Ray tracing technology, which can be used on PCs for several years, has finally arrived on the console. The PS5 has it, the Xbox Series S and X have it, and SNES got it 30 years after its release. It’s no joke — the 1990 Nintendo Console has ray tracing running on it, Thanks to the incredible mod Programmer Ben Carter (via Gizmodo). And that’s done by a chip he calls SuperRT.
Ray tracing is typically used to make a game look more realistic by simulating how light bounces off a surface, bleeds color from bright objects, and reflects off a glossy surface. As you can see from the video demo above, SNES technology hasn’t pushed the boundaries of graphics, but it’s coming — it’s SNES.
Well, technically, it’s a NES. This is the same hardware in different packages in Japan. But the real magic is that it’s completely a stock console (except for the fact that the top has been removed to make room for a lot of wires): all the processing is programmed Game cartridges made by Chip Carter added.
Adding another processor to the game cartridge to add processing power to the SNES is nothing new. Nintendo did With both Star fox And Yoshi’s Island. (Of course, we were adding 3D features and special effects instead of ray tracing.) Carter couldn’t use the old Super FX chip that Nintendo was doing to achieve real-time ray tracing. ..
Instead, he had to use the latest field programmable gate array chips (FPGAs). This allowed us to get information about the scene being rendered by the SNES and handle ray tracing.If you want to find out more about how that is done, Carter I have a blog post Explain how he did it. He also embeds a video below that explains his methodology.
This mod is very cool because you can see another reality as well as from an engineering and hacking point of view. Ray tracing wasn’t magically created in the 1990s, and it’s a remastered low-poly 3D game from the 90s, but retains its art style. Growing up around that time, I love watching 2D and 3D games do modern-looking remakes, but I also want to see art style come back with modern tricks like ray tracing and antialiasing. And if you had to imagine what it would look like, it would be a lot like Carter’s demo.