V9990 is not part of MSX

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By aoineko

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06-02-2022, 23:43

BTW, I just received my -- non-standard -- V9990 cartridge! \o/

By Pokun

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07-02-2022, 15:24

Pentarou wrote:

Maybe Nishi had a brain fart and confused the SFC with the MD.
As far as everybody knows the SFC chips were made by Ricoh, while Yamaha did the MD chipset.

Well he didn't say Yamaha made the chip, just that they shared the knowhow with Nintendo behind his back.

Yamaha did the Mark III VDP too and the MD VDP is more of a continuation of that chip than their V9938 or V9958, and not very similar to Ricoh's S-PPU. Yamaha's Mark III VDP is also a very different continuation of the TMS99xx from their V9938 with a more focus on sprites, tiled backgrounds and scrolling (i.e. game stuff) than on bitmapped graphics.

By ducasp

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07-02-2022, 16:29

I think that Nishi's statement that V9990/OPL4 is not part of MSX standard is accurate, even though it has been used on extensions made afterward, not part of the standard.

SCC also is not part of the standard, while OPLL is on 2+/TR...

Does that means it was not used? Nope... Just it is not standard.

The reasons for him to not want to develop such solution are probably personal, but, if you think technically, on a "MSX3", it makes no sense do have a 9990, it would be a total waste of time/effort, there are almost no games or software that rely on it, and it is way, way, way outdate to serve as a basis for actual usage for education when augmenting from standard MSX to the "MSX3 educational stuff"... You will want much more than what 9990 has to offer, otherwise, it won't be able to "be on the same league" as a PI or other projects like a PI...

If you sum it up to the fact that Nishi never wanted MSX machines to be seen as gaming machines and lost the opportunity to have MSX as the open gaming platform in Japan (which would most likely change the scenario of video gaming on the world) mostly because of that (perhaps he could just invest a little more to have something like Mark III VDP mode for games on 9938, it would cost 5/10 USD per unit, but MSX had a good reputation as gaming machine in Japan and if it acted fast, perhaps could have sold a lot more MSX2's and not lost momentum with manufacturers by MSX 2+ time), and that in Japan he was criticized for that (which, from a commercial/business stand point could make sense, if you have unexpect and good income from a usage scenario you didn't think of, why not embrace it and keep making money on it while using that as a catapult to the scenarios you want to compete in? Quite contrary, it is said that even multicolored sprites on 9938 was added without ASCII consent/knowledge, they did not want game features/improvements), that is not unexpected from him... ASCII was probably double crossed by Yamaha because SEGA was making a lot more money for Yamaha than MSX would ever be able to, so that further add to his rant against gaming.

Unfortunate for us that like MSX gaming, but, probably the reasons why this all makes sense to him, and who can blame Nishi? It is his money, his brand, he does whatever he wants Tongue

By Pokun

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07-02-2022, 17:43

I think everyone are on the clear that V9990 is not part of any existing MSX standard (MSX, MSX2, MSX2+ nor MSX Turbo R). It's just that some people found his way of saying that it will not be included in the MSX3 standard (specifically him saying "is not MSX") as insensitive, and many are sad that he don't want to include it.

Yeah he said it's going to support "strong sprites and 2K and 4K high speed video drawings" which will make the VDP obsolete and the MSX3 comparable to other modern hardware. The V9958 is there for compatibility reasons, but I guess it can also introduce people that are used to modern GPUs about more traditional ways to program video and give games a bit more character through limitations. It's my theory that old computers and consoles have more character due to their limitations in video and audio compared to modern systems with pretty much no real limitation on what can be drawn to the screen within a frame, and pretty much no limitations on audio either. I mean any system that uses a TMS9918 is quite easy to spot just by looking at some games, and a PSG or FM chip also forces a certain style. Maybe the MSX3 can marry modern power pies with the characteristic '80s computer culture.
Though I'm not sure if he meant that the V9998 was the thing that will bring "strong sprites" and "high speed drawing", or if that will be a separate thing.

Yeah not aiming for a gaming market was probably a mistake. Commodore was successful partly because they marketed it as a good gaming system that could also teach you about computers. MSX was also probably successful partly because of its good game library (at least that's probably mainly what draws in new MSX enthusiasts today).
On the other hand I've always thought the Spectravideo was chosen as the basis for MSX because it had pretty good potential for both games and business use. Maybe that wasn't why and they were just lucky that it was decent for games.

By Pentarou

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07-02-2022, 18:49

Pokun wrote:

Well he didn't say Yamaha made the chip, just that they shared the knowhow with Nintendo behind his back.

Don't know if it's a translation error, but he wrote " yamaha ... created super famicom without telling us anything".

IMHO I don't believe Nintendo needed Yamaha's help to build a VDP: They had already designed the NES PPU and also had immense resources.
Moreover the SFC was presented to the press exactly 1 month (November 21, 1988) after the very first MSX2+ were released. So, if Nishi is to be believed, in 1988 Yamaha would have given Nintendo the V9938/V9958 tech knowledge, not the V9978.

BTW. I'm still amazed that he explicitly named "Yamaha", he's not afraid to burn bridges and you don't see that very often from Japanese people.

By Pokun

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07-02-2022, 20:03

I don't think that rules out a possible deal between Yamaha, Ricoh and Nintendo, and Yamaha needed to cover the loss for developing it. Nintendo and Ricoh made the Famicom CPU and PPU as well as the SFC S-CPU and S-PPU together, but some parts of them were licensed from other manufacturers, like the 6502 and 65816 CPU cores which were licensed from MOS/WDC.

When Nintendo presented the SFC in 1988, the S-PPU was probably not finalized yet, as they were still planning to make it backwards-compatible with the Famicom (and the final S-PPU and the audio hardware are the two main things in the SFC that are not Famicom-compatible). It was released in 1990, the same time as the Turbo R was announced according to Wikipedia. Depending on when the V9978 was rejected, Nintendo may still had time to make use of Yamaha's technology in their S-PPU.

Looking into the V9990, there are not too many things in there that are obviously similar to the S-PPU, but there are a few. The most obvious are:
-15-bit RGB color capability (32 768 colors) which is quite a distinguishable feature of the SFC
-Spriting capability with 125 sprites/frame, 16 sprites/scanline (the numbers for the S-PPU are 128 and 16 respectively) and the number of colors per sprite.

And maybe a few resolution options are similar. S-PPU has some high-resolution modes (though still only 15 kHz).

Judging by his reaction it seems Yamaha had already burned their bridge with him a long time ago by going behind his back.

By ducasp

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07-02-2022, 23:33

Pokun wrote:

I think everyone are on the clear that V9990 is not part of any existing MSX standard (MSX, MSX2, MSX2+ nor MSX Turbo R). It's just that some people found his way of saying that it will not be included in the MSX3 standard (specifically him saying "is not MSX") as insensitive, and many are sad that he don't want to include it.

Let's be honest and clear:

  1. Is there a V9990 implemention on FPGA (where he plans to support 9958) currently?
  2. If not, how much time and effort would be needed to add a V9990 implemention on FPGA?
  3. How much titles currently support V9990?
  4. What use a user that has no interest on a few games (really few) would have for that? (to be honest, I have a physical V9990 and I think I've used it so little that if it weren't for the fear of not being able to buy one later, I would never have bought it)
  5. How well V9990 is documented to be reproduced without a lot of reverse engineering?

People just need to get over that, asking V9990 to be implemented like it is a really important part of the system is like asking Franky to be part of MSX3... Probably there are more Franky and Playsoniqs out there than 9990 (now I'm being mean and not based on any data, but wouldn't be surprised if that turns out to be true or not so many more 9990's were sold than Franky's/Playsoniq's)...

And remember 9990 is the reason why Turbo R existed as it was, far from what ASCII desired, so Yamaha did not deliver on time what has been promised, asked them to be able to sell to other parties anyway, and guys are demanding that this person that had his dreams of a MSX3 down the drain (probably not only due to, but also due to) because Yamaha didn't deliver 9978 and then sold parts of it as 9990 later.... Who is being sensitive to Nishi's feelings? Tongue

P.s.: lots of sarcasm in my text, no matter what people want or say, he is the owner of the brand and he can do whatever he wants, just let's get over it and have fun with our projects, MSX VR is so quite nicely embracing quite so much the community wanted and still the community did not even buy enough units so MSX VR team could reach their production goals to profit a little from it... Tongue It seems that there is always a BUT that people will always complain and start bashing the VR's / MSX3's and so on... Just let's embrace what those guys are working hard, if you like it, buy it, if you don't, don't be the one pointing fingers that the project is trash because it doesn't have a given feature you wanted so much... That is so sad that makes it clear to me why there are so much less cool new things for MSX than there is for other retro devices that sold less or about the same thing as MSX... Wink

By Pokun

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08-02-2022, 15:09

Yeah I understand both Nishi and many fans has strong feelings concerning the 9990, and both used strong language. Either way I don't think he will attempt to "lock out" the 9990 from the MSX3. It's just not going to be part of the standard definition for a minimum compliant MSX3, just like MSX-AUDIO never was.

1. I don't know, how did Sunrise and other manufacturers reproduce the chip in the first place? In pictures it looks like an ASIC and ASCII's logo is written on it ironically enough (despite them rejecting it). I suppose Yamaha had it produced as off-the-shelf parts and Sunrise used those.
2. According to Nishi anyone (with the proper knowledge of course) could do it in about 6 to 12 months. Since Yamaha's patent has long run out, anyone is free to do it.

By ducasp

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08-02-2022, 22:33

Pokun wrote:

Yeah I understand both Nishi and many fans has strong feelings concerning the 9990, and both used strong language. Either way I don't think he will attempt to "lock out" the 9990 from the MSX3. It's just not going to be part of the standard definition for a minimum compliant MSX3, just like MSX-AUDIO never was.

1. I don't know, how did Sunrise and other manufacturers reproduce the chip in the first place? In pictures it looks like an ASIC and ASCII's logo is written on it ironically enough (despite them rejecting it). I suppose Yamaha had it produced as off-the-shelf parts and Sunrise used those.
2. According to Nishi anyone (with the proper knowledge of course) could do it in about 6 to 12 months. Since Yamaha's patent has long run out, anyone is free to do it.

No one reproduced the chip, Yamaha got permision from ASCII to sell the "extra features" of 9978 (that means not the TI 9918 features so they do not need to pay royalties for backward compatibility) as 9990, a chip that Sunrise got interested and made the extension cartridge. My V9990 Powergraph from Technobytes also use the 9990 from Yamaha, and yes, it has ASCII written in Japanese to the right of a Copyright 1991... And I think that Nishi told about that, they were kind enough to let Yamaha sell it. Once the chips are gone, there is no other source currently (no ASIC/FPGA implementation has been done up to now).

Yeah, anyone can do, who wants to devote time and money to make it? Even more so without detailed documentation about it and not knowing a lot of internals... I hear a lot of people talking that SM-X / SX-2 could have feature X, Y or Z because FPGA is double the size of what is on OCM / Zemmix. How much would cost to hire a FPGA engineer for 12 months to add the feature to "MSX3"? 60.000 USD? Let's say expected run is 2000 units, that is 30 USD per unit for the feature... oO

By Pokun

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08-02-2022, 22:46

I see, that explains the ASCII logo on the chip. If Nishi said that I missed it.

If an FPGA implementation would happen I suppose it would be a fan-made thing like the MiSTER FPGA project. Possibly partly backed by donations.

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