After the sale of the Chase H.Q. I had room for another driving machine, an Asian Maximum Tune 3DX+. This is a game that I have written about before in relation to RLD and one of the best designed, modern arcade games to be released in a long time.
This blog update is designed to be a placeholder for valuable technical information regarding Namco’s N2 hardware platform. Full credit to ‘Crow’ from the Wangan Expressway forums for providing a lot of the technical data. Here is a quick run-down of what is known about the hardware and software;
Suspected to be a version of Linux, specifically some flavor of Debian but I haven’t verified this personally.
Appears to be a bespoke motherboard with no manufacturer markings other than Namco’s. Suspected to be a NVIDIA Nforce2 based chipset. AGP Graphics slot with two PCI slots.
The Motherboard accepts up to 2 sticks of 1GB DDR400 3200 speed RAM. Note that my board only had a 1GB stick of RAM when I first got it. The game ran fine, but seemed to have some framerate issues on the newer tracks. Framerate issues would start when one of these tracks was selected and would persist until reboot. Since installing the RAM, I have not experience framerate issues on these tracks.
The CPU is an AMD Athlon socket A / 462 type.
-Crow “My original one was specifically an AMD Athlon XP-M 2800+ which was AMDs MOBILE CPU range. I have test fitted an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ to the Mobo and it worked extremely well. Load times were about 4x faster HOWEVER due to this CPU being for a desktop device after about 10-15 minutes of running the game crashes and resets. I believe this is due to the standard power supply unit not being sufficient for the extra power required for the desktop CPU.”
-A later poster in the forum, ‘actown1’ replied to the thread to state that they had successfully replaced the original CPU with an XP 3200+ CPU and larger power supply. It was reported that the change was successful and the game had bun running fine since, albeit with additional cooling.
The Graphics card is a version of the Nvidia Geforce 4 series, specifically an AGP version of the Nvidia 7600GS 256MB. Reports from the same thread indicate that a special BIOS is required for the game to accept a replacement card.
The bios file can be located here and can be written back to the card by writing the file to any 512K SOIC8 serial EEPROM. The chip on the original GFX card is U504, but beware that you are dealing with surface mounted chips. (full credit to actown1)
I have a suspicion that you can also use the Nvidia flash tools to do this but I need to confirm.
Suspected to be a 240V, 400Watt unit. I think that the power supply is marginal to begin with and may be a cause of random system crashes. I am yet to verify.
Update 7th of December 2015
The power supply in my machine is one of the small form-factor, ITX / Flex style power supplies. Also worth noting that the 12V supply to the motherboard uses one of the older 4 pin connectors as opposed to the newer, 8 pin connectors.
From Crowe – “The Hard drive that my unit came supplied with was a 2.5″ IDE Seagate 80GB drive with the 3DX+ software installed. The Mobo uses IDE ports”
The drive in my machine appears to also be an IDE drive, but it is 3.25″. I am yet to verify the size / manufacturer.
From Crowe – “My unit also came with 2 security dongles that are REQUIRED to boot the game and are unique to the hard drive serial. They contain a program called HASP V0.06 that is anti piracy security lock software.”
My machine only has one dongle plugged in to the USB port. There is a second USB labelled 3DX+ Update which was just ‘floating’ around the cab when I got it. I am yet to dump the contents.
From Crow – “Along with these above components we have less critical ones, such as the sound card setup, which is a simple 5.1 with red and white AUX output that runs to the sound PCB. There is a connection port for the I/O boards next to the USB / Ethernet ports which connects up all the input devices such as the Steering assembly, card reader and shifter”
From my perspective, it looks like the I/O board is very similar to that which is used in a lot of Namco racing games over the last 15 years. It is a JVS type converter board that takes the Namco “Molex” type connector inputs and converts them over. I believe that the I/O board may be the same as that which was originally used in Wangan Midnight and Ridge Racer 5 on the System 246 platform. I am yet to verify this, but the boards do look very familiar.
Accessing the N2 motherboard requires removal of about 6-8 screws in the bass unit, along with undoing a lock…
…so long as you have the key. Once open, you can gain access to the N2 motherboard as well as the power supply units located in the base section of the cab.
Lastly, this is the system startup after RAM replacement. Unfortunately the system locks-ups continue. The next component to be replaced will either be the CPU or power-supply.