Are you surprised? Maybe not ? Well, it’s true that a while back, Lunixbochs from the boards was able to make the Unreal Tournament demo run through a modified build of QEMU and glshim to make it run on a Pandora 1 Ghz, but if you remember the result was less that stellar in terms of framerates. Now, a new solution is available (while still in development), and it’s coming from a Russian company called ElTechs.
Their product is ElTechs Exagear, and it’s basically a virtual machine capable of running 32-bit x86 Linux applications on ARMv7 (so, no Raspberry Pi, but the Pandora fits the bill just fine). What’s the big deal, and how is that different from QEMU, you might ask ? Well, it’s all in the numbers. They claim it’s 4.5 times faster than QEMU overall. And here’s a graph comparing the speed of emulation between their tech and QEMU’s, in percentage of actual native ARM speed.
Lunixbochs commented when the news came up:
Lunixbochs: I believe it. My crappy fork of QEMU is over 2x faster on floating point, even if it’s not always as accurate. My WIP one will probably be even faster (and actually accurate). When we asked the QEMU team about native floating point, they brushed it off saying something like “accuracy is far more important to us than performance”. […]
I emailed them a huge list of questions about floating point, OpenGL, asking them to run more benchmarks, dwarf fortress, etc. I’ll post back here if they respond.
And guess what, they got in touch with him, and Lunixbochs apparently got something from them to work with. And then yesterday he posted this.
Lunixbochs: I have a beta build from them modified for softfp and glshim.
Keep in mind this is running on an original CC Pandora Model, The 256 Mb, 600 Mhz one. Yeah. The same demo is running at much faster framerates on the 1 Ghz Pandora, as you can see below (don’t mind about the screen state on the right, Lunixbochs apparently destroyed his screen).
And the game running with actual in-game footage:
Note that this is not the Windows version of the game, but a Loki build of UT for Linux – so there’s no WINE involved. As you can see it runs pretty well, and it’s still an early build – Who knows, it may still be improved until the actual release date – and you can already preorder it if you are interested. But Lunixbochs has a warning for you guys, since the Pandora is not listed as part of the official platforms list:
Lunixbochs: Everyone should definitely sign up for the preorder to show interest, but I don’t recommend buying it for the Pandora until there’s some measure of official support for the Pandora and my GL changes (my setup is super hacked up right now, and would not work for most of you). You probably shouldn’t buy it for the Pyra yet either, as the Pyra isn’t going to be out for a while. Patience will benefit you here.
Licensing is officially on a per-device basis, so if you have several Pandoras, you would need to buy a license for each unit anyway.
In the meantime, I would suggest you guys to flood their Feedback form with requests to support the Open Pandora officially. If there are enough of us, they might consider it. Why should you do that? Well, if you care about having Windows games running on your Pandora, or even having Steam or GOG games (at least the older, not too demanding ones) running on your Pandora on the go, then you probably should send them a little love letter.
A word to the wise!