MMC5

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MMC5
ExROM
Company Nintendo, Koei, others
Games 15 in NesCartDB
Complexity ASIC
Boards EKROM, ELROM,
ETROM, EWROM
PRG ROM capacity 1024K
PRG ROM window 8K, 16K, or 32K
PRG RAM capacity 128K
PRG RAM window 8K ($6000-$DFFF),
16K (only $8000-$BFFF
at PRG mode 1/2)
CHR capacity 1024K
CHR window 1K, 2K, 4K, or 8K
Nametable mirroring arbitrary, up to 3 source
nametables (plus fill mode)
Bus conflicts No
IRQ Yes
Audio Yes
iNES mappers 005

The Nintendo MMC5 is a mapper ASIC used in Nintendo's ExROM Game Pak boards. All MMC5 boards are assigned to mapper 5.

Example games:

  • Castlevania 3
  • Just Breed
  • Uncharted Waters
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms II
  • Laser Invasion
  • Metal Slader Glory
  • Uchuu Keibitai SDF
  • Shin 4 Nin Uchi Mahjong - Yakuman Tengoku
  • Bandit Kings of Ancient China

The first game to use this chip (Nobunaga's Ambition II) was released in February 1990. The date codes on components on early released cartridges show that manufacturing had started at the end of 1989.

Overview

The MMC5 is the most powerful mapper ASIC Nintendo made for the NES and Famicom.

It supports many advanced features, including:

  • 4 PRG ROM switching modes
  • 4 CHR ROM switching modes
  • Up to 128KB of WRAM, mappable not only at $6000-$7FFF but also within $8000-$DFFF
    • Supports either one chip (up to 128KB) or two chips (up to 32KB each)
  • An 8 bit by 8 bit multiplier with a 16 bit result for performing quick calculations
  • A scanline based IRQ counter
  • The ability to use different CHR banks for background and 8x16 sprites (allowing 256 unique 8x16 sprite tiles, independent of the background).
  • 1024 bytes of on-chip memory, which can be used for 4 different purposes:
    • An extra general-use nametable
    • Attribute and tile index expansion - address 16384 background tiles at once, and allow each individual 8x8 tile to have its own palette setting
    • Vertical split-screen
    • Extra RAM for storing program variables
  • Three extra sound channels
    • Two pulse channels, identical to those in the NES APU (except lacking pitch sweeps).
    • An 8-bit RAW PCM channel
  • A 'fill mode' nametable, which can be instantly set to contain a specific tile in a specific color (useful for screen transitions)
  • System reset detection
    • Triggered by a positive or negative gap in M2 of at least 11.2 usec.
    • Also triggered and latched by absence of AVcc.
    • After reapplying AVcc, another gap in M2 is sometimes necessary to clear the latch.
    • This feature resets some, but not all, states of the MMC5.
    • The PRG RAM +CE pin is a direct reflection of system reset detection state.

Banks

The MMC5 provides 4 distinct banking modes for both PRG ROM and CHR ROM.

PRG mode 0

  • CPU $6000-$7FFF: 8 KB switchable PRG RAM bank
  • CPU $8000-$FFFF: 32 KB switchable PRG ROM bank

PRG mode 1

  • CPU $6000-$7FFF: 8 KB switchable PRG RAM bank
  • CPU $8000-$BFFF: 16 KB switchable PRG ROM/RAM bank
  • CPU $C000-$FFFF: 16 KB switchable PRG ROM bank

PRG mode 2

  • CPU $6000-$7FFF: 8 KB switchable PRG RAM bank
  • CPU $8000-$BFFF: 16 KB switchable PRG ROM/RAM bank
  • CPU $C000-$DFFF: 8 KB switchable PRG ROM/RAM bank
  • CPU $E000-$FFFF: 8 KB switchable PRG ROM bank

PRG mode 3

  • CPU $6000-$7FFF: 8 KB switchable PRG RAM bank
  • CPU $8000-$9FFF: 8 KB switchable PRG ROM/RAM bank
  • CPU $A000-$BFFF: 8 KB switchable PRG ROM/RAM bank
  • CPU $C000-$DFFF: 8 KB switchable PRG ROM/RAM bank
  • CPU $E000-$FFFF: 8 KB switchable PRG ROM bank

CHR mode 0

  • PPU $0000-$1FFF: 8 KB switchable CHR bank

CHR mode 1

  • PPU $0000-$0FFF: 4 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $1000-$1FFF: 4 KB switchable CHR bank

CHR mode 2

  • PPU $0000-$07FF: 2 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $0800-$0FFF: 2 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $1000-$17FF: 2 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $1800-$1FFF: 2 KB switchable CHR bank

CHR mode 3

  • PPU $0000-$03FF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $0400-$07FF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $0800-$0BFF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $0C00-$0FFF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $1000-$13FF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $1400-$17FF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $1800-$1BFF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank
  • PPU $1C00-$1FFF: 1 KB switchable CHR bank

Registers

Sound

For details on sound operation, see MMC5 audio

Configuration

PRG mode ($5100)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx xxPP
       ||
       ++- Select PRG banking mode
  • 0 - One 32KB bank
  • 1 - Two 16KB banks
  • 2 - One 16KB bank ($8000-$BFFF) and two 8KB banks ($C000-$DFFF and $E000-$FFFF)
  • 3 - Four 8KB banks

Castlevania III uses mode 2, which is similar to VRC6 PRG banking. All other games use mode 3. The Koei games never write to this register, apparently relying on the MMC5 defaulting to mode 3 at power on.

CHR mode ($5101)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx xxCC
       ||
       ++- Select CHR banking mode
  • 0 - 8KB CHR pages
  • 1 - 4KB CHR pages
  • 2 - 2KB CHR pages
  • 3 - 1KB CHR pages

Metal Slader Glory uses 4KB CHR pages. All other games use 1KB pages.

PRG RAM Protect 1 ($5102)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx xxWW
       ||
       ++- RAM protect 1

In order to enable writing to PRG RAM, this must be set to binary '10' (e.g. $02).

PRG RAM Protect 2 ($5103)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx xxWW
       ||
       ++- RAM protect 2

In order to enable writing to PRG RAM, this must be set to binary '01' (e.g. $01).

Extended RAM mode ($5104)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx xxXX
       ||
       ++- Specify extended RAM usage
  • 0 - Use as extra nametable (possibly for split mode)
  • 1 - Use as extended attribute data (can also be used as extended nametable)
  • 2 - Use as ordinary RAM
  • 3 - Use as ordinary RAM, write protected

Nametable mapping ($5105)

7  bit  0
---- ----
DDCC BBAA
|||| ||||
|||| ||++- Select nametable at PPU $2000-$23FF
|||| ++--- Select nametable at PPU $2400-$27FF
||++------ Select nametable at PPU $2800-$2BFF
++-------- Select nametable at PPU $2C00-$2FFF

Nametable values:

  • 0 - On-board VRAM page 0
  • 1 - On-board VRAM page 1
  • 2 - Internal Expansion RAM, only if the Extended RAM mode allows it ($5104 is 00/01); otherwise, the nametable will read as all zeros,
  • 3 - Fill-mode data

Mirroring examples:

Mode Value NTD NTC NTB NTA
Horizontal $50  %01  %01  %00  %00
Vertical $44  %01  %00  %01  %00
Single-screen CIRAM 0 $00  %00  %00  %00  %00
Single-screen CIRAM 1 $55  %01  %01  %01  %01
Single-screen ExRAM $AA  %10  %10  %10  %10
Single-Screen Fill-mode $FF  %11  %11  %11  %11
Diagonal $14  %00  %01  %01  %00

Fill-mode tile ($5106)

 All eight bits specify the tile number to use for fill-mode nametable

Fill-mode color ($5107)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx xxAA
       ||
       ++- Specify attribute bits to use for fill-mode nametable

PRG Bankswitching

In general, when the CPU accesses an address that corresponds to the range of a PRG bank designated by the present PRG mode, the bits of that PRG bank register are applied to the appropriate PRG address buses as follows:

7  bit  0
---- ----
RAAA AaAA
|||| ||||
|||| |||+- PRG ROM/RAM A13
|||| ||+-- PRG ROM/RAM A14
|||| |+--- PRG ROM/RAM A15, also selecting between PRG RAM /CE 0 and 1
|||| +---- PRG ROM/RAM A16
|||+------ PRG ROM A17
||+------- PRG ROM A18
|+-------- PRG ROM A19
+--------- RAM/ROM toggle (0: RAM; 1: ROM)

Conceptual bank register effective areas versus PRG mode (makes sense for software developers):

Bank Register Max Range Mode 3 Range Mode 2 Range Mode 1 Range Mode 0 Range
0 5110 1FFF (none) (none) (none) (none)
1 5111 3FFF (none) (none) (none) (none)
2 5112 5FFF (none) (none) (none) (none)
3 5113 7FFF 6000-7FFF (RAM) 6000-7FFF (RAM) 6000-7FFF (RAM) 6000-7FFF (RAM)
4 5114 9FFF 8000-9FFF v (none) v v (none) v v (none) v
5 5115 BFFF A000-BFFF 8000-BFFF 8000-BFFF v (none) v
6 5116 DFFF C000-DFFF C000-DFFF v (none) v v (none) v
7 5117 FFFF E000-FFFF (ROM) E000-FFFF (ROM) C000-FFFF (ROM) 8000-FFFF (ROM)

Actual MMC5 implementation: Where the PRG-ROM and PRG-RAM address buses come from in each PRG mode (makes sense for emulator and hardware developers):

CPU Address
Ranges
$0000-1FFF [1][2] $2000-3FFF [1][2] $4000-5FFF [1][2] $6000-7FFF [1]
$8000-9FFF $A000-BFFF $C000-DFFF $E000-FFFF [2]
Mode 3 ROM $5114 $5115 $5116 $5117
RAM $5113
Mode 2 ROM <$5115> $5116 $5117
RAM $5113
Mode 1 ROM <$5115> <$5117>
RAM $5113 [2] $5113
Mode 0 ROM <<$5117>>
RAM $5113 [2] $5113

[1] = This range will show on the PRG address bus, but PRG-ROM is disabled by PRG /CS.

[2] = This range will show on the PRG-RAM address bus, but PRG-RAM is disabled by PRG-RAM /CS.

< > = ignore bottom bit (replace it with CPU_A13)

<< >> = ignore two bottom bits (replace bit 1 with CPU_A14 and bit 0 with CPU_A13)

PRG Bank 0, 1, 2 ($5110-5112)

These registers do not exist. If they did, their conceptual max address range would have come before PRG visible program space $6000-$FFFF, so they would have had no effect anyway.

PRG Bank 3, RAM Only ($5113)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx BBBB
     ||||
     ++++- PRG RAM bank number at $6000-$7FFF
      +--- Select PRG RAM chip 

It was thought that the MMC5 supports 2 PRG RAM chips, each up to 32KB in length. However, recent researchs shows that bits 2-3 control state of two unknown pins which acts like A15-A16, allowing up to 128KB RAM support. Either or both may be battery-backed; 11 of the 15 MMC5 games include a battery. The following configurations of WRAM are known to exist in ExROM games:

  • 0KB: No chips
  • 8KB: 1x 8KB chip
  • 16KB: 2x 8KB chip
  • 32KB: 1x 32KB chip

In the original .NES format, byte 8 of the file's header should indicate how many pages are present, but ROM images in the wild that use this mapper may not have byte 8 set correctly, nor do emulators necessarily honor this number. Byte 10 of the NES 2.0 header should be reliable.

No ExROM game is known to write PRG RAM with one bank value and then attempt to read back the same data with a different bank value. So lacking better information, mirroring can be ignored, 64KB of WRAM could be emulated at all times, and $5113 can be treated as a simple page offset into that 64KB. Emulating 32KB won't work, even if no games used more than that; because 16KB games will expect to see their two distinct pages by toggling bit 2, not bit 0.

Uncharted Waters requires PRG-RAM banking.

PRG Bank 4, ROM/RAM ($5114)

7  bit  0
---- ----
RBBB BBBB
|||| ||||
|+++-++++- PRG ROM bank number
|    ++++- PRG RAM bank number
|     +--- Select PRG RAM chip 
+--------- RAM/ROM toggle (0: RAM; 1: ROM)
  • Mode 3 - Select an 8KB PRG bank at $8000-$9FFF
  • Mode 2 - Ignored - Covered by bank 5.
  • Mode 1 - Ignored - Covered by bank 5.
  • Mode 0 - Ignored - Covered by bank 7.

Bandit Kings of Ancient China maps PRG-RAM to the CPU $8000+ area and expects to be able to write to it through there. Failure to emulate this causes corruption when the background is restored on the world map.

PRG Bank 5, ROM/RAM ($5115)

7  bit  0
---- ----
RBBB BBBB
|||| ||||
|+++-++++- PRG ROM bank number
|    ++++- PRG RAM bank number
|     +--- Select PRG RAM chip 
+--------- RAM/ROM toggle (0: RAM; 1: ROM)
  • Mode 3 - Select an 8KB PRG bank at $A000-$BFFF
  • Mode 2 - Select a 16KB PRG bank at $8000-$BFFF (pass through CPU A13 to PRG A13 instead of using bit 0)
  • Mode 1 - Select a 16KB PRG bank at $8000-$BFFF (pass through CPU A13 to PRG A13 instead of using bit 0)
  • Mode 0 - Ignored - Covered by bank 7.

PRG Bank 6, ROM/RAM ($5116)

7  bit  0
---- ----
RBBB BBBB
|||| ||||
|+++-++++- PRG ROM bank number
|    ++++- PRG RAM bank number
|     +--- Select PRG RAM chip 
+--------- RAM/ROM toggle (0: RAM; 1: ROM)
  • Mode 3 - Select an 8KB PRG bank at $C000-$DFFF
  • Mode 2 - Select an 8KB PRG bank at $C000-$DFFF
  • Mode 1 - Ignored - Covered by bank 7.
  • Mode 0 - Ignored - Covered by bank 7.

PRG Bank 7, ROM Only ($5117)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xBBB BBBB
 ||| ||||
 +++-++++- PRG ROM bank number
  • Mode 3 - Select an 8KB PRG ROM bank at $E000-$FFFF
  • Mode 2 - Select an 8KB PRG ROM bank at $E000-$FFFF
  • Mode 1 - Select a 16KB PRG ROM bank at $C000-$FFFF (pass through CPU A13 to PRG A13 instead of using bit 0)
  • Mode 0 - Select a 32KB PRG ROM bank at $8000-$FFFF (pass through CPU A13 and A14 to PRG A13 and A14 instead of using bits 0 and 1)

Games seem to expect $5117 to be $FF at power on. All games have their reset vector in the last bank of PRG ROM, and the vector points to an address greater than or equal to $E000.

CHR Bankswitching ($5120-$5130)

When using 8x8 sprites, only registers $5120-$5127 are used. Registers $5128-$512B are completely ignored.

When using 8x16 sprites, registers $5120-$5127 specify banks for sprites, registers $5128-$512B apply to background tiles, and the last set of registers written to (either $5120-$5127 or $5128-$512B) will be used for I/O via PPUDATA ($2007). [1] [2]

Bandit Kings of Ancient China and Uchuu Keibitai SDF have non-pattern data stored in CHR ROM, read out via $2007.

It is not currently known how the MMC5 detects the sprite size being used by the PPU.

CHR selects 0…11

PPU memory affected for each mode (see #CHR mode ($5101))
Write to CPU address 1 KiB 2 KiB 4 KiB 8 KiB
$5120 $0000-$03FF none none none
$5121 $0400-$07FF $0000-$07FF none none
$5122 $0800-$0BFF none none none
$5123 $0C00-$0FFF $0800-$0FFF $0000-$0FFF none
$5124 $1000-$13FF none none none
$5125 $1400-$17FF $1000-$17FF none none
$5126 $1800-$1BFF none none none
$5127 $1C00-$1FFF $1800-$1FFF $1000-$1FFF $0000-$1FFF
$5128 $0000-$03FF and $1000-$13FF none none none
$5129 $0400-$07FF and $1400-$17FF $0000-$07FF and $1000-$17FF none none
$512A $0800-$0BFF and $1800-$1BFF none none none
$512B $0C00-$0FFF and $1C00-$1FFF $0800-$0FFF and $1800-$1FFF $0000-$0FFF and $1000-$1FFF $0000-$1FFF

Note: Registers $512C - $512F do not exist.

Upper CHR Bank bits ($5130)

7  bit  0
---- ----
xxxx xxBB
       ||
       ++- Upper bits for subsequent CHR bank writes

When the MMC5 is using 2KB/1KB CHR banks, only 512KB/256KB of CHR ROM can be selected using the previous registers. To access all 1024KB in those modes, first write the upper bit(s) to register $5130 and then write the lower bits to $5120-$512B. When the Extended RAM mode is set to 1, this selects which 256KB of CHR ROM is to be used for all background tiles on the screen.

The only ExROM game with CHR ROM larger than 256KB is Metal Slader Glory, which uses 4KB CHR banks and does not use extended attributes. In other words, no official game relies on this register, and most don't even initialize it.

Other Registers

Vertical Split Mode ($5200)

7  bit  0
---- ----
ESxW WWWW
|| | ||||
|| +-++++- Specify vertical split start/stop tile
|+-------- Specify vertical split screen side (0:left; 1:right)
+--------- Enable vertical split mode

When vertical split mode is enabled, all VRAM fetches corresponding to the appropriate screen region will be redirected to Extended RAM (as long as its mode is set to 0 or 1).

Uchuu Keibitai SDF is the only known game to use split screen mode (during the intro, where it shows ship stats).

Operation Notes

34 BG tiles are fetched per scanline. MMC5 performs the split by watching which BG tile is being fetched, and if it is within the split region, replacing the normal NT data with the split screen data according to the absolute screen position of the tile (i.e., ignoring the coarse horizontal and vertical scroll output as part of the VRAM address for the fetch). Since it operates on a per-tile basis... fine horizontal scrolling "carries into" the split region. Setting the horizontal scroll to 1-7 will result in the split being moved to the left 1-7 pixels, however when you scroll to 8, the split will "snap" back to its normal position.

Left Split:

  • Tiles 0 to T-1 are the split.
  • Tiles T and on are rendered normally.

Right Split:

  • Tiles 0 to T-1 are rendered normally.
  • Tiles T and on are the split.

There is no coarse horizontal scrolling of any kind for the split. Right-side splits will always show the right-hand side of the nametable, and left-hand splits will always show the left-hand side of the nametable. Coarse horizontal scrolling can still be used for the non-split region.

ExRAM is always used as the nametable in split screen mode.

Vertical scrolling for the split operates like normal vertical scrolling. 0-239 are valid scroll values, whereas 240-255 will display Attribute table data as NT data for the first few scanlines. The split nametable will wrap so that the top of the nametable will appear below as you scroll (just as if vertical mirroring were employed).

$5202 selects (yet another) CHR page to use for the BG. This page is used for the split region only.

Vertical Split Scroll ($5201)

 All eight bits specify the vertical scroll value to use in split region

MMC5 boards wired in "CL" mode may only use vertical scroll values whose bottom 3 bits match the Nes PPU's fine vertical scroll value. In "SL" mode, any values can be used.

Horizontal scrolling is not allowed within the split region.

Vertical Split Bank ($5202)

 All eight bits select a 4 KB CHR bank at $0000-$0FFF and $1000-$1FFF while rendering the split region.

IRQ Counter ($5203)

 All eight bits specify the scanline number to generate IRQ at

IRQ Status ($5204, read/write)

Write
7  bit  0
---- ----
Exxx xxxx
|
+--------- IRQ Enable flag (1=IRQs enabled)
Read
7  bit  0
---- ----
SVxx xxxx  MMC5A default power-on value = $00
||
|+-------- "In Frame" signal
+--------- IRQ Pending flag

When set, the "In Frame" signal specifies that the PPU is currently rendering a scanline. It also plays a role in how IRQs are generated.

The IRQ Pending flag may be raised even if IRQs are disabled.

Any time this register is read, the IRQ Pending flag is cleared (acknowledging the IRQ).

For details, see IRQ counter operation.

Unsigned 8x8 to 16 Multiplier ($5205, $5206 read/write)

The unsigned 16-bit product is available to be read from these registers immediately after writing. All 65536 combinations of multiplicand and multiplier were tested and verified correct on MMC5A here[3].

Write
  • $5205 8-bit Unsigned Multiplicand
  • $5206 8-bit Unsigned Multiplier
  • MMC5A default power-on write value = $FF for both of these registers.
Read
  • $5205 Unsigned 16-bit Product (low byte)
  • $5206 Unsigned 16-bit Product (high byte)
  • MMC5A default power-on read value = $FE01, i.e. $FF * $FF.

CL3 / SL3 Data Direction and Output Data Source ($5207 write only)

7  bit  0
---- ----
ABxx xxCD  MMC5A default power-on write value = 11xx xxxx
||     ||
||     |+- MMC5.97 (CL3) Output Data Source (0 = $5208.6 value written, 1 = !(M2) when CPU is reading in range $5800-$5BFF)
||     +-- MMC5.98 (SL3) Output Data Source (0 = $5208.7 value written, 1 = !(M2) when CPU is writing in range $5800-$5BFF)
|+-------- MMC5.97 (CL3) Data Direction (0 = output, 1 = input)
+--------- MMC5.98 (SL3) Data Direction (0 = output, 1 = input)

CL3 / SL3 Status ($5208 read/write)

Write
7  bit  0
---- ----
ABxx xxxx  MMC5A default power-on write value = 00xx xxxx
||
|+-------- Value to be output on MMC5.97 pin (CL3) if/when $5207.0 = 0 and $5207.6 = 0
+--------- Value to be output on MMC5.98 pin (SL3) if/when $5207.1 = 0 and $5207.7 = 0
Read
7  bit  0
---- ----
ABxx xxxx
||
|+-------- Input value of MMC5.97 pin (CL3)
+--------- Input value of MMC5.98 pin (SL3)

16-bit Hardware Timer with IRQ ($5209 read/write, $520A write)

Read
  • $5209
7  bit  0
---- ----
Vxxx xxxx  MMC5A default power-on read value = $00
|
+--------- Hardware Timer IRQ Flag
Write
  • $5209
7  bit  0
---- ----
TTTT TTTT  MMC5A default power-on write value = $00
|||| ||||
++++-++++- Timer count LSB
  • $520A
7  bit  0
---- ----
TTTT TTTT  MMC5A default power-on write value = $00
|||| ||||
++++-++++- Timer count MSB

Based on findings from krzysiobal: The timer automatically starts when writing any value to register $5209, if the 16-bit timer value does not equal $0000. For example, to write value $0100, you would first write $01 (MSB) to register $520A, which does not start the timer. Then write $00 (LSB) to register $5209, which at that point will start the timer from value $0100.

Each 8-bit value is written directly to an internal 16-bit counter that decrements on each rising edge of M2. Additional writes while the timer is running will directly overwrite that portion of the counter. Reading register $5209 while the timer is running reports $00. The transition from counter value $0001 to $0000 generates an IRQ and sets the hardware timer IRQ flag. The timer stops at this point. Reading this register reports the IRQ flag, then automatically clears the IRQ and IRQ flag.

If the MMC5 detects a reset, it clears the timer if active, and it clears the IRQ and IRQ flag if set. Reset detection works by looking for a gap larger than about 11 usec on M2.

This register's IRQ operation is completely independent from register $5204. Disabling interrupts through $5204 does not make any effect, also reading $5204 does not report IRQ pending when IRQ is asserted by $5209.

Unknown Address Range ($5800-$5BFF, write only)

Reads and writes in this address range are reflected on the CL3 and SL3 pins when register $5207 = $03. The purpose of this function is unknown. Minute VCC current spikes shortly after rising edge of M2 during writes in this range exhibit the same characteristics as writes in expansion RAM range $5C00-$5FFF, suggesting possible existence of RAM in this range, though experimentally reading from this range is always met with open CPU bus.

Address $5800 is written to by Just Breed. During each V-Blank, it writes value $03, then $01 to this address, reads and writes to PPU registers, then writes value $00 to this address once complete.

Expansion RAM ($5C00-$5FFF, read/write)

  • Mode 0/1 - Not readable (returns open bus), can only be written while the PPU is rendering (otherwise, 0 is written)
  • Mode 2 - Readable and writable
  • Mode 3 - Read-only

In Mode 1, nametable fetches are processed normally, and can come from CIRAM nametables, fill mode, or even Expansion RAM, but attribute fetches are replaced by data from Expansion RAM.

Each byte of Expansion RAM is used to enhance the tile at the corresponding address in every nametable (so the extended attributes are 1-screen mirrored):

7  bit  0
---- ----
AACC CCCC
|||| ||||
||++-++++- Select 4 KB CHR bank to use with specified tile
++-------- Select palette to use with specified tile

The pattern fetches ignore the standard CHR banking bits, and instead use the top two bits of $5130 and the bottom 6 bits from Expansion RAM to choose a 4KB bank to select the tile from.

Just Breed, Yakuman Tengoku, and the Koei games use extended attributes continuously.

Scanline Detection

MMC5 'in frame' status bit state diagram

Scanline detection involves monitoring the addresses read by the PPU. In the state diagram to the right, PPU /RD going low indicates a read by the PPU. M2 rising indicates a clock cycle of the CPU. A PPU address is considered "in range" if the address is in the range $2000 - $2FFF.

When the MMC5 has detected that a scanline is rendering, the 'in frame' status bit gets set in register $5204 and the internal 8-bit scanline counter is incremented. Software can use this status bit as an indication of whether or not the PPU is currently rendering.

It appears that all 240 rendered scanlines as well as the pre-render scanline are all detected by the MMC5. It also appears that scanlines are detected near their end (or near the start of the next scanline). See also [4].

The 'in frame' status bit is cleared as soon as the MMC5 no longer detects PPU rendering. This happens at the end of the last rendered scanline, and whenever the PPU is switched off (Sprite and BG rendering disabled).

Note that there are side-effects to switching off the PPU mid frame. Clearing the In Frame signal effectively resets the IRQ counter as can be seen in the logic given above. Therefore, if the PPU is switched back on in the frame, the IRQ counter will begin counting from $00 again.

The system reset detection observed in the 16-bit software timer does not appear to have any effect on the 'in frame' status bit or the state diagram on the right. It is unknown if reset detection clears the scanline counter or a pending scanline IRQ.

Scanline-Counting IRQ Operation

The MMC5 has an internal 8-bit incrementing scanline counter that watches the PPU as it renders, and counts each passing scanline. When the counter reaches the scanline specified by register $5203, it generates an IRQ. For example, when register $5203 is set to $04, the IRQ will occur near the start of the 5th rendered scanline.

When the MMC5 detects a scanline, the following events occur:

  • If the 'in frame' status bit is clear, set it, reset the IRQ counter to 0, and clear the IRQ Pending flag
  • Otherwise, increment the IRQ counter. If it now equals the IRQ scanline specified by register $5203, raise IRQ Pending flag and generate an IRQ if enabled

Note the above logic makes it impossible for an IRQ to occur when $5203 is set to $00

The IRQ Pending flag is raised when the desired scanline is reached regardless of whether or not IRQs are enabled. $5204.7 can still be read as set even when IRQ Enable flag is clear. However, an actual IRQ is only sent to the CPU if both the IRQ Enable flag and IRQ Pending flag are raised.

Hardware

The MMC5 exists in a 100-pin TQFP package, see MMC5 pinout for details.

MMC5 cartridge PCBs can be configured to different modes, see ExROM for details.

At least two different versions of the MMC5 are known to exist: MMC5, and MMC5A. Their differences are unknown.

See also

  • NES Mapper list by Disch [5]
  • Nintendo MMC5 by goroh, translated by Sgt. Bowhack [6]
  • Nintendo MMC5 Bankswitching by Kevin Horton [7]