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Last updated: 17 May 2003
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Stenil, the name of the CPU in the virtual games console which will be tarred with the name name, is essentially that - a virtual games console. While it doesn't exist, technical documentation and theories for it does, so the only thing missing is the actual proof.



After months of research into how microprocessors and GPUs work, I thought I should put some of that knowledge to good use. I'd previously written a couple of simple emulators, but it wasn't anything unique. I wanted to design something which other people might find a use for.

The Stenil Design was the result. I had two goals - to make a simple, portable system that could be implemented on many platforms, and to make something that is simple enough for programmers/amateur emulation writers to use.



How? What kind of question is that?? I assume you mean, "how do you think this will be of any use?". I, personally, hope that somebody will find it useful. If one person likes it then I'm sorted. For all I know it could become a new standard in handheld portable gaming. I'd love to see the Stenil design running on Palms, Java mobile phones, etc... would be nice for programmers who want to program for something rather simple, or for amateur emulation programmers.



The console comprises of a custom 8bit processor running at a massive 1MHz. The processor, named "Stenil", has a set of small but well chosen instructions that do their job in the minimum time, reducing the stress on the CPU. The CPU also has power saving modes, being able to run at half speed or quater speed, so not to stress the host platform when not necessary. The software can change the speed mode on the fly. Stenil is almost complete, with only a few more tweaks to be made before I move straight on to the VPU.

Accompanying the CPU is the aforementioned VPU, named "Rafts". The Rafts design isn't finalised, but the few things for certain is that it will have 510 colours, two (or more, depending on how design goes) background planes (for lovely scrolling backdrops) and a fixed sprite size of 8x8.

Finally, a sound unit will be designed, but there is as yet nothing to show for this unit. Possibilities being looked at are a reduced MIDI-type unit and a completely custom one.



Since there is no fully working software model of the console yet, and no games/demos written for it, I'm obviously unable to show what the little console can do. However, graphics akin to that of the 16bit era should be possible (who knows, somebody might even write a gourand 3D renderer for the system, now that would be interesting).


Tech Docs

Any techdocs I've released will be at Gotta love good ol' SourceForge.



Get onto me at You might want to make sure you put "Stenil" in the subject, or something very similar, such as "Tesnli". Yeah.

Copyright © Matt Barney, 2003