RISC OS emu ported to games consoleBy Chris Williams. Published: 26th Feb 2006, 23:20:16 | Permalink | Printable
Welcoming ArcEm with open ARMsAn Archimedes emulator has been ported to an ARM powered games console as part of a coding competition. Ian Jeffray took the open source ArcEm and produced a version for Game Park Holding's GP2X gadget - a device powered by two ARM processors. Ian had only 20 days to prepare a port of the emulator and eventually managed to get it displaying the RISC OS 3 desktop on the dual 200MHz ARM9 console. He was also able to use the device's hardware acceleration to scale the desktop down for the portable LCD screen and provide a mouse cursor.
Other entries in the GP2X 2006 competition included a Game Boy emulator and a port of Bubble Train, also available on RISC OS. The Bubble Train game won the event, according to results released earlier today.
"The GP2X scene is mad for emulators and there was no Acorn showing," said Ian when asked why he attempted the ArcEM port.
He continued: "I don't know why ArcEM [on the GP2X] is running three times slower than on a RiscPC, I need to profile it. It needs to be five times faster to be sane and 10 times faster to be useful for games. The people working on the Game Boy Advance emulator are having some trouble, so it seems that an ARM isn't a good CPU for emulating an ARM platform.
"The lack of raw processing power is likely, but you need a lot of code to emulate a single machine code instruction, so to even emulate a 8MHz ARM7 GBA on a 200MHz ARM9 GP2X is quite a factor. And you have to be emulating the graphics, sound and so on at the same time. Perhaps the second CPU on the GP2X can help with that."
The source code to the GP2X port has been added to the ArcEm CVS repository for anyone curious enough to toy with the project and improve upon it. The ArcEm contributors have recently worked on adding sound support to the software and implementing HostFS - allowing the emulator to access the files on the host operating system's file systems.
Released in November 2005, the GP2X uses the combination of an ARM920T and an ARM940T, with 64M of RAM, to run Linux and games, using just two AA batteries. Ian has previously worked on RISC OS games titles, including Inferno and Burn 'Out.
Ian's GP2X webpage
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