Author Topic: Do we need a standalone GCW-Zero emulator?  (Read 395 times)

Inferno986return (OP)

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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:

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 Ive 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. Id 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.


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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)

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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. :)