This section is where we find out in more detail, which emulators actually exist in the real world for Atari MC68K computers. Most of these are mainly historic, but there are some new and promising developments as well.
SYSTEMS CURRENTLY EMULATED:
Benchmark Systems (I have got)
Atari STe : Falcon '030 : Falcon CT2 (50 Mhz) : CT60 ('060 at 66/90 Mhz)
If anyone wishes to add their experiences with other systems, such as the TT, and Milan '040, to name but two examples of stuff I haven't got, then feel free to get in touch, and I will happily add any new benchmarks and compatibility reports to this page.
An unsurprising entry to these pages, as many Atarians came up via these technically advanced 8-bit machines, precursor of the ST series, and more correctly perhaps, the elder brother of the Amiga. It seems that there were very early attempts to emulate the 800, but none as technically proficient as this one.
Petr Stehlik, of Joysoft, continued development of David Firth's Atari 800 emulator, and the current v1.3 manages to emulate the Atari 800 to a very high degree. Even games and demos which use lots of hidden techniques and screen modes can run on here! This perfection does come at a price though, as it is runnable, but slow even on a Centurbo 2 Falcon. An Afterburnered ('040 powered) Falcon, or a CT60 class machine is really recommended. The latter can emulate at more or less full native speed. (Maybe a little bit more, depending on which version you've got?)
From a point of view of technical proficiency, and future hardware useage, this is probably the most interesting emulation on this page at this point in time!
Status - Active
Standard STe - N/a - TT/Falcon or similar.
Falcon '030 - Runs but very slow.
Falcon CT2 - Slow but useable, c.20-25% full speed.
Falcon CT60 - Full native speed at 66 Mhz
There is a second Atari 800 emulator project which ran concurrently to the Joysoft epic. This is the Emu XL, from Draco of YesCrew. Emu XL is a much more code optimised effort, but much less complete. The current version stands at v0.43, with a limited selection of screen modes, and a lot still to do generally. It is a lot quicker than Atari 800 though, coming in at over full hardware speed on a Centurbo 2 machine. It is Falcon and TT compatible, and presumably runs with other faster TOS machines too? Software compatibility is still quite limited.
Development is currently frozen, as Draco felt that the standard Falcon was not up to decently running a full emulation. He was considering restarting when the likes of the CT60 came to the market, but it is debatable if that will happen?
Status - Frozen/dead?
Standard STe - N/a, 68030 and above.
Falcon '030 - Around 40-50% native speed.
Falcon CT2 - Easily exceeds native speed!
Falcon CT60 - ? (Untested)
Another famous old 8-bit platform was successfully emulated, as Christian Gandler managed to get the ZX Spectrum, childhood favourite of many of today's top coders, onto the Atari.
This is quite old, as emulators go. Dating back to 1994. There are separate versions for ST and Falcon. Speeds are good on both systems, the ST version reported at 60-70 percent of actual hardware speed, and the Falcon/TT version runs practically at full speed. A nearly spot-on perfect emulation of a 48k classic rubber-keyed Spectrum is provided.
Software compatibility is almost perfect, with most classic games running on it, and Kempston joystick emulation usefully provided for. There are one or two games which don't quite make it. 3-D Starstrike is one, to my eternal regret! Also there is no provision for emulation of the later model 128k Speccys, which would surely not be that hard to do?
Status - Dead
Standard STe - Quoted as 65% of full speed.
Falcon '030 - Quoted as 90% of natural speed.
Falcon CT2 - Exceeds native speed comfortably.
Falcon CT60 -Very unstable, and dies quickly!
A quick piece of Atari users urban myth coming up. Apparently, someone once purchased a TT, mainly to run a QL emulator on it! Could it have been this program, which came to the world courtesy of Johan Clockars?
It shouldn't be too hard to emulate the ZX Spectrum's bigger and more serious brother. The QL and ST have a CPU family in common (QL has MC68008), the QL has next to no sound hardware, and the graphics are well within what the Atari is capable of. I personally don't know a lot about this one, as the QL, and its users always seem to project a dense fog of obscurity, all the better to keep outsiders away? I've got it showing a desktop, but not too much of a clue as to what to do from there, and I'm too busy to spend a lot of time figuring it out.
Anyone else got any ideas?
Status - Dead
Standard STe - ??
Falcon '030 - ?? (Seems comfortable on Falcon upwards)
Falcon CT2 - ??
Falcon CT60 - ??
"Backwards" (ST emulation for Falcon '030)
This isn't an emulator in the traditional sense, as it piggybacks an earlier Atari computer (STe), onto the firmware of a later family member (Falcon). It was intended as a backward compatibility booster for the Falcon, when it was realised that the Falcon needed help in that direction. It worked, mainly by suppressing the more Falcon-specific parts of the host machine, allowing the hidden ST'ness to shine through.
It works quite well, up to 70% of floppy-bootable ST games are quoted as working under Backwards. Of course, this tended to rule out most of the more interestingly coded material, using limit-breaking techniques. But never mind, you can't have everything. It got as far as version 3.0, and allowed you to create user-defined sets of your favourite games.
It hasn't been updated in a long time, but is good enough for the task which it was created for.
Status - Dead
Standard STe - n/a Not needed here!
Falcon '030 - No comment needed!
Falcon CT2 - n/a (Switch down to Falcon '030)
Falcon CT60 - n/a (Switch down to Falcon '030)
At least a few Atarians were great fans of the Oric series of 8-bit home computers, contemporary with the more famous ZX Spectrum. One of these, Christian Peppermueller, was motivated to write his own emulator for Atari called ATOric. This got as far as v0.9, and apart from some minor details, seemed to be pretty much complete.
It is runnable on most hardware capable of booting up with a fuji logo, although it is painfully slow on a standard ST, and only really running at full speed on a Centurbo 2 Falcon upwards.
Status - Dead
Standard STe - Dirt slow.
Falcon '030 - Middling, c.50-60%
Falcon CT2 - Native speed, some benchmarks quicker?
Falcon CT60 - Gets stuck when starting up!
This was the earliest emulator, in the modern sense of the word, that I came across on an Atari. It provides a scarily accurate recreation of the sparse desktop environment on the ZX81! One of the better emulators, and seems to almost fully recreate the whole ZX81 experience.
It runs on ST and Falcon (probably others?), and it is hard to tell them, and the original apart, for speed or general 'feel'! It seems to be nearasdammit 100% compatible with the software that is out there, the only thing which might give it difficulties are those few programs which used software hacks for "high resolution" screens.
Status - Dead
Standard STe - Acceptably quick.
Falcon '030 - Native speed?
Falcon CT2 - About the same as above.
Falcon CT60 - Very quick in places. You would have to watch it zip through the screen iterations on a game of 'life' to appreciate just how quick!)
Sander Berents was responsible for this one. A TRS 80 emulator, which runs in ST mono, on any Atari MC68K, within a GEM environment! It isn't too bad either, even on a base model ST. A Falcon is better, but anything over 16 mhz is really speed related overkill.
For a vintage (Apple II era) home computer, it is quite interesting, The emulator is more or less complete too.
Status - Dead
Standard STe - Not tested, but reported useable.
Falcon '030 - About perfect!
Falcon CT2 - A degree of speed overkill!
Falcon CT60 - Way too fast and a tad unstable!
This is probably the most systematic and best featured attempt at emulating a the popular handheld console from the Nintendo stable. This being the Godboy Gameboy emulator.
They are not generic or pure emulations, although stories at the time suggest that this was close to being realised. Instead, many programming tricks were used to speed these up as much as possible. Also, there were some Enhancements made, such as some superb Falcon specific soundtracks added. These systems are both specific to the Falcon '030, and take the form of individual games tidied up, put in the emulator system, and given enhanced, even recoloured graphics with some of the later Godboy X releases. It is interesting to see where things may have gone, as further releases were planned which never saw the light of day.
Status - Dead
Standard STe -N/a (Falcon only)
Falcon '030 - Playable, around 50%?
Falcon CT2 - Fluid and smooth!
Falcon CT60 -Does not want to know.
In the three to four year gap since the last Reservoir Gods Godboy release, it is inevitable that someone else entered this domain. Bodo Wenschel produced an ST based offshoot of his Palm Pilot Gameboy emulator, called STemboy. This differs greatly from the Godboy series in almost all respects. It is generic, and allegedly able to run a wide range of Gameboy ROMs. It is also GEM-based, making it cross compatible on most TOS platforms. It is also ST or 68000 ASM instruction set based, making it runnable on a base model ST, albeit very slowly, at about 10% of full speed.
Unfortunately, it is also very buggy on non-ST hardware at this stage (v3.1), so it is presently impossible to see how it performs on a Falcon or other TOS machine.
Bodo dropped development of the Atari-based emulator, when he moved entirely onto a Linux development environment. However, Matthias Jaap took over, with newer versions being released. It is now up to version 3.3 This is apparently more Falcon and higher end TOS clone compatible, but it still refuses to bite on any of my non-ST hardware?
Status - Active? Not updated in a while.
Standard STe - Slow, about 10% of full speed.
Falcon '030 - Crashes, although supposed to be compatible!
Falcon CT2 - Crashes!
Falcon CT60 - Still crashes!
17.1.06 note:- I recently managed to find a compatible system, other than a stock ST for this to run on. This is the Macintosh version of the high-end Atari emulator, or virtual TOS machine "Aranym". Amazingly, Stemboy runs quite well, and at a speed which feels better than 50% on there. It may be a case that this needs a decent version of the 'Mint' operating system, which I've only got on Aranym so far.
"GnuBoy" (Also Gngb Emulator)
With this third separate effort, the Nintendo Gameboy is the most emulated platform on Atari TOS machines! This little effort comes, courtesy of Patrice Mandin of SDL for Mint fame. As the name 'GnuBoy' implies, it has quite a lot to do with the GNU freeware code which runs on just about any Unix flavour. This comes to us via the miracle of SDL, and most definitely needs Mint, on something like a CT60 class machine to run decently. Related to this, is the Gngb emulator, which emulates both standard and Colour Gameboy. This also seems to be more stable in operation than GnuBoy in general? I've yet to see if the colour part of the emulation works?
Status - Active
Standard STe - n/a
Falcon '030 - Untested, probably very slow.
Falcon CT2 - Untested, as above.
Falcon CT60 - Adequate but not over-quick. Needs Mint installed) GNGB is quicker, seems to be about there at 90mhz.
This was the Reservoir Gods follow-on from the early success of the Godboy releases. They chose to tackle the Nintendo that founded a dynasty, the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This continued in the same format as the earlier emulator, where specific games were tweaked and added to, in that special Reservoir Gods way! Several releases were made, many with enhancements, especially audio-related.
This may well have had further releases pipelined but never seen, but Godboy X, and then a couple of years inactivity seems to have killed this one?
Status - Dead
Standard STe - N/a, Falcon code only.
Falcon '030 - Playable, some games quicker than others.
Falcon CT2 - Very smooth!
Falcon CT60 -Don't think these work here!
This ST-based emulation of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is a perfect illustration of what happens to too much Atari software. It gets started, gets quite a way along. One or two beta versions creep out on limited release. Then the author loses interest and stops altogether!
NESulator was started by Ed Cleveland as a parallel project to the Reservoir God's GodlyNes. It was always intended as an ST-based release, and indeed, it can run from any Atari hardware capable of supporting the Atari Jaguar multibutton pads, which means the STe and Falcon series in practice.
Status - Dead, dead, deaditty dead!
Standard STe - Slow, but it works!
Falcon '030 - Slow but playable.
Falcon CT2 - Getting there.
Falcon CT60 - Feels about native speed.
"CBM030" (discontinued, no public release.)
The author of this new project is Oliver 'Paranoid' Heun. He wanted to do this, having fond early memories of this machine, and also because it is a relatively easy machine to emulate. I remember the Plus 4 briefly surfacing in the mid-1980's, before slipping away, unable to compete properly with the massively popular Commodore 64. I've yet to hear the story as to why Commodore decided to make a machine, in some respects inferior to their earlier model?
Still, he says that enough of the emulation is complete, to allow it to boot up, and for some simple dabbling in BASIC. More is still to be done, and a download isn't ready as yet. Speed is described as around 50% on a stock 16 mhz Falcon, and it is accelerator friendly, and also able to run on other '030 based machines, such as the TT.
17.1.06 Note:- This project was discontinued but may be revived as a CBM060.
Status - Dead, may be revived later?
Standard STe - N/a, Falcon code.
Falcon '030 - Author's benchmark at around 50%.
Falcon CT2 - Probably native speed or better.
Falcon CT60 - ???
Just lately, one man has taken the world of emulation on Atari computers singlehandedly. This man is Peter P., or PeP, who has ported over a number of not-so-far seen emulators for the Atari series. In truth, this one, Frodo, and the rest really need the higher end hardware to do them justice, as they are ported from higher level language code originally designed for higher-powered PeeCees and the like. Still, he's done a great job so far, and we expect there is still more to come, both for updates of these, and some entirely new emulations as well.
'Frodo' is a venerable Commodore 64 emulator, which started life on the Commodore Amiga, but has gradually infiltrated many other platforms. Now it's our turn! This early version is practically a straight port, with no concessions or tweaks made with Atari hardware. As such, it is in an early state of development. The emulator core is pretty compatible, but there are some things missing, such as Sidsound, and joystick support. These are to come in a later version. Also there isn't a lot of user friendliness, as you need to hand-edit a config text file, every time you change a disk image!
Still, it is promising, and a looming gap in this inventory has been filled at last.
Status - Active!
Standard STe - Higher level hardware needed.
Falcon '030 - Does not work.
Falcon CT2 - Starts then dies.
Falcon CT60 - Variable, can exceed native speed, but drops down a lot if full 1541 disk drive emulation mode enabled.
"SMS Plus"- New!
SMS Plus, a Sega Master System and Gamegear emulator was Peter's second port. These classic 8-bit platforms by Sega proved to be no problem for him. The emulator core seems to be very compatible, and the emulator is easy to use, just by dragging and dropping the rom image files onto the executable.
There is also the handy extra feature of support for Jaguar joypads, which makes this a very attractive emulator to pick up and play. The Master System features a surprisingly good version of Sonic the Hedgehog! Speed is fine for CT60, and possibly very quick for the Game Gear emulation at 90mhz. It can run on lower end hardware, giving a slow but tolerable Sonic experience, at around 20% full speed on a CT2. Some reports even say that it seems to be useable on a standard Falcon '030?
Status - Alive and well!
Standard STe - N/a.
Falcon '030 - Slow but apparently playable.
Falcon CT2 - Tolerable..
Falcon CT60 - Native speed (plus at 90 Mhz)
And finally, (for now), Peter has released what he describes as a flaky portover of the Atari VCS 2600 emulator 'V2600'.
It has been released, but with the warning that further development is unlikely, as this is not very compatible, and is likely to crash your computer! Still, you can get some games running on it, I got as far as a version of Galaxians running on it. Speed seems to be good, but this is another '060 class emulation.
Status - Birth and death in one hit!
Standard STe - N/a
Falcon '030 - Does not want to know.
Falcon CT2 - Nor here either.
Falcon CT60 - Good to native speed.
"Handy"- Very New!
Peter's been busy again, and this time, the Atari Lynx emulator 'Handy', gets the portover treatment.
This one is rather unoptimised, quoted at around 50 to 75% native speed even on a CT60, and a supercharged revision 6 equipped one at that. I'd personally be inclined to believe it runs at the lower end of that range. There is also the little matter of missing sound. The good news is that the emulator core seems to be pretty compatible, and the games tried thus far are reasonably playable. There is also Jagpad support, which seems to be a natural and foregone feature to have.
There isn't going to be much more done to this one, maybe a bit of tidying up, unless some other "optimising genius" (as Peter puts it) decides to come forward. Ah well, we'll see!
Status - Alive (experimental.)
Standard STe - N/a
Falcon '030 - Subsides in a helpless giggling fit....
Falcon CT2 - Not much better here either.
Falcon CT60 - Quoted as 50 to 75% speed, probably at low end.
There will be more to come, page last updated 1.3.06!