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Ok, my question is the most basic one of them all and yet it's something I never see anyone talking about (of course, I'm not here that often :emb: ). It's an important thing to know since it's the basis for emulation, itself:

How do you convert a piece of hardware like the PSX console into a software program like ePSXe?

I mean do you hardwire the console directly to the computer somehow? I have the same question about how hardware game paks like the Nintendo64 games are converted to software images. I tried doing a Google search on the subject to find out for myself but nothing turned up.

Jeremy
 

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There is no easy way to emulate a console, handheld, or any other piece of hardware. You can't just "hook it up" to your computer and run a program to convert it. You basically have to code the emulator from scratch, just like you would with any other software program.

In some very few cases, the hardware used by the console (cpu, gfx modules, io, etc) is well documented. Although this still doesn't make it easy to program, it does help. Unfortunately, a lot of hardware, including the ps2, uses custom chips and processors which have little, if any, documentation. This basically means that the programmers have to take an intuitive "guess and check" approach (similar to reverse engineering). They usually try to find a well-documented chip that is similar to the one they are trying to emulate, and then they slowly change their code until things work.

Games, on the other hand, are basically just data. If you have something that can read that data (CD/DVD drive), you can dump an image of that data. Cartridges can also be "dumped," but you need special hardware to do that. Data in cartidges is just stored in memory modules called roms (read only memory). All in all, dumping images and/or copying games is extremely easy to do compared to programming an emulator.
 

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Oh ok. That's interesting. But what about when you go to File > Run BIOS and the PSX startup screen pops up complete with sound effects? You mean that was all programmed separately? It looks spot-on compared to the original.
 

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That's the bios you're talking about. The bios is data that contains some low-level instructions for the hardware. Since it is data, like a game, it can be dumped. Some emulators, such as epsxe, use that actual bios dump in the emulation, which is why you see the psx startup screen exactly as you would with a real psx. Other emulators, such as pcsx and vgba have the option to use an emulated bios, which was coded by the emu authors. In such cases, an emulated bios can prove to be faster but not as compatible with games.
 

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Do you remember in math class when you would have, lets say, 4 and then it would go into a "number machine" and it would come out a 2? And then you would have to find out the equation? That's emulation, on a very very very X(huge number here) simple level.
 
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