Our Latest News

Recreating Classic Computers and Game Consoles with MiSTer FPGA

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have been used for various purposes, especially in facilitating the production of modern consumer electronics. However, these FPGAs have “gone back in time” to make modifications to some of the electronic products we held in high esteem.

Today, popular game consoles, classic computers and arcade machines can be recreated or improved upon. The MiSTer FPGA open-source project makes this possible.

In this article, we talk about how this project can make all the difference in how FPGA can be used to make those modifications.

The Background


Before talking about the MiSTer FPGA, let us take a look at what has been in existence. MiSTer FPGA, also called the MiSTer, is an extension of the MiST project. The MiST project served as the “FPGA recreation of the Atari ST and the Amiga computers.”

This FPGA inroad to the aforementioned computers kick-started a move to make Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) one of the entities used in recreating some of the olden computers and game consoles.

However, it wasn’t just a wish. According to Wikipedia, the MiSTer FPGA project was rolled out following some of the design loopholes noticed in the MiST project. The founder of the MiST project, Sorgelig, soon realized that the cores of the MiST didn’t make pictures readily available on either the televisions or monitors.

The inability to get these images was majorly because of the discrepancies in the ports. On the one hand, the televisions and monitors used the HDMI ports, while the MiST only had the analog video output.

In light of that, the MiSTer FPGA was launched to address that challenge. Among many other things, it enabled the extraction or delivery of HDMI directly from a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA).

The FPGA-based Hardware

Now, let us talk about the technicalities involved in the MiSTer FPGA’s hardware. Sogelig, the developer, opted to make it open-source, as that did not only make the process more affordable, but also allowed the other developers interested in the project to come up with better variations to it.

To this end, the project was based on an excellent FPGA architecture. It is based on the general-purpose Printed Circuit Board (PCB) by Terasic. The board is called the DE10-Nano.

The basis allows for MiSTer FPGA’s leveraging of the integrated Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). Seeing that the goal is to create an FPGA system that allows for excellent HDMI interfacing, the process used on MiSTer FPGA is relevant.

Now, MiSTer FPGA takes advantage of the numerous cores deployed to run or operate on the DE10-Nano. This process allows for the configuration of the incorporated FPGA into different applications, such as:

  • Arcade system board
  • Specific classic computers
  • Handheld game consoles

The most fascinating thing about the MiSTer FPGA is that it allows the software and video game images to run the same they would have been used on original hardware. That means that the video games and software can use specific peripherals, such as game controllers, mice, joysticks and keyboards.

The Function of the Incorporated FPGA

Full pcb manufacturing

MiSTer uses an incorporated Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) called the DE10-Nano. It also serves as the base or “heart of the MiSTer project.”

Worthy of mentioning is that at the core of the MiSTer project is the open-source design, which means that it is both free and accessible by anyone. The major purchase or investment you have to make is to buy the DE10-Nano board, which serves as the base board, since there are no alternatives (at this time).

The DE10-Nano board also doesn’t necessarily require additional boards. It typically starts as an entry-level board and can be used for the first sets of emulations.

However, if you want to step up to higher emulations, it would be worth it to get some additional components to make the job seamless.

If that be the case, the following are some of the relevant add-ons or additional hardware expansions you want to make on the board.


With just one SDRAM, you should be able to make major expansions on the DE10-Nano board. It is imperative to point out here that the SDRAM is best if it supports up to 128GB RAM module, which makes it ideal for several core operations.

The SDRAM has other functions, such as balancing or evening out the performance of the DDR3 memory on the DE10-Nano board. Despite the fast-paced memory optimization of the DDR3, it cannot be used to make emulations of the retro EDO DRAM.

Therefore, the use of the 128GB SDRAM paves the way for the DDR3 to balance the performance of the SDR DDRAM on the daughter (DE10-Nano) board. That, in turn, allows the SDRAM to enable most of the cores to emulate a retro memory module.

2. USB Hub

The USB add-on board provides the OTG USB hub for the MiSTer, which has one power-only USB. This power USB is located one port at the back and 6 USB 2.0 ports on the other 3 sides of the board.

3. Analog I/O Board

This is another add-on board you need to expand the capabilities of the MiSTer FPGA. According to Wikipedia, the Analog I/O board works by “providing a VGA port for analog video output, which enables you to easily connect your MiSTer to a CRT TV or monitor.”

4. Real-Time Clock

This is yet another add-on board for the MiSTer FPGA. It is the core board that provides the Real-Time Clocking (RTC) functionality for the board.

5. Digital I/O

Input and Output (I/O) is an interface that allows for the integration of relevant components in and out of the ports.

The Digital I/O add-on board works like the Analog I/O add-on board, but with a few differences. In this case, the Digital I/O works by offering the real-time connection of the MiSTer to the monitor or CRT Tv, only that this time, it does so without using the analog video output.


Classic computers, game consoles and even popular arcade hardware can be emulated with the MiSTer. The incorporated DE10-Nano FPGA paves the way for the re-optimization or reconfiguration of the older Personal Computers (PCs) video games and handheld game consoles like Sega, and Nintendo.

If you have been looking for a way to maximize the potentials of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) in classic games and hardware remodeling, you now have a working model on the MiSTer FPGA.



    We'd love to

    hear from you

    Highlight multiple sections with this eye-catching call to action style.

      Contact Us

      Exhibition Bay South Squre, Fuhai Bao’an Shenzhen China

      • Sales@ebics.com
      • +86.755.27389663