Risc V5 processors? // 4-8 colors

I just recently got to hear of RISC V5 processors.
I know the development of RISC has been around since the 1990s!

Just wanted to check, if there was any interest in future development of a Risc-Boy?

It seems their chips are super efficient. Coding supposed to be easy due to the chips being pretty basic.

But what I’d love to see even more on an ardu/risc-boy, is perhaps a 4 to 8-color grayscale reflective LCD screen, like on the original gameboy. Except perhaps with a better reflective background than the one the gameboy had.
It appears that these type of screens consume the least amount of power; plus, 4 colors gives a lot more possibilities than only black or white, which makes a huge difference in gaming.
Screen resolution of the arduboy is also a bit disappointing, and I probably rather have larger sized pixels on a larger screen, than “4k resolution” on a screen that’s only 1 inch by 2 inches.

Black/white screens are good as an information display, but not gaming.
The change from 2 colors to 4/8 colors is nearly the same as changing from 2D sprites to 3D polygons.

Anyway, going back to RISC,
It’s taught in academies, and is open source…
I think it has a future.
I think a RISC arduboy with 4MB of RAM, and micro SD card, and Lithium battery compartment (3.6V) of at least 5x (850mAh costs next to nothing), with reflective screen, would be the ultimate game-boy, and with modern technology, shouldn’t cost too much.

I’m really also a fan of the original gameboy FM sound chip. 4 channel, with 2 mono, and I believe 5 or so sound generators (sine, saw, triangle, block, noise).
It forces people to use their ingenuity to create games, without being limited; nor overwhelmed by options.

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Can’t help you with the technical stuff but as a game creator I like what I’m hearing, because AFAIK there are only 1bit consoles and color consoles – is that right? We really need a grayscale console. I’d definitely go with 4 levels, not 8.

On the other hand, a lot of games can be directly ported from gaming consoles like the Amiga, Commodore, etc to the arduboy, without much work or effort at all…

I’m merely interested in 4 color consoles due to the potential of recreating a Gameboy game. I always admired GBA coding done in C!

RISC and RISC V5 are two different things.

RISC is a category of processor (under which AVR falls under).
RISC V5 is a specific instruction set architecture (ISA).

RISC actually dates back to the 1980s.
RISC V5 has only been in development since 2010.

Are you thinking of programming in assembly or something?
If not the language will probably be C or C++, so it won’t be much different to what we’ve got now.

Unless the newness of the chip means they haven’t actually got C++ support or C++11+ support, in which case we’d actually be worse off.

We (the forum) have discussed this before, the problem is actually finding the LCDs.
So far nobody has been able to find a 128x64@4-colour screen because there’s very little demand for them.

(There’s a big thread discussing different ideas for screens here.)

(See also here and here.)

That’s a really big step up, I don’t think everyone would be happy with that.
That’s 128 times the Arduboy’s 32KB of Progmem (not accounting for the 2.5KB of work RAM).
That’s more memory than even the Pokitto.

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Well, something has got to give. With a screen resolution of at least 2-3x, 4 colors, …
Gameboy games for instance, are up to 8MB in size.
I figure it can be particularly loaded in ram, but would be nicer if the entire game can be loaded in ram?
If not, less than 4 will do.

So far I’ve only found a 4x 8 to 16 character dot matrix display of 16 grey scales, but nothing better…
If only pixelqi would be making them… They do a good job with other projects…

The program isn’t loaded into RAM – it lives in a different memory, because it’s just static data. RAM is a working memory for calculations that does change. So you can have a big memory for the game plus much smaller RAM just fine. Gameboy has just 8 kB RAM.

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…if you want to work with something that already exists, get yourself a Smart Response XE!

specs are a step-up from the Arduboy:

  • 384x136 LCD (with at least 4 shades of grey, maybe 16 shades? not clear…)
  • ATmega128RFA1 w/ 128K Flash and 16K RAM
  • plus an extra 131K (1Mbit) SPI Flash onboard
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For DIY there’s the ssd1325 but it’s 2.7”

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Oled is interesting, however it’s not as energy efficient as a reflective LCD.
Currently the only option would be the old style PDAsor palmtops.
Eink would have been interesting, if it wasn’t for the low refresh rate. Higher refresh rate eink screens use a lot more power for 3d games than LCD.

Like said, the only company that still does small reflective screens, is pixelQi. They have patents on the best, most energy efficient screens. And I’m sure that the smaller size, B&W screens cost a lot less than their $900 11" color netbook screens.

I’d be alright with getting rid of the credit-card scale form factor, but I know for a lot of people that would be a deal breaker.

Also it would probably mean having to create a new mold for the plastic cover, which would be relatively expensive.

Maybe not, but the current screen is OLED, so it’s closer to the original screens.

We don’t really have many 3D games.
I can only think of one game that’s truly 3D, the others are just pseudo-3D (e.g. raycasting).

It sounds like you’re thinking of trying to create an entirely different console rather than a simple upgrade.

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Pandigital used to sell their devices the “wikireader”.
They’re on sale nowadays for like $50, and have a 3.7" 240x200 screen; 1.5x that of the Gameboy.

Perhaps via the same use of dithering that’s used on the arduboy’s greyscale display, one can achieve some sort of grey?

There also are a lot of pocket calculators, like Texas Insturments, or even the Seiko ER8100 that uses larger B&W screens that have the potential to display more than B&W.

Yes, I find the arduboy at monochrome display, and low resolution, a limitation for creativity.
For instance, play some sort of racing game, with the bottom of the screen a minimal dashboard, speedometer, and tach, and you only have half the screen left for the game itself.
And I don’t think the Arduboy is limited to what it is today. I’m sure, like the Raspberry Pi, they’re upgrading it slowly and surely to make the perfect gaming console.
Which is a device that has eons of battery life, due to it’s energy efficient design, and loads of fun programming games, as well as playing them!

There are plenty of games that could be ported or recreated on a slightly larger screen, larger resolution, and slightly more cpu power, that were available on the old DOS system of the eighties and early nineties; however with monochrome you’re limited to games like pong, etc… Games that generally are seen as quite boring.

I think the sweet spot definitely is 4 to 8 color monochrome. Anything more, and you’ll need a team assembling games; as opposed to 4 color games are easily made by a single person with some experience.
4 color games with a 320x240 screen resolution isn’t easy! You still need to design any graphical elements, and design music, and a game engine…

The low spec is the main reason a lot of people develop for the Arduboy.
There are plenty of other programmable colour consoles out there:
Pokitto, Gamebuino Meta, GameShell.

The Arduboy fills a particular niche that the others don’t.
That’s what a lot of people like about it.
To pluck a few examples:

Pong, Minesweeper, 1943, Asteroids, Snake, SpaceTaxi (space cab), Dungeon crawlers (Dark & Under), Shoot-em-ups (Juno First), Pacman, Lode Runner, Sim City clones (MicroCity), Karateka, not forgetting Arduventure and a whole host of unique games.

199 games in eried’s repo alone: http://arduboy.ried.cl/

I agree that 4 colours would be a good upgrade, but as I said before, the trouble is finding a suitable screen.

Most of the existing screens would require changing the form factor of the console, which would require a new plastic mold, and plastic molds are (relatively) expensive so it would probably require a new kickstarter.

A number of people don’t want to part with the ‘credit card’ form factor.
The userbase is slightly conflicted over what they want.
Some would sooner have more screen space than more colours.

(And technically monochrome means “A black and white image”, so 4-8 colours would no longer be monochrome.)

I beg to differ.

The difficulty of making a game doesn’t increase with the number of available colours, it decreases because you don’t have to worry as much about limitations.
The number of available colours is an upper limit, not a minimum, you can choose to use less.

The real difficulty comes from the scale of the game in respect to the ‘power’ of the console, and how far you choose to push both.

Often trying to squeeze a decent size game onto a platform with limited memory requires more skill than writing a similar game for a slightly ‘larger’ platform because there’s less leeway with what you can get away with - it forces you to think about optimising your code for size/space.

But for a lot of people that challenge is part of the fun.


Sorry if any of this sounds harsh, I’m just trying to make the point that what you’re looking for doesn’t seem to be the same as what a lot of other users are looking for.

Most people don’t want the Arduboy to change drastically.

Maybe you should look into some of the other colour consoles that are available?
They might be closer to what you’re looking for.
(E.g. Pokitto, Gamebuino Meta, GameShell, Odroid-Go…)

Though I’d recommend creating and publishing an Arduboy game before you give up on the Arduboy.
Most of the fun is in creating games rather than playing them.

The fun and the frustration. Any average programmer can make a game on a platform with ‘unlimited’ memory and a high powered CPU. The challenge with an Arduboy is to make something that’s fun and playable within the constraints of the platform.

It seems we regularly have these conversations. Somebody buys a ‘retro, monochrome, credit-card sized gaming platform’ and then wants to turn it into a fully-featured, full-colour computer. I am not sure what attracts these people to the platform originally but what they want does not resemble it in any way.

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I’m just going to repost this again, seems like the obvious answer to the question you keep asking, but was completely ignored… if you want to work with something that already exists, get yourself a Smart Response XE!

specs are a step-up from the Arduboy:

  • 384x136 LCD (with at least 4 shades of grey, maybe 16 shades? not clear…)
  • ATmega128RFA1 w/ 128K Flash and 16K RAM
  • plus an extra 131K (1Mbit) SPI Flash onboard
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Pi’s make good consoles, but handhelds? Not so much. They can take minutes to boot. Arduboy is instant.

:disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved:

Circuit Dude and Dusty Argile would like to have a word with you.

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I’m not seeking a full color gaming console. There indeed are plenty of those out there.
Just merely a console based on a slightly larger DOT matrix screen, which is potentially backlit, but where the back light can be turned off from; with a bit more pixels than the 128 pix restriction.

A lot of the content out there, has been made under the old PAL/NTSC platform, meaning 224-256 pixels height, 4/3 aspect ratio.

As far as the 4 color greyscale (white, light grey, dark grey, black), you could create libraries and incorporate them in the arduino OS. That way, 4 colors can be called upon at the software level, even with a monochrome display.

I don’t really care if the display is monochrome, or a 4 or 8 grayscale display, as long as it can display 4 colors.
But the resolution really would need to be improved.
4 colors on a monochrome display also gives another problem (see my newer topic ’ Grayscale dithering + lower FPS = higher resolution!’)

It’s been said countless times on the forum that in order to get a better screen, we’d have to find someone who makes those screens. I don’t really know how to find a manufacturer, though. Hardware isn’t really my forte.

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Indeed. I believe Asia still makes them.
You can find anything in Asia.
Texas instruments probably make their own.
Other than graphical calculators, I don’t know if there’s anyone still making these screens.
Motorola used them in their Voyage V200, the Wikireader had one,…
There is a large community for gameboy color clone replica screens, and raspberry pi screens.
Perhaps if someone looks hard enough, they will find someone in China still developing those cheap LCD screens?

This is a start:
https://www.ebay.com/p/12864-128x64-Dot-Matrix-Graphic-5v-3v-SPI-LCD-Module-Display-White-Backlight-LCM/

There must be better ones out there for sure!

Do you mind mirroring the link or copy/pasting a pic?