A look at the last sliver of hope for Nintendo 64, high-res PS1 and emulator shaders on the PSVita – The GXM Driver (GPU Acceleration) Bounty that’s gaining traction with over $500 raised and frangar is working on
Without a doubt, releases in the PSVita homebrew & hacking scene have slowed down drastically in the last few months especially after the release of TheFlow’s Trinity Exploit. However, there’s still a final sliver of hope for Nintendo 64 emulation which has been requested since native PSVita hacks became a thing with HENkaku!
A look at the GXM Driver bounty
2 weeks ago, on June 24th, kwyxz opened a feature request issue on RetroArch’s GitHub labelled “GXM driver for hardware acceleration on PS Vita” along with a bounty on BountySource. Fast forwarding to today, the bounty has risen up to $505, frangar has taken it on and some changes have been made to it.
In layman’s terms, a GXM driver would allow GPU acceleration on RetroArch cores (emulators) running on hacked PlayStation Vita and PSTV devices. Through GPU acceleration, cores such as PCSX-ReARMed/Mupen64 can provide better 3D performance and cores for systems with predominantly 2D games can get enhancements such as shaders (Anti-Aliasing & more) and other post-processing effects.
Originally, the bounty/issue was more geared towards GPU acceleration in PS1/Nintendo 64 emulators with the aim of improving 3D performance in them. However, when frangar took it on, the bounty was split in two phases namely:
- GXM Drivers for RetroArch which would allow for a smoother UI, shader support and HW context available for cores
- Both a native GXM and VitaGL driver may be included for this phase
- Work on implementing 3D support in cores like PCSX-ReARMed, Mupen64 and perhaps melonDS in the future
- Frangar notes that phase 1 must be done before work on phase 2 can start.
- Mupen64 (Nintendo 64 emulator) currently doesn’t have an ARMv7 dynarec so performance will still not be great. UPDATE: Mupen64Plus has an ARMv7 dynarec so there might be some hope there! Mupen64 (non plus) is not a RetroArch core.
As things stand right now, current bounty money has been devoted to the first phase but it is unclear whether the bounty will be considered finished when phase 1 is over and a new bounty is created for phase 2 OR if the bounty will be considered finished and paid out when both phases are done.
What will a GXM driver achieve in regards to emulation on the PSVita?
From what’s been discussed above, it seems that a GXM driver will achieve the following if/when both phases of the bounty are done:
- A smoother RetroArch user interface which will reduce lag when navigating through UI elements such as large screenshot playlists (Phase 1)
- Improvements to 2D emulation on emulators for consoles like the SNES/GBA with the ability to use shaders like Advanced AA, FX AA, CRT filters, DDT, resolution scaling filters and more (Phase 1)
- Better PS1 emulation in RetroArch which could allow resolution scaling to 2x or perhaps even higher in some games (Phase 2)
- It is important to note that Adrenaline (ePSP hack) can already do very good PS1 emulation with screen filters thanks to the PSP hardware found in the PSVita
- Improved SNES (including SuperFX) and Sega 32X emulation through GPU acceleration (probably Phase 2)
- Potential Nintendo 64 emulation although Mupen64 doesn’t have an ARMv7 dyanrec (although there’s an ARMv8 dynarec for the Nintendo Switch; UPDATE: Mupen64Plus has an ARMv7 dynarec; Mupen64 (non plus) is not a RetroArch core) (Phase 2)
- Maybe, the ability to play some less-demanding Nintendo DS games at 20-30FPS via melonDS (Phase 2)
- Perhaps better performance in Sega Saturn emulation and a proof-of-concept Dreamcast emulation core (Reicast) but don’t expect much from these two
What’s discussed above is undoubtedly very appealing to the majority of Vita users as many people, myself included, who own a hacked console regularly emulate retro titles on it thanks to its physical buttons and pretty nice screen among other things. If you wish to contribute to the bounty, check out the link below and make sure you read BountySource’s FAQ before doing so.
BountySource’s FAQ (you should read it before contributing): https://github.com/bountysource/core/wiki/Frequently-Asked-Questions
Disclaimer: Neither I or Wololo.net are affiliated with the bounty or BountySource. As a result, we bear no responsibility as to what happens to the bounty’s money. This article is simply here to bring attention to an exciting prospect.
Updates about Mupen64Plus and its dynarec thanks to m4xw.