Modern Commodore 64 'The64' updates confirm emulation


The ‘The 64’ IndieGoGo campaign seems to be doing very well, reaching 30% of the target and with 30 days left. There is also some coverage by the “non-retro” news outlet which certainly helps to make some noise.

The team behind the project has posted new updates about the machine, stating that it, in fact, will be based on a CPU ARM Cortex SoC, therefore relying on emulation. The CPU revelation is a bummer to a lot of C64 enthusiasts, but I honestly don’t think it should be any different than that. FPGA-based projects tend to be expensive to sell, and dedicated hardware might be too costly to plan and build.

To be a bit blunt, you are paying USD150 for a Raspberry PI in a C64 case – not that the device is simply a PI (there is no information it is one), but in the sense you could get the same by using one. The price seems high to a lot of people, but I can see others finding a fair price for such nice gadget.

There is another unanswered question about the console capabilities as a computer. Will it be a game console with a custom menu to start games or a fully-featured Commodore 64 with the BASIC interpreter out-of-the-box?

Even if it is not, I guess that, since it will allow you to run games you download from the Internet, it might be possible to add the C64 ROMs yourself. That is not mentioned anywhere, though.

Considering the campaign targets the general public, not the retro enthusiast, it is a very attractive product. The C64 “purists” out there, however, won’t be satisfied with emulation and as far I can see, they are not super excited about the ‘The 64’.

Link: IndieGoGo

Author: Paulo Garcia

7 thoughts on “Modern Commodore 64 'The64' updates confirm emulation

  1. Is certainly disappointing. In that case they should make the case fully RaspberryPi compatible and sell it alone, so we can upgrade also the motherboard.

    1. the current FPGA core for C64 has bugs and not maintained properly, I was sure 90% that this thing won’t be FPGA. I would like a cheaper RPi case, too!

  2. Thanks for the update! And yes, you are right – a lot of people with insight in the Commmodore 64/128 scene would say that this “project” borders cheap plagiarism at best, and fraud at worst. Basically, what your money will give you is a Linux computer pretending to be the real deal.

    To put things in perspective, anyone reading this comment – including, of course, the staff of Commodore Is Awesome, is more than welcome to check out the Commodore 64 Reloaded – a true, physical hardware clone of the Commodore 64 re-built from ground up with brand new hardware (all the details, including photos, are available here: Paying respect to original C64 hardware developers, the Commodore 64 Reloaded has been a huge hit within the Commodore 64/128 scene.

    Anyone reading this article may also want to check out the Mega 65 – a FPGA-based, cycle exact hardware reproduction of the Commodore 65. Similar to the Commodore 64 Reloaded, the Mega 65 is built from ground up, meant to be an exact replica of the C65 made with modern components. Just like with the Commodore 64 Reloaded, that means that the Mega 65 will be standing on its own feet without any kind of emulation layer involved. More information can be found on

    To wrap this comment up, “The 64” is nothing short of a cheap way of cutting just about ever corner there is to profit on the dreams of C64 fans. This is not the solution that they, nor the scene at large, deserve. If anything, “The 64” drains resources and energy from projects like the Commodore 64 Reloaded and the Mega 65. No one – except from the shady people behind “The 64” will benefit from this. Stay as far away as possible from “The 64”, people – and please make sure that others do too.

  3. Can I point out that just because it’s a “System on a chip” doesn’t mean it’s a Pi. There are lots of ARM-based system-on-chips from various manufacturers such as MediaTek (ARM-based SoCs power everything from Androids to Teslas), and the fact it’s an ARM CPU doesn’t tell you anything about how that CPU will be used, what other chipsets it might be partnered with, or what software it will end up running.

    So the jump from “ARM SoC” to “It’s a Raspberry Pi” is not justified. It might turn out that way, but the jury is very much still out.

    1. I agree with you, the intention of my statement was indicate that the same functionality could be achieved using a PI, since the device specs are like one. I’ve updated the post to make it clearer. Thanks!

    2. Yeah, to me, any new stuff should go Cortex A7 multi-core instead of using a FPGA.

      The very high clock rate ( usually more than 1.2 GHz ) per core allows to do dumb operations similarly to an FPGA, if really necessary.
      The advantage is that it’s actually cheaper, code in C/ASM is easier to maintain, and it’s way more versatile (USB/HDMI/SD-CARD…).

      A whole c64, including high-quality SID emulation could be easily contained in single 12x12mm SOC without even using external memory.

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