Dolphin is an emulator for two recent Nintendo video game
consoles: the GameCube and the Wii. It allows PC
gamers to enjoy games for these two consoles in full HD
(1080p) with several enhancements: compatibility with all PC
controllers, turbo speed, networked multiplayer, and even more!
After a long wait, the Progress Report is back! This time it wasn't so much from a lack of content, but from a lack of content creators. The past three months had illnesses hit one of our writers and the other had a very challenging move. Even with these major hurdles jumped, we're not even close to 100% yet. It's been a battle to get caught up with all of the big changes to Dolphin the past couple of months and because of that this report is a tad late.
Needless to say, there's only one way to start catching up, and that's to get to digging through the past three months of Notable Changes. Enjoy!
This year, we've hit an important milestone that's been in the works for nearly a decade. In late 2012, Sonicadvance1 began work on Dolphin's ARM JIT. Back then, there weren't any devices that had even a sliver of hope of running Dolphin close to full speed, but that wasn't really the goal. All he wanted to do was see if it could be done; it sounded like a fun, challenging project. However, as time passed the idea turned into more than just a passing curiosity. Users were more than happy to donate to cover the hardware cost of staying on the bleeding edge of a rapidly evolving ecosystem, allowing ARM development to flourish. By 2015, Sonicadvance1 astounded developers and the community alike with footage of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!'s time trial mode running close to full speed.
On that note, we're happy to announce that Dolphin's AArch64 JIT has finally reached feature parity with Dolphin's x86-64 JIT. This means that every PowerPC instruction that the x86-64 JIT supports along with every major JIT feature are now supported in the AArch64 JIT! And this is a great time for ARM in general, with each generation of processor pushing the boundaries and companies like Apple adopting the architecture for larger and higher power devices like their M1 Mac line. For those on mobile phones and tablets, Adreno powered devices provide decent enough graphics drivers to get a reasonable experience at this point. And with a critical bottleneck getting fixed just days ago, performance on Adreno GPUs has skyrocketed. You won't have to scroll far for that news, we promise.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg; we've had three months worth of changes pile up and some other important infrastructure news. We've improved the user experience on macOS significantly and restored support for older devices. In fact, enough has happened that we'll be detailing the status of Dolphin's macOS support near the end of the report.
And... we haven't even talked about any emulation fixes yet. The past three months have had tons of changes that would have normally been the highlight of a Progress Report. The three month gap between reports was not because of a lack of changes. Want to take Riivolution games on netplay? You can. Hate the EA VP6 bugs? Make them a thing of the past with a new option. Wish your favorite LogicOp game worked on GLES or MoltenVK? Odds are, it does now! The list goes on, but outlining everything would take way too long, so let's just dive in. Please enjoy the November, December, and January Progress Report!
It's the beginning of the month and time for another Dolphin Progress Report! ...That line doesn't exactly work when it's midway through the month, huh? This Progress Report ended up being a very technically challenging report to write with several huge rabbit holes that go through the history of Dolphin and the games themselves. The first rabbit hole showcases TMEM, the GameCube and Wii's texture cache. Dolphin's approach to emulating this bit of the hardware has been to effectively ignore it exists. Trying to even begin to rectify the problems with this approach and explain the reasoning behind why it sort of wasn't emulated go very, very deep. This Progress Report also contains collaboration with the PCSX2 development team as they helped us understand some of the behaviors of Floating Point Math on the PlayStation 2. The fact that the PlayStation 2's floating point behaviors mattered to us for this Progress Report should tell you the kinds of things we were up against when writing up the changes.
If that wasn't enough, Dolphin also welcomed support for a wealth of mods through support for Riivolution. An easy to use GUI for launching Riivolution mods was added both to desktop Dolphin builds and Android. Speaking of Android, users may have noticed we pushed out an early beta last month. This beta was mostly to showcase and let users on the Play Store try out the newly finished Cheat GUI! We'll finally showcase that after a lengthy delay between when that extra beta was pushed and this Progress Report. While it's not related to Dolphin directly, Apple released the new M1 Max and we got our hands on one to see how it stacks up against the M1 with some rather interesting performance numbers at the end of the report.
With that out of the way, there's no point in delaying things any further. Please enjoy these rather lengthy Notable Changes!