Raspberry Pi £15 computer runs Quake 3

David Braben's computer-on-a-stick shows off its gaming chops
Darren Allan

August 30, 2011
Raspberry Pi

What can you buy these days in terms of computer components for £15? A can of compressed air cleaner? A budget DVD drive, or a very cheap stick of memory, perhaps. Nothing much.

Unless you’re talking about the Raspberry Pi, which is an entire computer-on-a-stick for £15.

We reported on this USB stick computer created by David Braben – the programmer of classic space game Elite – back in May.

The stick has a USB port for a keyboard and HDMI output to hook up to a display, and is powered by Ubuntu and a 700MHz ARM11 processor.

The idea is that due to its cheap price, the machine can be widely distributed across the developed and developing world, helping to encourage kids to get back into programming (as opposed to yawnsome ICT classes about office apps).

If you were wondering what the Raspberry Pi was capable of, the developer has just unveiled a piece of footage showing the computer running Quake 3 – at full HD resolution, 1920×1080, with all details set to the max.

Yes, Quake 3 is hardly cutting edge in terms of graphics – it’s actually twelve years old now – but still, this is a fifteen quid computer.

Take a look on YouTube, where you’ll see David Braben demonstrating a Q3 timedemo. Frame rates average around 15fps, which is a bit choppy, but Braben claims there’s probably some sort of issue causing this as they’ve previously seen the game running more smoothly.

Braben comments that he plans to get some of the Pis hooked up for some networked deathmatch, which he’ll show footage of at a later date.

Apparently this stress test of the graphics capabilities also proved the Pi to run pretty cool, too.

The devs wrote on their blog: “The chip doing all the work in this [Quake 3] clip was still under body temperature after I’d filmed this demo four times, and feels surprisingly cool to the touch. This is also, of course, great news for power consumption.”

While the Pi is hardly a gaming platform, it’s interesting to hear that the device performs this well with an old game, and that it could have limited applications in this field.


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