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Alternative timeline: Yamaha builds their own SID chips


xanthrou
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What if Yamaha built their own MOS SID chips under license from Commodore? Would it have any use in home computers, consoles, arcades, etc.? Would Yamaha use their SID core to produce a whole family of music chips like they did with YM2149 (or at least SID-implemented variants of YM2203, YM2608 or YM2610/YM2610B)?

Edited by xanthrou
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On 12/20/2021 at 8:04 PM, ZeroByte said:

I think it would've ended up as a core in one of their combo chips like the YM2608. (OPNA)

Basically, we would have something like the YM2610(B) with SID implementation instead of AY-3-8910. 

Would it have any use in home computers, consoles, arcades, etc.? 

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On 12/21/2021 at 4:58 AM, xanthrou said:

Basically, we would have something like the YM2610(B) with SID implementation instead of AY-3-8910. 

Would it have any use in home computers, consoles, arcades, etc.? 

I think it would have been the PSG core for the OPNA instead of the AY-3, and probably also in the YM2203 which also used the AY-3 as a core. I'm not so sure about the 2610 but on the 2203, the thing is pretty much like 2 chips on one DIP (must... not.... make.... reference... to.... THAT.... site....) (too late) and if it had been SID instead of AY-3 then things wouldn't have been all that different except maybe how the IO registers were mapped into memory for the two chips, as the AY only had 16 registers and SID has closer to 32 (don't remember exactly how many off the top of my head)

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I don't think 2610 has the AY-3 PSG functionality enabled. It does have the "SSG-ENV" register but apparently this was vestigal and had "strange" behavior that people have since learned to leverage for certain effects but that technically was like undocumented opcodes on the base 6502. Certainly not the one used in Sega Megadrive.

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The AY-3-8910 was first released in 1978, but Yamaha did not begin making its own version (the YM2149) until 1983. During that period, the AY-3-8910s (or variants) made by GI (or other licensees) were used in many arcade games, and also in the Intellivision, Vectrex, and in Apple's Mockingboard--all before Yamaha's involvement.  This suggests that the AY-3-8910's trajectory might have continued regardless of whether Yamaha had chosen this or the SID.

I had wondered if Yamaha adopting the SID might have delayed their digital-FM synthesis work, but it seems that this was a separate stream of development.  Yamaha had licensed Chowning's FM synthesis technology from Stanford way back in the 1970s and released the first commercially viable version of it, in the form of the DX7, in 1982 - the same year the SID (& C64) debuted, and a year before they started making the YM2149.  So it's also likely that Yamaha's hypothetical choice of SID over AY-3-8910 would not have disrupted or delayed its FM synth development progress either, which of course, eventually dominated the market. 

So, we're looking at a period more or less in the mid-80s for most of the hypothetical changes to have taken place.  Other than certain arcade boards or home systems sounding more... SID-ish, perhaps one interesting thing to imagine would be that Yamaha adopting the SID instead might have spurred competition between them and GI, or perhaps with Roland if they had licensed the AY line instead. The resulting development race might have improved sound or lowered costs during this period.

Of course, one other fun hypothetical consequence to imagine is that it might be easier to get quality SID-replacements today, if the technology hadn't died with Commodore.

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On 12/21/2021 at 9:16 PM, xanthrou said:

Well, duh.

 

 

On 12/21/2021 at 7:12 PM, ZeroByte said:

I don't think 2610 has the AY-3 PSG functionality enabled. It does have the "SSG-ENV" register but apparently this was vestigal and had "strange" behavior that people have since learned to leverage for certain effects but that technically was like undocumented opcodes on the base 6502. Certainly not the one used in Sega Megadrive.

Sorry for annoying you, but would the Yamaha's SID and the FM chips built upon it (YM2203-SID; YM2608-SID; YM2151-SID; YM2610(B)-SID or a hybrid YM2151/2610B-SID of the latter two) have any use in home computers, consoles, arcades, etc.? 

Would some of them even double the SID channels inside the FM chips for stereo?

Edited by xanthrou
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On 12/22/2021 at 12:02 AM, xanthrou said:

Sorry for annoying you, but would the Yamaha's SID and the FM chips built upon it (YM2203-SID; YM2608-SID; YM2151-SID; YM2610(B)-SID or a hybrid YM2151/2610B-SID of the latter two) have any use in home computers, consoles, arcades, etc.? 

Would some of them even double the SID channels inside the FM chips for stereo?

Sure it would. Yamaha's FM synths dominated the Japanese market, being prevalent in FM-Towns, Sharp 68000, PC-8xx / PC-9xx, MSX machines, etc. If they had included SID cores, I think the results would be very interesting.

We'd have a situation where we'd have a lot more diversity in the SID chiptune field. When I think SID, I think "techno-style" as the peak awesome SID sound, as PSG (SID in particular) dominated the scene in Europe. If there were also a body of work in the "J-pop" line, it would be very interesting. So yeah, the SID-FM combo chips would definitely have a use in home computers. It's just a question of whether the western markets would have used them more than they used FM chips  in our own timeline.

Maybe we'd have better synth compositions from the west if the FM+SID combo had been a thing, because SID was definitely a popular synth for chip-savvy composers back in the day. If there were a "Super SID" that also had FM channels, I think it would've made a bigger splash than FM did over here. Imagine if the Rob Hubards of the world were incorporating FM tricks into their compositions...

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There are a few things that need to be taken into account:

1: The OTL OPN series, which included the AY-3-8910 component in many of its chips, was second-source licensed by Casio and Phillips for their own kiddie keyboard designs.  As the SID component would likely have to be separately licensed from Commodore, it could put some extra money into Commodore's pocket.  It also possibly butterflies away the development of the SAA-1099.

2. The YM2209 features a grand total of 6 channels.  The YM 2610 has a grand total of 7 Channels.  The YM 2610A has 9 Channels, and the YM2608 adds seven ADPCM channels for percussion.  Even the most barebones versions of those chips has 50% more polyphony than PAULA, a much smaller memory footprint, and far less need of processor time to babysit it and feed it data.  Considering that Yamaha will have enough sales from other ventures to make bulk prices fairly cheap, is it possible for the Amiga to pack an OPN series chip, and restrict PAULA to keyboard, floppy, and hard drive access?  Would this development make the Commodore 65 project easier to make a business case for?

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On 12/22/2021 at 6:05 PM, ZeroByte said:

Sure it would. Yamaha's FM synths dominated the Japanese market, being prevalent in FM-Towns, Sharp 68000, PC-8xx / PC-9xx, MSX machines, etc. If they had included SID cores, I think the results would be very interesting.

We'd have a situation where we'd have a lot more diversity in the SID chiptune field. When I think SID, I think "techno-style" as the peak awesome SID sound, as PSG (SID in particular) dominated the scene in Europe. If there were also a body of work in the "J-pop" line, it would be very interesting. So yeah, the SID-FM combo chips would definitely have a use in home computers. It's just a question of whether the western markets would have used them more than they used FM chips  in our own timeline.

Maybe we'd have better synth compositions from the west if the FM+SID combo had been a thing, because SID was definitely a popular synth for chip-savvy composers back in the day. If there were a "Super SID" that also had FM channels, I think it would've made a bigger splash than FM did over here. Imagine if the Rob Hubards of the world were incorporating FM tricks into their compositions...

1. SID can already do pseudo-FM functions, due to the ring modulation and pass filters.

2. How would the hybrid YM2151/YM2610B-SID do in the market?

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  • 5 months later...
On 12/24/2021 at 4:30 AM, xanthrou said:

2. How would the hybrid YM2151/YM2610B-SID do in the market?

I think it really would ultimately depend on how well the system(s) it was used in fared on the market. While the presence of such a chip does potentially boost a system's popularity, there are other factors weighing in on a system's overall success. If it were in something as ubiquitous as the Speccy or C64, then yeah - we'd be in a different situation now.

After some time, I wonder whether the Japanese market would've embraced the SID functionality of such a chip - I see many VGMs from systems that had PSG+FM capabilities that totally forego the PSG side of things and exclusively use the FM. Perhaps the fancier waveforms might've enticed more composers to use these voices.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/25/2022 at 9:50 AM, ZeroByte said:

.. Perhaps the fancier waveforms might've enticed more composers to use these voices.

Or perhaps the ADSR envelopes ... the easier it is to USE the PSG channels in an effective mix with the FM channels, the more likely they are to be used side by side.

Edited by BruceMcF
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