Slot machine type gaming devices have evolved from simple lever-pulled machines to powerful devices that offer complex graphics, sound, interactivity and deliver seamless gaming experiences. Single Board Computers (SBC) are a major technology facilitating this change. An SBC is a complete computer system embedded in a single circuit board. It is ideal for designing highly customized, energy-efficient casino slot machines with advanced gaming features to create an innovative and engaging gaming experience.
This article explores how SBCs can be used to build slot machine type gaming machines and discusses the advantages of using SBCs over other computing solutions.
Slot machines have a rich history dating back to the late 19th century. Charles Fey is credited with inventing the first slot machine, the Liberty Bell, in San Francisco in 1895. The machine had three spinning reels adorned with symbols such as horseshoes, diamonds, spades, and a cracked liberty bell. Initially, slot machines featured mechanical systems that included a lever, gear, payout tray, coin hopper, rotating drums, brakes, and a coin slot. Players would insert a coin and pull a lever to spin the reels, and if the symbols lined up, they won a prize.
In modern-day casino slot machines, key components work together to provide players with an engaging experience.
1. Cabinet: The cabinet is the outer shell of the slot machine and houses all the internal components. It includes the main display screen, the buttons or a touch screen for player input, and the speakers for audio effects.
2. Reels: The reels are the iconic spinning cylinders that display the game symbols and numbers that eventually determine the game players' fate. Ultimately, the goal of the reels is to spin and match up win or loss combinations for a player's payout.
3. Processor: The processor is the backbone of the slot machine. It controls all the game's rules and functions and generates random outcomes for each spin.
4. Bill acceptor: This is an essential slot machine component that rejects fake bills and accepts valid currency as payment for playing the game.
5. Audio System: The sound system consists of speakers that produce upbeat music, beeps, jingles, and other complex musical arrangements to create an exciting and engaging gaming experience for players.
6. Display screen: These are screens such as liquid crystal display (LCD), organic light emitting diode (OLED), 3D technology, and a light emitting diode (LED) that showcases various symbols and animations to provide vital information that informs the decisions of the game players and enhances a visually appealing gaming environment.
7. Buttons: The primary use of the buttons is to allow players to control the game by selecting the "spin" button to start the game, the "bet max" button to place the maximum bet possible, and the "cash out" button used to retrieve any winnings and end the game.
As technology revolutionizes the gaming industry with advanced and innovative gaming features, slot machine manufacturers turn to single-board computers (SBCs) as an efficient computing solution. SBCs are compact, energy-efficient, and versatile computing devices that integrate a computer's necessary components onto a single circuit board. 
1. Game Control: SBCs control the game logic and mathematical models that can be put into a program to generate random numbers required for spinning the reels and the payout calculation.
2. Player Interaction: Through the implementation of features such as motion sensors, and touchscreens via the I/O ports and HDMI ports, SBCs can help to manage the user interface by controlling the buttons, enhancing sound effects, and driving high-resolution screen displays. By incorporating SBCs, casinos can create a more exciting and immersive gaming experience.
3. Seamless Communication: SBCs have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity features that enable them to communicate, interact and transmit data with the backend systems of the casino.
4. Multi-functionality: SBCs have powerful processors that simultaneously implement multiple threads, tasks, and programs in casino slot machines. With its versatility, more casinos are adopting the SBCs technology to enhance their gaming offerings, such as keeping track of spins, offering bonus rounds, detecting malfunctions, and preventing fraud.
5. Protection and monitoring: SBCs can greatly enhance a safe and more secure gaming experience by implementing advanced security features such as encryption, authentication, remote monitoring, and access control. These measures help detect and alert operators of any suspicious activity, prevent unauthorized access and tampering with the software, and ensure the integrity of the games.
In enhancing the features of the new types of casino slot machines, SBCs offer several distinct advantages over computing systems like the Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), microcontrollers, and other traditional computing solutions. Let's take a look at some of the advantages of using SBCs over other computing solutions for casino slot machines:
1. High Computational Ability: Single-board computers (SBCs) are becoming increasingly popular among developers due to their high computational ability. Unlike microcontrollers, FPGA, and other traditional computing solutions, SBCs have expandable-storage capabilities, graphics capabilities and high-speed processors typically based on x86, Arm®. This advanced technology allows developers to create complex gaming algorithms and features such as multi-level bonuses, free spins, 3D graphics, and better sound effects previously impossible to achieve with other computing solutions. With SBCs, developers can achieve high-performance levels previously out of reach.
2. Flexible and Compact: Modern casino slot machines require cutting-edge hardware and software to deliver exciting gameplay experiences to users. One of the biggest advantages of using Single Board Computers (SBCs) for these machines is their small form factor. Unlike traditional computing systems that require bulky hardware configurations to accommodate cooling systems, power supplies, and hard drives, SBCs are compact devices that offer a range of input and output options. This makes it easy for game developers to modify or incorporate new features without worrying about physical constraints. Another inherent advantage of using a computer consisting of one board is reliabilaity vs. traditional computing devices. A slot machine is exposed to extensive vibrations and temperature fluctuations, an SBC is immune to various duaghter boards becoming lose over time.
3. Reduced Energy Usage: Unlike traditional desktop computers, which require a lot of energy to operate, SBCs are designed to run on low power, making them generate less heat and extending the lifespan of the casino slot machine. This efficiency is multiplied as the HVAC system isn’t required to work as hard to remove exess heat from a casino full of PC powered machines thus saving the establishment considerable costs in energy and a reduction in global warming.
4. Customizable: Another advantage of using SBCs for creating modern casino slot machines is their high degree of customizability. Slot machine manufacturers or developers can choose from various SBCs with different clock speeds, processing power, memory, and connectivity options and configure them to meet their specific requirements. This level of flexibility allows manufacturers to create innovative, unique, and engaging gameplay.
5. Cost-Effective: Another significant advantage of SBCs over other computing solutions like FPGA and microcontrollers is their affordability. Compared to traditional computing solutions, which require many components, such as electronic modules, cooling systems, and power supplies, SBCs are compact devices that require only a fraction of the hardware components. This reduction in hardware components reduces production costs and helps minimize failure rate, reducing downtime and maintenance costs. Another advantage of using Linux or Android powered devices is the wealth of software engineers available compared with the relatively niche skillset of FPGA programmers.
Gaming technology requires sophisticated algorithms, graphics, real-time communication, and secure storage for sensitive player data. FPGA, microcontrollers, and entry-level SBCs may not be enough to handle these demands. High-performance SBCs such as the ROCK series by OKdo and Radxa assist to deliver game integrity.
The latest installment of the ROCK series, the ROCK 5 Model B SBC by OKdo and Radxa, boasts many features that greatly enhance the prototype development process for design engineers. With these new features, engineers can rapidly construct prototypes and transform them into thriving products. Below are some primary elements that make the ROCK 5 Model B SBC stand out from its predecessors.
Designed with the powerful Rockchip RK3588 SoC, this SBC boasts an octa-core processor with Arm® DynamIQ™ Quad Cortex® A76, Quad Cortex A55 CPU, and Arm Mali™ G610MC4 GPU, delivering lightning-fast performance and exceptional processing power.
The ROCK 5B has 8GB 64-bit RAM and an eMMC socket, providing ample storage space for your data and applications. With the power on/off button, you can enjoy quick, easy, and safe shutdowns without fearing damaging your storage, ensuring peace of mind and convenience.
The ROCK 5 Model B SBC supports up to 8Kp60 resolution, making it useful for advanced gaming and UI applications. It also features a built-in Real-Time-Clock, dual HDMI and USB C ports, and a micro-HDMI input port that supports up to 4Kp60 resolution for video-in, making it incredibly versatile and ideal for a wide range of applications.
1. Gaming Technologies Association. Player Information Booklet [internet]. Australia: Australian Gaming Machines. A short History; n. d; cited 2023 03 01. Available from http://gamingta.com//wp-content/uploads/2016/10/playerinfo.pdf
2. Data sound Laboratories Ltd (DSL). What are Single Board Computers and How Are They Used? [internet]. United Kingdom: DSL; 2023; cited 2023 03 02. Available from https://www.dsl-ltd.co.uk/what-are-single-board-computers-and-how-are-they-used/