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Raspberry Pi - cab CPU & game dev platform?

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I really didn't even know which forum to put this one in....

I'm hyped over the new Raspberry Pi computer that's coming out.  For those of you who've been living in a cave, this is a computer about the size of a credit card -- currently being sold without even a case, although there will be some sort of case when they get into true mass production.  They are selling for $35!  It's got a 700 MHz ARM6 processor, a pretty powerful GPU, and 256 MB RAM shared between them.  It will be supported with various Linux distros.

This was designed as a platform to teach programming, but it's a true general-purpose computer that people are coming up with a huge range of potential uses for.

Of course, I thought about using one to drive an arcade cabinet.  I'm sure MAME will run on it, though the ARM processor is pretty weak by today's standards.  I've heard it compared with a 200 MHz Pentium.  The GPU is mighty, but it won't really be of any help with MAME.  So...  That's kind of boring, it won't do anything we haven't already seen.  I'm guessing it'll run 8-bit games OK, and possibly some 68000-based games, since 68K emulation in MAME is pretty well optimized.

Then I realized, what we really need is to design and program our own arcade games for this thing!  Running natively and taking advantage of hardware accelerated OpenGL ES and OpenVL (for 2D stuff), it should have plenty of power for games.  Now you're looking at something in roughly the same league as the original XBox.  It's all open to programming with C (or Objective-C, or C++) or even with Python.  I mean, obviously you're not gonna make the next Halo on it, just because of the sheer size and costs of a project like that.  However, I can think of buttloads of computer and arcade games from the 1980s that could be recreated and given a new spin by one programmer, or by a few guys working together, just like the "demo scene" of old.

The whole cabinet experience has been great, and I'm proud of the couple of MAME cabs I've built.  To me, creating our own games seems like the logical next step, to take it to the next level.  With the Raspberry Pi we're gonna have a platform that is cheap, is standardized (anything that'll run on one of them should run on any of them, and with the same performance), is well suited to games (powerful GPU) and is wide open to programming without any licensing or expensive developer kit.


--- Quote from: pinballjim on April 21, 2012, 08:47:36 pm ---Wake us up when you actually have one in your hand....


--- End quote ---

They're shipping!  I haven't even placed my pre-order yet.  They've got 350,000 pre-orders logged, so even with the factory cranking them out it's gonna take a few months to catch up.

Turvey:  and ;)

I noticed there were a couple of other threads about the Raspberry Pi, but they mostly seem concerned (understandably) with running emulators.  I can see where that would be cool for some purposes....  like really small "bar top" cabinets, maybe.

I'm just thinking along different lines and remembering the Amiga heyday and some of the cool free games that hackers and demo coders cranked out for it.  (There probably would have been more of those, if they didn't already have such a flood of pirated commercial games making the rounds!)

Obviously, I will be happy to post when I get my hands on a Raspberry Pi.  I don't think it's too soon to be thinking about what we can do with it, though.  Most Linux boxes (or even Macs, I think) can be set up with PyGame and the like.  And the Pi's specs are pretty well documented.

EDIT:  Incidentally, before I ever heard about the Raspberry Pi, I was interested in the Trim Slice.  The catch there is that the "bare bones" Trim Slice is $213, and it just never garnered much attention.  At that price point you might as well go ahead and spring for an Atom-based nettop anyhow -- or a refurbished tower system off eBay.  And if they aren't sold in large numbers, and don't reach "critical mass" of people using them, then there's a lot less support and everything is harder.


I pre-ordered one. I figure when it shows up, it shows up.  :cheers:

I like your idea of using it for homebrews.


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