I’m very excited to see the surprise release of the Raspberry Pi 4 and I’ve managed to get one.
I haven’t had the chance to play with it yet as it’s going to take time for the emulator developers to get all the software to work. I think I might be able to get Playstation working early on but some of the more advanced stuff is going to take time. All the emulated systems should get a quick speed boost but longer term to really take advantage the emulators will need changes which will again take time.
It’s just hopeful speculation (I am no expert in this area) but here is some of the improvements I’m hoping for, I’m basing this on how close these are to working on the Pi 3 and extrapolating:
Should run the games in higher res mode without losing performance, high res makes it a bit too laggy on the current Pi.
Current games are a bit laggy in low res, hopefully can play in higher res with low lag. Don’t think it will resolve the graphical defects on House Of The Dead 2 Arcade though. Confidential Mission Arcade should run very nicely. Atomiswave lightgun games should run nice but still need lightgun support.
I expect House Of The Dead 2 and Confidential Mission to run very nicely although still need Lightgun support sorted on the DC games. Is there enough power to run Windows CE games in the future such as Virtua Cop 2?? Probably not but you never know.
This for me is the super big win I think for the Pi 4. It’s not going to happen overnight but I think we should get playable versions of Virtua Cop 1/2 and House Of The Dead in the future. May not hit full speed but just getting stuff running is a good start. I’m sure there will be more powerful versions of the Pi 4 to follow.
Time Crisis runs in slow motion on the current Pi, could it get to playable speed? I didn’t see much improvement when I tested on the Odroid XU4 so I don’t know whether it’s just raw power needed or whether Mame needs optimization. Point Blank 2 might get from 60% speed to near 100%? Alien 3 the gun should run very nicely, it’s a bit laggy at the moment. I haven’t managed to get it to work yet but games like Area 51 that just about run at near playable speed on the Pi 3 should give a much better experience.
Full version of Mame
I’m not too familiar with this but my understanding is that the current Pi needs a reduced version of Mame to run. If the full version can run it should mean nearly all Mame games run BUT are likely to be super slow. It would be cool to see Sega Model 2 on the Pi even if very very slow. Some games like Carnevil might become compatible and playable.
Sega Model 2
I think if someone wrote a linux compatible ARM optimised Sega Model 2 emulator from scratch it would work great on the Pi 4. I wonder what it would take to make something like this happen? The closed source windows Model 2 emulator runs so well it has kind of stalled development on Model 2 on other platforms. Could somebody do something with the Mame code that is derived from the Model 2 emulator?
Sega Model 3
I think it will work now but still way too slow to be playable. Would love to see Lost World on the Pi. The codebase is available and Linux compatible so somebody will experiment at some point. I’ve seen Sega Model 3 in a tiny window run with a handful of frames a second on the Pi 3. Would be good to see it full screen and hitting 10+fps?? as a start.
General performance improvement and run ahead should hopefully reduce lag.
Sometimes people look at just the video output to decide how playable something is. So yes Playstation runs full screen with low defects on the ARM devices but the key thing is that it is still quite laggy on top of that compared to superior x86 performance. I’m hoping that the Pi 4 will give a big boost to reducing lag. So on the surface in some systems you might not see much difference but in things that need good fast responses like Lightgun games there will be big wins.
This wiki article gives a great discussion around lag on RetroPie and how you can make small improvements:
The key thing to note is that it suggests that even when you optimize it that SNES still has 5+ frames lag. I’m really keen to see this number reduce. I don’t think the Pi 4 will be able to reduce it to anywhere near x86 performance but all improvement is good.
Just think what we will be able to do with the Raspberry Pi 5 🙂