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How One Man Is Fixing The SNES’ Biggest Weakness

© Nintendo Life

The SNES is a legendary console, of that there can be absolutely no doubt. However, it did have one considerable weakness when compared to its main rival, the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis: the clock speed of its CPU.

The Ricoh 5A22 which powers the console runs at 3.58 MHz, while Sega’s 16-bit system has a Motorola 68000 running at 7.6 MHz (even the 8-bit TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine has a faster CPU than the SNES, with its custom Hudson Soft HuC6280 CPU running at 7.6 MHz).

The end result of this? Many early SNES title exhibit crippling levels of slowdown because the CPU simply cannot keep up with the on-screen action. Nintendo dealt with this shortcoming by introducing chips which could be included in cartridges to take some of the processing tasks away from the console’s CPU, one of which was the SA-1 chip, also known as the “Super Accelerator 1”. This chip contains its own processor which runs at 10.74 MHz and boasts other improvements such as faster RAM and memory mapping capabilities.


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