware based :: I2S DMA -> DAC port) can handle more than 4096 colors.

Thus... why not "emulate" a 28.56MHz ATMega644 that uses most of its CPU cycles rendering the screen?
Actualy better... Uzebox API could be implemented to ESP32 and have this single dev board as base.
ESP32 can do Bluetooth, IR, WiFi, has its own FileSystem in SPI Flash with about 1.5MB room - plus about 384KB RAM.
It's a all in one dev board for just US$ 5.

I think it's a way to renew the old ATMEL based UZebox into a new platform, retrocompatible and maybe closer to SNES instead of just a NES....
It has been more than 10 years.... time to think about a new platform!
What do you think about it?

CunningFellow
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Re: US$ 5.00 - NES emulation on ESP32 - Why not UzeBox?

Post by CunningFellow » Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:46 am

Not sure it has the horses to do a perfect emulation.

And as far as trying to expand or improve the uzebox that way - it does not interest me much. The fun is the challenge of the limits.

That said I love rossumur work.

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Jubatian
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Re: US$ 5.00 - NES emulation on ESP32 - Why not UzeBox?

Post by Jubatian » Sat Jun 27, 2020 1:03 pm

CunningFellow wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:46 am
Not sure it has the horses to do a perfect emulation.
Almost certainly it indeed isn't sufficient. CUzeBox, which is currently the state-of-art (doubt there is any faster AVR core emulation in existence!) needs about 600-700 MHz of processing power assuming typical CPU architectures running at such frequencies (such as Pentium III). Doing the AVR core in assembler for the particular architecture might be able to make it faster. But 240MHz is pretty much a no.

Uzebox "unfortunately" has a lot more processing power than any notable retro machine, of course the most of which goes into producing video signal, but still it does mean that it needs quite a lot of CPU to get it going. Actual old consoles on the other hand can be emulated with much less if cycle perfection is not required, so it is possible to get away with running many games just fine on weaker hardware. There isn't such shortcut for Uzebox, the AVR just has to be ran at 28.6MHz to have anything going.

API compatibility of course can be done, but there are a lot of Uzebox games customizing the kernel to pull off unconventional things, pushing the limits.

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Artcfox
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Re: US$ 5.00 - NES emulation on ESP32 - Why not UzeBox?

Post by Artcfox » Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:37 pm

In my head, once you go to a 32-bit processor it's a computer, and you no longer have to be as creative to squeeze every last bit out of your game. Also, looking at those graphics, I doubt I could come up with art for a game that looked compareable. At least on the Uzebox, I can try to "brute force" the pixels in my 8x8 tile until it looks correct.

It has been over 10 years, but there is still innovation happening on the Uzebox, especially regarding new video modes. I have a new Uzebox game in progress right now, and another one in my head that I have been thinking around for a number of years.

feluga
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Re: US$ 5.00 - NES emulation on ESP32 - Why not UzeBox?

Post by feluga » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:31 pm

I understand the pleasure behind the challenge of using constraint programming such as done with Uzebox, but it's always possible to keep those constraints in a bigger MCU. It's just a way to create the APIs and memory space, etc. Such as done with Pico-8, an imaginary virtual machine with 128x128 pixels and just 16 colors. There is a whole community playing with it.

I think Uzebox community could grow and bring more of those people connected to 8bit retro-gaming world.

I'll give it a try and start some development over Rossumur's project... In case I've some success, I'll let you know :D ;)

feluga
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Re: US$ 5.00 - NES emulation on ESP32 - Why not UzeBox?

Post by feluga » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:35 pm

About video modes, it will be the same with a new platform. The video mode will have to be migrated to the ESP32 Arduino way of programming, taking into consideration the NTSC/PAL memory organization for its video driver...

Emulating may not work, but certainly migrating an equivalent code would.

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