The Nintendo 64 shipped with a Memory Expansion Bay which contained a Jumper Pack. Some games such as Donkey Kong 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask required additional RAM to run, and shipped with a 4MB Memory Expansion Pak which was installed via this Memory Expansion Bay. Were there any other uses (licensed or unlicensed) for the Memory Expansion Bay? I only see Memory Expansion Pak accessories online (both from Nintendo and third-party) for this slot.
Were there any other peripherals that used the Nintendo 64's Memory Expansion Bay besides the Expansion Pak?
1Donkey Kong 64 did not use the additional RAM, but would crash without it installed when they were testing it. It was cheaper to include a free RAM pak than to delay the game's release.– bobsburnerMar 13, 2020 at 9:42
@bobsburner That's actually a myth that was perpetuated by Mark Stevenson one of DK64's programmers. While there was a game breaking bug late in development, they fixed it before release. The push to use it was to help in marketing the game. You can find more details in this question: gaming.stackexchange.com/a/397113/214256– UnknownAug 5, 2022 at 18:23
No, this is only for RAM. The jumper pack actually just terminates connection of the onboard RAM and adding the expansion pack works just as it sounds.
You can even upgrade the capacity to even more RAM than is supplied by the expansion pack and the console will boot with it, but no games will take advantage of it.
You can tell from the vote count that your answer has been well received. Keep answering like this, and you'll soon be a trusted user. Thank you, and welcome to Stack Exchange.– wizzwizz4 ♦May 27, 2016 at 15:51
The RAMBUS bus was a very specific sort of thing, optimised for it's purpose of very-high-speed RAM, which was a black art then. So it wouldn't be suitable, or the best choice, for other hardware.
Besides which, any other hardware would be likely to mess up the functioning of the machine's internal RAM. The fact that a "jumper" (actually termination) pack goes there leads me to believe that there's only one RAMBUS channel on the machine. So anything plugging into that slot would've been connected to the onboard RAM's dedicated bus, which, as I mention, was very specifically tuned.
Modern PCs are the same. Early PCs had RAM and I/O devices all sharing the same CPU bus, but modern CPUs have specialised RAM controllers onboard, with dedicated pins for connecting only to RAM.
So no. If they had, it would've made the machine unreliable and cost a ton of money to adapt hardware to a specialised RAMBUS RAM bus, for no imaginable gain. Instead, you'd just put extra hardware in the slot underneath, the cartridge slot, or a controller port for slower speed data access. The cartridge slot would be a much friendlier place for electrical engineers! The underneath expansion slot was just an extension, same circuit connections, of the cart slot.
I believe Nintendo had some plans to add some extensions to it but in the end it just was for RAM. I always wondered that too.
2The main expansion port was on the bottom. The 64DD (Disk Drive) attached there: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_64_accessories#64DD May 27, 2016 at 7:14
@GeorgePhillips Actually, I heard they had plans to make things in the RAM extension port. I do know what you speak of though. My friend had one of those. May 27, 2016 at 15:04
This is a professional question and answer site. This means that answers must be answers (which this is, well done!) and, unlike a forum, must be as substantial as possible, and without "fluff" (e.g. "I always wondered that too."). Could you try to add more content to this answer please? The edit link is just below the text in your post.– wizzwizz4 ♦May 27, 2016 at 15:43
1So, we're all professional Retrocomputers here, then? We all own museums and the like, which pay us a salary?– GreenaumSep 16, 2019 at 15:57
1Mate, very few people on here are actual qualified experts. We're just people who know stuff. Because we have an interest, or are just knowledgable, about particular things. We're sharing that. That's all. It's not "Dial A Prof". If this place wanted things submitting professionaly with proper references, THEY can start paying me.– GreenaumSep 18, 2019 at 4:26