General > Off Topic

How close are those "MiSTer" devices really to the real hardware?


First of all, I am heavily invested in EverDrives for my original consoles. I have zero plans to abandon them, ever, unless they die on me and I cannot figure out how to fix them. The "MiSTer" sounds like "an interesting project to keep an eye on for the future", if nothing else.

Of course, reading their own info, they make it seem like this is a 100% perfect replication of each console/platform. We all know that this cannot possibly be the case. If it were, that would be a scientific revolution and truly Change Everything.

So how close is it to a real NES/SNES/whatever? I notice a total lack of support for N64/Saturn, and the main focus seems to be on old home computers, such as Amigas. (Which *is* interesting to me, but unrelated to this.)

It's frightening to me how many people seem to be completely oblivious to how badly even the best software emulators in existence butcher these classic games, but I've not seen a MiSTer in action in real life nor really even on video. It seems to be almost a mythological thing. From looking at their websites and forums, it takes a *ton* of manual tinkering, and there's a lot of worrying questions about games not working correctly and whatnot, which really makes me question how well it can possibly be "emulating the hardware".

Assuming that my consoles don't start bleeding internally and stop working with my EverDrives/FXPAK PRO, is there any reason to pay any attention to the "MiSTer" for the next 10-20 years or so?

What do you mean when you say ' their own info'? As I understand, this is not a company but a joint effort by many people. The accuracy differs from core to core.

According to their own info very few cores are 100% replicas:

--- Quote from: ---if the FPGA code is based on the circuitry of real hardware (along with the usual tweaks for FPGA compatibility), then it should be called replication. Anything else is emulation, since it uses different kinds of approximation to meet the same objectives. Currently, it's hard to find a core that can truly be called a replica – most cores are based on more-or-less functional recreations rather than true circuit recreation. The most widely used CPU cores – the Z80 (T80) and MC68000 (TG68K) – are pure functional emulations, not replications. So it's okay to call FPGA cores emulators, unless they are proven to be replicas.

--- End quote ---
There have been some experimenting with replicating circuits gate-for-gate with some cores, but it's definitely not the norm as it's probably a very time consuming and error prone way to program FPGA.

The main benefit with FPGA emulation over software emulation, is the parallelism and the speed. Each circuit operates individually in parallel with each other (just like in the real hardware) and you get low latency for free. In software emulation everything must run in series and you are always fighting lag.

I think it's a very interesting project to keep an eye on, but I have no idea how accurate the cores really are as I've never seen it in person.


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