How a man fixes the biggest weakness of the SNES

© Nintendo Life

The SNES is a legendary console, and that’s no doubt. However, compared to its main rival, the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis, it had a considerable weakness in terms of CPU clock speed.

The Ricoh 5A22, which powers the console, runs at 3.58MHz, and Sega’s 16-bit system features a Motorola 68000 running at 7.6MHz (even the 8-bit TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine is better than the SNES with custom Hudson. It also has a high-speed CPU software HuC6280CPU that operates at 7.6MHz).

What is the final result of this? Many of the early SNES titles show a catastrophic level of slowdown because the CPU isn’t keeping up with the on-screen actions. Nintendo has addressed this shortcoming by introducing a chip that can be included in the cartridge and removing some of the processing tasks from the console CPU. One of them was the SA-1 chip, also known as “Super Accelerator 1.” The chip includes a unique processor running at 10.74 MHz and boasts other improvements such as faster RAM and memory mapping capabilities.

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