Performance improvements in Saturn emulation

Amazing how the Beetle Saturn core is performing now, depending on the game, it’s possible to set Run Preemptive Frames to 2, like Rayman. Reaction in the third frame is new to me on Saturn emulation. Almost all 3D games are running great, albeit mostly with lag reduction settings off, it’s a sign that further improvements are coming, many games that were struggling to run at full speed, now are.


Was there an update recently?

The core version shows 1.29.0, I can’t tell how recent it is, but I can say this version is much improved compared to previous versions from maybe 2 years ago or so. Also, it seems that performance has improved in some games, I mean compared to original hardware, NHL 98 performs much smoother than I thought it would, like 30 FPS all the way, it’s the Japanese release I tested, so I’m not sure if this has something to do with that, though. But many other sports and normal 3D titles I tested, too.

Apart from that, I can’t remember exactly how some games looked on real hardware in a CRT, so I wonder if the transparent shadows and mini map should be transparent, I was expecting mesh dithering, this is true for both Mednafen and Kronos without any smoothing core option or shaders.

1.29 is the version I have, so it’s been around for a while unless I just didn’t realize it updated. But yeah… I think it’s run pretty good for quite some time.

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Yeah i switched to Beetle Saturn too, after some benchmarking i saw that it’s running much better than yabasanshiro and less crashes too.

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Some games had transparent shadows and others dithering, it depends on your programming.

I have also seen that sonkun shaders are very good at handling Saturn dithering.

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Yes indeed. The Saturn hardware natively couldn’t handle dithering correctly, with my svideo presets I targeted Saturn as the main reason to add in the “sgenpt-mix multpass” shader to take care of checkerboard dithering.

Here’s a svideo preset shot with the sgenpt-mix multpass shader turned off:

Here’s with it turned on using checkerboard dithering:


Indeed, the reason I mentioned this game in particular is because I saw a few other screenshots at Google Images and some of them had dithering for both the shadows and the mini map. Surely with skilled development the Saturn could do much more than most believe possible, though, the machine never reached its full potential, late '97 was the beginning of the best from the 5th generation, the greatest PS1 games started coming out from late 97 onwards.

Beetle is my favorite Saturn emulator, even if it doesn’t have extras and optimizations, because Beetle (like Mednafen) support the original output, without modifications, so if you see it with transparency and smoothness, it is possible that this is how the original game is.

I haven’t seen dithering in NHL 98 or Sega Worldwide Soccer '98, which is the image you share, but maybe if there is some version of a region.

The reason for using dithering was that full transparency required 6 times more processing and for the composite it was not necessary. However, what is little known is that many Saturn games were technically superior to the PS1, in fact it was a very competent machine, but difficult to program.

In this 98 game you have better shadows and animations and the goal mesh in Saturn are impressive.

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In the fast and faster shaders, where is this option activated?

Yes, Saturn games look nice with their native resolution and a CRT shader. I think all three machines, the N64, PS1 and Saturn had their advantages and uniqueness to them, it’s probably the most interesting generation in this regard. There are many impressive PS1 titles but they started coming out just as the Saturn was being discontinued, Burning Rangers was rushed but even so it shows what was about to come in the next few years, if, like the N64 and PS, the Saturn was supported up until 2002 or so, we’d see many great games for it as well. About shadows and other transparencies, it’s interesting that many engineers at the time didn’t care about transparencies much, there are many powerful boards that didn’t support it through hardware, CPS1/2, NEO GEO, Model 1 and 2, to name a few, they all used mesh, while the SNES supported it.

It’s not in neither, I manually added that into the guest advanced shader myself. The sgenpt-mix multpass shader can be found in dithering folder.

I think they cared a lot more than they do now. This is about resources, full transparency requires more resources than dithering. Dithering on a CRT TV with composite output looks transparent, in fact, it creates a unique transparency effect.

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I got confused, I thought it was the same one. I downloaded it and tried it. Your shader is very good and advanced, but for me it is very heavy and I see it overloaded.

I thank you for the kind words. Man that sucks if it’s slowing up your set up, I was always under the impression that my presets are fairly lightweight and not so gpu demanding especially since I can run them all just fine on my old Shield TV. Except the scalefx ones, those presets are resource heavy.

They probably didn’t care for the reasons you mentioned, mostly because they would appear somewhat as transparencies on CRTs, but there are many limitations, flickering shadows and even health bars, which is the case for many SNK games. Street Fighter Alpha 2’s Ryu stage has flickering clouds and dithering patterns for the gradients, they don’t look that cool without the proper shader. They were used to it, though, even the SNES could do more about it, I think only the Playstation, N64 and Sega Model 3 boards supported alpha channels from design. This is not to say that dithering is bad just because they want to be transparencies, I’ve grown to enjoy many 2D and 3D games that have them and many other tricks used back then: I have to say I really like BR’s visuals, too, I find it funny how many Nintendo DS 3D remind me how the Saturn games look:

A Shield TV is a high end device, even if it’s old, but that’s fine by me, I say it’s for underpowered devices like rasberry’s, old computers. I always make comparisons with repo shaders, your shaders are 4 times slower than Meta-CRT, which is real time 3D rendering.

Probably? :neutral_face: Probably those at nintendo knew something that others did not.

Interestingly I tried that meta-crt shader out for the first time just now and that shader brought my Shield to its knees at 17 fps, my presets are at a constant 60 fps for the most part.There’s no way my presets are 4 times slower than that shader.

Then it may be my vulkan driver configuration, forget what I said, when I’m in front of the PC I’ll let you know how the performance is going.

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It’s not about ressources, saturn couldn’t render transparency at all and used meshed textures to render “pseudo-transparency” on crt. Note that the Kronos core is able to detect and transform those meshed textures into real transparency by using a core option.