Home Technology Who needs a next-gen console when the SNES gets a ray tracing mod?

Who needs a next-gen console when the SNES gets a ray tracing mod?

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If there are two words that have captured this next generation of gaming, it’s ray tracing. Yes, there are things like SSD load times and 4K graphics that are stand-out features for many, but while fast load times and sharper visual are important, nothing makes games feel more next-gen than ray tracing technology that brings realistic lighting effects to games and makes them feel far more superior than anything that came out in the previous generation.

Well, sorry to the bearer of bad news after you’ve just sold some of your organs to be able to afford one of those shiny new consoles and the inevitable new TV for it, but it turns out your hardware has probably been capable of achieving those features all along. A remarkable new mod from programmer Ben Carter has revealed how he was able to get ray tracing to work on an old Nintendo SNES.

Yes, that’s right, a video game console that is 30 years old has now received one of the most exciting features currently on a PS5 or Xbox Series console:

Now admittedly, it’s not a true SNES as Carter has added a separate chip and cartridge to his custom console, but still, the effects are remarkable considering the age of the technology involved. Making use of a modern field-programmable gate array chip (FPGA), Carter was able to take information about the scene being rendered by the SNES and process the ray-tracing for it, as he explains in the below blog post:

So, if you aren’t quite ready to jump into the new generation of gaming, you can take comfort and hope that it is still possible to take some of your older consoles and make them look a little more next-gen instead. It might not be capable of running Cyberpunk 2077, but it will probably crash a whole lot less often at least.

Last Updated: December 17, 2020

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