Saturday, 25 January 2014

NGPACE in 2014

Back from holidays, getting back into the daily grind at work, and yet to get time to sit down and immerse myself in Neo Kong again. It'll probably be another week or so, but I'll definitely ramp up on the porting again very soon.

In related Neo Geo news, I've just won an auction for a Neo Geo CD (top loader) which is winging its way from Japan as I type this blog. This will complete my Neo Geo hardware trio (MVS, AES & NGCD) but more importantly will allow me to see Neo Kong running on real hardware, which I'm pretty keen to do!

As for NGPACE hardware, I've finally decided to re-direct my initial efforts towards a development cart for MVS/AES. This will actually serve two purposes; not only will it allow me to play Neo Kong on MVS & AES hardware, but I'll be kitting it out with a pair of reasonably-sized FPGA's to facilitate reverse-engineering of the MVS/AES hardware (cartridge buses) for NGPACE.

At this stage I've made no decisions about the design, the capacity, the memory technology, the programming mechanism or pretty much anything else. If I had to guess, I'd say some parallel flash with a micro and USB and/or SD card. It's unlikely the initial design will allow me to program up KOF2003, but that's not the focus anyway. Hopefully I'll be able to then scale-down the FPGA's (and even use CPLD's) and scale-up the memory for a more generic programmable cartridge.

As an aside; something I've been thinking about and was also raised on the #neogeodev channel recently is a custom cartridge with sprite RAM, enabling on-the-fly sprite programming which in turn can be used to generate a bitmap display! I know that the NGCD sprite RAM is programmable by the CPU, but there are timing and bandwidth limitations and AFAIK it hasn't been done outside a demo - i.e. never proven viable for arcade game-play. It would be interesting indeed to provide such a mechanism on the programmable cartridge, for demonstration if nothing else! Neo Defender anyone?

I'm hoping to kick off the design in parallel with Neo Kong; maybe the hardware will be finished by the time the porting is done!?!


  1. Nice to hear some news!! And great news that is also!
    I think you are taking the right step tbh.. the aes/mvs system hardware aint hard to find and its actually quite cheap as well. But a quality "multi/programmable/devcart" aint nowhere to be found.. all the multicarts are just filled with crap.. and i for one, is just dying to get a complete cart with possibility to run all games without the crappy hacks and fugly menus! how come you choose/think about usb/sd instead of programmable flash onboard? just curious :)
    also the custom ics on the boards.. how would they be replaced? i have been wondering about how games can be run in mame without the function being known of the custom ics?

  2. I haven't really thought much about the design yet. It would have programmable flash, with either SD or USB to enable programming, rather than require an external programmer. But even now I have a lot to decide before I even start on it; I'm thinking now of doing a 'pass-through' board with FPGA's for getting bus traces, and for programming the cartridges. Not sure yet...

    Pretty sure the custom IC's have been reverse-engineered. In any case, I've got some research to do before I start designing them.

    Ultimately I'm still interested in the mainboard replacement, it's just that layout is going to cost a lot of money, which I don't have atm. Maybe some dev carts would pay for the layout???

  3. yeah usb programming would probably be a nice feat if possible. But the bootleg 161-in-1 have space enough for all games if one would not include all the hacks. that would make 1 single cart to hold all the games in the whole mvs library :).. but then the usb programming option aint needed. But selling/manufacturing preprogrammed multicarts could raise a legal issue i suppose ;). but if one person would make "the one cart to rule them all" that would most probably pay itself of a great deal. a console could then even contain the full library inside itself, but that would totally render the carts useless :/ hehe just playing with the ideas :)

    the complete library built into 1 console. no extra this or that, lol.. what would i do with my 50+ mvs carts??