An open source graphics renderer

by Simon Que


ChronoCube is a FPGA-based renderer inspired by the great video game consoles of the pre-3D era, such as SNES, Sega Genesis, and Gameboy.  It allows a microcontroller to generate video game graphics in real time with minimal overhead.  Hook it up between a microcontroller and a VGA-compatible display and it is good to go.

ChronoCube features everything you need to produce great video game graphics on an embedded system:

  • 320x240 video mode

  • 18-bit color resolution

  • Four 256-color palettes

  • Four tile-based layers

  • 256 sprites

  • Hardware scrolling

  • 128 KB of VRAM for image data

  • More features to come!


Q: What microcontrollers can use ChronoCube?

A: Anything with an external memory bus or a SPI interface, including: AVR, ARM, PIC, and MSP430.

Q: What hardware is used to implement ChronoCube?

A: ChronoCube is built on an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA.  The code base is generic and can be implemented on other FPGA models.  The audacious developer can download the open source Verilog code and build it himself.

Q: When can I buy one, and how much will it cost?

A: It is still under development.  Expect it to be available by late 2013. Price is TBD.

Q: Why is it called “ChronoCube”?

A: Think “Chrono Trigger” and “GameCube.”