The Full Wiki

ROM cartridge: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

IBM PCjr; two ROM cartridge slots are below the floppy drives.
ROM cartridges from various video games consoles - a USB memory stick is central for scale.

A ROM cartridge is a removable cartridge that contains read-only memory devices and, commonly, flash memory devices to allow some read-write capability. A video game ROM cartridge is sometimes informally known as a cart. For several years, Nintendo of America used the term Game Pak to refer to ROM cartridges for its video game consoles.[1]

Contents

Description

A ROM cartridge is a method of adding different functionality or content—for example, a video game played on a video game console or different software programs run within a general purpose computer. This system was popularized by early home computers such as the Atari 400/800 and Commodore 64, where a special bus port was provided for the insertion of cartridges containing software in ROM. In most cases the designs were fairly crude, with the entire address and data buses exposed by the port; the cartridge was memory mapped directly into the system's address space. This type of system was pioneered on earlier home TV game systems, and until recently remained a popular approach with modern games consoles. The advantage of cartridges over other approaches such as loading software from other media is that the software is instantly available, with no loading time, and it is held in a very robust and hence damage-resistant form. However this damage resistance depended on design. While being easier to protect than a CD, which is easily scratched, or a tape, which is easily pulled apart, the chips inside the cartridge could be damaged with enough shock, especially if the case did not keep the chips stable. The exposed contacts could also stop working because of an accumulation of a foreign substance, damage or simple wear.

Use

Notable computers using cartridges in addition to magnetic media were the Commodore VIC-20 and 64, the Atari 8-bit family (400/800/XL/XE), the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A (where they were called Solid State Command Modules and weren't directly mapped to the system bus) and the IBM PCjr (where the cartridge was mapped into BIOS space).

From the late 1970s to mid-1990s, the majority of home video game systems were cartridge-based. When CD technology came to be used widely for data storage, most hardware companies moved from cartridges to CD-based game systems, since CD-ROMs were much cheaper to produce and could hold more content. Nintendo remained the lone hold-out, and did not create an optical-media based system until several years later, instead opting to make their next generation system, the Nintendo 64, cartridge-based. This move was questioned by many industry insiders, who argued that cartridge-based games could never be as long or complex as CD based games, such as those found on competitor systems like the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and that the relatively high manufacturing costs of cartridges compared to optical media would make cartridge based systems uncompetitive on price. The economic consequences Nintendo suffered as a result of this gamble are often regarded as marking the end of cartridge-based home gaming systems. However, despite the smaller storage capacity, Nintendo 64 cartridges enabled faster load times and stronger copy-prevention features compared to its competitors.

By 2001, improved loading times for disc-based games led Nintendo to release its next gaming system, the GameCube, with a proprietary mini DVD-based format that had greater copy-prevention than the standard DVD.

Games cartridge capacities are often misquoted. Although the 1990s practice of citing ROM capacity in 'megs'—deliberately not drawing the distinction between megabits and megabytes—has now disappeared, game software cartridges are still often described as '512 megabit' instead of the more widely understood '64 megabyte', for example.

Advantages and disadvantages

the Neo Geo arcade game cartridge measures 7.5 inches (190 mm) by 5.34 inches (136 mm)

The advantage of cartridges over other approaches such as loading software from other media is that the software is instantly available, with no loading time. The cartridge is a hardware device in the form of a printed circuit board that contains ROM devices with software; as a result, most cartridge formats allow significant random access and no need to copy data from an external media like a CD. Due to this design, however, they were more expensive to manufacture. This factor became an issue in modern video game consoles; manufacturers sacrificed load time for the cheaper and higher-capacity CD in the mid-1990s.[2][3]

ROM cartridges provide a robust and damage-resistant form for housing software. However, while being easier to protect than a CD, which is easily scratched, or a tape, which is easily pulled apart, the chips inside the cartridge could be damaged with enough shock, especially if the case did not keep the chips stable. The exposed contacts could also stop working because of an accumulation of a foreign substance, damage or simple wear. ROM cartridges could be affected by dirt or dust on the contacts of the cartridge or receptacle. As a result, the easiest solution was often to simply blow into the slot/cartridge.[4] This often solved simple blockage issues. However, this method can also damage a cartridge in the long run, due to the fact that the moisture in a person's breath can corrode the connectors. A better solution for this problem is to use a solution of isopropyl alcohol to clean the contacts without the risk of corrosion.[5]

Additionally, there was no standardization across cartridge form factors. While the PlayStation series and Xbox series are different formats (how the game instructions and data are formatted on the media), they still use the CD/DVD disc, allowing for identical storage cases, booklets, etc. ROM cartridge designs varied widely, and cartridges designed for one system could rarely be used in another — the sale of a game in one package for multiple systems is rare, regardless.

Another advantage is the possibility of including memory expansion or other external hardware. Examples of this is the inclusion of the Super FX chip in some Super Nintendo Entertainment System games, and the voice and chess modules in the Magnavox Odyssey².

References

  1. ^ Nintendo - Customer Service - NES Game Pak Troubleshooting
  2. ^ "The SNES CD-ROM". Gamer's Graveyard. http://www.gamersgraveyard.com/repository/snes/history/snescdrom.html. Retrieved 2009-02-26.  
  3. ^ Isbister, Katherine (2006). "Interview: Ryoichi Hasegawa and Roppyaku Tsurumi of SCEJ". Better Game Characters by Design: A Psychological Approach. San Francisco, California: Elsevier Inc.. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-55860-921-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=TGBTzVj47ZcC&pg=PA99&dq=%22ROM+cartridge%22&client=firefox-a&sig=_JRzAGI9S5UHXCZdu1hYt-ng4Y8#PPA99,M1. Retrieved 2009-02-26.  
  4. ^ Mirabella III, Fran (2008-03-07). "IGN Classics: N-Retrospect Vol. 1". IGN. http://retro.ign.com/articles/857/857894p1.html. Retrieved 2009-02-26.  
  5. ^ NES Cleaning Kit manual

See also

Advertisements

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message