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Ataribox gaming console will run Linux on AMD

Sep 26, 2017 — by Eric Brown 1,314 views

Atari will soon launch a $250 “Ataribox” gaming console that runs a customizable Linux stack on an AMD CPU with Radeon, and provides media player features.

Atari’s return to the gaming console business after a 20-year absence was confirmed by the company in June, and the first images were teased in July. Now, Atari has announced that the console — called the Ataribox — will debut this fall on Indiegogo for $249 to $299, with shipments in late Spring 2018. Atari also revealed the Ataribox will run Linux on a AMD customized processor, with Radeon Graphics technology.

Newly released image of the Ataribox prototype
(click image to enlarge)

The angled, ribbed design, which features optional wood paneling for a retro look, has an “Atari 2600 influence, while still being a modern design,” says Atari. The box integrates an HDMI port, four USB ports, and an SD slot.

Ataribox prototype (left) and circa-1977 Atari 2600
(click images to enlarge)

Game titles will include a mix of old and new. “There will be tons of classic Atari retro games pre-loaded, & current titles from a range of studios,” said Atari. The device will also provide general media player features, including “a full PC experience for the TV, bringing you streaming, applications, social, browsing, music, and more,” says the company.

More new images of the Ataribox
(click images to enlarge)

The Linux stack will feature a “customized, easy-to-use user interface,” says Atari. “Most TV devices have closed systems and content stores. Linux lets us be more open; you can access & customise the OS, & you can access games you’ve bought from other content platforms (if compatible with the OS and HW).”

The latter statement suggests the device will be able to run other Linux games. A lot of retro games are available on the Raspberry Pi and other Linux platforms. It’s unclear if the Ataribox might also accept SteamOS titles. The NeoWin report that alerted us to the Linux news noted that Valve’s push for the Linux-based SteamOS and SteamOS powered Steam Machines has gone down in flames. In early September, Valve revealed that only 0.63 percent of Steam users run Linux.

Birds-eye view of a pair of Atariboxes
(click image to enlarge)

After filing for bankruptcy protection in 2013, Atari rebounded as a mobile games developer, and has licensed its name for the “Blade Runner 2049” movie. The company’s last attempt at a console — the 1993 Jaguar – failed as badly as Steam Machines.


The VentureBeat story that first broke the news of an Atari console reboot back in June noted that Atari was likely encouraged to make the leap after the surprising popularity of the Nintendo NES Class Edition. Nintendo’s box enables playing retro titles like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. The retro trend should get a boost from Steven Spielberg’s upcoming movie, Ready Player One, although the trailer suggests that the loving references to 80’s gaming culture in the popular Ernest Cline novel may be overshadowed by CGI car chases.

A VentureBeat story posted yesterday quotes Ataribox creator and general manager Feargal Mac as saying the Ataribox would perform like a mid-range PC, not a high-end gaming console. The story also said that during the Indiegogo campaign, “Atari will factor in feedback from fans, particularly on things like content, colors, special editions, early access, and design options.”

Further information

The Ataribox will go on sale for $249 to $299 on Indiegogo this fall and ship in the late Spring of 2018. More information may be found in Atari’s Ataribox announcement.

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4 responses to “Ataribox gaming console will run Linux on AMD”

  1. Chip Bruner says:

    I am looking forward to this. I know it will not pull the big name titles, but I just don’t care about all that. Nintendo has very few decent games and nobody thinks less of them. I already have a spot on my shelf ready for this device!

  2. Krishna says:

    Fewer and fewer of the AAA titles are interesting and the older games are so much better. Good to see Atari back in the game utilizing LInux and AMD hardware!

  3. Charlie Whitman says:

    In a way the apparent strength and weakness of this console is the same point. It’s low risk to buy one because you should be able to use it as a streaming, gaming, and computing device in your living room even if it totally flops and/or Atari went out of business. However, the generic nature of the device could also mean there is no compelling reason for a lot of people to buy them unless Atari can come up with some decent exclusive (or even temporarily exclusive) titles.

    Of course the current Atari (it’s changed hands a few times in all these years) is not a development house. They hire other people to do their development work. I’m not sure where they might get their imagination for some kind of new title. Thus, I’m not sure what to expect here, but the low risk nature of what this appears to be may make me pick one up anyway. It can replace the Raspberry Pi on a television and bring the added capability of Netflix, newer games, etc.

  4. Marsattacknot says:

    pfff Atari is just another linux box… Atari was under other company since japan take the leadership in entertainement at home!

    Fu Atari! I wont by you


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