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RetroArch need your feedback on their Open-Hardware planned for 2022

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RetroArch announced back in February 2021 their plans for the Open-Hardware project. This was to bring an easy way for you to play your legally owned physical games directly in emulators and they have an update on their plans.

The idea is a sound one. Giving you open source hardware to plug in various cartridges from retro consoles, with great integration with RetroArch directly. You would no longer need to rely on various hard to come by proprietary solutions. In the new blog post though, plans have changed - and sounds like it's for the better.

Instead of it purely being for the DIY market of tinkerers, they're now partnering with a hardware manufacturer for a proper commercial release, which should enable many more people to get it. They made it clear the "free and open DIY route" will still be a thing though for people to make it themselves. As a result, the hardware will be more modular. There will be a base unit that you connect with various addon modules, each of these additional bits supporting different older console hardware. Although the initial release still targets the Nintendo 64.

The good news is that it sounds like it's going well, with plans to enter production in mid 2022 for release by the end of the year. That is, unless they also come up against supply chain issues.

RetroArch's team has asked that people sign up to their Newsletter and fill out a Survey so they can get more info from people who are interested.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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15 comments
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TrainDoc 20 Jan
The importance of libRetro and their emulator work cannot be understated and their aims to produce compatible virtualization/emulation hardware are extremely important.
Museums like the video game history foundation in Oakland, CA preserve a ton of game history but they work directly with companies. With this open hardware concept end user preservation of games/game cartridges etc would be so much more viable.
Phlebiac 20 Jan
Manufacturing compatible hardware seems like opening the door to lawsuits; Nintendo in particular likes to lawyer up. I hope it doesn't go that way, but I personally wouldn't want that liability. That said, as a potential consumer, I hope it is successful!
TrainDoc 20 Jan
Quoting: PhlebiacManufacturing compatible hardware seems like opening the door to lawsuits; Nintendo in particular likes to lawyer up.

While I agree, Nintendo isn't making NES, SNES, N64 or Gamecube consoles anymore. And since this is hardware that depends on physical media (cartridges/discs etc) Nintendo has no legal standing to prevent them unless RetroArch screw up and copy BIOS code etc which I don't see them doing.
elmapul 20 Jan
Quoting: TrainDoc
Quoting: PhlebiacManufacturing compatible hardware seems like opening the door to lawsuits; Nintendo in particular likes to lawyer up.

While I agree, Nintendo isn't making NES, SNES, N64 or Gamecube consoles anymore. And since this is hardware that depends on physical media (cartridges/discs etc) Nintendo has no legal standing to prevent them unless RetroArch screw up and copy BIOS code etc which I don't see them doing.


they made nes mini and snes mini recently, and put an n64 emulator on switch...
furaxhornyx 20 Jan
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So, this is an hardware emulator, for people still owning the cartridges, but no longer the console, right ?
What is the difference with simply using emulators and ROM then ?
Marlock 20 Jan
IMHO offering a widely available way where an emulator can read from a real cartridge via usb instead of from a downloaded ROM actually creates a stronger legal defense and legitimacy for the emulator scene (with a caveat)

ROMs are extracted by one person from a cartridge and in several countries can be legally downloaded and used only by other people who already own a cartridge themselves

this would let them use their cartridge directly instead of grabbing ROMs online, so it makes the emulator software more obviously legal... and possibly the ROM distribuition less so?

in any case, third-party console manufacture already existed (eg: CCE's Dynavision Action for the original NES) when the original consoles where still in production, so I expect this new hardware is probably nothing out of the ordinary to prove legal now
Nocifer 20 Jan
Quoting: furaxhornyxSo, this is an hardware emulator, for people still owning the cartridges, but no longer the console, right ?
What is the difference with simply using emulators and ROM then ?

Well, the obvious difference is that you don't need to download a hard to find (for the layman) and possibly illegal ROM, but can rather use your own collection of physical cartridges instead. The emulator part stays the same, in that either this hardware will be running libretro internally or it will be possible to plug it in via e.g. USB to another device (a PC, a smartphone, etc) and use that to run libretro and boot the game, just like you would do with a ROM.
CyborgZeta 20 Jan
This is very cool, although I own few N64 games now compared to back when I was a kid. Being able to play my Conker's Bad Fur Day and Majora's Mask cartridges again would be neat though, I suppose.

Personally, I'd love to see something like this for PlayStation 2 some day. I have such a huge PS2 library, and with PS2 emulation still being far from perfect, being able to fall back on discs would be quite welcome. My PS2 I got back in 2005 still works; heck, I played .hack on it as recently as 2020...but I'd like to leave it retired. These days, I generally prefer using emulators whenever possible, although I have been playing on a Dreamcast I acquired recently.
TrainDoc 20 Jan
Quoting: elmapul
Quoting: TrainDoc
Quoting: PhlebiacManufacturing compatible hardware seems like opening the door to lawsuits; Nintendo in particular likes to lawyer up.

While I agree, Nintendo isn't making NES, SNES, N64 or Gamecube consoles anymore. And since this is hardware that depends on physical media (cartridges/discs etc) Nintendo has no legal standing to prevent them unless RetroArch screw up and copy BIOS code etc which I don't see them doing.


they made nes mini and snes mini recently, and put an n64 emulator on switch...

Do they take their respective cartridges?
elmapul 20 Jan
Quoting: TrainDoc
Quoting: elmapul
Quoting: TrainDoc
Quoting: PhlebiacManufacturing compatible hardware seems like opening the door to lawsuits; Nintendo in particular likes to lawyer up.

While I agree, Nintendo isn't making NES, SNES, N64 or Gamecube consoles anymore. And since this is hardware that depends on physical media (cartridges/discs etc) Nintendo has no legal standing to prevent them unless RetroArch screw up and copy BIOS code etc which I don't see them doing.


they made nes mini and snes mini recently, and put an n64 emulator on switch...

Do they take their respective cartridges?

no, but it affect their business model, not sure on how an lawyer would interpret that
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