Custom SuperRT chip brings ray tracing to Super Nintendo

Move over, PlayStation 5: A software wiz uses a custom expansion pack to add real-time raytraced reflections to the Super Nintendo.

Published Wed, Dec 16 2020 12:47 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Jan 12 2021 7:03 PM CST

Star Fox brought enhanced 3D polygons to the SNES with its FX chip. Now a skilled engineer brings real-time ray tracing to the classic console, complete with reflections and impressive effects.

Ray tracing is all the rage right now on RTX cards and next-gen consoles, but did you know the Super Nintendo could handle it too? Software engineer Ben Carter created SuperRT, a custom expansion chip that uses a "DE10-Nano FPGA development board with a Cyclone V FPGA" to add hardware-accelerated raytracing to the Super Nintendo.

Carter recently showed off his creation with an impressive demo with effects like real-time ray-traced shadows and reflections, inverted reflections, and a whole manner of unique animations that mirror other scenes and objects. The result is high-tech sorcery on the age-old system. The SuperRT was built as something that could actually run on the SNES, and the chip only handles ray tracing due to the "image data conversion."

The SuperRT outputs at 200x160 resolution at up to 30FPS and adds a completely new dimension to gameplay. I can't imagine what my childhood would've been like if something like this was on the SNES back in the day.

Check out more about SuperRT here.

Custom SuperRT chip brings ray tracing to Super Nintendo 35 |
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Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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