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Author Topic: Do we need a standalone GCW-Zero emulator?  (Read 2118 times)

Inferno986return (OP)

  • Posts: 7
Do we need a standalone GCW-Zero emulator?
« on: April 04, 2018, 10:21:23 pm »
First off, I apologise if this post is in the wrong thread. It was a choice between General, Development and Emulation to me and I chose the former.

So I have been pondering about a standalone GCW-Zero emulator that only requires .opk files and possibly an OpenDingux image. While a GCW-Zero emulator would be useful for developers and those that can't get there hands on a GCW-Zero unit, my ulterior motive is to eventually see a GCW-Zero core on Retroarch so I can play games such as Unnamed Monkey Game on a wide variety of hardware: https://forums.libretro.com/t/core-and-feature-requests/5895/306

To quote myself from the Retroarch forums:

I would like to suggest a GCW-Zero core addition for all platforms if possible. The GCW-Zero is an open source (both hardware and software AFAIK) handheld and successor to Dingoo. It has a decent library of games and I think it would be a great addition to Retroarch. The games are distributed as .opk files, most have their source code available and only a few I?ve seen do not. These games are usually just programmed in C and use SDL.

I have suggested porting individual games to Retroarch in the past and put $5 towards a Solarus Engine port, but for me the ultimate culmination of these ideas is a GCW-Zero core that emulates the games. I?d be happy to consider Bountysource for this suggestion.

While I applaud dmitry_smagin for his QEMU implementation, it's tricky to setup and limited in features. The apparent lack of GLES support makes it tricky for 3D content, for example.


  • Posts: 1446
Re: Do we need a standalone GCW-Zero emulator?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 02:01:37 pm »
You're right, the "closest" thing to an emulator is using QEMU with dimtry's gcw firmware image.
Unfortunely, he removed SDL2 from the rootfs file and the emulated GPU (a cirrus in this instance) does not support OpenGLES.

However, if the new firmware with Linux 4.16+ comes out, it will be possible to use it with VirtIO and VirGL, giving us the ability
to use hardware acceleration from your host computer.
(provided that you use a linux distribution that builds qemu with virgl support ofc, which isn't the case for debian yet)

However, without a new firmware, nothing else can be done. So its best to wait i guess.

And even then, it won't be a proper emulator. For example, it will not be able to emulate the slowness of the Vivante GPU core. :P
But speed issues aside, it should satisfy most people.

Another reason why there's no such thing in the work is because most games (if not all of them, with the exception of MazezaM and zerox86, both of which are proprietary) are available or can be ported to PCs or other platforms.
Even Unnamed Monkey Game is planned for PCs if i'm not mistaken.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 02:06:20 pm by gameblabla »

Inferno986return (OP)

  • Posts: 7
Re: Do we need a standalone GCW-Zero emulator?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2018, 10:29:50 pm »
I appreciate getting another developer's response. Shortly after making this thread I took the liberty of e-mailing Dmitry directly.

Hello Dmitry,

I was reading through your article on running OpenDingux via QEMU and it intrigued me. I was thinking if it would be possible to create a standalone emulator which hopefully could one day become a core in Retroarch.


What do you think of this? Is this feasible? Should it be done?

His response was interesting:

Thanks for your mail.
Well, the short answer is yes and no. :) Yes, technically it's possible but no, it's not reasonable.
Even adding support for jz4770 soc to qemu would take enourmous amount of time and effort which is not possible for enthusiasts. The major problems ImgTec and MIPS have indicate that they will not hire anybody to do this. They even wrapped up their CI20 board support (more advanced jz4780 soc), so the future is rather obscure.
GCW-Zero is not a dedicated gaming handheld per se, it's more like a general purpose multimedia device disguised as a gaming device. There's no exclusive titles on it, but everything we have on other platforms. So, most probably nobody will care.
Sorry for that, but that's how I see the situation. :)


  • Posts: 1446
Re: Do we need a standalone GCW-Zero emulator?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2018, 12:29:43 am »
I had a crazy idea but i'm sure most devs out there will find it completely stupid.
Because the source to most GCW0 is available (with the exception of MazezaM and zerox86 again...),
it is possible to recompile them for the Intel architecture, including the very user interface itself !
(which is using libSDL too like most games)

Because Linux also supports OpenGL ES, it is also possible to take advantage of hardware acceleration.
With this in mind, it should as possible as making a thin linux distribution booting up Gmenu2X, with all the games provided inside.
Qemu also allows us to mount a virtual directory, which could be useful for finding OPKs and all.
However, it may be hard to implement it in a nice and conveniant user interface, which emulators might need for ROMS.
However, since emulators on the GCW0 are pointless (you have retroarch on phones and pc afterall), it's simply a matter of porting the few games on there and voila...

But of course why go through the trouble when you can easily run them on Linux and easily make a port for Windows ?
See ? That's why no one attempts to emulate consoles like the GP2X or the GCW Zero.

Inferno986return (OP)

  • Posts: 7
Re: Do we need a standalone GCW-Zero emulator?
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2018, 04:45:02 pm »
My focus would be the apps and games, but I agree that perhaps it might be unnecessary when they have the source available. Though I still like the sound of a Retroarch core where I can just load and play .opk files or have a virtual GCW-Zero on Windows or GNU/Linux.

I guess it just depends which crazy developer is willing to spend their time on such a novelty project.


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