Getting Started with G.I.M.I.C

(Some of the information on this Getting Started page is outdated. A major renewal on its way!)
You can move around this Wiki from the menu on the left. Pages marked (jp) are currently only in Japanese.

What can I do with G.I.M.I.C? Which parts do I need?

--- Here we'll answer these basic questions.

What is G.I.M.I.C?

The G.I.M.I.C is a modular chiptune sound generating system: It can be loaded with various modules with sound chips that were employed in home computers and arcade games through the 80s and 90s.*1

By exchanging modules, it can emulate a range of chiptune sound systems. Currently, OPN3-L, OPNA, OPM, and OPL3 are available as sound chip modules.

The G.I.M.I.C sound modules come with their respective sound chips already mounted, so you don't have to look elsewhere (or "scavenge") for them!

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What is it good for?

At this point of development, the G.I.M.I.C can play S98 formatted FM control log files, which can be created by logging play data with a PC-88/PC-98/X1 emulator.

Additionally, each sound chip module has one or more data formats it can play without conversion:
The OPM Module can play MDX, the format used by the MXDRV FM sound driver for SHARP X68000;
The OPNA and OPN3-L Modules can play song files for PMD or FMP, FM sound drivers for NEC PC-88/PC-98.

You need a PC with an SD card reader to copy S98/MDX/PMD song files onto an SD card. The SD card can then be inserted to the GIMIC's SD card slot, through which GIMIC will read and play the files.

For future plan, we are considering support for direct control from PC of the sound chips loaded on GIMIC*2 and MIDI-controllability*3.

Where can I get it? online store ships our products overseas. Search G.I.M.I.C to see our products.
The site is currently in Japanese, but they say they are working on English pages, so check back often!

Things to Prepare Before Acquiring Your G.I.M.I.C

SD Card Reader and SD Card

As said above, the most basic way for the GIMIC to play song files is to read them out of an SD card.

Although the GIMIC has an SD card reader built in, a PC will NOT recognize it as a card reading device when connected to the GIMIC via USB.

Consequently you need an SD card reader that can be used with your PC, and an SD card to copy the files onto.

We recommend using cards with capacities from 2GB to 4GB. The GIMIC can handle SDHC cards with up to 8GB capacity.

USB Cable

Since the GIMIC draws power from a USB power source, you need a USB cable of type Standard-AB (which we don't include in our packages).

For reference, here is a link to ELECOM's USB cable specification page. See the pictures to make sure which type of connector you need.

Cables of this type are commonly included in packages of PC accessories or peripherals (e.g. printers), so you may have already one in stock.

Besides PCs, you can also use an USB to AC Adapter or a self-powered USB hub as the power source.

GIMIC Modules: Primary

To play any sound with the G.I.M.I.C, you need a motherboard and at least one sound chip module (Lite motherboard can be used without any sound chip modules). Below are short descriptions of these primary modules.

GMC-MB2: Motherboard

The heart and core of the G.I.M.I.C, the motherboard controls the sound chip modules with its 32-bit, 72 MHz ARM processor. It's also equipped with a microSD card slot to read data from, and a 3.5mm stereo jack for audio output.

GMC-OPN3L: OPN3-L Module

OPN3-L (YMF288) is the sound chip employed in NEC PC-9821 in its later years.

The chip is in some degree compatible with OPN (YM2203) and OPNA (YM2608), the sound chips of PC-6601SR, PC-8001mkIISR, PC-8801mkIISR (and the later models of the series), PC-9801 series, PC-9821 series, FUJITSU FM77AV series, SHARP MZ-2500 and so on. *4


A module mounted with an OPNA (YM2608) sound chip mentioned above.

Just as SoundBoard II of PC-8801 series, this modules has a DRAM exclusively alloted for ADPCM synthesis, which makes possible an exact reproduction of PC-88 sounds.

It also has a variable FM/SSG mix balance, which can be utilized to emulate sound systems of both PC-88 and PC-98 (86 SoundBoard).


OPM (YM2151) is the FM sound chip of SHARP X1TurboZ and X68000, employed also in arcade game systems of 80s and 90s.*5

GMC-OPL3: OPL3 Module

A module mounted with an OPL3 (YMF262-M) sound chip, the FM LSI used by Adlib GOLD 1000, Creative Sound Blaster Pro 2.0, VIBRA 16 and Sound Blaster 16. This module can be used to reproduce the sounds of IBM PC compatibles in their MS-DOS era.

Connect one of these sound chip modules to the motherboard, and your GIMIC is ready to play!

GIMIC Modules: Secondary

Here is a list of optional modules to expand and enhance your GIMIC.

GMC-OPT02: Digital Output Module for OPN3-L

This module enables direct digital output from OPN3-L. You can feed the signal into any external DAC of your choice and pursue the best end results.


You can connect a ten-key to the USB Standard-A port of the motherboard and use it as an external controller to play/pause and choose tracks.

We are not offering ten-keys themselves, so please acquire one (if necessary) through your preferred vendor.

Future Projects

We at the G.I.M.I.C. Project are planning further development, both hardware and software-wise. Some of the projects are listed below.

PCM Module

A PCM sound chip module equipped with an Altera's FPGA.

It will play various PCM formats (e.g. ADPCM of X68000, PCM sounds of PC-9821's 86 SoundBoard) with its powerful emulating ability.

OPLL Module

A sound chip module mounted with a YM2413B (a.k.a. OPLL), YAMAHA's FM LSI.

While as yet no software emulation of the OPLL has been wholly successful, this module will realize a faithful reproduction of its sounds by employing the authentic chip.

PSG Module

A sound chip module with YAMAHA's SSG LSI, YM2149F. We will make a special expansion to its processor register for a higher sound playing compatibility.

High-Spec Motherboard

A motherboad that can be loaded with multiple sound chip modules and control them simultaneously.

The GIMIC with this motherboard will be able to handle up to 4 sound chips at the same time.

Control with MIDI

Controllability from an external MIDI input, with which the GIMIC will be able to act as a hardware synthesizer.

Inter-GIMIC Syncability

Ability for chain-connected GIMICs to be synced to each other to form an ensemble.

Optimizations for Live DJ'ing

DJ-oriented features that will enhance live use, such as a CUE monitoring function.

*1 The currently available version of the motherboard can be mounted with only one sound chip module at a time. A variation with an ability to handle multiple sound chips simultaneously is currently under development.
*2 The feature will enable PC-88/PC-98/X1/X68000 emulators to use GIMIC as an external sound system, among other things.
*3 Which will give GIMIC an ability to act as a MIDI-controlled sound device like YAMAHA FB-01 or TX81Z.
*4 The compatibility is only partial. For example, OPN3-L has no ADPCM synthesis, which on the other hand OPNA does. Also, OPN3-L's FM/SSG mix balance is not changeable.
*5 OPP (YM2164) sound chip in YAMAHA FB-01, DX21, DX27, DX100 and KORG DS-8, 707 etc. is compatible OPM.

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Last-modified: 2014-03-12 (水) 02:04:51 (2312d)