Basic emulator for the CHIP-8 system in C

New git repository added

1 year, 7 months ago

#CHIP-8 Emulator


This project aims to write a small and functional CHIP-8 emulator (or more accurately an interpreter, since CHIP-8 wasn't ever real hardware) in C using SDL to render the screen.

It implements most of the instructions, but there are still bugs to be fixed.

Note: the ibm.ch8 ROM file that used to be included in the source code was sourced from this git repo, for testing purposes only.


I am interested in learning more about computers, and emulation seemed like an interesting way to do so. I chose CHIP-8 because it would provide one of the simplest ways to get into this branch of computing, and followed the following guides to build this:

  • A tutorial to build a hypothetical VM, which was extremely simple as it only had a couple registers, instructions etc. While I ended up using very little of this tutorial's code, it did influence me in the initial commits. I actually built part of this tutorial and used it as the foundation before eventually changing the code drastically. The only parts that really remain is the code for the stack.

  • This excellent writeup of CHIP-8 gives a lot of information regarding how to build the emulator, and explains the major opcodes as well without any code.


Make sure you have the following in order to both build and run the emulator on your system:

gcc, make, SDL2

These packages vary by Linux distro, so here are the common ones:

  • Fedora:
SDL2 SDL2-devel
  • Ubuntu:
libsdl2 libsdl2-dev


Clone this repo, cd into it and run make. You'll get a vm executable which you can execute.


To run a specific ROM, run

./vm /path/to/ROM/file.ch8


Input and audio are being worked on, but other than that, the rest of the emulator seems to work.