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RTX On..... on your SNES?

Nope, its not a joke, some genius/nut job modder has created a custom chip for the Super Nintendo to support ray tracing.

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I’m pleased to finally have some results to show for a project I’ve been working on in my spare time for the last year or so.

 

The idea originated when I was trying to think of an interesting idea for a project to help me learn Verilog and FPGA design, and the notion of building a simple raytracer came to mind (partly inspired by a scarily smart friend of mine who is building his own GPU). A bit later - because sometimes my brain hates me and delights in coming up with silly things to do - this turned into “wouldn’t it be interesting to try making a SNES do raytracing?”, and thus the SuperRT chip idea was born.

 

What I wanted to try and do was something akin to the Super FX chip used in titles such as Star Fox, where the SNES runs the game logic and hands off a scene description to a chip in the cartridge to generate the visuals. To that end I’ve deliberately tried to restrict myself to just using a single custom chip for the design, not making use of the ARM core available on the DE10 board or any other external processing resources.

 

The end results look something like this:

Using some pretty damn impressive electrical engineering and an FPGA they were able to create a custom chip they call the SuperRT to handle ray tracing with up to 4 rays per screen pixel. I should add, I'll summarise the post here but the link to the source goes into WAAAAAAY more detail. If you interested in the full explanation then please go have a read through it.

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The SuperRT chip constructs the scene using a specialised command language which is executed by one of three parallel execution units on the chip - essentially specialised CISC processors - to perform ray intersection tests.

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The ray colour for each pixel is calculated by a “ray engine”, which handles the overall ray lifecycle and uses an “execution engine” module to run the command program describing the scene as many times as is required to resolve the ray.

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The chip also implements a number of other basic functions - there is an interface to the SNES cartridge bus, along with a small program ROM holding 32K of code for the SNES (this is constrained by the fact that the interface board currently only connects up the SNES Address Bus A lines, and thus the effective usable address space is a mere 64K, of which 32K is used for memory-mapped IO registers to communicate with the SuperRT chip). There is also a multiplication accelerator unit that lets the SNES perform 16x16bit multiply operations rapidly.

https://www.shironekolabs.com/posts/superrt/

 

I'm genuinely amazed at what some people do in their spare time. While GPUs are becoming more powerful every year to cope with new features like RT someone decide to build it into a 30 year old console.

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SNES Doom rtx when?

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There is only 1 word to describe the guy who did this. Brilliant Nutjob. As for the snes that is damn impressive.

 

PS. SNES is officially the superior gaming platform. PCMR who?

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Im impressed.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, pzspah said:

Will probably run Cyberpunk better than the PS4.

Inevitable wall of forum posts asking why their SNES isnt performing as expected in Cyberpunk.

Current in process build: Project Odyssey - Build Logs - Linus Tech Tips

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https://www.3dmark.com/3dm/37004594?

Ryzen Rig 1: ASUS B350-PRIME ATX, Ryzen 7 1700, Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X Nitro 4gb HBM, 16gb (2x8) 3200mhz V-Color Skywalker, ANTEC Earthwatts 750w PSU, MasterLiquid Lite 120 AIO cooler in Push/Pull config as rear exhaust, 250gb Samsung 850 Evo SSD, Patriot Burst 240gb SSD, Cougar MX330-X Case.  Zalman K600S keyboard, Zalman ZM-GM1 mouse, Acer XF270HU 2560x1440 144hz IPS monitor

https://www.3dmark.com/3dm/37628874?

Dwight: The Mixed Metals Loop Media Center.  Ask me about it.  Currently decommissioned to move to an mATX setup on a new MOBO once I pick one out (getting its facelift as of June 2020 have new air cooler, drives etc.  About 60% finished.  Will no longer be a closed loop system.  Slight update, upgraded to larger SSD, and air cooling installed Arctic Alpine cooler.

Schrute: ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0, FX 8350, Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X Nitro 4gb HBM, 16gb (4x4) Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600mhz, Sparkle/FSP 650w PSU, Corsair H100i GTX 240mm AIO w/ 12mm thick fans to fit in top exhaust, 256gb TIMETEC SSD, 1tb WDBlack HDD, Rosewill Nautilus 1.0 case.  DSI 90-Key Mechanical Keyboard w/ Cherry Red switches, Zalman gaming mouse

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Linux Box: Toshiba Laptop, i7 620M, NVS graphics, 4gb ram tinker toy at the moment.  Running Manjaro XFCE at the moment.

Home Security: ZOSI 8 channel CCTV (4 used at this time, 1080p) DVR H.265+, 3tb HGST Enterprise HDD, ASUS monitor for display

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Nintendo's Cease and Desist in 3.. 2.. 1...

One day I will be able to play Monster Hunter Frontier in French/Italian/English on my PC, it's just a matter of time... 4 5 6 7 8 9 years later: It's finally coming!!!

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1 minute ago, suicidalfranco said:

Nintendo's Cease and Desist in 3.. 2.. 1...

They cannot touch him, its his own hardware and all his own code. He isn't using anything they own the rights to.

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I can definitely see this taking off. 

 

20201216_173901.jpg.f67967276d9c21b16bb542aac47762de.jpg

 

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2 hours ago, Mark Kaine said:

I can definitely see this taking off. 

 

20201216_173901.jpg.f67967276d9c21b16bb542aac47762de.jpg

 

... 👀

You joke but actually it wouldn't be a huge undertaking to take their work and incorporate it into emulators.

 

Its obvious they're still at the design stage, they're using breadboards.

 

TBH though it sounds more like a fun learning project rather than something serious/intended for the general public. I hope it doesn't get lost to time.

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5 hours ago, Smit Devrukhkar said:

PS. SNES is officially the superior gaming platform. PCMR who?

Only because of Chrono Trigger. 

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I can't wait for this to be an add-on that you can buy.

I wonder if they will do it for other consoles too, like the N64 or Wii?

Cool tech tip inside:

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elephants
#MuricaParrotGang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Limits are meant to be broken, I guess.

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Please quote me so I can see that you replied.

 

Be proud of who you are.

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Nice! I would imagine the limitations come primarily from interfacing with the SNES itself rather than the hardware's ability to do basic raytracing

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55 minutes ago, Sauron said:

Nice! I would imagine the limitations come primarily from interfacing with the SNES itself rather than the hardware's ability to do basic raytracing

Well, yeah. It only had 128KB of system RAM and 64KB SRAM for the graphics chip.

 

And at the time, the chip technology wasn't to the level where it could have been affordable for the consumer market, unlike what was then the Super FX chip.

 

It's an epic retro-hack for sure regardless.

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On 12/16/2020 at 10:37 PM, Sauron said:

Nice! I would imagine the limitations come primarily from interfacing with the SNES itself rather than the hardware's ability to do basic raytracing

In this video (2:26) the author says that this scene runs at around 20fps and 30fps is a practical max due to bandwidth limits.

 

ಠ_ಠ  if i said something stupid please let me know

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who needs high fps details and resolution if you can have raytracing

Hi

 

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Isn’t RTX an Nvidia branding for their ray-tracing hardware? I’m rather conflicted. On one hand, I don’t really approve of referring to all uses of real-time ray-tracing as RTX. On the other hand, it would be quite amusing if RTX becomes so ubiquitous that it actually loses trademark protection. 
 

Ray-tracing is actually quite cheap at low resolutions. Getting into higher resolutions, cost increases drastically. 

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25 minutes ago, Zodiark1593 said:

Isn’t RTX an Nvidia branding for their ray-tracing hardware? I’m rather conflicted. On one hand, I don’t really approve of referring to all uses of real-time ray-tracing as RTX.

Yep, RTX is ray tracing, but ray tracing isn't necessarily RTX. It is just Nvidia's hardware-accelerated implementation of ray tracing. Under the hood it interfaces with Direct X Raytracing (DXR) or Vulkan (don't know of any games using OptiX). I guess because RTX is currently the best, or at least most prominent, option it's slowly becoming synonymous with ray tracing in the context of games for better or for worse.

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