N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

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Drew Sebastino
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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:31 pm

So it really is 4KB? Jesus, that is low. It would have thought that the reason that only 4KB of textures are being used at a time is because of something with the GPU, and not a memory issue (ram must have been cheaper then then when they built the SNES) because I doubt it would have costed them hardly anything. I guess it was just a ram issue, but could they really have not expanded it? I mean come on, there was 4MB of ram. Did Nintendo have some sort of budget when they designed the system, picked all the most expensive parts, and then when they finished everything else and got to texture memory, and only have $10 left? I'm actually impressed that the games look as good as they do then, considering that extreme constraint. Anyway, people always talk about how big the PlayStation's texture memory was, but I cannot find it. This is what I found on Wikipedia, but I don't get it.
Wikipedia wrote:1 MB VRAM (later models contained SGRAM) for framebuffer
2 KB texture cache (132MB/sec memory bus bandwidth, 32-Bit wide)
64 bytes FIFO buffer
Are VRAM and the texture cache not the same thing? What the heck is a FIFO buffer?

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by lidnariq » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:15 pm

Espozo wrote:(ram must have been cheaper then then when they built the SNES) because I doubt it would have costed them hardly anything.
This isn't just memory. The SNES's RAM, although larger, only had to get its answer out by the relative eternity of 180ns; the N64's texture RAM had to get its results out in ... hard to say, but somewhere between 2 and 10 ns.

It was physically part of the RDP (hence why it wasn't expandable after-the-fact), and may have been hindered since its design was often described as "a stripped down SGI Indy".
Are VRAM and the texture cache not the same thing?
No. They're each designed for different memory access patterns: The texture cache needs to be addressed by tracing paths across a square at arbitrary angles (hence why early ones required textures to be a power of 2 on both axes) and quite fast, while the VRAM here is used as a framebuffer, and so basically only needs fast in-order writes and medium-speed in-order reads.

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Drew Sebastino
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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:23 pm

I read about the RDP and it said that texture memory is effectively halved to 2KB, because of look up tables or something, which is truly insane.
lidnariq wrote:
Espozo wrote:(ram must have been cheaper then then when they built the SNES) because I doubt it would have costed them hardly anything.
This isn't just memory. The SNES's RAM, although larger, only had to get its answer out by the relative eternity of 180ns; the N64's texture RAM had to get its results out in ... hard to say, but somewhere between 2 and 10 ns.
What good is swapping out textures if there still isn't any space? Unless... Can the N64 somehow swap out textures while everything is being rendered, but still having the older textures present? In that case, only speed is your enemy. (how fast is 2 - 10 ns relative to swapping out textures?)

You know though, if the expansion pack doesn't increase texture memory, why is there such a common misconception that it does? Here's an example when Wikipedia is talking about the Expansion Pak's purpose in Majora's Mask:
Utilized to increase texture detail
Sorry if this is standard 3D graphics stuff, but I have the slightest bit of experience.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by lidnariq » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:15 pm

Espozo wrote:Can the N64 somehow swap out textures while everything is being rendered, but still having the older textures present?
Exactly. It can take an arbitrary and widely-varying amount of time to draw a single polygon (even if flat shaded), so you don't have the same kind of "display X sprites every frame" that previous generation hardware had ... and you also don't have the requirement that you finish in 1/60th of a second. Instead, you tell the GPU to draw a triangle ... or a bunch of triangles ... with a bunch of properties.

I know nothing about the N64 3d programming interface, but I'd randomly guess it looks like IRIS GL.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:18 pm

You know, I actually found a pretty cool article about the N64's hardware, if anyone wants to read it. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/U ... Nintendo64 It pretty much just answered all my questions, except this when it is talking about work-arounds to the N64's texture situation:
The best method took a few years to develop. It was to program the textures to steadily stream through the buffer. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, but developers like Rare and Factor 5 got the most advanced graphics from the N64 through this method.
Didn't they say that games constantly did this, because 64x64 was the largest texture size because of the 4KB limit, and that games constantly had to change out the texture or something?

You know, a random question, but because some people don't like the blurry look or if you wanted to make a 2D game, is it actually possible to turn off anti-aliasing and tri-linear filtering?
The system can actually push 500,000 polygons in real time
:shock:

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Asaki » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:54 am

Espozo wrote:You know, a random question, but because some people don't like the blurry look or if you wanted to make a 2D game, is it actually possible to turn off anti-aliasing and tri-linear filtering?
I think Toy Story 2 did that (or am I thinking of the terrible Dreamcast port?).

There are a few 2D games for the N64.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:29 am

Toy Story 2 definitely still uses tri-linear filtering and stuff. Otherwise, it would look like the PS1 version, which is a bit more jagged in comparison. I looked at Yoshi's Story, but I'm not sure. (The quality on the video wasn't the greatest) You know, if you had an object that was perfectly 64x64 for the texture size and was distanced perfectly away from the camera and wasn't rotating or anything, wouldn't it actually look normal, or would the N64 make it look muddy because it is still trying to smoothen it out?

You know, I wonder how Metal Slug would fare on the N64... It has the advantage over the PlayStation and the Saturn in that it can directly stream information from the cartridge...

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by qwertymodo » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:58 pm

I have an N64 with the on-board RAM transplanted so it has the full 8MB on-board and can run expansion pak games like Majora's Mask and DK64 with just a jumper pak. I also have another expansion pak around here somewhere, so if anybody's curious to try something with 12MB I can do that.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:02 am

I certainly wouldn't object to you trying.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Asaki » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:13 am

qwertymodo wrote:I have an N64 with the on-board RAM transplanted so it has the full 8MB on-board and can run expansion pak games like Majora's Mask and DK64 with just a jumper pak.
That only sounds the tiniest bit ridiculous @_@

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Drew Sebastino » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:44 am

Asaki wrote:
qwertymodo wrote:I have an N64 with the on-board RAM transplanted so it has the full 8MB on-board and can run expansion pak games like Majora's Mask and DK64 with just a jumper pak.
That only sounds the tiniest bit ridiculous @_@
That only sounds the tiniest bit awesome! :twisted:

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by qwertymodo » Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:32 am

The primary reason for a board like mine would be for making a BenHeck style portable, which is actually the reason I did the mod, I just haven't gotten around to the rest of it. By installing the full RAM onto the board directly, you're able to remove the memory pak slot entirely, which then allows the board to lay flat without anything sticking out at a right angle, which makes for a much better fit case-wise (assuming you also remove and reorient the cart slot like a typical GameBoy cart slot instead of the normal straight-out-from-the-board orientation). You just have to wire up a few resistors on the data lines to terminate the RAM bus (basically the equivalent of hardwiring the jumper pak).

In any case, if you have anything in particular you'd like me to test, just let me know. I'm not nearly as familiar with the N64 library as I am with the SNES, so I'm not really sure what games may or may not be of interest here. I do have a 64Drive, so I can test anything, including homebrew ROM's if anybody wants to write some code to explicitly test it.

Here's a crappy photo of it in action, MM w/Jumper Pak
Image

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Sik » Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:04 am

Espozo wrote:You know, if you had an object that was perfectly 64x64 for the texture size and was distanced perfectly away from the camera and wasn't rotating or anything, wouldn't it actually look normal, or would the N64 make it look muddy because it is still trying to smoothen it out?
HUDs in N64 games are pixel perfect, but even ignoring that, yeah it's doable (even without turning off any of the filters) as long as you make sure the UV coordinates and the transformation aren't off by even one pixel. This is true for any GPU (modern ones follow this rule as well, it's just how the algorithms work).

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Asaki » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:22 am

qwertymodo wrote:The primary reason for a board like mine would be for making a BenHeck style portable...
Ah, okay, that makes sense.

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Re: N64 Upgraded Expansion Pak

Post by Erockbrox » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:52 am

Espozo wrote: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.)
I found this game, apparently its a N64 homebrew

http://www.neoflash.com/forum/index.php ... 454.0.html

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