PCSX2

By Blue2k on Wednesday 02 January 2013 01:28 - Comments (6)
Category: -, Views: 3.503

Having never owned an original Playstation (PSX) and being absolutely fascinated with the Gran Turismo series exposed me to Bleem! initially and PCSX eventually. Both are Sony PlayStation emulators, allowing you to play games intended for the PlayStation on a regular PC. I've played Gran Turismo (GT) 1 and especially GT 2 for countless of hours on emulators.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/PSX-Console-wController.jpg/640px-PSX-Console-wController.jpg

In the early days of PSX emulation the goal was to achieve compatibility with as many games as possible, and maintain stable frame-rates. As emulators and PC hardware improved there was an opportunity to improve the visuals and leverage hardware accelerated rendering. The end result is a fully playable PSX game that handles and looks better than when it was running on the PSX hardware.

http://img331.imageshack.us/img331/2486/25nj.jpg

Even though the PSX's CPU architecture (RISC) uses a different set of instructions than that of a regular PC, the 33Mhz CPU was 'slow' enough to be emulated reasonably well. PCSX recompiles the RISC instructions on the fly to CISC based ones and emulates other calls to components in the PSX hardware. The result is that a PC will have to work harder than the original hardware, but can eventually produce the same results (a playable game).

At the time of the introduction of the Playstation 2 (PS2) the emulator scene (mainly the users) became very excited at the prospect of emulating the new version of the PlayStation. The developers quickly realized that is was going to be a monumental effort to accomplish as the PS2 has several chips working in very close collaboration. Even though the clockspeed of the main CPU (Emotion Engine) was only 300Mhz, the GPU and supporting co-processors made for a very complex system. All components are required to be very tightly synchronized and two-way communication between components happens often enough to cause problems.

Work started anyway on PCSX2, and while progress was very slow, a few simple games were 'loading' within a couple of years. It eventually took 5 years of development (and PC hardware improvements) to get some games into a playable state. To stress the complexity of the PS2's internals: multithread-support was introduced more than 10 years after the start of the project because of its inherent complexity.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/PS2-Versions.png/542px-PS2-Versions.png

Anyway, so how did this train of thought start? On a rainy day last week (there are plenty of them here in Seattle) I decided to install the PCSX2 again. I had tried it 5 or 6 years ago and forgot about it. Last time I had tried it, games didn't run at full speed and the games I was interested in (Gran Turismo) weren't even close to working. Without much hope I gave it a try on my laptop and launched GT4. After enjoying the brilliant intro to the game (at 60fps) and working my way through smooth menu transitions I was able to race around Laguna Seca at a steady 60fps!

Imagine my surprise when I noticed in the log that NVidia Optimus had selected the wrong GPU! It was running on the integrated Intel 4000 chipset. Forcing it to use the dedicated 660m GPU it was capable of maintaining 60 fps in races with 5 other cars. The only place where it dropped to the high 40 and low 50 fps was on the Stage 5 night track. Apparently PCSX2 still has some issues with high numbers of light sources. Nevertheless, having PCSX2 render at 3 times the native PS2 resolution and enabling FSAA yields a picture quality that could fool people into thinking it was a PS3 game... Maybe.

http://i4.minus.com/iUms9coH7kMuW.jpg

Have a look at the developer blogs and prepare to be amazed about what makes PCSX2 such an incredible achievement. Besides it being a great emulator, it also shows what open-source projects can achieve.

Volgende: Switchblade UI 01-'13 Switchblade UI
Volgende: Nvidia Optimus 12-'12 Nvidia Optimus

Comments


By Tweakers user RoadRunner84, Wednesday 02 January 2013 08:29

The PSX (also known as the PlayStation Project) is version of the PS2 extended with multimedia capabilities, including DVR. The original PlayStation was just called PS.

[Comment edited on Wednesday 02 January 2013 08:31]


By Tweakers user PixelShooter, Wednesday 02 January 2013 11:41

I've tried to run GTA: SA with PCSX2, but that is laggy as hell, or is it just my notebook? There are a lot of options and I may not have selected the best configuration, but I also know I'm not the only one having problems to run this particular game properly. Got any advice? :)

By Tweakers user Blue2k, Wednesday 02 January 2013 19:16

RoadRunner84 wrote on Wednesday 02 January 2013 @ 08:29:
The PSX (also known as the PlayStation Project) is version of the PS2 extended with multimedia capabilities, including DVR. The original PlayStation was just called PS.
Not according to the Wikipedia page and my teen years recollection. It is an unofficial term however, so I'm sure there are different uses for the term PSX. 'PCSX' is a play on 'PSX' with PC in it. PCSX is the PlayStation emulator. ePSXe was another famous one.

[Comment edited on Wednesday 02 January 2013 19:18]


By Tweakers user Themperror, Friday 04 January 2013 18:20

PixelShooter wrote on Wednesday 02 January 2013 @ 11:41:
I've tried to run GTA: SA with PCSX2, but that is laggy as hell, or is it just my notebook? There are a lot of options and I may not have selected the best configuration, but I also know I'm not the only one having problems to run this particular game properly. Got any advice? :)
run GTA SA on PC? (as in.. The PC version)

By Tweakers user Blue2k, Friday 04 January 2013 18:26

PixelShooter wrote on Wednesday 02 January 2013 @ 11:41:
I've tried to run GTA: SA with PCSX2, but that is laggy as hell, or is it just my notebook? There are a lot of options and I may not have selected the best configuration, but I also know I'm not the only one having problems to run this particular game properly. Got any advice? :)
I'm not sure what the specs of your notebook are, but what helped a lot for me was enabling DirectX11 hardware rendering. You'll need a videocard that supports it though. The integrated Intel 4000 GPU actually does DX11. A decent dual or quad core CPU helps too, I can see my laptop CPU hitting 3 GHz on GT4.

To be fair, I definitely use the dedicated 660m GTX for most PCSX2 games. Games like Rez or Amplitude do fine on the integrated GPU, but anything heavy on the 3D side will require a dedicated graphics card.

[Comment edited on Friday 04 January 2013 18:27]


By Tweakers user thefal, Sunday 06 January 2013 23:34

Blue2k wrote on Wednesday 02 January 2013 @ 19:16:
[...]


Not according to the Wikipedia page and my teen years recollection. It is an unofficial term however, so I'm sure there are different uses for the term PSX. 'PCSX' is a play on 'PSX' with PC in it. PCSX is the PlayStation emulator. ePSXe was another famous one.
In the Wikipedia page it loinks directly to the PSX that Roadrunner84 is talking about:
officially abbreviated as PS; sometimes referred to as PS1, or unofficially as the PSX
PSX (also known as PlayStation X) was a Sony digital video recorder with fully integrated PlayStation and PlayStation 2 video game consoles.

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