Product Description

Agon light

Create by Bernardo Kastrup. Original from

What is Agon light?

Agon light is a fully open-source 8-bit microcomputer and microcontroller in one small, low-cost board, built with state-of-the-art 21st-century technology. It has two claims to fame, both of which are substantiated in the next sections. In a nutshell,

Agon light is the fastest and cheapest 8-bit microcomputer ever made.

In addition,

Agon light is the world's sole standalone, instant-on, BASIC-programmed microcontroller that dispenses with a host PC and sketch compilation.

This allows projects to be controlled from the immediacy of a BASIC interpreter's prompt.

The illustration below details Agon light's key technical specifications.

Agon light is a true 8-bit microcomputer in that there are no FPGAs and no emulation in it. It also has no layers of abstraction such as virtual machines. The bare metal is exposed directly to the firmware programmer.

As a microcomputer, Agon light has VGA resolution of up to 640 x 480 pixels and 64 simultaneous colors. It supports sprites and scores best in all popular microcomputer benchmarks by a large margin (see the "Benchmarks" section below).

As a microcontroller, Agon light has a control port featuring SPI, I2C, 20 distinct GPIOs (including UART lines), a system clock output, as well as power (3.3V and 5V) and ground rails. It also features a separate ACCESS.bus header.


The video below contains an extensive demonstration of Agon light's BASIC capabilities, as well as an accessible overview of the system.

A follow-up demonstration, discussing Agon light's game programming capabilities and the Olimex version of Agon light, is also available:

Unique selling points

  • The fastest and cheapest 8-bit microcomputer ever made, by a large margin.
  • No host PC or sketch compilation required to control your projects: you can control your whole house from the immediacy of interpreted BASIC commands.
  • A hardware canvas for you to make of it your own dream, customized microcomputer, with your own preferred look-and-feel and functionality. Agon is a laboratory for computer science experimentation.
  • No more assembly programming to customize or personalize your computer's firmware: Agon light's entire firmware suite, including the functionality of the Video Display Processor (VDP), is programmed in C with freely available tooling (compilers, IDEs, loaders, etc.). 
  • Agon is an open-hardware and open-source project through and through, so you get all the information about the system.


The figure below shows Agon light's raw performance (in seconds to completion) in the Rugg/Feldman benchmarks, compared to the performance of other machines running the same benchmarks with essentially the same BASIC interpreter.

Rugg/Feldman benchmarks, raw results without normalization.

To compare the architectures while taking the clock speed out of the equation, the next figure shows the same benchmark results now normalized for clock frequency. In other words, the results below can be interpreted as the relative performance of each machine when they all run at the same clock speed.

Rugg/Feldman benchmarks, now normalized for clock speed.

In all results above, Agon light is the best performing machine. To illustrate its advantage over other systems at a glance, the following picture shows the speed-up factor (rounded to the closest integer) of Agon light relative to the other machines, for each of the Rugg/Feldman benchmarks. On the top table, raw performance numbers without normalization were used to calculate the speed-up factors. On the bottom table, performance results normalized for clock speed were used.

Agon light's speed-up factor with respect to other systems, for each of the Rugg/Feldman benchmarks. The table on the top is based on raw performance numbers without normalization. The table on the bottom is based on performance results normalized for clock speed. All speed-up factors were rounded to the closest integer.

Another popular benchmark for 8-bit machines is Noel's Retro Lab's BASIC benchmark. The figure below shows all results of that benchmark available at the time of this writing, including Agon light's performance (namely, 1.8s to complete the benchmark). Agon light is almost a factor of 3 faster than the next best machine.

Noel's Retro Lab's BASIC benchmark results, including Agon light's performance (1.8 second) at the very bottom of the plot.

Finally, one more BASIC benchmark is often used today: Matt Heffernan’s “Battle Royale.” The table below summarizes all known results next to Agon light's own performance, which is more than a factor of 3 faster than the next entry, and almost a factor of 5 faster than the best-performing real machine.

Matt Hefferman's "Battle Royale" benchmark, including Agon light's performance.

Agon light next to older brother CERBERUS 2080.

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