N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

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Drew Sebastino
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N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:38 am

Okay, I've always known that the N64 has 4MB of ram, and that the Expansion Pack adds an additional 4MB, but I wonder. If you were to make your own "Expansion Pack", could you actually increase the ram to where it grants an additional 8MB or something instead of 4?

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Joe » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:50 am

Yes.

There are a few sources claiming that a N64 will run with 12MB of RAM, and all of it is usable. If you just want to build something, this is a good starting point.

Nintendo's boot code is capable of recognizing up to 16MB, so this is the practical limit if you're intending to use the extra RAM with existing games or small modifications thereof. You can reach this amount just by swapping RDRAM chips on existing PCBs, if you're clever about it.

It may be possible to reprogram the RDRAM controller to set up additional RAM beyond 16MB. However, this depends on the RDRAM controller being able to address such large amounts of RAM. As far as I know, no one has ever tested this.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:57 am

Joe wrote:As far as I know, no one has ever tested this.
Hardly anyone has done anything on the N64. I find it funny how many people like the SNES and the N64, but how little there is being done for them. (Literally nothing on the N64.) It seemed like the N64's main problem (no, cartridges are not a problem) was the ram size, which had developers stretching tiny textures across large surfaces. With the N64, is it possible to put hardware in the cartridges like the SNES?

(Oh yeah, hasn't the lock out chip never been reversed engineered?)

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Joe » Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:42 am

Espozo wrote:It seemed like the N64's main problem (no, cartridges are not a problem) was the ram size, which had developers stretching tiny textures across large surfaces. With the N64, is it possible to put hardware in the cartridges like the SNES?
Yes, but I'm not sure what you'd do with it. If you want bigger textures, throw more ROM at it and stream uncompressed textures directly from ROM to RDP.
Espozo wrote:(Oh yeah, hasn't the lock out chip never been reversed engineered?)
Not yet.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Erockbrox » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:21 pm

im very interested in this whole ram expansion idea and would love to see someone do it. as for the lockout chip, why not have a contest or something with a prize and whatnot to encourage someone or a team of people to crack that thing.

im also curious to what other lockout chips havent been cracked?

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Asaki » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:55 pm

Joe wrote:Nintendo's boot code is capable of recognizing up to 16MB, so this is the practical limit if you're intending to use the extra RAM with existing games or small modifications thereof.
Wouldn't the games have to be modified to be able to take advantage of the extra RAM?

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by tepples » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:18 pm

I seem to remember that on early N64 emulators, Tetrisphere was more stable with an Expansion Pak than without one. So perhaps games just run their garbage collection or whatever less often with more available RAM.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:38 am

Tetrisphere? The New Tetris? How many different Tetris games does the N64 need, with none of them actually just being Tetris?

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by tepples » Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:35 am

The Tetris games for N64 were Capcom's Magical Tetris Challenge, H2O's The New Tetris, and Seta's Japan-only Tetris 64 that included a pulse sensor.

Tetris Attack for Super NES and Tetrisphere for Nintendo 64 were from a period when Elorg was trying to get the Tetris brand everywhere, an overexposure strategy that Henk Rogers of The Tetris Company now regrets. Had saner heads prevailed, Tetrisphere would have been released under its original title Phear. And during the N64 era, Tetris Attack was renamed to Puzzle League outside Japan (while retaining its Panel de Pon title in Japan).

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by mic_ » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:05 am

Literally nothing on the N64
Well, there's this, which requires the RAM expansion pak.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Joe » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:35 am

Asaki wrote:Wouldn't the games have to be modified to be able to take advantage of the extra RAM?
Games that do not use the expansion pak will not use any additional RAM either. Games that do use the expansion pak might automatically use the additional RAM, if the developers didn't hard-code the assumption that there will be exactly 4MB or 8MB of RAM.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by WedNESday » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:24 pm

Espozo wrote:Tetrisphere? The New Tetris? How many different Tetris games does the N64 need, with none of them actually just being Tetris?
And who in their right mind would pay serious $ to play Tetris on a N64? :lol:

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by tokumaru » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:46 pm

WedNESday wrote:And who in their right mind would pay serious $ to play Tetris on a N64? :lol:
Wait for it...

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:27 pm

You know, I just looked something up regarding the N64:
Wikibooks wrote:Actual texture memory is only 4KB -- only allowed to operate on this amount at a time.
What the heck? Only 4KB of textures can be onscreen at a time? This is phenomenally low, as it would only be 1/16 of the SNES, MD's and PCE's vram size. I always hear about the Expansion Pak adding larger, higher quality textures, but from that statement, I am getting the impression that it wouldn't help at all, unless the Expansion Pak has the ability to increase texture memory size or something.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by tepples » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:52 pm

Perhaps the Expansion Pak allows more textures to be cached, uncompressed, lighted per pixel, or whatever in a single scene, as opposed to using even more Gouraud shading or textures even smaller than 64x64. The N64 was thought to have two signature looks: cartoony (with Gouraud shaded untextured polygons) and muddy (with textures too small).

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