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almightytodd

Could Intel's "Compute Stick" be the ultimate emulation platform?

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Intel has announced plans to release a quad-core Atom-based computer-on-a-stick later this year. For less than a hundred bucks, it will come pre-loaded with Linux. For about sixty bucks more it will have more RAM, more SSD memory, and will be pre-loaded with Windows 8.1. This thread seemed to reach the conclusion that the most pain-free approach to building an emulation PC should use some version of Windows. The new device, dubbed the "Compute Stick" seems to imply a more "ready to go" device than what we've seen with Beagle bone, Raspberry Pi, and the host of various Android plug-and-play sticks. It will include Bluetooth and WiFi, connect directly to your high def display via HDMI, and is powered (or charged?) through a USB port.

 

I have been a big supporter of the idea of repurposing off-lease desktop computers as a way of getting inexpensive Windows computing power and supporting sustainability for aging technology, but if this product lives up to its promises, it could be a game changer...

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Like it or leave it, Windows is still the best platform for emulation. And not just because there are more emulators written for it, but because of the support, pervasiveness, familiarity, and variety of tools and utilities. Those ineffable "things" make a real difference.

On no other operating system can I edit DSLR photos, play iTunes, play VCS, perform file placement optimization on spinner disks, write sci-fi stories, and play Orbiter, all pretty much at the same time. Or have all that stuff going simultaneously.

But in staying on-topic, sure, this is just another small form factor PC. Depending what you all hook up to it I'm sure it would work as good for emulation as it does any other application.

I wouldn't call it the ultimate emulation platform though. It would need much more storage space for scans and documents and ROMs. And what about physical controllers? Not everything is BT compatible. What about Bliss Box and other peripherals? How would emulators handle going back and forth between different displays - maybe with different configs and setups and shortcuts and .ini files. Ok, we got that issue solved.

One good thing is that Intel has a great reputation for building good CPUs and fantastic chipsets, if you can forget about the Pentium-4 fiasco and the MHz race. And that's a plus!

Come to think of it, when I was a shit-faced kid I had a hardon for getting all my video games into a briefcase-sized "box". Today's laptops. And now we're putting them into a tiny stick thing? Cool!

ADDED:
I just noticed it has a full-sized USB port and a micro-SD slot. This could take care of some of the connectivity issues. And by the time they start selling these as party favor keychains, micro-SD (and similarly sized memory solutions) will be at the 256-512GB point.

The advertising slogan is "Connect. Compute. It's that simple." Outside of the world which advertising material creates in your head, you will find it somewhat confusing and tedious. Much like the plain PC we've known since the 1980's. No amount of OS & form-factor wizardry can change that perception. Edited by Keatah

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Only if you want to use speed hacked emulators, high level emulation, etc. If you want cycle accuracy you need more power unless you're going to stick with an 8-bit system like the NES. If you want accurate Jaguar, Dreamcast, or PS2 emulation you're talking about a lot of computing power indeed.

 

Also, emulation at the transistor level is so demanding that high-end consumer PCs can't even run Pong at a smooth framerate.

 

The best choice at this point of time for emulation seems to be an overclocked anniversary Pentium.

Edited by Justin222

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When I first got a whiff of these compute-stick things I thought the same thing also. Now the whole fucking arcade and all my games from when I was a baby can indeed be stuffed in my pocket.

 

I just wonder if people are ready for such a device? And are willing to put up with learning how it all comes together and works and fits into their lifestyle. Too much grey area and worrying about a compatible display at your destination. I think they'll just default to their phone.

 

Can we interface keyboards and joysticks with this? Without big hassle?

Edited by Keatah

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I'm about to grab a NUC for this purpose.  My franken PC MAME machine is functional but I'm tired of the fan noise and stuff.  I think I want a bit more connectivity than the sticks offer, personally.  But it's probably pretty sweet overall.

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NUCs are good. Mini-ITX is good.

 

I, too, have a franken-beast of a Pentium III I put together in the early 2000's. Old Betsy costs over $10.00 a month to run if I used it for 3 or 4 hours a day! So much for energySTAR seal of approval.

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I think it will not be too long until wireless display allows these small devices to interface easily with modern display devices - probably with a "wireless to HDMI" converter in the early stages.

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I think it will not be too long until wireless display allows these small devices to interface easily with modern display devices - probably with a "wireless to HDMI" converter in the early stages.

 

I already have a stick I plug into my TV that I can mirror my Galaxy S4 to.

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This seems like a first step in making your pocket device become more computer like. They talked about this years ago, but the technology and low power consumption weren't available.

 

The thing that worries me about the Compute Stick is the physical user interface. It doesn't have one. And any TV or STB that this plugs into is going to make that CS dependent on a 3rd party peripheral to function. Unless you get three separate devices, controller, stick, keyboard. And the CS isn't going to be mobile compatible, I mean it won't do facetime or instagram or any of the other 100+ online services. Not in the way you'd expect. These are requirements for success in the market.

 

Additionally the CS projects simplicity till you look below the surface. Then all sorts of PC things rear their ugly head. This is going to be too much for the average consumer. But if they market it at $35 it could work!

Edited by Keatah

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