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artphotodude

Is anyone else starting to call B.S. on FPGA??

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Now to those with an extra $500-$700 around wanting to play NES/SNES, who don't actually like the look of NES or SNES consoles, more power to you, but I feel there might need to be some Caveat Emptor in this new "Small Batch" concept of chip design.

While the public face of precisely mimicking original hardware to get supper-accurate emulation sounds amazing (to some, not totally happy with current quality software emulation - that is), this is starting to creep into a lot of places that have nothing to do with that.

 

On Twitter recently, I saw a post on an upcoming "Ultimate" HDMI mod for the original Playstation that like the N64 mod of the same form-factor that pulls the signal directly out of the chip while still digital and converts to HDMI remaining digital.  Over and above the issues with making a crap, dithered signal even grainier/jaggier looking (S-Video and even Composite are just the "Beer Goggles" some old games need), there was a really curious mention of this converter using FPGA.  Now since this is just an upscaler and maybe antialiaser, wtf would it need FPGA?  Oh ya, because they can't afford to actually make or even license proper silicon like the amazing (and cheaper) processor in the mClassic gaming cable.  Now I'm not wanting to kick them when they are just starting this, but name-dropping a term like FPGA out of its party-line context like this is at best deceptive.  They sure as heck are not recreating the Playstation's original crap video processor.  So the real reason its using FPGA, and costing WAY more than a manufactured chip is because they can't afford a manufactured chip: a bit like when you do a ShutterFly book.  There's nothing wrong with this, but you sure don't preach the "One Off" nature of such technologies.  Shutterfly books like great, but there's not a photographer in the world that wouldn't rather have a proper mass-produced offset-press book and the notoriety that goes with it.  But in this case of PS1 HDMI, they are claiming this Ad Hoc approach as an asset - out of popular context. 

 

So how else might this ship go aground?  How about this:  A new NeoGeo system is sold as FPGA and all the MVS/AES wannabes think this is finally their chance, and they will be able to use their modern TV, but then later find out that the FPGA in this new console is actually just recreating MAME, and not a 68k/Zilog architecture like the original, and they are being asked to pay more to get less.  

The worst part of these "Bate and Switch" tactics is that when you pay more, things tend to look better - whether they are or not.  It will take ages for people to realize they've been duped.  

 

During the time of patton-medicine, electricity was the new fix-all, and it's amazing how long it took for people to realize just how much they were paying to electrocute themselves.  

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Considering that most console video mods are niche things at best, it would make sense to use what you can to make a product cheap enough but also with good results. Using off-the-shelf shit just makes sense for things like a video processor when the potential market for it is just a couple thousand of video freaks crazy enough to go the extra mile to push what they can.

For example, what's the market for an HDMI adapter for the GameCube that takes its Digital AV Out signal to output like that? Definitely not nearly as big as the market for cheap Composite video cables. There's no return in making specialized adapters with custom shit when the same results can be achieved with off-the-shelf components. Hell, look at some of the more custom Dreamcast VGA boxes that have come out. There's not many of them because there's not much of a market for them

 

Also, to be completely fair, talking about FPGA-based video adapters and upscalers for consoles compared to FPGA-based emulation boxes are two different things. I could wholly understand the latter and arguing against it.


Local dickhead and VHS collector.

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@handymanshandle x @pinksnowbirdie | Jake x Brendan :^

moo floof enthusiast, pm me moo rabbit pics

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Posted · Original PosterOP
40 minutes ago, handymanshandle said:

Considering that most console video mods are niche things at best, it would make sense to use what you can to make a product cheap enough but also with good results. Using off-the-shelf shit just makes sense for things like a video processor when the potential market for it is just a couple thousand of video freaks crazy enough to go the extra mile to push what they can.

For example, what's the market for an HDMI adapter for the GameCube that takes its Digital AV Out signal to output like that? Definitely not nearly as big as the market for cheap Composite video cables. There's no return in making specialized adapters with custom shit when the same results can be achieved with off-the-shelf components. Hell, look at some of the more custom Dreamcast VGA boxes that have come out. There's not many of them because there's not much of a market for them

 

Also, to be completely fair, talking about FPGA-based video adapters and upscalers for consoles compared to FPGA-based emulation boxes are two different things. I could wholly understand the latter and arguing against it.

What I'm saying is that this is that these units (often costing $400+ dollars to have installed), are courting a very high-end hipster audience, that believe FPGA is composed of Elon Musk's dandruff or some such and that it leads to the emulator Promised Land, and that type of thing always needs to get called-out.  Not because I mind seeing hipsters loose money (God I live for that $#_^!  ;0), but because this type of deceptive marketing then bleeds into other markets that effect actual people.  And eventually things like 'Carbon Fiber' disposable diapers arrive and nobody questions how expensive progress (without efficiency) can get - and society gets a little bit dumber and less capable. There used to be a barrier to entry in for making and selling electronics, and now is that no longer the case, you are asked to pay 10x as much because of an FPGA "battery-charging" chip or the like.  

 

If you are using a technology like FPGA to build A.I., or mimic ancient computing devices made from yarn-looms, that's sexy as hell, but when it becomes the Rolex/Tesla/Bitcoin of electronics, without good reason, and more to the point, to hide the developer's lack of effort, then "Houston, we have a problem". 

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9 hours ago, artphotodude said:

What I'm saying is that this is that these units (often costing $400+ dollars to have installed), are courting a very high-end hipster audience, that believe FPGA is composed of Elon Musk's dandruff or some such and that it leads to the emulator Promised Land, and that type of thing always needs to get called-out.  Not because I mind seeing hipsters loose money (God I live for that $#_^!  ;0), but because this type of deceptive marketing then bleeds into other markets that effect actual people.  And eventually things like 'Carbon Fiber' disposable diapers arrive and nobody questions how expensive progress (without efficiency) can get - and society gets a little bit dumber and less capable. There used to be a barrier to entry in for making and selling electronics, and now is that no longer the case, you are asked to pay 10x as much because of an FPGA "battery-charging" chip or the like.  

 

If you are using a technology like FPGA to build A.I., or mimic ancient computing devices made from yarn-looms, that's sexy as hell, but when it becomes the Rolex/Tesla/Bitcoin of electronics, without good reason, and more to the point, to hide the developer's lack of effort, then "Houston, we have a problem". 

Fair enough. That argument actually holds a lot of weight to consoles that aren't doing any sort of digital output, i.e. the Nintendo 64. Unless you modify an N64 with a more direct HDMI mod, you're really only ahead of an RGB Scart-modded unit in convenience and maybe upscaling with many of the adapters out there. There is a point where paying up the nose for no tangible upgrade is very questionable. Same with many original Xbox HDMI adapters, which only give you Component video without any tangible objective video upgrade, with the added headache of they don't typically give you the digital audio that the Xbox can output.

I guess where I dissent is with things like the aforementioned GameCube Digital AV output adapters, where having an adapter that can do upscaling can become a half-sensible upgrade (maybe not for $150+, but the GCN does at least give you a pure digital output, video and audio), or things like the DCHDMI, where that specific modification does grab the pure digital output of the Dreamcast with the added benefit of upscaling, if that's of any use for someone.


Local dickhead and VHS collector.

Volume / Normalized 100% / 100% (content loudness -0.1dB)

 

 

@handymanshandle x @pinksnowbirdie | Jake x Brendan :^

moo floof enthusiast, pm me moo rabbit pics

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Posted · Original PosterOP
15 hours ago, handymanshandle said:

Fair enough. That argument actually holds a lot of weight to consoles that aren't doing any sort of digital output, i.e. the Nintendo 64. Unless you modify an N64 with a more direct HDMI mod, you're really only ahead of an RGB Scart-modded unit in convenience and maybe upscaling with many of the adapters out there. There is a point where paying up the nose for no tangible upgrade is very questionable. Same with many original Xbox HDMI adapters, which only give you Component video without any tangible objective video upgrade, with the added headache of they don't typically give you the digital audio that the Xbox can output.

I guess where I dissent is with things like the aforementioned GameCube Digital AV output adapters, where having an adapter that can do upscaling can become a half-sensible upgrade (maybe not for $150+, but the GCN does at least give you a pure digital output, video and audio), or things like the DCHDMI, where that specific modification does grab the pure digital output of the Dreamcast with the added benefit of upscaling, if that's of any use for someone.

Even in the case of the Dreamcast, there are so many better/cheaper options.  DCHMDI installed is like $300-350, when you can out put Dreamcast's VGA to pro-quality scalers like the Atlona HD-500 (about $23 on eBay now) and get not only HDMI, but also no-lag scaling up to 1080p.  Ad in an mCable cable and Bob's your uncle for like $100.  If you are worried about RGB, then toss in a RetroTink 2X to use with S-video and you are sill under $200 and getting results so comparable if not better, that it's kinda lame to pay more unless you are a masochist. 

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