XQEMU

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XQEMU
Developer(s) espes, mborgerson, JayFoxRox and XQEMU Community
Latest version N/A
Active Yes
Platform(s) Windows, Linux, macOS
Emulates Xbox, Sega Chihiro (Arcade. WIP)
Website XQEMU.com
Source code GitHub

XQEMU is an open-source, low-level, multi-platform Xbox and Sega Chihiro (WIP) emulator based off of QEMU, a general-purpose computer emulator and hypervisor. What makes this emulator different from other attempts at Xbox emulation is the use of low-level emulation, while previous attempts at Xbox emulation used high-level emulation. This comes with its own benefits and downsides in comparison, but has quickly lead to higher accuracy and greater compatibility.

Downloads[edit]

Unofficial builds are also available:

Frontends[edit]

XQEMU does not come with an Xbox specific GUI and needs a separate frontend for GUI features.

  • XQEMU-Manager (Official frontend by XQEMU developers. Python script; GUI only)

Unofficial frontends are also available:

  • XQEMU-Frontend by Voxel9 (Builds available; GUI only)
  • xqemu-gui by BigBrainAFK (Builds available; GUI only)
  • XQEMURun by illwieckz (Python script; Command-Line interface only)

Overview[edit]

XQEMU is currently the most accurate open-source Xbox emulator. Many games work correctly in XQEMU, but there are performance issues in many games. Due to the small number of contributors, the focus of development has always been on accuracy, but sometimes there are occasional performance improvements. As more developers contribute to the project and emulation matures, the focus will shift to performance. The developers are always looking for more contributors to help the Xbox get emulated.

XQEMU supports CPU virtualization to improve emulation performance, at a minor loss of compatibility. The only implementation that's working right now seems to be KVM, at no fault of the emudevs.

  • Windows: WHPX (broken, awaiting fixes by Microsoft), HAXM (broken, awaiting fixes by Intel)
  • macOS: HVF (broken, awaiting fixes by Apple), HAXM (broken, awaiting fixes by Intel)
  • Linux: KVM (working)

KVM has been supported in XQEMU since 2013 and is the only stable CPU virtualization at the moment. With the rebase to QEMU 2.x and 3.x in 2018, support for other virtualization technologies has become possible. HVF changes were contributed by espes. Active development of HAXM, WHPX and HVF has made them more compatible with XQEMU, but problems remain. Issues have been filed in the respective projects and testing continues. Throughout September 2018 and later, mborgerson has been showcasing KVM for Linux-based systems and HAXM for Windows and macOS systems in XQEMU. They provide decent performance boosts to games such as Halo: Combat Evolved but still weren't enough to run them at full speed.

History[edit]

mborgerson has, since March 24, 2018,[1] begun work on rebasing XQEMU on the latest QEMU tag, "[bringing] many years of performance enhancements to xqemu including support for native virtualization APIs."[2] The rebase branch, which was merged into the master branch on June 2018, incorporated over 30,000 commits from QEMU that were never merged over the years. Shortly after, the project was rebased again to QEMU 3.0.0.

In June 2018, mborgerson created a new website for XQEMU at xqemu.com; an alternative domain, xqemu.org, was contributed by xbox7887. That same month JayFoxRox released nv2a-trace to debug and compare GPU behavior between the Xbox and XQEMU. This has quickly lead to bug-fixes and allows other developers to gain a better understanding about the Xbox GPU.

In July 2018, JayFoxRox improved controller emulation in XQEMU. More than 20 games were affected by this change. The standard controllers are emulated with no known issues now.

In 2018, a trivial bug in the network emulation was identified by JayFoxRox and mborgerson. Since the patch, System-Link has been supported. It's been tested between different instances of XQEMU, and between XQEMU and Xbox consoles.

In late 2018, mborgerson introduced a new texture cache to improve the performance of XQEMU.

In December 2018, JayFoxRox started integrating audio emulation into XQEMU. This work is based on his 2017 research and prototypes. To attract more developers, many DSP-related tools were created to assist further development. That same month, mborgerson made a prototype for performance changes including the implementation of surface-caching, which greatly enhances visual quality and performance. That work has not been integrated into the official version yet.

Frontend[edit]

In May 2018, mborgerson created XQEMU-Manager, the official frontend for XQEMU. This was done to make XQEMU easier to use, and to combat the rise of many competing unofficial user interfaces. Much like the main project, XQEMU-Manager is also accepting contributions by anyone.

In October 2018, Thrimbor added support for adding custom command-line options for running XQEMU. This was primarily done to work around the lack of input configuration options, based on earlier concepts by JayFoxRox and dracc. Thrimbor also added an option to enable CPU virtualization that same month. It only allows HAXM on Windows / macOS, and KVM on Linux. HVF and WHPX were not supported due to stability issues.

In November 2018, Thrimbor added support for basic input configuration.

In December 2018, Thrimbor added support for configuring emulated memory units.

Related projects[edit]

In June 2018, mborgerson created a copyright-free Xbox HDD image. It's fully functional for most use-cases and can be considered a viable alternative to using images from hardware.

In October 2018, mborgerson made xqemu-kernel, an attempt at an open-source Xbox kernel as HLE alternative. It's currently considered a prototype and isn't functional, and it isn't currently part of the official XQEMU ecosystem.

espes and JayFoxRox formed XboxDev, an organization for researching and documenting the hardware for the original Xbox and Chihiro. Many XQEMU developers are also active members and contributors to XboxDev projects. As a result, most development tools developed for XQEMU are hosted by XboxDev.

Running[edit]

Follow the latest official instructions at xqemu.com/getting-started/.

References[edit]

  1. mborgerson. Add hw/xbox from xqemu. GitHub.
  2. README.md. GitHub.

External links[edit]