Dolphin Progress Report: January 2015

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Let's kick off the new year with a bang! January will finally let Dolphin answer the question that gets asked every progress report: "Does Rogue Squadron work yet?"


Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader in 1080p 60 fps with Dolphin


Thanks to a ton of work from the staff, tons of testing from the forum users, hardware tests, newcomers and veteran's alike, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader and Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike are both playable and completable in Dolphin at long last.

Considering just how many big merges were changed and how much work was done that may not even be the biggest news of the month. So hold tight, and please enjoy this month's Notable Changes!

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Making developers more productive — the Dolphin development infrastructure

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There is a whole chunk of the Dolphin project that most users don't know about and have no interactions with. Most of the blog's articles focus on user visible features: improvements in the emulator core, or accuracy changes that allow non playable games to finally work properly. We seldom talk about how these changes come to life.

This piece will relay the effort of a few people within the Dolphin team who have been working in the shadows for the past 30 months to provide tools and infrastructure for other Dolphin contributors. From cloud based graphics rendering, bug detection, all the way to simple IRC bots, these tools have helped Dolphin become more efficient in the modern era.

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Dolphin Progress Report: December 2014

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The Dolphin Progress Report is not only about featuring high impact changes, but also smaller changes that do interesting things, changes with interesting stories behind them and more. This month has a ton of everything to offer. Dolphin is graced with a new graphical enhancement that will have games popping right out of the screen, a new way to accurately use native controllers, more MMU optimizations, graphics fixes, and even a few other surprises sprinkled in. Some of these changes made us regret running the Best Of blog entries mid-month; as they would have been shoe-ins to be featured!

With that, let's say goodbye to 2014 with a bang and take a look at some of the biggest changes that hit the emulator in December!

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Dolphin Progress Report: November 2014

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When working on an emulator, a feature never really feels finished. Last month, crudelios triumphed with his new software bounding box implementation. It was easily the most accurate implementation of the feature to date. A few months before that, magumagu created more accurate disc timings to make games load more accurately. RachelBryk has been steadily adding features for TASing for years. Perhaps a longer term, more general project is Sonicadvance1's continued work on Dolphin's ARM port which is always receiving updates.

All of those features have seen further refinements and work this month that enhances their usability! Sometimes these changes are from one author continuing their work, but a lot of the time other contributors will join in with their own ideas, fixes, and add-ons. Just because a feature exists in the emulator doesn't mean it can't be improved further!

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The Rise of HLE Audio

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Like any artistic medium, games are emotional experiences filled with joy, sadness, frustration, and more. Special moments can bring tears, cause shouting, or even screams. But imagine during one of those emotional highs if the audio simply died, and the game continued onward in a deafening silence before eventually freezing. That kind of marred experience was commonplace under Dolphin's old way of handling HLE audio.

The users of today don't have to face those problems; modern High Level Emulation (HLE) audio is both fast and accurate, mostly matching the conventions and output of its high-accuracy counterpart, Low Level Emulation (LLE) audio. This change in behavior is thanks to the work by delroth and magumagu that corrected the main fundamental flaw that afflicted old HLE audio. Fixing this defect and cleaning up the audio brought a multitude of features and fixes to the emulator that helped bring us into this modern era of speedy accuracy.



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Dolphin Progress Report: October 2014

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A single merger can represent days, months, or even years of work. Most of the commits are relatively small, but once in a while you get absolutely huge changes like Tev_Fixes_New or the GLSL rewrite that span across years between initial concept and merged code. There's a special sense of accomplishment when one of the long awaited changes finally show up in the emulator. The number of commits and the amount of code changed; neither of those indicators often tell of the trials faced by the contributor over the course of their journey.

And don't think that just because the code is merged that things are finished. Part of the purpose of having progress report is to put a spotlight on some of the latest and greatest changes. The users are the last line of defense against potential bugs, problems, and unintended consequences that often come with new features.


All of the latest features mentioned this month can be found in the latest development builds available here.


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Dolphin Progress Report: September 2014

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Optimizations seem to beget even more optimizations. It was big news when last month we got a nifty 26% boost in CPU performance, but somehow, two dedicated devs managed to top it this month. Not to be upstaged by Fiora , comex has dropped new features and two absolutely gigantic performance commits. By making tricky use of registers and native RET behavior, two of his merges alone result in a massive 16% performance boost to games.

Not to be outdone, Fiora has continued her rash of optimizations as well. If we were to include every single one this progress report may never end. So instead, she crunched some numbers with all the optimizations over the last two months put together.

Let's just admire that list for a moment. The Last Story is considered the most demanding game on Dolphin, requiring massive overclocks on even the strongest of machines. A 38% speedup is the difference between it being playable and choppy for users with powerful computers.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader has a lot of problems, but MMU performance will be the least of them from now on. Fiora's optimization of how the JIT handles MMU games brings us huge speedups to every MMU title!

Of course, speed isn't everything for an emulator: Performance is pointless if the emulator does the rest of its job in a lackluster matter. Have no fear, we have new features and some critical bug fixes to go along with Dolphin's newfound speed!

All of the latest features mentioned this month can be found in the latest development builds available here.

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Dolphin Progress Report: August 2014

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This month, the story can't be anything else but CPU optimizations and fixes, after Fiora decided that if the code is in the JIT, she will make it faster. Nothing is safe from her. Since the end of July, Dolphin's JIT CPU core has seen a 26% performance boost in the Dolphin Benchmark. That is not a typo.

On the accuracy front, we've got some nifty changes that fix bugs going back to the beginning of time for Dolphin. Some ancient audio bugs bite the dust, some floating-point accuracy are ported into the JIT from the SoftwareFP branch, and we found out that some games are doing things they really shouldn't be doing. If you see a change that affects a game you're playing, remember that all of these changes can be found in the latest development builds!

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Hardware Review: Mayflash DolphinBar

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When we first heard about the Mayflash DolphinBar, we were immediately intrigued. Hardware that complements emulators has always existed in some form, like the various controller adapters we commonly use, but never has one benefited an emulator quite this directly. A USB sensor bar, with integrated Bluetooth? A fascinating opportunity! The devs immediately purchased one and sent it to a tester for analysis.

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Dolphin Progress Report: July 2014

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In programming users usually don't see or care about what's going on on the inside all that much. All those boring code optimizations may make things easier for the developers and slowly improve the emulator, but hard-to-quantify changes are not exactly exciting. This month was full of those, with several hundred changes yet very little the general user would find interesting. Nevertheless, in the sea of code improvement, there are some real treasures: big performance improvements, some ancient bugs squashed, regression fixes, and some exciting new features to boot.


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