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OpenGL accelerated x86 games come to Raspberry Pi

Mar 30, 2017 — by Eric Brown 7,563 views

Eltechs released v2.0 of its ExaGear Desktop VM for running x86 apps on ARM/Linux devices. It adds OpenGL hardware graphics acceleration for the Pi 2 and 3.

Recently, Raspbian developers led by Eric Anholt ported the OpenGL driver to Raspbian, thereby making the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 the first hacker SBCs to do so. Russia-based Eltechs, which offers the ExaGear Desktop virtual machine application for running x86 apps on ARM-based Linux computers, quickly adapted the new OpenGL driver and baked it into version 2.0 of ExaGear Desktop.

The new driver implemented in ExaGear Desktop 2.0 fully supports 3D graphics acceleration of Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 applications. As a result, you can now run modern, 3D graphics games such as OpenArena (Quake 3) and Minecraft, some of the few such games that have been ported to the Pi. Most 3D accelerated x86 games simply won’t run or run very slowly, says Eltechs.

Counter Strike running on Raspberry Pi via ExaGear Desktop
(click image to enlarge)

In fact, gaming on the Raspberry Pi generally means using the RetroPie retro games emulator to play old games from the 70s through the early 90s. That doesn’t even include “iconic” games such as Civilization III, Arcanum, or GTA 3, notes Eltechs. The new version should open a much larger catalog of games to Pi users.


The video below shows ExaGear Desktop 2.0 at play running Counter Strike and Diablo II with “no crashes,” and “no stuttering,” says Eltechs. The company also states: “In coming days we expect a ton of games will be tested by bloggers, journalist and, maybe even by you, the reader of the post. So, we are going to update the list of the games here.”

The OpenGL acceleration is the only enhancement mentioned in version 2.0. The OpenGL driver won’t work yet with other SBCs supported by ExaGear Desktop. Yet Eltech claims: “We know how to fix it and we are planning to add support for all devices as soon as we can.”

ExaGear Desktop lets you run user-space, 32-bit Linux x86 applications on ARM systems by way of a virtual machine that implements a virtual x86 Linux container. Eltechs claims it is five times faster than the QEMU emulator. The software also supports 32-bit Windows applications if you also run x86 Wine. In addition to supporting the Raspberry Pi, ExaGear Desktop runs on Odroid, Cubieboard, CuBox, Utilite, Jetson TK1, Wandboard, and Banana Pi SBCs, as well as ARM-based Chromebooks.

Counter Strike and Diablo II on Raspberry Pi using ExaGear Desktop 2.0

Further information

ExaGear Desktop 2.0 is available now. More information may be found on Eltechs’ ExaGear Desktop product page.

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