GCW Zero: Another Linux Game Console Attempt
Written by Michael Larabel in Gaming on 13 January 2013 at 10:41 AM EST. 37 Comments
Joining the array of Linux game console attempts is GCW Zero, an open-source game hand-held console. This isn't an Android-based solution but rather a pure Linux game console.

In terms of Linux game consoles there's the Android-based OUYA game console that was very successful last year on Kickstarter and is now shipping with a large following of gamers and developers for the modestly-priced solution. What I'm more excited about though is the Steam Linux console for both the living room and mobile solutions and that should surface later in 2013.

For Linux gaming hand-helds, one of the most popular existing solutions is the Pandora console. Unfortunately, Pandora really isn't popular as a hand-held video game console even though it's an open platform and has been around for a few years. Pandora runs a modified Angstrom Linux stack on its TI OMAP3 hardware.

Now entering the arena as another Linux gaming hand-held attempt is GCW Zero. GCW Zero is taking to Kickstarter to hopefully fund the hand-held console on a mass scale and to fund further development. This console is MIPS-based and runs a custom Linux stack.

Maarten ter Huurne of this new Linux gaming initiative wrote into Phoronix with details about this project. Maarten describes GCW Zero as having the following advantages over other hand-held consoles:

- we're using Linux + busybox + uClibc, not Android, so there is no VM between the applications and the kernel, resulting in lower latencies
- we keep our software up-to-date, for example we are currently using a Linux 3.7 kernel and a toolchain built around GCC 4.7.2
- all our software is released as open source, not just the parts that we have to release because of GPL, and we release it as git commits instead of huge tarballs that developers have to dig through to find the customizations
- the console is developer friendly, with SSH login, gdb, oprofile, dstat etc available out of the box
- the community is involved very actively in the development

The GCW Zero hardware comes down to an Ingenic 1GHz MIPS CPU, a Vivante GC860 GPU, 3.5-inch 320 x 240 display, an OpenDingux-based Linux distribution, 256MB of system memory, 8GB of internal storagr with support for micro SDHC/SDXC cards, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and has an accelerometer and vibration motors. While interesting that it's a MIPS-based Linux game console, unfortunately this hardware isn't too compelling.

More details on the console can be found at GCW-Zero. Through their Kickstarter campaign they are hoping to raise $130,000 (at the time of publishing they have raised $35k with 15 days left from just over 200 backers).

About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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