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The team behind the Linux-powered games console, the Atari VCS, recently had a three-day session together to go over the progress and it seems quite interesting. It's not exactly going to into a huge amount of depth, really most of it sounds like the obvious things they would be working on but it's still good to see it progress forward after their successful IndieGoGo campaign.

For the actual console itself, they shared pictures of the oversized "custom" AMD development board, with the Bristol Ridge processor and 8GB of RAM:

Obviously the final version is going to be a lot smaller. They say they're using this to allow them to have extra sensors and things like that, which are required for calculating thermal load under various power draw scenarios and so on. They're trying to get the AMD APU to run as fast as possible, without melting away.

Currently, the Atari Classic Joystick and Atari Modern Controller designs are being finalised with their hardware partner Power A. Their modern gamepad is actually based on Power A’s Xbox One/PC controllers with added bluetooth to work directly with the Atari VCS. They're also still going over things like battery options, to give the best cost vs power and things like that.

When it comes to games, they've obviously tested the Atari Vault as well as Rocket League, Terraria, Basketball Classics, Borderlands 2, Broforce, Smugglecraft, Dropsy, Banner Saga, Shadow Warrior, and several others so it's looking like they might have a pretty decent list of games tested working with it.


Some of the team together.

To be taken with a pinch of salt, they also said about talking to various "large and small studios, publishers and content providers" in regards to getting their content on the console.

In addition to games, they said that standalone applications for Twitch, Netflix, Amazon Video and Amazon Music, YouTube, Spotify and others are also being work on. This is something that was really missing for Steam Machines with SteamOS, so I am glad that's also a focus of it.

I'm still not entirely sold on it, because so many things can still go wrong at this point while it's all under heavy development. However, I'm optimistic about the idea of it, because to get games onto the Atari VCS they first need to support Linux. I doubt many developers will want to remain exclusive to the VCS, when they could also put the Linux version on Steam, GOG and others too. On top of that, having a small gaming unit that runs Linux, sat under my TV sounds pretty ideal to me.

Looking even further on it, since they're using AMD this might even help their drivers. A lot of things to think about, will keep an eye on it. As I said before, if it does fully come to market we will probably pick one up to test-drive and review it. After all, it is a proper Linux gaming device.

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21 comments
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Sputnik_tr_02 29 August 2018 at 3:45 pm UTC
Since Steam Play and Proton is a thing now this could be a nice peace of hardware to play less demanding games. I hope they can deliver what they are promising. Fingers crossed.
hummer010 29 August 2018 at 4:25 pm UTC
I still don't get the Bristol Ridge decision. Raven Ridge seems like a much better choice. I might be willing to actually buy it if it was Raven Ridge...
razing32 29 August 2018 at 5:00 pm UTC
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Keeping an eye on it seems best thing to do.
Seems opinions range from anticipation to skepticism and disbelief.
Will wait and see this thing in action once released.
Mohandevir 29 August 2018 at 5:18 pm UTC
SteamPlay... SteamOS 3.0 in active development... I think I will wait for the second wave of Steam Machines (Ryzen + Vega based).


Last edited by Mohandevir at 29 August 2018 at 5:19 pm UTC
GustyGhost 29 August 2018 at 7:56 pm UTC
hummer010I still don't get the Bristol Ridge decision. Raven Ridge seems like a much better choice. I might be willing to actually buy it if it was Raven Ridge...

I had to jump through flaming hoops and drag my rear through a thousand miles of glass shards to get my hands on a Raven Ridge (35W). To the latest of my knowledge, OEMs aren't able to get 35W RR in volume still which is why there haven't been (m)any prebuilts with it yet. I suppose Atari could raise the thermal envelope for the VCS to get current batches of Raven Ridge but they probably want it to be as silent as possible.

Oh and I almost forgot!: Raven Ridge (any TDP) is still unstable on Linux with AMDGPU. It is prone to hard lockups which require force reset and, to add insult to injury, Raven Ridge Linux systems often need to be booted several times before successfully bringing up a graphical session. It doesn't matter if you have kernel 4.15, 4.16, 4.17, AMDGPU is simply incomplete for Raven Ridge as of right now.

So I can understand their decision to go with Bristol Ridge. It is still a fast chip.
hummer010 29 August 2018 at 8:07 pm UTC
GustyGhost
hummer010I still don't get the Bristol Ridge decision. Raven Ridge seems like a much better choice. I might be willing to actually buy it if it was Raven Ridge...

I had to jump through flaming hoops and drag my rear through a thousand miles of glass shards to get my hands on a Raven Ridge (35W). To the latest of my knowledge, OEMs aren't able to get 35W RR in volume still which is why there haven't been (m)any prebuilts with it yet. I suppose Atari could raise the thermal envelope for the VCS to get current batches of Raven Ridge but they probably want it to be as silent as possible.

Oh and I almost forgot!: Raven Ridge (any TDP) is still unstable on Linux with AMDGPU. It is prone to hard lockups which require force reset and, to add insult to injury, Raven Ridge Linux systems often need to be booted several times before successfully bringing up a graphical session. It doesn't matter if you have kernel 4.15, 4.16, 4.17, AMDGPU is simply incomplete for Raven Ridge as of right now.

So I can understand their decision to go with Bristol Ridge. It is still a fast chip.

That hasn't been my recent experience with Raven Ridge (I've got an HP Envy x360 with a 2500u). I don't think I've had a lockup since I started using 4.18. I'm rolling my own kernel to get the touchscreen working, but I haven't made any changes specific to Ryzen or Vega. I never had to boot multiple times to get a graphical session, ever.

I'll admit, the early days with this laptop were rather frustrating. Especially since my primary reason for buying this laptop was all the talk about how great the AMDGPU driver was.
Jaromir 29 August 2018 at 9:20 pm UTC
I don't really know if the weaker GPU is a good choice or not. It makes the device more attractive as a cheap multimedia PC for running (for example) Kodi on a TV. But I think that this would make the device less competitive for gaming. I personally wouldn't mind paying 50 dollar extra for a better GPU.
Leopard 29 August 2018 at 9:41 pm UTC
QuoteRocket League

They tested it and it performed good?

Yes they can test it but i bet that ran like crap on that hardware.
Maki 29 August 2018 at 10:06 pm UTC
I really really want to know what they plugged into those PCIe slots... or any of the others, really. I'd love to see which of these ports remain on the production board and what, if anything, they (or the end-user) can do with them.
tuubi 29 August 2018 at 10:30 pm UTC
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Leopard
QuoteRocket League

They tested it and it performed good?

Yes they can test it but i bet that ran like crap on that hardware.
Should run just fine with reasonably low graphical settings. It's pretty much playable at 720p even on an Intel iGPU (I've tried it), so the A10/R7 should do just fine. Won't be beautiful on a big TV screen but it'll run.
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