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What's the best Commodore emulator currently?

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I've been an Atari fan for almost as far back as I can remember. My first computer was an 800 and I replaced it in college with an 800XL. I always had a lot of respect for the Atari's age-old rival, the Commodore 64, though. I first experienced them in college. C-64s were much more prevalent, probably three or four to one to Ataris on my campus in the mid to late 80s. I liked what I saw of the system, but couldn't afford two, so I stuck with my beloved Atari.

 

Now I'm back into the Atari scene in a big way and I've been thinking about the C-64s again as well. I don't have the space to start a full-blown retro computer collection, but I wouldn't mind experimenting with some of the old C-64 stuff through emulation. The Atari emulation scene has vastly improved over the last twenty tears, and I can only assume the same is true for Commodore emulation. I'm curious; is there a consensus on what the best C-64 emulator is at the moment? I'd like to give it a try.

 

Also, there are several good Atari file/disk image repositories such as AtariMania and the HomeSoft site. What are the good file/image repositories for Commodore software?

 

Thanks.

 

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Yes, I think VICE is the most accurate.

 

Here is a good website that is updated with stuff in the Commodore world: https://commodore-news.com/news/index/1/en

 

If you want to try your hand at programming, I suggest: http://www.ajordison.co.uk/

 

I forgot to mention places to get files. I use the 8bit search engine: https://cbm8bit.com/8bit/commodore/search

 

Here is the list of servers it uses, you could browse them directly as well: https://cbm8bit.com/8bit/commodore/servers

 

And of course here you can find all kinds of demos for the 64: https://csdb.dk/

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I'm not entirely updated on the emulator situation, but last time I looked there were only two contenders:

  • VICE as already mentioned (and which is used in commercial products like THEC64 and C64 Forever if I understand correctly)
  • CCS64 which is getting a bit old now but still is highly regarded by some.

I don't know what the C64 support in MAME is like, but it also depends on if you like the user interface.

 

An additional bonus if you download VICE is that it got emulators for pretty much all the 8-bit Commodore computers, from the first PET in 40 or 80 columns, SuperPET, VIC-20, CBM-II business computers and the ultra rare P500, C16 and Plus/4, C128, C64 with SuperCPU and C64DTV and an extra detailed C64 emulation for high end PCs. Sure, it is a huge package of 64 MB but unless you're short of hard disk space it is worth it.

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Gamebase is porbably your best bet if you want a one-stop resource because it really has it all - games, files, notes, music, manuals, images, screenshots etc - all contained in a very searchable frontend.

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What kind of games are you looking for? Do you want to play the C64 version of the games you enjoy on your Atari computer? Or are you looking to discover games that aren't available on Atari? You said you are looking for "old" C64 stuff, but I recommend also trying new C64 games, which are constantly coming out.

 

I prefer the forums here, but lemon64.com is another resource to check out.

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I've been an Atari fan for almost as far back as I can remember. My first computer was an 800 and I replaced it in college with an 800XL. I always had a lot of respect for the Atari's age-old rival, the Commodore 64, though. I first experienced them in college. C-64s were much more prevalent, probably three or four to one to Ataris on my campus in the mid to late 80s. I liked what I saw of the system, but couldn't afford two, so I stuck with my beloved Atari.

 

Now I'm back into the Atari scene in a big way and I've been thinking about the C-64s again as well. I don't have the space to start a full-blown retro computer collection, but I wouldn't mind experimenting with some of the old C-64 stuff through emulation. The Atari emulation scene has vastly improved over the last twenty tears, and I can only assume the same is true for Commodore emulation. I'm curious; is there a consensus on what the best C-64 emulator is at the moment? I'd like to give it a try.

 

Also, there are several good Atari file/disk image repositories such as AtariMania and the HomeSoft site. What are the good file/image repositories for Commodore software?

 

Thanks.

 

 

Hands down CCS64 is the best. I've been using it since the DOS days and it still works exactly the same way. I love it. There are a few quirks, but I like it more than VICE.

 

There are a lot of new good games for it too. The C64 has a gigantic fandom and a lot of new games and demos. I don't really care for the demos, but lots of great new games.

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I have been compiling and using VICE since mid 90's on PCs and Unix workstations. I believe I would call it a "perfect" Commodore 8-bit emulation at this point as it has been fixed, improved and polish for decades. CCS64 is also nice but only does C64. I would recommend CCS64 if you are using an old DOS PC. I still use CCS64 on a few old DOS laptops.

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Now I'm back into the Atari scene in a big way and I've been thinking about the C-64s again as well. I don't have the space to start a full-blown retro computer collection, but I wouldn't mind experimenting with some of the old C-64 stuff through emulation. The Atari emulation scene has vastly improved over the last twenty tears, and I can only assume the same is true for Commodore emulation. I'm curious; is there a consensus on what the best C-64 emulator is at the moment? I'd like to give it a try.

 

Not a free software emulation solution but you might want to look into Mister FPGA. It's a Raspberry Pi like board that is capable of emulating hardware vs software, thus you end up as close to perfect emulation through it's Cores for most 8 bit/16 bit computers/consoles/arcade....

 

https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Main_MiSTer/wiki

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The Commodore emulation scene has improved at a slower pace than the Atari 8-bit scene. I have WinVice in my arsenal along with C64S, CCS64, and Hoxs64. But I use WinVice almost all the time.

 

I'm not a fan of FPGA solutions because they are updated less frequently and they don't have all the options and niceties that software emulators come with. Not to mention that SE have the power of the PC behind them for file organization and future expansion.

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The Commodore emulation scene has improved at a slower pace than the Atari 8-bit scene. I have WinVice in my arsenal along with C64S, CCS64, and Hoxs64. But I use WinVice almost all the time.

 

I'm not a fan of FPGA solutions because they are updated less frequently and they don't have all the options and niceties that software emulators come with. Not to mention that SE have the power of the PC behind them for file organization and future expansion.

 

Gee looks like FPGA designs change often. See https://github.com/MiSTer-devel

 

I think the problem with FPGA designs are the immaturity compared to software emulation which in many cases had decades more time to become stable. I don't like FGA implementations as you are restricted to one (or number FPGAs you have) and a significant time to rebuilt to switch to a different core. With software emulation I can have as many software engines running simultaneously as I like within the resources of the PC.

Edited by thetick1
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I always imagined anyone doing a FPGA implementation would draw wisdom from what has been observed and documented in terms of software emulation for the past 20+ years, not starting over from scratch. Yes, if you can scan a chip and replicate every gate with the same timings exactly as the chip was constructed back in the day, you probably don't have to consider emulation knowledge but I'm not sure FPGA designs always are carried out that way - in that case you'd get it 100% right from the first attempt. Rather I think expected behavior is encoded in terms of gates, which makes for a fast but still emulated experience.

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Some FPGA developers study Software Emulation, and it's the other way around too.

 

I don't know of any gate-for-gate reimplementation of anything related to classic gaming or computing. It's all based on observations, schematics, interpretations of chip diagrams, logic analyzer output, and more. Even when all of those things are simultaneously available, liberties and assumptions are still taken.

 

A TIA redone in FPGA is not likely to have the same voltage inputs and outputs for the controller ports. Not because it's impossible, but because it is often deemed unnecessary. A disappointment for something that's expected to be and can be just like real hardware.

 

Consider the PokeyONE FPGA replacement for the Pokey chip. At first it only worked in one game, but then it went through many revisions. And with each revision it gained more compatibility. It is definitely not a transistor-level representation by any means. PokeyONE also won't work in the Atari 8-bit computers, because it is not a full implementation.

 

People, especially "gaming journalists", need to get it out of their heads that FPGA = instant 100% accuracy.

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I always imagined anyone doing a FPGA implementation would draw wisdom from what has been observed and documented in terms of software emulation for the past 20+ years, not starting over from scratch. Yes, if you can scan a chip and replicate every gate with the same timings exactly as the chip was constructed back in the day, you probably don't have to consider emulation knowledge but I'm not sure FPGA designs always are carried out that way - in that case you'd get it 100% right from the first attempt. Rather I think expected behavior is encoded in terms of gates, which makes for a fast but still emulated experience.

 

That is much easier said than done. As someone with experience in FPGA (logic design) and software emulation, there are many tasks very easy (or cost sensitive) in one that are extremely difficult in the other.

 

Many decades ago (before say 1990) when CISC computers were designed the instruction set was actually implemented in software call micro-code which actually setup the hardware for each instruction. This is completely absurd with fast modern hardware as all that control logic is in the processor hardware but the concept is still the same as far as some tasks are easier (or much more economically) done in software.

 

A good modern example is tensor processor. It has a ridiculously small instruction set (just GPU like matrix and add instructions) but it does them 30X faster (X80 better performance per watt and 1/3 the cost ) than general purpose CPU as general CPUs uses large amount of the hardware for control / decode of complex instructions.

See https://cloud.google.com/blog/products/gcp/an-in-depth-look-at-googles-first-tensor-processing-unit-tpu

 

Google is able to implement their Vision API using their tensor processor design outlined above. The same implementation using commercial X86 would be ~90X more servers than the number of tensor compute engines.

 

Full disclosure: Sorry for marketing pitch but a good friend and former co-worker of mine helped design and test the Google Tensor Processor.

Edited by thetick1
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People, especially "gaming journalists", need to get it out of their heads that FPGA = instant 100% accuracy.

 

Well technically an exactly implemented FPGA is 100% accurate. The problem is someone has to design the FPGA which is in almost all cases is a tremendous amount of trial and error (ie like Pokey One guys). Also FPGA and any modern hardware design is actually done in software hardware language using VHDL or Verilog. A synthesis program then converts the VHDL or Verilog into to either code for a fab or code for an FPGA.

 

There is no magic holy grail program to take C or assembler software emulation and strip out the hardware implementation and convert it a usable image for fab or FPGA. And even one was claimed it would be extremely inefficient and only be good for extremely simple designs that have been tested.

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