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Alex Pasadyn & TMS34010 - September 12,1998 by JoseQ
Just before EmuViews went down for the last time, we showed you somepics of the TMS34010 games (Smash TV, Narc, etc). These awesome gameshave come a long way to be emulated thanks to the heavenly talents of Mr. Alex Pasadyn,MAME developer extraordinaire. Devoted to make these games work, Alex hasworked very hard and spent a lot of time into these games. However he foundsome time to talk to EmuViews about his experiences as an Emulator Authorand what to expect from MAME and these games, and some extras!

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got intoprogramming emulators? Where and when did you start?

Well, I'm a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. I'vebeen interested in emulation for quite a while. I grew up playing thenow classic arcade games of the early 80's. I was always annoyed at theway the home versions were always missing levels or had other problemslike that. I was probably one of the first people to buy that WilliamsArcade Classics when it came out. In the early days of arcadeemulation, I was really interested in Dave Spicer's arcade emulator(Sparcade). I started playing around with the MAME source when I foundit, and realized that this was something I could do. I didn't releaseanything until about half a year ago, when I had a couple pretty solidMAME drivers that I really thought people would enjoy. Since then, I'vedone some more with adding games, and recently, I've gotten intoprogramming CPU cores.

2. Will you tell us what different programming skills youhad developed prior to programming emulation? Was it easywhen you started?

Well, I program all the time for school and work. I am a graduatestudent in chemical engineering, studying modeling and control systems.So, I pretty much do all my work at the computer, and it involvesprogramming a lot of simulations and calculations. Most of that iswritten in C or in specialized modeling languages. I've also known x86assembly language for years. As far as getting into emulation, it's notthat hard to do if you put in the time. If you have good documentationon the hardware you're trying to simulate, then it's just a matter ofsetting it up.

3. What projects are you involved in right now?

Right now, my main emulation project is getting the Williams gamesrunning on the TMS34010 chip to run. This has been pretty tricky, butalso really fun. Narc is actually running pretty well, and SmashTV isclose, but still has some problems. I've also been spending some timeon Sega Turbo (1981). This is one of those older games that is justreally complex. I also recently joined the Retrocade team. I'm workingwith Neil Bradley on some assembly stuff that should turn out to bereally cool.

4. TMS34010 is the main chip that controls Smash TV, MK andthe other very wanted games. How is the development comingalong? I understand Zsolt Vasvari is also involved helping?

Yes, I really owe a lot of credit for this to Zsolt. He's helped a loton the implementation of the TMS34010 CPU core. Basically, a few weeksago, I had looked up a lot of information on these games and the CPUthey use. I sent a message to the MAME mailing list to see if anyonewas interested in working on it with me, and it turns out that he hadalready written a dis-assembler for it, but had not tried to actuallywrite a simulator for the processor. So, we basically divided up thework, and now it runs pretty well! The actual implementation is fairlycomplete now, but there are still a few lingering bugs which causeproblems for the games.

5. Why do you think has it been this long for those games tobecome emulated?

Well, they are pretty complex. It takes a pretty big time investment tosit down and simulate a system like this, especially when you have towrite the CPU simulator first! I mean, even at this point, when thegames act up, it's hard to tell if it's a bug in the CPU emulation orin, say, the video hardware emulation.

6. You also mentioned the sound hardware on those systems isbased on chips already emulated. How soon do you think thesound will come into play after the games are fully playable?

Honestly, I could put in preliminary sound support now. The problem isthe speed. My thinking is still "Make it work right. Then make it workfast." In it's current state, the emulation of these games is stillreally slow, even on a pretty fast computer. Sound would be difficultto test because when the game runs too slow, the sounds get reallydistorted, and you can't tell if you have bugs or if it's just runningtoo slow to work right. So, this will probably be one of the lastthings that gets added.

7. How playable are those games anyway? What speeds can beexpected to be achieved on Mortal Kombat for instance, onceit is added into MAME? How optimized will it be?

It's hard to say right now, because there is still a lot of diagnosticcode in there, and I'm still trying to get it to run correctly.However, I can say that you will need a pretty fast computer. Just forreference, I run a PII/266, and I still don't get full speed. However,I've got some interesting trade-offs to try. For example, if you werewilling to play in greyscale mode, I could skip about half of thegraphics calculations, and get a pretty big jump in speed. (The mainbottleneck right now is a graphics chip on the CPU board which, in thereal machine, does an amazing job of moving lots of data around reallyfast.)

8. Can you mention all the games that will come out of thischips development once it gets done?

Sure. Basically, we should have Narc and Smash TV really soon. Othergames on similar hardware include Mortal Kombat, Hi-Impact Football, andTrog. Mortal Kombat 2, NBA Jam, and Terminator 2 are similar, but on anewer version of the hardware. At this point, though, none of theselast three make it past the attract mode.

9. What version of MAME should we expect to be NBA Jammingor playing preliminary versions of those games? (How bigare they BTW?)

They are pretty big, like a few megs apiece. As far as a release date,all I can say is "when it's done!" I am also considering thepossibility of doing a stand-alone emulator that runs only these games.

One Article Up: TMS34010 is Looking Good!
One Article Down: The Dead of Slapstic

Add Your Comments

Name: Tiffanie Crocker Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2004 - (13:57)
Subject: TMS34010FNL-50
From: 12.45.231.237
I have in stock 7500 pieces of TMS34010FNL-50, and I am trying to find people/companies who might have an interest in these. Can anyone help?

Thanks,

Tiffanie Crocker/Select Technology
Phone: 978-777-8672
email: tiffanie@select-technology.net

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