MAME – recreates the hardware of arcade game systems in software

MAME is a free and open source emulator designed to recreate the hardware of arcade game systems in software on modern personal computers and other platforms.

MAME’s main purpose is to be a reference to the inner workings of the emulated machines. This is done both for educational purposes and for preservation purposes, in order to prevent historical software from disappearing forever once the hardware it runs on stops working. Of course, in order to preserve the software and demonstrate that the emulated behavior matches the original, one must also be able to actually use the software.

MAME was originally an acronym for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.

MAME is written in fairly generic C/C++, and has been ported to numerous platforms. It’s published under an open source license.

Features include:

  • Supports a huge range of portable and console gaming systems.
  • Uses multi-threading to allow some tasks to be split up across multiple CPUs/cores:
    • Up to three threads for triangle rendering when emulating accelerated 3D graphics hardware, including those 3dfx Voodoo.
    • Up to three matrix solver threads for emulating analog sound synthesis, TTL logic, and other analog/digital circuitry.
    • A texture upload thread when using bgfx video output (for uploading textures from MAME to your GPU).
    • A thread to handle MAME’s output handlers and built-in HTTP server.
    • Additional threads for OpenMP loop acceleration (requires special compile options, not enabled by default).
  • Uses 3D hardware for compositing artwork and scaling the games to full screen.
  • Source code can be directly compiled under all the main OSes: Microsoft Windows (both with DirectX/BGFX native support or with SDL support), Linux, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X.
  • Third party tools are available for MAME to make system and software selection easier.

Support: Documentation, FAQ, GitHub code repository
Developer: MAME Team
License: Project as whole is distributed under the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPL-2.0+). Most of the code (including core functionality) is also available under the 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3-clause).

MAME is written in C++. Learn C++ with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

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