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Ingenious modders run Doom on an Ikea lightbulb

From today's perspective, classic games like the original Doom certainly do not require much computing power (Image: Next-Hack)
From today's perspective, classic games like the original Doom certainly do not require much computing power (Image: Next-Hack)
The tiny microchips that are built into smart home devices don't just control the lighting of our homes, apparently they can also entertain us in an entirely different manner by running the very first iteration of a beloved first-person shooter franchise.

As smart home devices grow more and more complex, their hardware becomes more sophisticated than a first glance would suggest. A creative group of modders has now illustrated the surprising capabilities of an IKEA lightbulb by running a classic shooter on it. The group that calls itself Next-Hack used the internals of an Ikea TRÅDFRI LED bulb to run the original Doom from ID Software, which was released in 1993. It's an incredible feat considering the lightbulb's tiny memory, which only holds a total of 108 kB of data.

To be fair, the hardware modifications that were necessary to run a game on the lightbulb are fairly extensive and may be considered cheating. Certain additions were inevitable, because lightbulbs usually do not feature any kind of display or physical keys to control a game, and the modders also had to add another 8 MB storage module to the 1 MB of storage that is included in the bulb. Furthermore, the game itself had to be heavily modified to run on such an unusual setup, but it is nevertheless fascinating to see Doom playing on a lightbulb's ARM Cortex-M33 chip with a measly 80 MHz clock frequency.

The project's successful outcome leaves no doubt that the hardware that is used in common smart home devices is, in theory, perfectly capable of running more demanding software. Needless to say, the experiment was not intended to provide a practical way to play your favorite classic games, but everyone who remembers the kind of hardware that was needed to run Doom back in the early 90s should be able to appreciate this creative effort.

Unfortunately, the full project report, including an amazing YouTube video, has since been deleted. In case they are put back online, we will update this story accordingly. In the meantime, the archived version of the report may be worth a read.

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Enrico Frahn, 2021-06-30 (Update: 2021-06-30)