A Playstation 1 emulator written in Javascript
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JSX, a Javascript Playstation Emulator

JSX is a Playstation emulator written in Javascript. The goal of this project is to test the limit of modern Javascript engines and new technologies like WebGL by throwing at them a problem that developers traditionally solved with lower- level languages, like C++, C or even assembly.

Why the Playstation?

Out of the first consoles with 3D capabilities, the Playstation is by far the simplest. The Nintendo 64 sports three coprocessors that act in parallel, two of which with seemingly overlapping tasks and with instructions sets that are still obscure to the emulation community. Also, as its name implies, the N64 has a 64 bits CPU, making it a lot harder to implement in Javascript, since the language doesn't have 64-bit integers. It also has real virtual memory, obfuscated boot sequences, a floating-point unit, and all kinds of cool things that make it a more powerful console--but definitely not an easier-to-emulate console.

On the other hand, the Playstation has a very simple CPU, no virtual memory, no FPU, just one active processor and just a handful of connected devices. This makes it a much more convenient platform to emulate, especially under the tight constraints of Javascript.

Hardware and Memory

JSX has been written with some modularity in mind. Global variables are avoided like plague and disparate components are connected through the Playstation class. The Memory class implements the memory map, and special devices can wire themselves through the HardwareRegisters class.


The CPU core dynamically translates MIPS R3000a machine code into JS, leveraging most modern engines' ability to compile JS into native code. While most of the core instruction set has been implemented, instructions from the Geometry Transformation Engine are notably missing.

The MIPS R3000a has two instruction families to modify the execution flow: branches (opcodes starting in b) and jumps (opcodes starting in j). Branches are possibly-conditional, small jumps that are performed inside the same subroutine. Jumps will usually go to a far place, start a new subroutine (with jal, jump-and-link), or go to a variable location. The two are handled differently by the code generator.

Since Javascript doesn't exactly have goto statements, labels for branches are implemented using a switch statement inside a loop. Each time a branch is taken, the pc variable is modified and execution is returned at the beginning of the loop. The switch then targets a different location based on said pc variable.

Jumps, on the other hand, cause the generated function to return the next execution address. This gracefully handles indirect jumps, since we cannot determine their address at recompile-time. We simply have to return the value of a register.

Since the PSX has only 2 MB or RAM, games will often swap in and out executable code. Because of that constraint, a FunctionCache class connected to the code generator and to the Memory class keeps track of the generated functions, and when a memory write is performed, it will invalidate all functions in the 256 bytes range it belongs to.

Running JSX

To run JSX, you will need to obtain a Playstation BIOS first. As this file is copyrighted by Sony, its distribution is illegal and you will need to dump your Playstation to obtain it.

Currently, JSX is able to execute some of the BIOS code and gets stuck when it would need the GPU to actually do something.