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This chip plays ‘Doom’ and nothing else

‘Doom’ truly is eternal.
Marc DeAngelis
May 11, 2020
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Doom
Id Software

It’s been over 25 years since Doom was unceremoniously released on a university FTP server. And despite its age, the classic first-person shooter has become a mainstay, not just for gamers, but also for programmers. The game has shown up on a ridiculous amount of hardware, from ATMs to printer screens to iPods. Graphics and game development enthusiast Sylvain Lefebvre, though, has created a machine that only plays his custom port of Doom.

Lefebvre created a mini computer using a Cyclone V FPGA circuit board. These were originally meant to serve as the brains behind simpler electronics, but have also found a place in homebrew gaming, including the development of hardware-based emulation -- companies like Analogue Interactive use FPGA chips to create products such as the Mega SG. Excluding the game itself, Lefebvre says it took 666 lines of code to get the “DooM-Chip” up and running, which is fitting enough for a game filled with demons and hellspawn.

This project shows how affordable hardware, paired with know-how and research, can net some impressive results. It also proves just how popular Doom is, even after all these years.

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