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FPGA Based Videogame System


Interest in an FPGA Videogame System  

682 members have voted

  1. 1. I would pay....

  2. 2. I Would Like Support for...

  3. 3. Games Should Run From...

    • SD Card / USB Memory Sticks
    • Original Cartridges
    • Hopes and Dreams
  4. 4. The Video Inteface Should be...

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You got my vote, +100 if you can pull NeoGeo off, that would be so huge (SNK/Playmore couldn't pull it off, likely they'd hire you, a little bit like mith has it what happen to the guy that emulated the Sega model 2 that ended up selling it to port the Sega titles to PS3/XBOX360).

A Genny core may be needed upfront to spice up the interest and it should be within your reach, I'd steer clear of Nintendo, now they are asking to YouTube to take down speedruns because according to them the only way to pull that one off is to use a non legal device of sorts.

I prefer 16bits to the 8bits (but NES/SMS are quite enjoyable and I wouldn't mind a Coleco or a 7800 core, even if I have to pay for each via some sort of "adapter")


So steer clear from the N, at least officially, don't make it so it is impossible to run rogue cores ;-)



Also, if you can interface this thing efficiently via RPi2 they already have a way to display HDMI (and composite) for 35US$ [the cost of the whole RPi2] and it also already has quad USB and a quad core ARM3 if hybrid approach is better, some emulation on the ARM, some other on the FPGA ;-) but I would understand if you want full control on the HDMI out especially if you want even simulate artifacting correctly (the Atari 7800 Tower Toppler looks so different composite vs even SVideo)

Edited by phoenixdownita
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If you can make a HDMI system in the $200 - $250 range that allows me to use my flash carts for my 8 and 16-bit systems, then I am sold already. Ditch analog if it saves on costs considerably, my big concern is using this stuff on modern TVs (I can already use it on CRTs via the original hardware).


*Edit - Heck, if it costs less to make one without cart slots but will stay play the same files off of a SD card, I am still sold. This is what the Retron5 should be able to do out of the box, but doesn't.

Edited by Austin
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Awesome Kevtris. Glad to see you doing this. I personally would like to see...


8-bit and 16-bit

Composite and HDMI

Original carts - ROMs are nice, but I have flash carts for nearly everything I own, so...



If you need to go a bit over $200 to support 16-bit, that would be understandable. I'd rather pay $50 more and have access to SNES/Genny/TG-16 than not. Neo Geo if you can pull it off (ROM only support for NG is fine - no need to spend $$$$ on carts...)

Edited by stardust4ever
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I'd be more than happy to support this system! I voted for composite video because I can see myself using this with a CRT, but that's probably the most disposable feature on my list. As someone who doesn't like the look of classic systems on HD televisions, native HDMI output would be enough in itself to make me want one. 8-bit systems are all I'm really interested in. Be sure to keep us posted, and I'd also encourage you to look into whatever crowdfunding opportunities might be opened up in the wake of the almost certain demise of the RVGS.


Whatever happens, I'm eager to see what you do with it!

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. . . my big concern is using this stuff on modern TVs . . .

If I can put Atari 2600 batari Basic games and works in progress in it and see them on my HDTV using an HDMI cable, it would be worth the money. Please make sure that it will run batari Basic games. For example, Seaweed Assault will not work with a modded Flashback 2.


On top of that, if I could play classic NES and SNES games on my HDTV using an HDMI cable, it would really, really, really, really be worth the money. I miss playing the two versions of Sim City that I have for the SNES. I also miss playing other NES and SNES games.

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Don't go overboard with the adapters. That's why I think the core system should just have SD card support. Really, who owns RCA Studio 2 carts? And as much as I have a fetish for the Odyssey 2, I can live without an adapter.


Group the adapters together so you only have to sell like 3 different types of adapter kits. One for all the handhelds, one for all the 8 bit, one for all the 16 bit.

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I'd steer clear of Nintendo, now they are asking to YouTube to take down speedruns because according to them the only way to pull that one off is to use a non legal device of sorts.

I prefer 16bits to the 8bits (but NES/SMS are quite enjoyable and I wouldn't mind a Coleco or a 7800 core, even if I have to pay for each via some sort of "adapter")


So steer clear from the N, at least officially, don't make it so it is impossible to run rogue cores ;-)



Yeah, if I wanted a Nintendo Flashback I'd get a used Wii and buy games from the Virtual Console (and use a homebrew emulator for ROMS they don't sell). Plus there's already the Retrons for the popular Nintendo & Sega stuff that used game stores sell.


I rather have something that plays pre-Crash games as they really need to be preserved, plus it's hard to find even working 2600 systems for sale anymore.

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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. I DO have a name for my system that I have been keeping under wraps kinda. It's the.... dun dun dunnnn



Zimba 3000


My company name is "Zimba Labs" so this only makes sense I guess :-)


There's a hilarious (to me) reason behind this name with a lot of history. I was tired of "retro this" and "retro that" and wanted something that didn't have "vision" "Game" "system" or "retro" in it since IMO it sounds kinda cheesy. So, I remembered what my friend Merc said on IRC about his "videogame system that plays anything" from Zimbabwae called the "Zimba 2000", and they were going to release their "Zimba 3000" soon. So I guess I'm the one that might release the Zimba 3000 after all. I can't do Playstation 3 though.



Here's part of the log. This must've been around 2005. The full thing is here: http://www.atarihq.com/rgvc/rgvcu/2005/jmtatari1.txt

<jmtatari1> I like the jaguar is that ok?<Mercster> ok<jmtatari1> what systems do you like?<Mercster> only the zimba 2000<Mercster> totally AWESOME system<jmtatari1> what is the zimba 2000? <Mercster> plays psx, n64, snes, nes, genesis, ALL atari, ps2, xbox,    everything<Mercster> came out in zimbabwae (in africa)<Mercster> cost about $2k, but well worth it.<jmtatari1> emulation only?<Mercster> no, no emulation<Mercster> thats why it cost so much<Mercster> huge, too<Mercster> about the size of a 27" tv...<Mercster> I gotta get the Zimba 3000 when it comes out<Mercster> that fucker is going to be COOOOOOOL<Mercster> PS3, Xbox II, etc<Mercster> jm: you should pre-order the Zimba 3000<Mercster> is there a gamestop or the like near you?
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HDMI for sure. Composite I think is necessary as well for those 'quick and dirty' tests. Analog audio for the people using HDMI to DVI adaptors. I know they are cumbersome and add expense but you have more than one type of customer here. One the reasons the RPi is so popular (other than it's cheap) is that you can hook it up to both the best TV in the house and the crappiest CRT you have in the basement in a pinch.


16-bit support would be one of the biggest selling points of this system. There's other things to consider, including licensing the tech to larger companies for more mainstream products. Shoot for including the largest number of systems whose FPGA cores you can muster within a rigid timeframe and don't get distracted trying to add "just one more" near the deadline. I know you're not like this, but I thought it was worth adding -- especially when everyone and their dog is demanding every system imaginable to be packed in there.


I'm going to make one large request...


Vectrex support. (You knew I was going to ask!)


If theres any system that needs the FPGA treatment it's this. Why? 30+ year old failing systems and current emulation isn't perfect. A new hardware platform for vector games on HDMI displays with antialiasing would also help the homebrew community. Some guys have bought the Vectrex IP but they haven't been able to get anything off the ground other than a crappy phone emulator -- this may also help them preserve the Vec/GCE legacy.


(Note: this plea is mainly for the bennefit of new readers to this thread. I've discussed the details of Vectrex FPGA support with Kevin a long time ago and periodically bug him about it. He usually doesn't tell me to get lost ;) )

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Dilmom: Why don't you call your product the Gruntmaster 6000?

Dilbert: What kind of product do you see when you imagine a Gruntmaster 6000?

Dilmom: Well it's a stripped-down version of the Gruntmaster 9000 of course. But it's software-upgradeable.


I voted $200-299, but I would like to see support for:

- Amiga

- Genesis



- Atari 8-bit

- TG-16


I mean, this list has to grow (to make the system appealing to everyone), but is it really necessary that you write all of them? Could other FPGA implementations be ported to your system?


Also, does it support save-states?

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I'd like to see a "native" mode as well:

  • Preferably ARM based, at 100MHz or so.
  • Decent multi-layer tile capability (based on object lists like 7800, Lynx and jag).
  • Multi-colour depth tiles e.g. 1BPP to 8BPP with multiple palettes available.
  • Multi-channel stereo sound to 22kHz.
Doesn't need to support USB memory sticks, USB HID is sufficient for controllers and keyboards.
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In the past, I also would like to do a FPGA console board, then I saw all existing dev board with almost all needed to do it and at lower price than making one myself, so I didn't take the time to do the PCB myself and targeting an existing one.

The only thing it will need for those board is a PCB interface for classic controler/cartridge, a box and done :).



Else, what i'm searching on a FPGA board is :

- "Big" FPGA (around 77kLE)

- HDMI supporting 1080p/60Hz

- Analog audio output

- SD card

- Ethernet interface

- high RAM bandwidth

- extension connection to easily connect other things



Edited by SCPCD
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What a splendid setup! As it stands you'd have our full support. Either now or in a crowdfunded campaign.


Things I'd want to see:

3 major output styles, HDMI, Composite, and Analog Audio. VGA / DVI optional.

The ability to wire in a variety of keyboards and controllers.

Naturally more cores both 8 and 16 bit. how about an Astrocade core?

A larger gate array if feasible.

A rudimentary menu system. Select the core, the options for it, and the rom.

A sub-menu system made for controllers.


How about a set of definable filters which can be used in conjunction with HDMI ? Something to simulate video artifacts, bloom, blurring, saturation, scanlines, like blarrg effects - and completely controllable on a per-console basis.



I voted Sky's The Limit for pricing. I would only hem'n'haw if it got much past $500. And even then that comes out to be $30 per system if you start out with 17 cores. That a hella-bargain.


If this ever goes through crowdfunding I would only want 1 or 2 options. A more finished and polished product in a housing, like a console. Or a hobbyist's pack - board only - ready for mounting in my own case. I don't believe there is much to worry about in not having all sorts of physical doodads and useless paraphernalia that would surround a collector's console. This is not a collector's item. Considering the technical prowess of your customers I think that's all you need.


Please don't make 20 different tiers and perks. When that's done, more confusion is created. Too many things are sold with too many versions and levels of completeness these days. Pack-ins.. Special editions.. Limited to the first 500 backers.. That's bullshit I'd rather not entertain or wade through. No stretch goals either. Just gimme the board and call it a day.

Edited by Keatah
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For what my opinion is worth, I was willing to drop the cash for that Retro VGS before I found out what was up with that, so I wouldn't have a problem paying in that price range or more as this would do quite a bit more of what I am interested in.


May be neat to have a bare bones set up where people could put it into their own cases, or a shell from a non working console. That way someone could have the appearance of their favorite classic console if they were so inclined.


Also, would like to see some 5200 action going on there, and I could finally get rid of all my excess back up hardware.


Really though, as it stands now I would be happy to support the project.

Edited by TheClassyGamer
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Think $200 to $250 would be okay. For this type of thing many people still be happy to buy a bare board. If it reduces cost you don't need to include shiny case, controllers and wot not like RVGS.


Would keep shipping sensible too, RVGS bunch are talking $70 shipping to Europe?! Have to remember us over here will probably have to pay another $90 on import duty and tax.

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This sort of project will always be a difficult sell. We have so many options, from original consoles, emulators, Retropie, and more, I'm sure.


So, what makes this different?

- Higher "power" perhaps? Retropie on RPi2 is decent, but still needs more power.

- Support for harder to find 8 bit consoles? That has appeal. I'm never going to get another VideoBrain (but I miss the Othello game!), and I'll probably never buy the more rare old 8 bit systems.

- Old computer and keyboard support would add appeal, perhaps.

- Rotary controller support? Microvision?


I'm probably in for a couple hundred bucks. This sounds like a potentially good "living room" system. HDMI is good. Add composite (maybe) if it's $5, but not if it's $20. Just don't be overwhelmed by all of our whims. ;)


Great work so far. You've proven yourself very capable over many years of cool projects. The complexity of the controller and other switching matrices boggles my mind. ;) I'm curious what sizes the FPGA's are?

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This is a subject that has consumed me for years as I have been dabbling with FPGA emulation of classic arcade and microcomputer systems, plus the odd console, for around a decade now (though not so much in recent times with a young family and business to run). I have also been thinking about producing a 'commercial' product throughout that time but, like you, I have always thought the price point just isn't there yet with current technologies.


Most of my HDL cores were developed to 'proof of concept' level only, leveraging off a framework I put together early-on in the piece to expedite development. Once I had the game/system more-or-less running, I moved on to the next core. My aim was to implement many cores in order to ascertain hardware requirements for my eventual PCB. I also ported others' work as it became available. I've also had the good fortune to be involved at work in producing a video product with a rather large (70K LE) FPGA (plus a 2nd 16K LE one) which made for some rather nice prototyping hardware! ;)


Lately though, I have had plans for an over-the-top prototype platform to target the NeoGeo specifically, and to that end have developed and laid out a prototype flash cartridge for the same as a means of generating funds for the ultimate development. Years ago I had Joy Joy Kid running on an Altera DE2 (FIX layer only) and you could watch the attract mode running. To be honest, you could probably knock that up in a few days too.


As for Vectrex, I actually had it running too, but without a cycle-accurate 6809 core it's actually impossible to get the video right.


And you probably know the source for the Genesis running on a DE1 is freely available.


I should also bring up the topic of Mike's Replay board, which is oddly obscure. You'd be forgiven for thinking it's a secret...


If you're asking what I'd pay for such a system, I'm probably not your normal customer as I was willing to outlay thousands for my own.


What I would definitely want to know is if the system would be 'open', at least in the sense that the FPGA pinout was made public and you'd actively encourage and support 3rd party core development? If this did become a reality and render my (hardware) efforts pointless, then I'd at least want to have a crack at a complete, robust implementation of a platform that has yet to be emulated. I'd also probably finish off my 8-bit micro cores as well, as a few of those are pretty much complete. I even have a working WD179X core that can read from SD. Then there's the few dozen arcade games...


I understand the benefits to loading from SD etc, but I'd also definitely be interested in cartridge adapters, regardless of cost. Running from SD on a hardware emulation seems 'half baked' to me; either go the whole hog or stick to software emulation IMHO. Not that I don't want SD ability, but not at the cost of cartridge adapters.


One really silly stipulation of the RetroVGS was the "no internet (network)" capability. Granted you could add Ethernet via USB or a cartridge but biting off your nose to spite your face is just plain stupid.


So yeah, I'm all for this and, unlike RetroVGS, I know you have the track record and the ability to get this done, and done right. And obviously I'd love to contribute some cores.

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I'm definitely on board with this. I think the only other cores I would love to see would be Atari 8 Bit (800xl) and Bally Astrocade.


Astrocade is a no-brainer as the source for a core already exists.


IIUC there is also an 8-bit Atari core, though I'm not sure of the availability of the source. I also believe the author is assisting in porting it to the Replay and the Turbo Chameleon.

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