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New mini-console aims to emulate the SNES via hardware, not software

New mini-console aims to emulate the SNES via hardware, not software

October 16, 2017 | By Alex Wawro




"The SNES Classic isn't going to be pristine because it's running on a little Linux chip, it's just an emulator. It looks good enough to most people, but it's not going to look perfect. The Super Nt will look perfect."

- Analogue founder and chief Christopher Taber, speaking to Time about the company's upcoming Super Nt mini-console.

We've seen a surge of interest in retro game mini-consoles since Nintendo got into the business last year with its pint-sized NES Classic.

Now that the SNES Classic is out and selling like hotcakes, retro game enthusiast and Analogue founder Christopher Taber has been talking to Time and other outlets about the company's upcoming Super Nt -- the latest in its Nt line of mini-consoles that accept original cartridges and handle emulation via hardware, rather than software.

This is a big deal for devs who are fans of classic games because it means the Analogue mini-consoles can reportedly emulate old consoles much more effectively and run games with less of the inconsistencies (like frame loss or sound issues) that can plague software emulators.

In fact, Taber tells Time that the Super Nt will run Super Nintendo games (or Super Famicom games) better than Nintendo's own Linux-powered mini-consoles, thanks to the use of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA). He goes on to note that this way of emulating classic games is rare, and possible for Analogue in large part thanks to the involvement of emulation scene legend Kevin "KevTris" Horton 

"We spent a long time researching and developing the basic internal structure for an FPGA-based video game system," Taber told Time. "There's not a lot of people out there who've developed and worked on FPGA implementations of 16-bit systems. It's all kind of people dabbling as a hobby, implementing certain pieces of it. But nobody who completes it. What we're doing is totally proprietary. And we're a small company, so that's involved an enormous amount of time, effort and money."

Analogue has been at this for some time, but it's earlier hardware tended to carry a big price tag; notably, its Nt Mini mini-console (which could handle Nintendo and Famicom cartridges out of the box, and be unofficially modified to emulate other hardware) cost $450. For the Super Nt, the company has cut costs (by switching from metal to plastic and removing some ports) and plans to sell the mini-console for $190 early next year.

Devs curious to learn more can do so via the Analogue website.



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