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Commodore C64 gets Core i7 engine transplant

Nov 3, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 22 views

A 21st century revamp of the classic Commodore 64 computer is now offered with Linux Mint 11 running on a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and 2TB of hard disk storage. Equipped with a classically styled case and “color-matched” keys, the device has modern innards that also include 8GB of RAM, S/PDIF, HDMI, and DVI video outputs, an eSATA port, and wireless networking.

Commodore's 64 was an 8-bit home computer that was introduced in 1982, was sold until 1994, and is said to have become the best-selling single personal computer ever. The device's chunky all-in-one casing housed 64KB of RAM and 320 x 200 pixel graphics capabilities, but storage was via a cassette drive or externally connected floppy disk.

The latter-day, x86-based Commodore 64
(Click to enlarge)

The "brand new" Commodore 64 (above), first introduced in April by trademark licensee Commodore USA LLC, is intended to send buyers of a certain age into nostalgic reveries. "As close to the original in design as humanly possible," it offers styling that faithfully apes the original, the same brown-beige color, and keys with a familiar shape and layout.

Beneath its retro skin, however, the new device contains an x86 PC built around a Mini-ITX CPU board. The April version combined Intel's dual-core Atom D525 processor with an Nvidia Ion 2 GPU (graphics processing unit) and up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, but the new C64x (Extreme) has gotten quite a kick in the pants.

According to the company, the C64x offers a Core i7-2720QM processor. This 32nm CPU has a 2.2GHz basic clock speed, a 3.3GHz TurboBoost speed, quad cores, a 6MB L3 cache, and a 45-Watt TDP, according to Intel.

The 64x's supporting chipset isn't supplied, but is likely Intel's Q67 Express. Meanwhile, according to Commodore, there's 8GB of preinstalled RAM plus a 2TB hard disk drive, and a slot-loading DVD R/W drive is located on the PC's left side.

Instead of a cassette drive, the new C64 has memory card slots
(Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, the right side of the 64x (above) includes memory card slots. The coastline of the device's Mini-ITX board is accessible from the rear, and provides two USB 2.0 ports, five USB 2.0 ports, display connections (S/PDIF, HDMI, and DVI), Ethernet, and an eSATA port, according to the company. (The image below is of April's Atom-powered version, so its ports differ.)

The rear of the new Commodore 64 reveals a cutout for its internal Mini-ITX board
(Click to enlarge)

Commodore said in April that its new C64 has room for two SATA disk drives internally, plus a Mini PCI Express slot for a wireless LAN adapter (standard on the C64x). Also cited at the time, and presumably again offered here, were headers for an RS232 port, two additional SATA II connectors, and 8-bit GPIO.

The new C64's weight or dimensions still aren't mentioned by Commodore USA. However, the device appears to be much the same size as the original, which reportedly measured approximately 15.9 x 8 x 2.75 inches.

Commodore's promised OS Vision emulator

Commodore USA is again touting "Commodore OS Vision," a customized operating system that will allow "playing all 8-bit-era games within seconds," thanks to an emulator (above) that can be selected from the device's boot menu. This emulator will include game ROMs, screenshots, descriptions, and ratings, the company claims.

According to the company, "the C64x comes pre-imaged with [Linux] Mint 11 and will dual-boot with the retro-inspired Commodore OS Vision when [it is] released."


According to Commodore USA, the C64x is available now for $1,499. More information may be found on the C64 product page and the Commodore USA online store.

Jonathan Angel can be followed at

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