Console Emulators: Our Newest Benchmark

by Derek Wilson on 3/3/2004 11:33 PM EST


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  • takuma683 - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    Responding the question of user Shinei:

    Yes, most Playstation games run at 30 effective fps, some at 15, 10 or even slower, and some do reach 60 (59.94 actually) fps. However, the "fps" displayed on ePSXe is "emulated" fps, that is, TV frames (vertical blanks) per second emulated. Games that run at 30 fps display a frame every two vertical interrupts.

    Also a note to all: you don't need an external program to display real fps using ePSXe with Pete's plugins, just turn on the fix "Enable PC fps calculation" and it'll show you the actual fps.
  • Possessed Freak - Monday, March 08, 2004 - link

    DerekWilson -
    'but this reference is a throwback to one of my favorite cartoon duos of all time ... '

    But where are we going to find a duck and a rubber hose at this hour?

    But rubber chafes me so.
    Did I make the right educated guess?
  • Shinei - Sunday, March 07, 2004 - link

    tsee: Aren't PSX games designed to run at 30fps, with the exception of a few later-generation games? Reply
  • tsee - Saturday, March 06, 2004 - link

    Even when I tried to limit FPS to 59.97 all the games run super fast. When I use the outdated VGS not as many games run but the ones that do run at normal speeds. Reply
  • BigFatCow - Saturday, March 06, 2004 - link

    we are adding PlayStaion emulation

  • BigFatCow - Saturday, March 06, 2004 - link

  • PeteBernert - Friday, March 05, 2004 - link

    I want to add a small comment (since my plugins seems to be mentioned in the article ;)) about the "developed on/for ATI cards" confusions: all of my psx gpu plugins (Win D3D/OGL1/OGL2; Linux Mesa/XGL2) were in fact developed on nVidia cards. Starting 1999 on my good ole TNT1 card, later on GF1/GF3/GF4 ones. Yes, spring 2003 I got a R9700Pro (since the first GFFX cards didn't look to promising - hot and noisy - by then), but all major coding (and optimization) work was already finished at this point.

    So indeed only the pixel shader effects in the OGL2/XGL2 plugins were done with ATI hardware (using no special ATI extensions, though, only the standard ARB ones which are available on nVidia's DX9 cards as well).

    Anyway, I am pretty sure that you also can find psx games which will run faster on nVidia cards (for example if many framebuffer reads are needed - even old nVidia cards are still two times faster with such reads than the newest ATI ones), so the spotlight on the two games mentioned in the article is just this: a spotlight. No need for grey hair ;)
  • ChronoReverse - Friday, March 05, 2004 - link

    Arguably, you could say that it's pretty boring for the majority of people out there that the A64 plays game X a few frames faster than a P4 (or vice versa).

    These are the people buying Dells and only caring whether or not the system can play the game.

    In any case, I liked this article since I have a passing interest in emulation and emulation is a good way to test both the graphics and cpu subsystems.
  • DerekWilson - Friday, March 05, 2004 - link


    haha ... yeah, I could see how that would be funny ;-)

    exciting from a technological perspective ... really freaking boring from any other perspective :-)

  • Cybercat - Friday, March 05, 2004 - link

    "Of course, getting 4 frames per second of something kind of close to what we see on the Game Cube is still pretty exciting."

    LOL :p Yeah I bet.
  • TrogdorJW - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Pretty interesting read. I highly doubt that emulation of any of the lesser consoles would prove to be a good benchmark, except as a CPU benchmark. Maybe N64 would be okay, but SNES, Genesis, and anything earlier are all so "simple" compared to modern 3D consoles that performance is almost a non-issue. Anyway, good article, even if it is inherently biased towards ATI. Not much that can be done about that, though, unless some skilled programmers with Nvidia hardware want to try and release a better plugin.

    My one thought is that even with the disclaimer up front stating that Pete owns a 9700 and thus his plugins are written and tested on ATI first and foremost, there are probably going to be some clueless people out there saying, "OMG ATI pwned Nvidia again." Then again, there's not much that can be done to help the clueless. Maybe someone should start up a charity for them? :) Anyway, I was thinking a little disclaimer at the bottom or top of each page of the article might be nice, but it's probably much more effort than it's worth.
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    (#22) KGB:

    if you own a playstation (or have the legal rights to a playstation BIOS) you could rent a game from blockbuster, download the tools used in the article and play a game on your PC ... The problem with that is that my blockbuster doesn't rent out playstation games anymore :-(

    There is another option if you don't own a PS BIOS ... you can use an emulator with an HLE BIOS (at the cost of perfect BIOS support for your games). PCSX has a builtin HLE BIOS.

    (#21) Junkman:

    I hate to spoil it for everyone, so I hope someone else watched the same cartoons as I did in my formative years ... Adult Swim on the cartoon network has become my favorite stuff now, but this reference is a throwback to one of my favorite cartoon duos of all time ...
  • KGB - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    SO if i rent a game from blockbuster, pop it in my CD-ROM drive, the game works with my pc? Reply
  • Junkman - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Rubber pants and whipped cream????? Interesting article. Thanks Derek Reply
  • SDA - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Depends on what you define as fair, #19. It's a real-world benchmark, so above all else it's useful for determining how video cards perform in that specific application. Whether or not performance in it can be applied to other applications, ePSXe with Pete's OGL plugin is just one of (if not THE) best method of PSX emulation out there, so why not use it for a benchmark? Reply
  • boboy - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    It's no insider secret that Pete Bernett uses ATI cards. He programs his plugins with very few outside testers, and he has a SERIOUS lacking of of nvidia testers. So much, he didn't even know his initial version of his OGL2 plugin didn't support Geforce 4 Ti cards on winXP until he signed on NGEmu a day later. He doesn't do anything like that on purpose, which is obvious since his OGL2 plugin is getting better and better with nvidia cards with every release. It's just that the usefullness of this test is next to nil because the plugin runs far better on ATi cards than NVidia cards.

    Although it should also be noted that OpenGL2 was made for compatibility, not visual quality. A lesser card can make a game look much prettier in full speed on his other plugins, although you'll often come across graphical glitches, and you'll need to be turning on special game fixes (hacks/workaronds) and the such for quite a few of the games. Hell, even my old TNT2 can run alot of psx games with good quality at 60fps.

    All in all, this was a very interesting read, as I follow the emulation scene myself. But in the end, I don't think these kind of benchmarks can give anywhere near as fair results than other benchmarks, programs that were designed to use the full extent of both card brands equally.
  • elty - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    ePSXe and Pete's plugin used to work with GeForce better. Pete has some updates, but ePSXe remains about unchanged. So do you have any insider info that it is written based on ATi card only before you flame? Mayber later we don't need any conclusion at all becasue all you will come up with is "Card A perform poorly on Game X becasue Developer M did it on purpose" or "It shows that CPU B pays money to all developers so it will run faster than CPU D" Reply
  • tfranzese - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Fair in my perspective, and interesting even though I don't delve into emulators much - I do find them entertaining from time to time. Reply
  • SDA - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    It's a good idea, but if FFIX is any indication it's just barely too late, as the hardware used (even the 5700 Ultra) seems to be able to handle the games being used without much trouble. I know this might sound stupid, but is it possible to force antialiasing in the driver options and have it carry over to the game? Or was something that did this just as well already enabled, or does this not do anything? I was just thinking, because if it works like it does in un-emulated games it would strain the video cards more.. probably some reason this can't be done, though. In that case, what is it?

    Also, while it's interesting from an academic standpoint when real-world benches such as this favor one manufacturer's products over another, it doesn't change the validity of the benchmarks. After all, in real-world benchmarks you actually want to see how everything performs in that specific benchmark. In other words, yeah, in my opinion it's perfecty fair. That's just me, though.
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    (#11) taleril:

    We think that's fair enough as well; now we have:

    "From our benchmarks, it is obvious that ATI Radeon cards are better suited for emulating the games that we tested under ePSXe and Pete's plugins with the settings we chose."

    It is definitely important to be specific about exactly what a part was better at doing than another part. It is not good practice to do otherwise.

    We feel that this is a fair comparison of ATI and NVIDIA products performance in the independant software development segment based on our statments on page 4 of the article. This is a different issue than that of corporate development since what we care about most is end user value. We are demonstrating the proper value of the hardware in the emulator space.

    I hope this clears things up a bit.
  • Snoop - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    I found the article very interesting, good work derek. Reply
  • bigpow - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    This article makes Tom's Hardware ones look smart & usefulLLLLL Reply
  • bigpow - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Another fine example of a plain stupid article.

    If one really wants to play those console games, he/she should buy the console system instead of messing around with a more expensive GPU & unstable emulators.

  • taleril - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    "From out benchmarks, it is obvious that ATI Radeon cards are better suited for emulating the games that we tested."

    should be:

    "From out(sp?) benchmarks, it is obvious that ATI Radeon cards are better suited for emulating the games that we tested on an emulator programmed with ATI cards in mind."

    To be fair, I think it should be reiterated in the conclusion that these emulators(or the plugins used) were written specifically on and for ATI hardware.

    It's a cool benchmark, but the more I think about it, the less useful it seems to be. At least from a graphics hardware comparison standpoint.

  • DerekWilson - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    There are no xbox, gamecube, or ps2 emus that are in full working order. We didn't want to include one of each since its more of just a show and tell kind of thing ...

    the gamecube emus is currently running one game at full speed (Busta-a-Move 3000 -- which I don't own and couldn't find in time for the review), and lots of games getting past intros to actual 3d that looks somewhat near how it should (while mostly running slowly at the moment). Of course, it may take quite a push to get further since (apparently) the ArtX/ATI graphics card in the system is insane.

    on the PS2 front, we could see some user demos and a title screen or two last time I checked. The PS2 has an advantage: its IOP (IO Processor) is essentially a PSX (that's why its backwards compatible). Of course, the vector processors and insane data paths on the PS2 will be a bit of a hump to get over for emulating games well ... I know the most about PS2 as I did a senior project involving writing a PS2 game.

    and, contrary to popular opinion, xbox won't be that much easier to emulate than other consoles. It has obvious advantages, but the big problem comes in trying to emulate the GPU itself, the relationship it has with the CPU, and the tweaked out programming interfaces and systems of the entire console. Programmers will run into similar issues that all console emulator teams have seen. Actually, if programmers want to make an interpretive version of their emulator, they'll loose much of the x86 to x86 advantage ... Unfortunately, I know the least about the XBox among the consoles (Anand is the XBox guy around here).

    But rest assured that if there is a major advance on any of the three fronts, we'll cover it as best we can.
  • Pumpkinierre - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    I would have thought that Xbox with its near desktop computer architecture would have been the easiest to emulate but you barely give it a mention. Any reasons why?
  • CZroe - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Who else has personally backed-up a copy of Wind Waker and executed it on both the emulator and the console?

    I have, and I believe I beat Derek Wilson and the Anand crew to it ;)
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    It is very important to note that even if there are many systems out there that can run ePSXe and emulate a game well, you will be loosing out on image quality if you can't pump the internal resolution, run DX9 pixel shaders, and still have room for texture and full screen filters...

    If we wanted to "just run" a playstation game with no regard to quality, we would be looking at running the playstation at somewhere around 800fps (interal framerate) on most of these cards for most situations. Turning on the features drops that significantly.

    Honestly, my PSX games can look better emulated than they did on my Playstation with the right settings, and only the high end cards and processors can handle the right settings as far as our testing has seen.

    And yes, we just popped the CD in and ran the game ... in case anyone is wondering, we used the P.E.Op.S. CDR driver and set it to threaded reading with maximum readahead to minimize disk access impact ... Of course, we also made sure that our benchmarks would run without needing to hit the CD rom drive.

    Since PSX emulators have built in ISO support, in the future we may pull the ISO and run it from our hard drives in order to eliminate the possibility of CD read latency altogether.

    By the way, I wish we had saved the full uncompressed screenshots as the scanline effect really doesn't seem to like being scaled and compressed. ;-) The games really did look great.
  • ChronoReverse - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Playstation emulation does not require the use of roms.

    My copy of Final Fantasy Tactics (Greatest Hits version) runs quite well on ePSXe.
  • Lycias - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    Ok so after reading this article I wondered where they were playing the game from. I have used SNES and NES emulators before and I downloaded rom files of games I leagaly owned from various websites. There does not seem to be web sites with playstation rom equivalant files out there. Do they just put the disk is the cd drive and then use the emulation software. Please enlighten me as I've been dying to play Final Fantasy VII again. Thanks Reply
  • Cygni - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    I didnt see this one commin! Cool idea guys. Ive never really seen this done to any extent on a hardware site before. Reply
  • gaidin123 - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    ePSXe is pretty much the standard if you are trying to play original Playstation games. Any modern system can run them pretty much full speed but I think this is just yet another piece of a neverending puzzle in comparing different graphics cards. Some people will find data like this important.

    I found ePSXe a while back and replayed Chrono Cross, one of the best RPGs out there imho. ePSXe runs pretty well on my laptop with the Intel 855 onboard graphics and it would be nice to know how the emulator runs on integrated graphics chipsets/laptops (mini-itx boards, onboard Via, Intel, Sis, Ati, nVidia chipsets) in addition to normal cards like the ones tested here.

  • Souka - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link


    Wonder how many flames this thread will get? :)

  • pxc - Thursday, March 04, 2004 - link

    April Fools day came almost a month early this year? Reply

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