It’s been a year since Itaca Innovation launched their uChip, in an effort to rival the ATmega328 chip on Arduino boards with a faster, more efficient microcontroller. The board packed a SAM D21 Arm Cortex-M0+ MCU (32K RAM, 256K Flash), seven 12-bit ADC inputs, 10-bit DAC output, an I2S port (for audio decoders), and 13 power pins. The chip was designed to drop into nearly any 16-pin dip socket, making it a versatile platform for any number of projects, from robotics to IoT devices.
One of the significant advantages of the uChip is it could be utilized for gaming, which Itaca demonstrated with a handheld capable of generating 40 FPS for games such as LionHeart (1993). Itaca has since capitalized on the uChip’s gaming prowess, and is set to release an open source DIY retro gaming console on Crowd Supply.
The uChip Simple VGA Console (uSVC) allows users to create and play 8-bit games at a resolution of 320 x 200 pixels, which might seem low, but there’s no point in playing retro-style games at super-high resolutions. Beyond the ATSAMD21E18 microcontroller, the console also offers a VGA output of 57Hz vertical frequency and 30kHz horizontal frequency, a micro SD slot for storage, 3.5mm audio jack, and support for USB-compatible gamepads and keyboards.
As mentioned earlier, Itaca Innovation is expected to launch the uChip Simple VGA Console on Crowd Supply but will come in kit form, which means it will require some through-hole soldering, but nothing too tricky. The company has three games for use with the console as well, including Fair Play Race, Redballs, and an old-school Tetris clone.