Ray-Tracing SNES
Nintendo’s Super FX is a coprocessor on the Graphics Support Unit (GSU) added to select SNES video game cartridges for advanced 2D and 3D graphics. It was designed by Argonaut Games, who also co-developed the 3D space rail shooter Star Fox with Nintendo to demonstrate its highly improved polygon rendering capabilities. Developer Ben Carter’s SuperRT chip works in a similar manner by adding ray-tracing as well as advanced 3D graphics. Read more for a short teaser video and additional information.

This special cartrdige, built on an FPGA (field programmable gate array) that feeds directly into an unmodified SNES console. The external chip was designed specifically for ray-tracing and a few various extra functions to keep any external power boosts to a minimum. It may not look like the games of today, but for a console of its time, the 200×160 resolution graphics with ray-tracing lighting and reflections running at 20fps is a marvel to say the least.

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What I wanted to try and do was something akin to the Super FX chip used in titles such as Star Fox…where the SNES runs the game logic and hands off a scene description to a chip in the cartridge to generate the visuals,” said creator Shironeko Labs.

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