Retroarch want to create an Open Hardware system to read your own cartridges
Retroarch are pretty well known for their multi-core emulation software, which is widely used on a variety of systems (including homebrew enabled consoles) to emulate a bunch of retro gaming devices.
This week, they introduced their ongoing project to make an Open Hardware “DIY” platform, for people willing to dump and/or play their original cartridges on their PC or other device.
We all know about software emulation, which is what Retroarch, the software, does well. We also know about the combination of hardware + software emulation, with the likes of Hyperkin.
Retroarch’s proposed hardware project sits a bit in between those two concepts, or rather, separates the emulation software (retroarch as we know it) from the cartridge reading hardware (the proposed project).
In essence, their plan is to allow you to plug in your favorite cartridge into their reader, plug it in to your computer through USB, and have emulation run out of the box through the retroarch software. And they want the whole concept to be open, so that anyone with the technical skills should be able to create their own, based on the blueprints. In their own words:
You insert the N64 cartridge into the cartridge reader and you connect it to a PC (or some other device) with a USB Type C-cable. The device will then map the contents of the cartridge itself as a Mass Storage device volume. EEPROM, Flash, ROM, and SRAM are mapped as separate files on this volume.
Playing the game should be as easy as just loading the ROM from this device. So already even without the aforementioned RetroArch integration, it already works. But our hope is that with the RetroArch integration, we finally get the promise of a true cross-platform game console where you can take your games library with you, whether it’s digital or physical, and just use it across the devices that you already have RetroArch on. This is the dream and promise we have been slowly building towards – the power lies in the user’s hands, not that of any corporation or organization.
The folks at retroarch do point that such devices already exist, such as the retrode. But those are generally hard to find, expensive, and proprietary.
The people behind retroarch have stated they will share more information only when they feel the time is right, but hope that people will find this teaser exciting and will want to help.