Emulators Beta Releases
(updated by Darek Mihocka on March 3 2008)
The beta releases provided on this page are current bleeding-edge builds of our products which have not undergone the same level of testing as past formal releases. It is recommended that before running beta releases that you back up any existing emulation files, such as ROM image files, floppy disk and hard disk virtual disk files, and settings files.
The ninth generation of our 680x0 emulation products Gemulator
and SoftMac is now under development. The first supported beta release of GEMULATOR
2008 is now available, which includes a beta release of SOFTMAC 2008. A beta refresh will follow in September on the 15th anniversary of when Gemulator
version 1.0 was first released at the 1992 Glendale Atari Fair. For the version 9.0 releases, several high priority issues were addressed relating to stability and reliability which were found after the 8.x releases:
* Fix video where on some systems the screen refresh was either very slow or infrequent.
* Support for running in WOW64 mode on 64-bit XP and 64-bit Vista.
* Improve support for running in virtual machines such as VMware and Virtual PC
* Remove menu options that had little effect (such as "Fast Refresh" or "Use Hardware Timer") in order to reduce testing complexity.
* Eliminate Windows calls specific to certain Windows releases and choosing more general purpose implementations instead. For example, the "write watch" API in Windows is no longer being used as it is not consistently available on different PCs.
* Merge back to a common 680x0 emulation engine. Gemulator
8 and SoftMac 8 had used forked sources which had diverged significantly and had subtly different behaviour.
These changes and fixes result in a more consistent experience regardless of the version of Windows being run on or the host CPU being used. More importantly, these changes are also intended to ease the porting process. Very soon these products will be ported from being 32-bit applications to being 64-bit applications which will be targeted at 64-bit Windows, Mac OS X Leopard, and x64 distributions of Linux. It is possible that Fusion PC will also be revived in the future to target MS-DOS hosts, either from the current Fusion PC 3.0 sources or from the ported SoftMac sources. Whether this happens at all will depend on demand from users of MS-DOS.
From the functionality point of video, the 9.0 releases should be as compatible as the 8.x releases. Settings files from 8.x can be imported. All the same disk images and ROM files supported by the 8.x releases should still work in 9.0. In merging the SoftMac and Gemulator
680x0 engines both emulators now have this common support:
* All ROMs can be booted in any CPU mode: 68000
, 68010, 68020, 68030, or 68040. Each ROM has a preferred default which can now be overridden. For example, Atari ST TOS 2.06 ROMs can be booted in either the default 68000
mode, or in 68030 mode which will enable 68882 FPU emulation but break some Atari ST applications that are not 68030 compatible. We recommend using the "Add" button to clone existing virtual machine profiles to create both 68000
and 68030 Atari ST and Macintosh profiles.
* Screen resolution is now supported up to 1920x1200. Mac OS 8.1 has been tested in 1920x1200 256-color mode. Earlier Mac OS versions have not been tested in all screen resolutions.
* A built-in debugger is exposed, which allows hard core geeks to actually trace through 680x0 code instruction by instruction and capture traces. No, we don´t expect most of you to be doing this.
* Support for EmuTOS (the open source Atari TOS ROM clone)
9.0 betas require a valid set of Atari ST, Atari Mega ST, Atari STE, Atari Mega STE, Atari TT, or Mac Plus ROMs. SoftMac 9.0 betas require a valid set of Mac Plus, Mac SE, Mac SE/30, Mac II
, Mac IIx, Mac IIcx, Mac IIci, Mac LC, Mac LC II ROMs, Mac Quadra (any), Mac LC (any 3 digit model), Mac Centris (any), or similar Macintosh ROMs. Fusion PC betas will require a 512K or 1M Macintosh ROM image file.
This all needs to be verified by you, our beta testers. Use this link to email beta feedback in order to avoid our usual spam filter. We welcome as detailed information as possible, including attached screen shots. Please, please, PLEASE, also make sure to include this information in your email:
* The type of processor your PC uses (Intel Pentium, Intel Core / Core 2, Intel Centrino, AMD Athlon, AMD Athlon 64, AMD Opteron, AMD Turion, unknown).
* If you own a 64-bit capable processor such as Athlon64 or Core 2, your host operating system´s operating mode (32-bit or 64-bit).
* The rated clock speed of your PC, and whether you generally run in power saving / battery mode, or high performance mode.
* For future 64-bit releases, your preferred OS: Windows Vista, Mac OS X, or Linux (specify which distribution).
* Do you own an Intel based Macintosh, and if so, do you use Boot Camp, Parallels, VMware Fusion, or none of them?
* What you want to emulate: Atari 800, Atari ST, Atari TT, classic Apple Macintosh (Mac OS 8 and earlier), Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Windows, Linux
* Would you be interested in running the new Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" on your Windows PC?
* Would you be interested in running classic Apple Macintosh (Mac OS 8 and earlier) on your Intel based Macintosh?
* Do you use PearPC
? If not, is it due to speed and would you use them if the slowdown was significantly less?
It would also be very much appreciated if anyone is willing to help out with writing new online documentation for Gemulator
9.0 and SoftMac 9.0, developing official test cases and benchmarks, or helping out with the porting effort to Linux and Mac OS X.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated. You will help change the future of emulation.
And if there are three things in particular that you can provide, it is BENCHMARKS BENCHMARKS BENCHMARKS! Please install other past Atari ST and Macintosh emulators and compare the speeds of Gemulator
9.0 and SoftMac 9.0 with these past emulators. Use a stopwatch to time "real world wall clock" timings of such things as how long something takes to boot up or do some complex operation. Use canned benchmarking utilities and send screen shots of the results. Help us pinpoint what is slow and what is fast. Gemulator
9.0 and SoftMac 9.0 need to end up being absolutely the fastest Atari ST and Macintosh emulators on the planet.
Why go through all this trouble? The death of the 32-bit Pentium 4 and its replacement with new multi-core 64-bit processors such as the Intel Core 2 and the AMD Athlon64 represents a complete change in the way that microprocessors operate and in the way that software needs to be designed and written. Emulators are a terrific test case to use for learning the new tricks of the multi-core 64-bit world. But also, emulation itself can be used to analyze existing software in order to find bugs and performance bottlenecks thanks to the power of an emulator to trace and record every single operation. Emulation is not a toy for running old video games on. It is a powerful tool. And your help in beta testing Gemulator
9.0 and SoftMac 9.0 is but a small stepping stone.
The design work has already started on the 10th generation of these products, which is a bottom-up redesign to target multi-core 64-bit CPUs such as the Intel Core 2 found in today´s PCs and Macs, and the PowerPC
in the Playstation
3 and PowerMac G5. The design goal is to have a portable C-based emulation framework built with GCC that can emulate Atari, Macintosh, and PC virtual machines on 64-bit x64 and PowerPC
host machines. The design changes being made in the Gemulator
9.0 and SoftMac 9.0 emulators serve as proofs of concept of the many design ideas
being mulled about for that new emulation framework. So while these betas may look very similar to our earlier product releases, they´re not under the hood. Your beta testing and benchmarking will help to prove or disprove these ideas
Core parts of the new framework will be open sourced, which will allow others to do research relating to compiler optimizations, CPU architectures, and to improve the performance of not only Macintosh emulators but virtual machines in general such as Java
. This in turn will mean that future software (having nothing to do with emulation) will be written better such that it runs faster and crashes less. And that will be a good thing for all computer users, whether Mac, Atari, Windows, or Linux.
Some things to keep in mind when running SoftMac and other emulators:
* If you are using Macintosh ROMs that do not boot, set the CPU setting to "Auto" and try again. If they still not boot please contact us and tell us what the ROM checksum is that you are using.
* For keyboards without a Windows menu key, press Ctrl+F11 or click on the Gemulator
/SoftMac icon in the task bar to bring up the Gemulator
/SoftMac main menu.
* Atari emulation modes may "capture" the Windows mouse point. Press F11 to get the pointer back.
* The Atari ST "blitter" can be enabled and disabed in the GEM desktop with TOS 1.6 and later, but is only visible in 68000
* In general the 68000
is so fast that it is more efficient to disable the Atari ST blitter anyway.
* 256K Macintosh ROMs are not "32-bit clean" and are limited to seeing only 8 megabytes of RAM.
* 512K and 1M Macintosh ROMs are 32-bit clean and will support up to 1024 megabytes of RAM.
* Due to memory fragmentation caused by specific Windows system DLLs, the 512 and 1024 megabyte settings may not function on your specific PC. This memory fragmentation issue will be addresses in a future release.
* If you are having problems booting from a Mac OS CD-ROM, mount it as the SCSI 1 device, and boot from some other disk image or boot disk. Then run the Mac OS installer. If you need to create more disk space, use the MAKEDSK utility to create a larger Macintosh hard disk image, then install it as the SCSI 2 device.
* Mount boot CD-ROMs as SCSI device 1 through 7, not as SCSI 0.
* Disable the A/Rose system extension. This is for use with Mac co-processor boards which are not emulated.
* Disable the virtual memory option in Mac OS. This is a known bug which will be fixed in a later release.
* Disable the Mac´s sound if you have sound related problems and report this to us.
* Install the latest ASPI 4.60 SCSI driver to correctly read Macintosh CD-ROMs on Windows NT and Windows 2000.
* Enable the Apple CD-ROM system extension if you wish to read CD-ROMs within the Mac OS
* Install the latest ATI RAGE PRO video drivers to avoid redraw problems caused by earlier ATI video drivers.
* To do a "clean" install of Gemulator
or SoftMac, delete the files GEM2000.INI and SOFTMAC.INI in your Windows directory, and delete any *.PRM and MAC*.DAT files on your C: drive.
* Use the Path setting in ROM BIOS Setup dialog (formerly called First Time Setup) to specify a path where your ROM image files are.