Figure 30 - A single microcontroller is almost as good as a retro computer
Figure 30 - A single microcontroller is almost as good as a retro computer

I will leave you to improve and modify this basic example, and hope that this project has proven that a simple 8 bit microcontroller can indeed render decent graphics onto a VGA screen with only a few extra chips bolted on. There is so much room for improvements to this project, and with some optimized assembly coding, classic arcade games, cool demos and useful display applications could certainly be made. The power contained in a 20MHz microcontroller connected to the external SRAM far exceeds the power that was available on great classic 8 bit computers such as the Commodore C64, Apple, and Radio Shack Coco, and with 64K of program memory space to store your game code and graphics, an ATMega644 could really pull off some amazing graphics.

If you want to take this project one step further, why not try making a spate sync generator in one AVR, a sound generator in another, and then have one AVR completely free to render graphics? This would basically quadruple the available free cycles and give you a very fast graphics system. For the ultimate homebrew retro games system, have a look at our Lazarus-64 project, which uses a fancy bus switching system to give the host processor absolute freedom to write to one bank of memory while the sync generator controls the other. The Lazarus-64 system is built on similar design concepts to this project, but is almost as fast as a modern game console. Have fun with this project, and if you crank out a cool game, demo, or modification, please drop by our forum to show off your work.
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