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More emulators for the Nspire CX
Posted by Xavier on 23 November 2017, 17:54 GMT

Over the past few years, gameblabla has proved to be another productive programmer, focusing on native code programs for the Nspire. All of his 16 programs currently available from our archives are in the Nspire assembly games section. About half of them are emulators for other platforms, which significantly widened the set of games readily available for the Nspire (mainly color) series. Some of them perform best when overclocking the calculator, which can be done through software means.

Let's review his favorite programs, which have not necessarily been the most popular ones so far:

  • Temper emulates a late 1980s 8-bit PC engine games console from NEC, with support for the improved (but unpopular) SuperGrafx variant. CD games work as long as the CD audio (CDDA) tracks are manually removed. The emulation of the multi-chip video processors, as well as other hardware aspects, is taxing the Nspire CPU's resources: the program is therefore not blazingly fast, but still usually usable nevertheless.
  • PocketSNES emulates the slightly newer, highly popular 16-bit Super NES console from the early 1990s, and thereby gives access to many hit games from the 1990s on the Nspire CX platform. At some point, gameblabla asserted that a fast SNES emulator would not be possible on that platform, but he later proceeded to prove himself wrong with this PocketSNES port: at least one of the emulation cores can achieve good performance, at the expense of compatibility in more or less corner cases. For instance, Super OiramMario World, one of the most popular SNES games, has been shown to run at full speed on highly overclocked Nspire CX (CAS) calculators.
  • SMS Plus emulates one of the competitors of the NES, namely the older 8-bit Short Message Service Sega Master System, which was first released in the 1980s but remained popular well into the 2000s in some countries, and a derivative of the Master System, the Game Gear handheld (a rival of the original Game Boy, but with a backlit color screen). They use a Z80 processor, like some of our beloved TI calculators. With SMS Plus, you can play one of the original implementations of Sonic, a port of Street Fighter II, or a number of other titles from a sizable collection, at good speed. While it's not as good as that of older TI calculator models, the Nspire's battery life is normally higher than that of the Game Gear, and it uses a rechargeable battery :)

If you enjoy emulators, you can check out the other ones in gameblabla's collection.

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Re: More emulators for the Nspire CX
Ranman  Account Info
(Web Page)

Outstanding gamblabla!!

Just how fast can the Nspire be overclocked?

Reply to this comment    23 November 2017, 20:55 GMT

Re: Re: More emulators for the Nspire CX
Lionel Debroux Account Info
(Web Page)

Some Nspire CX (CAS) calculators crash when overclocked to 204 or 210 MHz (6 MHz steps), but others have been shown to reliably reach 264 or 270 MHz.

The standard frequency used to be 132 MHz, before TI switched to a 240x320 screen controller without rewriting the OS, during the Cost Reduction 4 (CR4) phase, corresponding to HW revision W and beyond.
They added a Nucleus task which performs frequent snapshots of the 320x240 plane where drawing functions keep writing, and rewrites them as 240x320 to the screen controller... Of course, this takes a noticeable amount of CPU, so on the affected models, they raised the default frequency to 156 MHz IIRC.

The code of the Ndless installer had to be adjusted to be able to cope with the new screen; a compatibility mode for HW >= W calculators was also added, which lets a number of old, unmaintained programs work - but for best results, programmers need to adjust their code.

Reply to this comment    24 November 2017, 07:13 GMT

Re: More emulators for the Nspire CX
Nikky Southerland  Account Info
(Web Page)

This is awesome work! Well done!

Reply to this comment    23 November 2017, 21:09 GMT

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