Support us on Patreon to keep GamingOnLinux alive. This ensures we have no timed articles and no paywalls. Just good, fresh content! Alternatively, you can donate through Paypal, Flattr and Liberapay!

While I remain quite sceptical of the Atari VCS, I'm still pretty interested in it as a Linux gaming device. Atari recently did a Q&A blog post detailing some interesting information about it. The post is written by Rob Wyatt, the System Architect for the Atari VCS device. If the name Rob Wyatt doesn't ring a bell—they were the original Xbox system architect.

Firstly, they've decided to upgrade the RAM from 4GB to 8GB, which gives it quite bit more room to breathe. Quite a lot of games require more RAM now, so that's good. Not expecting it to run some AAA games, but it's still a nice step forward for the device:

The VCS hardware will be powered by an AMD Bristol Ridge family APU with Radeon R7 graphics and is now going to get 8 gigabytes of unified memory. This is a huge upgrade from what was originally specified and unlike other consoles it’s all available, we won’t reserve 25% of hardware resources for system use.

They also explained why they went with Bristol Ridge instead of Ryzen:

Yes, on paper the Ryzen family is technically better but without increasing the cost and having a higher thermal capacity, a Ryzen APU would never run at full performance. When the Ryzen is operating in a thermally limited environment its performance is only marginally better than Bristol Ridge.

They're calling their version of Linux "AtariOS". To get a game to run on the Atari VCS, you need to ensure it "runs on Linux at HD resolution using standard runtime libraries" as they claim the changes will be minimal in getting it to support their hardware. This is really great, since it certainly could push a few extra developers towards getting their games on Linux.

Once a game supports Linux, it gains access to more traditional Linux distributions via Steam, GOG, itch and others as well as the Atari VCS now too. I just hope that developers don't end up only putting their games on the VCS.

What's really interesting as well, is their explanation of how you can run another Linux distribution alongside their official AtariOS:

Our core architecture consists of the Atari Secure Hypervisor and a heavily modified linux kernel called the AtariOS. All of this is in flash memory and before the AtariOS loads, any external storage device is checked, and if a bootable device is found, the OtherOS on that device is loaded instead. We don’t have a typical OS loader like UBoot or GRUB, and because the CPU is already in 64 bit protected mode from our boot code, the OtherOS will need its typical startup code changing.

For a Linux distribution loaded in their OtherOS mode, it will have full access to the hardware so it will be a proper Linux device that is yours. They say they will give out details on how to boot a standard Ubuntu distribution on it, so that's great.

This line also got me:

We never want to lose sight that it’s your hardware to do with as you want.

Words I hope they remember to stick by. An interesting blog post, that has certainly cleared up a few of my lingering worries about the device. 

They managed to raise just shy of three million on their IndieGoGo campaign, which seems like an impressive number, but likely not close to the real cost of getting this device past the prototype stage, manufactured and actually out in your hands. With that in mind, we will be watching it closely.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
19 Likes, Who?
We do often include affiliate links to earn us some pennies. We are currently affiliated with GOG, Humble Store and Paradox Interactive. See more information here.
29 comments
Page: «3/3
  Go to:

Mountain Man 16 July 2018 at 4:37 pm UTC
slaapliedje
Mountain ManIt's easy to "upgrade" the specs when you're dealing in vaporware.
Is it technically vaporware until after it's supposed to have come out, and then doesn't?

I mean you could say anything is vaporware until it's released. But I wouldn't assume it's vaporware until it's past time it's at least announced to be released.

But you're right, they can change the specs easily when the system isn't out and about. The question is, will it be like a Mac and have soldered on memory? Or will it be user upgradable?

There's just been a lot of fishy stuff surrounding this thing, such as missing the original target date with no explanation, no working prototypes being publicly demoed, and company reps who don't seem to know anything about their own product. It's hard not to draw parallels between the Atari VCS and the infamous Phantom console from Infinium Lab.


Last edited by Mountain Man at 16 July 2018 at 4:41 pm UTC
GustyGhost 16 July 2018 at 4:59 pm UTC
Guest
GustyGhost
QuoteWhen the Ryzen is operating in a thermally limited environment its performance is only marginally better than Bristol Ridge.

That is not my experience: https://www.gamingonlinux.com/forum/topic/3406/
That's a raw power test though, isn't it?
They are talking about running them both in the limited (bottle necked) environment of the VCS, and the Ryzen doesn't can't reach it's full potential, so it would be a waste of money and resources to use it.
So it makes sense to go for the cheaper option.

That is indeed thermally constrained: One small system fan and a thin client casing. Those stats are from 35W TDP chips and I reckon Atari's VCS is somewhere in that ballpark for heat dissipation.

If there is any reason they have elected to go with Bristol Ridge it is probably much more likely that the AMDGPU kernel module is still prone to freezes and that <=35W Raven Ridge is still difficult even for OEMs to source.


Last edited by GustyGhost at 16 July 2018 at 5:00 pm UTC
thelimeydragon 16 July 2018 at 7:02 pm UTC
There are only 2 futures for this device:

1) It never gets released and people get angry.


2) It has a very long prototyping stage and has delay after delay for release with poor communication, then it gets released but isn't quite what people expected and people get angry.


Linux or Not I wouldn't give this thing or people making it the time of day.


Last edited by thelimeydragon at 16 July 2018 at 7:03 pm UTC
slaapliedje 16 July 2018 at 7:43 pm UTC
View PC info
  • Supporter
  • Top Supporter
Mountain Man
slaapliedje
Mountain ManIt's easy to "upgrade" the specs when you're dealing in vaporware.
Is it technically vaporware until after it's supposed to have come out, and then doesn't?

I mean you could say anything is vaporware until it's released. But I wouldn't assume it's vaporware until it's past time it's at least announced to be released.

But you're right, they can change the specs easily when the system isn't out and about. The question is, will it be like a Mac and have soldered on memory? Or will it be user upgradable?

There's just been a lot of fishy stuff surrounding this thing, such as missing the original target date with no explanation, no working prototypes being publicly demoed, and company reps who don't seem to know anything about their own product. It's hard not to draw parallels between the Atari VCS and the infamous Phantom console from Infinium Lab.

Can't really disagree with you. I think the only explanation they really gave for the initial delay was 'we're not ready'
But I think it was right after that that Feargal Mac took a walk.
Yesman 19 July 2018 at 2:47 am UTC
Depending on how the chassis' construction is and the final price I would be tempted to buy one to just gut it and use the chassis to make a sexy lil HTPC, well, that is if it can actually house a mini itx board, but I digress.

Very promising product all around and I'm interested in seeing how it progresses.
slaapliedje 20 July 2018 at 5:13 am UTC
View PC info
  • Supporter
  • Top Supporter
YesmanDepending on how the chassis' construction is and the final price I would be tempted to buy one to just gut it and use the chassis to make a sexy lil HTPC, well, that is if it can actually house a mini itx board, but I digress.

Very promising product all around and I'm interested in seeing how it progresses.
yeah, if they would just sell a case for Mini-ITX boards. Then again with their comments about Ryzen being temperature throttled.. sounds like the case design isn't the greatest.
emphy 22 July 2018 at 8:51 am UTC
Quote...
When the Ryzen is operating in a thermally limited environment its performance is only marginally better than Bristol Ridge.

BS. There is no way in hell that the improved architecture and move to 14nm from 28nm in manufacturing is going to give a marginal performance improvement.

I strongly suspect that a bigger factor was that amd, having to get rid of a bunch of bristol ridge CPU's and chipsets that no one wants, gave a very nice deal to atari.


Last edited by emphy at 22 July 2018 at 8:58 am UTC
slaapliedje 23 July 2018 at 4:06 pm UTC
View PC info
  • Supporter
  • Top Supporter
emphy
Quote...
When the Ryzen is operating in a thermally limited environment its performance is only marginally better than Bristol Ridge.

BS. There is no way in hell that the improved architecture and move to 14nm from 28nm in manufacturing is going to give a marginal performance improvement.

I strongly suspect that a bigger factor was that amd, having to get rid of a bunch of bristol ridge CPU's and chipsets that no one wants, gave a very nice deal to atari.

I think the point was that it auto throttles when it is too hot, and when that happens the performance isn't much better. Anyone ever tested this to see if it is bullshit? Curious if they are lying or not.
emphy 24 July 2018 at 9:48 pm UTC
slaapliedje
emphy
Quote...
When the Ryzen is operating in a thermally limited environment its performance is only marginally better than Bristol Ridge.

BS. There is no way in hell that the improved architecture and move to 14nm from 28nm in manufacturing is going to give a marginal performance improvement.

I strongly suspect that a bigger factor was that amd, having to get rid of a bunch of bristol ridge CPU's and chipsets that no one wants, gave a very nice deal to atari.

I think the point was that it auto throttles when it is too hot, and when that happens the performance isn't much better. Anyone ever tested this to see if it is bullshit? Curious if they are lying or not.

Doesn't matter: this generation, AMD improved performance per watt on their cpu's so much it's not even funny. Apart from both chips being equally down clocked in any thermally constrained situation (probably bristol ridge gets down clocked more, due to the manufacturing process), even the high end bristol ridge chips require a significantly higher clock speed to keep up with even the low end ryzen processors.

As an example, in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7dOo_H2YbM , the ryzen 3 beats the a10 by, roughly, 70-80fps vs 40-50fps, at 50-60% cpu utilisation vs 80-90%

The only thinkable situation where atari's statement on ryzens performance in a thermally constrained environment might be true would be in an office environment, most certainly not when playing games from the last two decades.


Last edited by emphy at 25 July 2018 at 10:36 am UTC
  Go to:
While you're here, please consider supporting GamingOnLinux on Patreon, Liberapay or Paypal. We have no adverts, no paywalls, no timed exclusive articles. Just good, fresh content. Without your continued support, we simply could not continue!

You can find even more ways to support us on this dedicated page any time. If you already are, thank you!

Due to spam you need to Register and Login to comment.


Or login with...

Livestreams & Videos
Community Livestreams
  • Turn Around: „Shadowrun: Hong Kong“
  • Date:
See more!
Popular this week
View by Category
Contact
Latest Comments
Latest Forum Posts