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RetroArch 1.8.6 released!

RetroArch 1.8.6 has just been released.

Grab it here.

We will release a Cores Progress report soon going over all the core changes that have happened since the last report. It’s an exhaustive list, and especially the older consoles will receive a lot of new cores and improvements.

Remember that this project exists for the benefit of our users, and that we wouldn’t keep doing this were it not for spreading the love with our users. This project exists because of your support and belief in us to keep going doing great things. If you’d like to show your support, consider donating to us. Check here in order to learn more. In addition to being able to support us on Patreon, there is now also the option to sponsor us on Github Sponsors! You can also help us out by buying some of our merch on our Teespring store!


There are many things this release post will not touch upon, such as all the extra cores that have been added to the various console platforms. We’ll spend some more time on that in a future Cores Progress Report post. We’ll go over some of the other highlights instead.

PSL1GHT PlayStation3 port

A new port of RetroArch to the PSL1GHT toolchain has been made for PlayStation3.

Right now there are no automated nightly builds for this, but you can download our experimental stable for it instead.


Not working:

iOS/tvOS – Fix audio getting cut off on interruption

While using RetroArch, if you playback audio content (such as via the Control Center) or if you are interrupted by a phone call, the audio in RetroArch would stop entirely.

Changed to set the audio session category to “ambient” so that you can playback other audio sources and have sounds in RA at the same time.

Also, took out the bit to save the config when the app loses focus – it became too much of a distraction (the notification is distracting – this was not working previously anyway).

OpenGL Core – Slang shader improvements

Before, the OpenGL Core shader driver did not correctly initialise loaded textures. The texture filtering and wrap mode are forced on texture creation, but these settings were not recorded – subsequent updates would set garbage values, that then resolved to linear filtering OFF and wrap mode = CLAMP_TO_EDGE.

The wrap mode seemed to work regardless – perhaps once this is set the first time, it cannot change? (I don’t understand the inner workings of OpenGL…) But the texture filtering was certainly wrong. For example, this is what a background image with linear filtering enabled looks like:

…what you actually get is nearest neighbour.

This PR fixes texture initialisation so the filtering and wrap mode are recorded correctly. A linear filtered background image now looks like this:

Only write config files to disk when parameters change

We’ve been looking at ways to reduce disk I/O overhead, since it tends to be a big bottleneck on slower platforms.

Before, RetroArch would continuously overwrite its configuration files:

This represents a large amount of unnecessary disk access, which is quite slow (and also causes wear on solid state drives!)

With 1.8.6, configuration files are only written to disk when the content actually changes.

All types of configuration file should now be ‘well behaved’ – with the exception of cheat files. These are still overwritten when closing content, since reusing old parameters may cause issues (and since I don’t use cheats at all, I didn’t feel confident enough to dabble with this)

While making these changes, we also discovered and fixed a number of bugs:

Playlist compression

There’s a new Compress playlists option under Settings > Playlists. When enabled, playlists are stored in an archived format (using the new rzip_stream interface).

The obvious benefit is that playlist file size is reduced by ~90%, with a corresponding reduction in disk wear on solid state drives (playlists are rewritten to disk quite frequently!).

Given the small size of playlist files, these saving aren’t hugely significant – but of more interest is the fact that on one of our development machines (Linux + mechanical HDD), loading a compressed playlist takes ~20% less time than an uncompressed one (despite the extra zlib overheads). This produces noticeably smoother scrolling when switching playlists in XMB. This improvement is most likely platform-dependent, but on devices where storage speed is a real issue (e.g. 3DS, UWP) the difference in playlist loading times should be quite pronounced.

We’ve also fixed some small playlist-related bugs/issues:

It goes without saying that RetroArch will automatically detect whether or not a playlist is compressed and handle it appropriately.

If a playlist has been compressed and a user subsequently wants to edit it by hand, they can simply toggle Compress playlists off and then view the playlist via the menu – it will automatically be decompressed to plain text/JSON.

In addition to this, since human readability is not a factor when compressing playlists, we now omit all whitespace (newlines/indentation) when writing compressed JSON.

This reduces performance overheads when reading compressed JSON playlists by ~16% (!)

SRAM Compression

This is a minor follow-up to PR #10454. It adds a new SaveRAM Compression option under Settings > Saving. When enabled, SRAM save files are written to disk as compressed archives.

While SRAM saves are generally quite small, this can still yield a not insignificant space saving on storage-starved devices (e.g. the SNES/NES Classic consoles). Moreover, it reduces wear on solid state drives when SaveRAM Autosave Interval is set (in the worst case, this can write a couple of MB to disk per minute – vs. a few kB when compression is enabled).

Actual compression ratios will vary greatly depending upon core and loaded content. Here are a few examples of SRAM save sizes for random cores/games:

Core Uncompressed Compressed
Gambatte 32 kB 178 B
Genesis Plus GX 32 kB 83 B
mGBA 64 kB 1.1 kB
Mupen64Plus-Next OpenGL 290 kB 736 B
PCSX-ReARMed 128 kB 605 B
Snes9x 8.0 kB 183 B

In many cases, the actual on-disk save size can be reduced to almost nothing.


Savestate compression

There’s a new Savestate Compression option under Settings > Saving. When enabled, save state files are written to disk as compressed archives. This both saves a substantial amount of disk space and reduces wear on solid state drives.

Actual compression ratios will vary depending upon core and loaded content. Here are a few examples of save state sizes for random cores/games:

Core Compression OFF Compression ON
Beetle PSX HW 16 MB 1.5 MB
Flycast 27 MB 8.9 MB
Genesis Plus GX 1012 kB 47 kB
mGBA 453 kB 45 kB
Mupen64Plus-Next OpenGL 17 MB 1.5 MB
PCSX-ReARMed 4.3 MB 2.3 MB
PUAE 11 MB 793 kB
Snes9x 421 kB 82 kB


(Manual content scanner/playlist cleaner) Prevent redundant playlist entries when handling M3U content

Before, when the manual content scanner was used to scan content that includes M3U files, redundant playlist entries were created. For example, content like this:

(where the .m3u references all the .cue files) would generate playlist entries for both the .m3u file and each of the .cue files. This is annoying, since the latter are pointless, and must be removed manually by the user.

1.8.6 adds M3U ‘awareness’ to the manual content scanner. Now whenever M3U files are encountered, they are parsed, and anything they reference internally is removed/omitted from the output playlist.

This functionality has also been added to the Playlist Management Clean Playlist task, so these redundant entries can be removed easily from existing playlists.

(Side note: 1.8.6 also adds a simple but feature complete M3U handling library – this may have additional use if someone wants to add the ability to generate M3U files for existing content…)

Improved handling of ‘broken’ playlists

RetroArch previously would fall apart when handling ‘broken’ playlists – i.e. when playlist entries have missing or invalid path/core path/core name fields. 1.8.6 should fix the most significant issues:

(Playlist Management) Add optional per-playlist alphabetical sorting

At present, RetroArch offers a global Sort playlists alphabetically option – but several users have requested more fine grained control. i.e. Users with highly customised setups might want a number of ‘hand-crafted’ playlists with specific ordering (release date, games in a particular series, etc.) without losing the ability to automatically sort their other conventional platform-based playlists.

1.8.6 adds a new Sorting Method option to the Playlist Management interface. This allows the sorting method to be overridden on a per-playlist basis. Available values are System Default (reflects Sort playlists alphabetically setting), Alphabetical and None.


…not only did this duplicate effort, but it meant there was a chance of the playlist and menu going out of sync – especially when using the Label Display Mode feature, which could lead to a different alphabetical ordering when processing the generated menu entries. As of 1.8.6, only the playlist is ever sorted, and menu entries are listed in exactly the same order.


Before, Ozone can display either one thumbnail + content metadata or two thumbnails (with content metadata fallback when one image is missing) for each playlist entry.

With 1.8.6, if two thumbnails are enabled then the user can toggle between the second thumbnail and content metadata by pressing RetroPad ‘select’. When metadata is shown in this way, an image icon is displayed to indicate that a second thumbnail is available. The toggle may also be performed with a mouse/touchscreen by clicking/tapping the thumbnail sidebar.

Ozone menu – Mouse/Touch input fixes

(RGUI) Enable automatic menu size reduction when running at low resolutions (down to 256×192)

Before, on all platforms other than the Wii/NGC, RGUI had a fixed frame buffer size of [320-426]x240 (width takes one of three values depending upon current menu aspect ratio).

In most cases this is fine, with an important exception: when running content at its native resolution (usually when connected to a CRT), the display size is often smaller than 320×240. For example, SNES titles run at 256×224; master system titles at 256×192. In these cases, RGUI gets ‘squished’ – there are not enough scanlines on the screen, so rows of menu pixels get dropped (or blurred together if bilinear filtering is enabled). This makes the menu difficult to read/use.

This PR modifies RGUI such that its frame buffer dimensions are automatically reduced when running at low resolutions. The minimum nominal menu size is 256×192, which should enable content for almost all TV-connected consoles to be run at native resolution while maintaining pixel perfect menu scaling.

(Unfortunately, going any smaller than this breaks RGUI – so for handheld systems it’s still best to run at higher resolutions with a shader or video filter)

While implementing this, narrowed down the detection of when the aspect ratio lock should be disabled: currently, RGUI’s aspect ratio lock ‘turns off’ when accessing the video settings menu – this now only happens when accessing the video scaling submenu, since this is the only section that can cause conflicts with the aspect lock method. (Note that the old behaviour is maintained for the Wii port, because it has special requirements relating to resolution changes)

Menu – widget and font improvements

Content scanner was unable to identify games from CHD images on Android builds

The content scanner was unable to identify games from CHD images on Android builds (same files that are being properly identified on Windows builds).

It was discovered that both the extracted magic number and CRC hash differed on both builds. This should now be resolved.


What you’ve read above is just a small sampling of what 1.8.6 has to offer. There might be things that we forgot to list in the changelog listed below, but here it is for your perusal regardless.


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