Developer adds real time raytracing to Super Nintendo console

Written by bit-tech news

December 17, 2020 | 12:20

Companies: #nintendo

We always have an eye on cutting edge super-powerful hardware but sometimes it is fun to remind ourselves of the PCs and consoles of yesteryear. Many tech enthusiasts are keen on the latest developments but still hold a candle or two for the hardware they grew up with – perhaps the first home computer or console they had. This seems to be the case with Ben Carter who has designed what he calls the Super RT chip for the Super Nintendo console.

The Super RT appears to take its inspiration from the Super FX chip of old, plus the most modern of PC and console gaming trends of raytracing everything. For a bit of background, the original Super FX chip was a coprocessor Nintendo leveraged on various game cartridges to deliver graphics acceleration. The most famous Super FX game was Star Fox which leveraged the accelerator for much faster polygon output for its 3D world.

Carter is a skilled engineer and has sought to add a real time raytracing co-processor to the Super Nintendo and has called his tech the Super RT. His custom expansion looks a bit messy in the video but I guess he's just getting the tech working for now. The Super RT infused cartridge deliberately uses a single custom chip (like the Super FX did), a 'Cyclone V FPGA' to add hardware accelerated raytraced graphics to Super Nintendo systems.

In the demo video above Carter showcases the Super RT with a demo of it handling real-time ray-traced shadows and reflections, and a few other graphical operations. The demo runs at the rather low res of 200 x 160 pixels with 'RTX On' and at a relatively pedestrian 20fps. Perhaps we need to wait for version 2.0 before investing? More technical details regarding this project are available on Carter's website.

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