Arquivos 2014

Dolphin Progress Report: November 2014

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When working on an emulator, a feature never really feels finished. Last month, crudelios triumphed with his new software bounding box implementation. It was easily the most accurate implementation of the feature to date. A few months before that, magumagu created more accurate disc timings to make games load more accurately. RachelBryk has been steadily adding features for TASing for years. Perhaps a longer term, more general project is Sonicadvance1's continued work on Dolphin's ARM port which is always receiving updates.

All of those features have seen further refinements and work this month that enhances their usability! Sometimes these changes are from one author continuing their work, but a lot of the time other contributors will join in with their own ideas, fixes, and add-ons. Just because a feature exists in the emulator doesn't mean it can't be improved further!

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The Rise of HLE Audio

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Like any artistic medium, games are emotional experiences filled with joy, sadness, frustration, and more. Special moments can bring tears, cause shouting, or even screams. But imagine during one of those emotional highs if the audio simply died, and the game continued onward in a deafening silence before eventually freezing. That kind of marred experience was commonplace under Dolphin's old way of handling HLE audio.

The users of today don't have to face those problems; modern High Level Emulation (HLE) audio is both fast and accurate, mostly matching the conventions and output of its high-accuracy counterpart, Low Level Emulation (LLE) audio. This change in behavior is thanks to the work by delroth and magumagu that corrected the main fundamental flaw that afflicted old HLE audio. Fixing this defect and cleaning up the audio brought a multitude of features and fixes to the emulator that helped bring us into this modern era of speedy accuracy.



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Dolphin Progress Report: October 2014

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A single merger can represent days, months, or even years of work. Most of the commits are relatively small, but once in a while you get absolutely huge changes like Tev_Fixes_New or the GLSL rewrite that span across years between initial concept and merged code. There's a special sense of accomplishment when one of the long awaited changes finally show up in the emulator. The number of commits and the amount of code changed; neither of those indicators often tell of the trials faced by the contributor over the course of their journey.

And don't think that just because the code is merged that things are finished. Part of the purpose of having progress report is to put a spotlight on some of the latest and greatest changes. The users are the last line of defense against potential bugs, problems, and unintended consequences that often come with new features.


All of the latest features mentioned this month can be found in the latest development builds available here.


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Dolphin Progress Report: September 2014

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Optimizations seem to beget even more optimizations. It was big news when last month we got a nifty 26% boost in CPU performance, but somehow, two dedicated devs managed to top it this month. Not to be upstaged by Fiora , comex has dropped new features and two absolutely gigantic performance commits. By making tricky use of registers and native RET behavior, two of his merges alone result in a massive 16% performance boost to games.

Not to be outdone, Fiora has continued her rash of optimizations as well. If we were to include every single one this progress report may never end. So instead, she crunched some numbers with all the optimizations over the last two months put together.

Let's just admire that list for a moment. The Last Story is considered the most demanding game on Dolphin, requiring massive overclocks on even the strongest of machines. A 38% speedup is the difference between it being playable and choppy for users with powerful computers.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader has a lot of problems, but MMU performance will be the least of them from now on. Fiora's optimization of how the JIT handles MMU games brings us huge speedups to every MMU title!

Of course, speed isn't everything for an emulator: Performance is pointless if the emulator does the rest of its job in a lackluster matter. Have no fear, we have new features and some critical bug fixes to go along with Dolphin's newfound speed!

All of the latest features mentioned this month can be found in the latest development builds available here.

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Dolphin Progress Report: August 2014

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This month, the story can't be anything else but CPU optimizations and fixes, after Fiora decided that if the code is in the JIT, she will make it faster. Nothing is safe from her. Since the end of July, Dolphin's JIT CPU core has seen a 26% performance boost in the Dolphin Benchmark. That is not a typo.

On the accuracy front, we've got some nifty changes that fix bugs going back to the beginning of time for Dolphin. Some ancient audio bugs bite the dust, some floating-point accuracy are ported into the JIT from the SoftwareFP branch, and we found out that some games are doing things they really shouldn't be doing. If you see a change that affects a game you're playing, remember that all of these changes can be found in the latest development builds!

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Hardware Review: Mayflash DolphinBar

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When we first heard about the Mayflash DolphinBar, we were immediately intrigued. Hardware that complements emulators has always existed in some form, like the various controller adapters we commonly use, but never has one benefited an emulator quite this directly. A USB sensor bar, with integrated Bluetooth? A fascinating opportunity! The devs immediately purchased one and sent it to a tester for analysis.

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Dolphin Progress Report: July 2014

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In programming users usually don't see or care about what's going on on the inside all that much. All those boring code optimizations may make things easier for the developers and slowly improve the emulator, but hard-to-quantify changes are not exactly exciting. This month was full of those, with several hundred changes yet very little the general user would find interesting. Nevertheless, in the sea of code improvement, there are some real treasures: big performance improvements, some ancient bugs squashed, regression fixes, and some exciting new features to boot.


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Dolphin Progress Report: June 2014

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When an open source project is really working, things can move frighteningly fast. One developer can focus on a feature while others are reviewing the code and preparing it for merge, allowing things to move forward in a very streamlined fashion. This not only gets things done faster, but each coder can specialize in what they do best, producing the best possible product for the user base.

When things come together just right, months like this can happen. The June Progress Report is a massive monument to months of hard work put together by not one, but all of the people contributing to the project.


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Dolphin Progress Report: May 2014

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The single greatest mission of an emulator is the preservation of a console and its games. The Dolphin team has made a commitment to that, especially over the past two years. After nearly a decade of guesswork, hacks, and "good enough" emulation, the developers took a stand to strive for something greater. This change in goals has forced difficult decisions had to be made again and again.

This past month has been one filled with the benefits of working with an accuracy oriented mindset. Not only were there tons of fixes for popular games, but with those fixes also came increases to performance for those who wish to enjoy the Dolphin experience. This is why we keep trudging toward true accurate emulation, even when it means leaving some things behind.


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Obituary for 32-bit

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Ten years ago Dolphin was a very limited program designed to run in only one environment. It was a 32-bit Windows application that required Direct3D 9 with no alternatives. A lot of things have changed since then as Dolphin has expanded its goals. The emulator has become much more robust over time with support added for 64-bit Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, and even Android phones and tablets!

Sometimes though, changes must be made. Some choices require months of preparation, discussion, examination, while others are ...

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