The Super FX chip started out with the name M.A.R.I.O (Mathematical, Argonaut, Rotation, I/O) Chip 1 and was intended to make 3D games feasible on the SNES. The people who conceived the chips design were Ben Cheese, Rob Macaulay, and James Hakewill.The chip was designed by the company Argonaut games, and was distributed to the public at first in 1993 through the SNES cartridge boards of the games that use the chip. The games that use the chip feature additional contacts on the bottom of the board than the average SNES game, and at the time of release made the new contacts earlier models of SNES Game Genie not compatible with these games. Two versions of the Super FX chips were released and exist today. The first version is simply called Super FX chip 1 and is used in Starfox, Dirt Trax FX, Stunt Race FX, and Vortex. The second version, the simply named Super FX chip 2 is used in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Winter Gold, and Doom.
The Super FX chip is a 16-bit RISC processor that was intended to model and render polygons that the SNES hardware was incapable of doing so because it was designed as a sprite system. The processor acted as a graphics accelerator chip that models and renders polygons, sprites, and 2D effects to a frame buffer in the RAM that it uses to later be sent to SNES core architecture for display. The chip has a variety of effects at it's disposal including objects being able to rotated in 3D, scaling and stretching of sprites in 3D backgrounds, parallax layers in 2D, and can do a basic form of texture mapping for polygonal models when rendering. In the second version of the Super FX chip the access to the ROM and RAM were improved by a means of improved design and the fact that more pins were added to the cartridge board. The clock rate of the chip was also increased because the internal clock divider did not half the clock rate to 10.5 MHz.
Specifications (chip with board)
- Super FX Chip (16-bit)
- Clock Rate: 21MHz (w/ divider 10.5MHz)
- Number of contacts on board: 100 pin
- Rom: 1MB
- SRAM: 32 KB
- Super FX Chip 2 (16-bit)
- Clock Rate: 21 MHz
- Number of contacts on board: 112 pins
- SRAM: 64KB to 128 KB