PICO-8 has 64 KiB of addressable memory, used for graphics, map, sound, music, and direct access to hardware features such as persistent cartridge data and GPIO pins. Normally only the lower 32 KiB are accessible, while the upper 32 KiB are protected, with the PICO-8 fantasy lore suggesting that the kernel and the game itself might reside there. However, it is possible to switch the upper 32 KiB to RAM. Programs can read from and write to this memory using peek() and poke().

While many games can use the built-in functions for graphics and sound, memory access enables advanced techniques such as repurposing memory regions or generating graphics and sound data algorithmically. For features such as the GPIO pins, peek() and poke() are currently the only way to access the feature.

The first 16 KiB are copied from the cartridge into memory when the cartridge is loaded. When the cartridge changes a value in memory, it is only changed in memory and not in the cartridge itself.

The cstore() function can be used to write memory data to the cartridge file. The reload() function can also be used to load cartridge data back into memory, or load a region of memory from another cartridge file.

The Lua program stack (variables, etc.) is not stored in addressable memory and cannot be accessed directly by the program.

See also P8FileFormat, P8PNGFileFormat.

Memory map[edit | edit source]

This is the high-level memory map for addressable memory:

Start End Purpose
0x0 0x0fff Sprite sheet (0-127)
0x1000 0x1fff Sprite sheet (128-255) / Map (rows 32-63) (shared)
0x2000 0x2fff Map (rows 0-31)
0x3000 0x30ff Sprite flags
0x3100 0x31ff Music
0x3200 0x42ff Sound effects
0x4300 0x55ff General use (or work RAM)
0x5600 0x5dff General use / custom font (0.2.2+)
0x5e00 0x5eff Persistent cart data (64 numbers = 256 bytes)
0x5f00 0x5f3f Draw state
0x5f40 0x5f7f Hardware state
0x5f80 0x5fff GPIO pins (128 bytes)
0x6000 0x7fff Screen data (8k)

The in-memory data formats for each section are described below.

Sprite sheet[edit | edit source]

The sprite sheet is represented in memory as one large image, 128 x 128 pixels. Each sprite tile is an 8 x 8 region in this image. Each sprite tile gets an ID, counting from 0, left to right, top to bottom.

Each pixel can be one of 16 colors, and is represented by a 4-bit value, also known as a nybble. Thus, an 8-bit byte represents two pixels, horizontally adjacent, where the most significant (leftmost) 4 bits is the right pixel of the pair, and the least significant 4 bits is the left pixel. Pixels are stored from left to right, top to bottom.

Other than this swapping within the byte, pixels are arranged in memory going left to right, top to bottom, for the entire 128 x 128 pixel image (using 128 * 64 = 8,192 bytes).

The bottom half of the sprite sheet and the bottom half of the map region overlap in memory. Typically, a game uses this region for only one purpose or the other.

0x0000..0x0fff / 0..4095

The upper 64 rows of pixels (that is, upper 8 rows of sprites) in the sprite sheet. Each 64-byte row contains 128 pixels. Each byte contains two adjacent pixels, with the lo 4 bits being the left/even pixel and the hi 4 bits being the right/odd pixel.

0x1000..0x1fff / 4096..8191

The lower 64 rows of pixels (that is, lower 8 rows of sprites) in the sprite sheet. Same format as above. Overlaps lower half of Map (see below).

If sp is the sprite number, then the memory address at which a sprite's data starts is given by the expression:

addr = 512 * (sp \ 16) + 4 * (sp % 16)

Explanation: think of the sprite sheet as a grid of 16x16 sprites. Then the high 4 bits of the sprite number (sp \ 16) indicates the row number (0-15), and the low 4 bits of the sprite number (sp % 16) indicates the column number (0-15). Every row of this grid is made up of 16 sprites, so each row occupies 16 sprites * 32 bytes/sprite = 512 bytes. This explains the 512 * (sp \ 16) part. After that, we have to locate it within the row. The column is sp % 16, and we have to walk forward 4 bytes for each sprite (8 pixels), so we have to move forward sp % 16 bytes.

The entire sprite is NOT stored at that position though, because the sprite sheet is a single image, you will only find, at that address, the 4 bytes (8 pixels) that correspond to the top row of the sprite. If you want the next row, you have to increment addr by 64 (that jumps over an entire row of 128 pixels = 64 bytes). In graphics parlance, the stride (amount you add to get from one row to the next in the image) is 64 bytes.

Map[edit | edit source]

The map is 128 tiles wide by 64 tiles high. Each tile is one of the 256 tiles from the sprite sheet, one byte per tile (using 128 * 64 = 8,192 bytes). The value is the sprite ID.

The map is read from left to right, top to bottom order.

0x1000..0x1fff / 4096..8191

The lower 32 rows of the map. Each row contains 128 tiles. Each byte contains one tile index. Overlaps lower half of Sprite Sheet (see above).

0x2000..0x2fff / 8192..12287

The upper 32 rows of the map. Each row contains 128 tiles. Each byte contains one tile index.

Sprite flags[edit | edit source]

Each sprite tile has 8 flags, each of which can be on or off. One byte stores the flags for a sprite tile. Bytes are arranged by sprite ID, for a total of 256 bytes.

In the graphics editor, the flags are arranged left to right from LSB to MSB: red=1, orange=2, yellow=4, green=8, blue=16, purple=32, pink=64, peach=128.

0x3000..0x30ff / 12288..12543

Each byte represents the flags for the associated sprite.

Music[edit | edit source]

There are 64 music patterns. Each music pattern uses four bytes to assign a sound effect or silence to each of four channels. (4 * 64 = 256 bytes.)

If a sound effect is assigned to a channel, bit 6 is 0, and bits 5-0 are the sound ID (0 through 63). If the channel is silent, bit 6 is 1, and bits 5-0 are not used.

Bit 7 is used to describe the flags for the music pattern. Bit 7 of the first byte (channel 1) is "begin pattern loop." Bit 7 of the second byte (channel 2) is "end pattern loop." Bit 7 of the third byte (channel 3) is "stop at end of pattern." (Bit 7 of the fourth byte is unused.)

Sound effects[edit | edit source]

There are 64 sound effects. Each sound effect is 68 bytes, with two bytes for each of 32 notes and then one byte for the editor mode and filter switches, one byte for the speed, two bytes for the loop range (start, end). (64 * 68 = 4,352 bytes.)

The editor mode and filter switches are decoded as follows:

-- compute address of sfx
sfxaddr = 0x3200 + sfxid*68

byte = @(sfxaddr+64)
editormode = byte&1 > 0 -- set to true if in tracker mode
noiz = byte&2 > 0
buzz = byte&4 > 0
detune = byte\8%3
reverb = byte\24%3
dampen = byte\72%3

The effect speed is a value between 0 and 255, representing the duration of each note in the effect, as a multiple of 183 ticks (with 22050 ticks in a second), approximately 1/120 of a second. Using the full effect length of 32 notes, with a speed of 1, the full effect plays approximately 1/4 second (0.26557823129 seconds, or 32 * 183 / 22050). With a speed of 4, the full effect plays in 1.062 seconds.

In an effect used for a music pattern, beats per minute can be calculated based on how many notes per "beat." For example, if an effect plays a "beat" every four notes in an effect, a speed of 15 is equivalent to 15/120 seconds per note, 15*4/120 seconds per four notes (one beat), (15*4)/(120*60) minutes per beat, or (120*60)/(15*4) = 120 beats per minute. (Note that we take 120 as an approximation of 22050/183 = 120.491803279)

Each note is encoded in 16 bits, in Little Endian style, with the low 8 bits in the first byte, and the high 8 bits in the second, formatted like so:

Second byte / High 8 bits
c e e e v v v w
First byte / Low 8 bits
w w p p p p p p
  • c: when c is 1, waveform is a custom instrument corresponding to sfx 0-7; otherwise it is one of the eight built-in waveforms (PICO-8 0.1.11+)
  • eee: effect (0-7)
  • vvv: volume (0-7)
  • www: waveform (0-7)
  • pppppp: pitch (0-63)

General use[edit | edit source]

0x4300..0x55ff / 17152..22015

This memory region is available for the program to use for any purpose.

This region is not loaded from the cartridge, though the reload() function can be used to copy data into this region from a cartridge file.

(Undocumented?) This region is not reset when loading another cart via load(), so can be used for passing data to and from the loaded cart.

(Be careful when poking in this area in 0.2.2c)

General use / custom font[edit | edit source]

0x5600..0x5dff / 22016..24063

This memory region is available for the program to use for any purpose, similar to the 0x4300..0x55ff region above. Starting with version 0.2.2, this is also used for storing the custom font (use P8SCII code 14 to select this font, and 15 to return back to the default font).

There are 256 characters (mapped to the 256 P8SCII codes), and each character consists of 8 bytes for 8 rows (with the first byte being the top-most row), for a total of 2 KB (2048 bytes). Each byte consists of 8 pixels, with the left-most pixel in the LSB (bit 0, value 1), and the right-most pixel in the MSB (bit 7, value 128).

Since character 0 (null) is never drawn, its first 5 bytes are used to define various default parameters for the font, which are all unsigned bytes:

0x5600 / 22016 - Character width (characters <128)

0x5601 / 22017 - Character width (characters >=128)

0x5602 / 22018 - Character height

0x5603 / 22019 - Draw X offset

0x5604 / 22020 - Draw Y offset

Persistent cart data[edit | edit source]

0x5e00..0x5eff / 24064..24319

After persistent data is initialized with the cartdata() function, the 256-byte region from 0x5e00 to 0x5eff represents the 64 number values accessible by dset() and dget(). These numbers are stored in the same 4-byte, little endian, 16.16 fixed-point format used by peek4() and poke4().

Note that using dset() and dget() partitions this memory into 64 standard PICO-8 numbers, but these are just helper functions and they are not mandatory. This memory region can be formatted in any desired manner. For instance, a bar chart with up to 51 bars could be encoded by saving a width for each bar and its color index, with the width being a full PICO-8 number and the color just being a byte:

function bar_set(index, width, color)
  local addr = 0x5e00 + index*5
  poke4(addr, width)
  poke(addr+4, color)

function bar_get(index)
  local addr = 0x5e00 + index*5
  return peek4(addr), peek(addr+4)

Draw state[edit | edit source]

This memory region represents the current draw state. The values are as follows:

0x5f00..0x5f0f / 24320..24335

Draw palette look-up table (pal(), palt()). When PICO-8 is asked to draw a certain 4-bit color index, it looks up the color's index in this table to decide which actual 4-bit color index to write to screen memory. The 16 values in this table should have their lower nibble (bits 0-3) set to 0-15, to indicate which index is actually written to screen memory, while their upper nibble (bits 4-7) should be either zero for normal operation, or non-zero (i.e. the byte value is from 16 to 255) if the color index is to be transparent.

0x5f10..0x5f1f / 24336..24351

Screen palette look-up table (pal(...,1)). PICO-8 reads this table while converting the color indices in screen memory into system ("hardware") colors to be shown on its display. As of this writing, there are officially only 16 system colors available, whose values range from 0 to 15. However, an additional, but undocumented, 16 colors appear to be available at values from 128 to 143, and zep appears to be fine with us knowing this.

0x5f20..0x5f23 / 24352..24355

Clipping rectangle (clip(x,y,w,h)):
  • 0x5f20 / 24352: x_begin (no pixels < x_begin will be drawn)
  • 0x5f21 / 24353: y_begin (no pixels < y_begin will be drawn)
  • 0x5f22 / 24354: x_end (no pixels >= x_end will be drawn)
  • 0x5f23 / 24355: y_end (no pixels >= y_end will be drawn)
These are somewhat different from the clip(x,y,w,h) arguments. Use clip(xb,yb,xe-xb,ye-yb) to set a clip rectangle using values like these, or starting with 0.2.2, poke(0x5f20,xb,yb,xe,ye) to save tokens.
Note: Inside clip() the rectangle is clamped to the edges of the display before the GPU is configured. Expect x,y begin values to be in the range 0..127, and x,y end values to be in the slightly-larger range 0..128.

0x5f24 / 24356

(unknown, please update this if you know)

0x5f25 / 24357

Pen color (color()). The bottom 4 bits are the current color index, from 0-15. The top 4 bits are typically 0 and unused, but when using fill patterns, they will be the secondary color index.

0x5f26..0x5f27 / 24358..24359

Print cursor (cursor()). 0x5f26=x, 0x5f27=y.

0x5f28..0x5f2b / 24360..24363

Camera position (camera()). The x and y offsets are stored as 16-bit signed integers with the least significant byte first. 0x5f28..0x5f29=x offset, 0x5f2a..0x5f2b=y offset.

0x5f2c / 24364

This value sets the screen transformation mode to be variations of stretching, mirroring, flipping, or rotating. This can't be changed in-between draw calls; it affects the entire screen.
  • 0 = normal mode
  • 1 = horizontal stretch, 64x128 screen, left half of normal screen
  • 2 = vertical stretch, 128x64 screen, top half of normal screen
  • 3 = both stretch, 64x64 screen, top left quarter of normal screen
  • 5 = horizontal mirroring, left half copied and flipped to right half
  • 6 = vertical mirroring, top half copied and flipped to bottom half
  • 7 = both mirroring, top left quarter copied and flipped to other quarters
The following modes have been added as of 0.2.0:
  • 129 = horizontal flip
  • 130 = vertical flip
  • 131 = both flip
  • 133 = clockwise 90 degree rotation
  • 134 = 180 degree rotation (effectively equivalent to 131)
  • 135 = counterclockwise 90 degree rotation
Bit 6 (value 64) appears to be ignored.

0x5f2d / 24365

Controls devkit mode, a feature allowing mouse and keyboard status to be checked via the stat() command. From the manual:
POKE(0x5F2D, flags)  -- where flags are:

		0x1 Enable
		0x2 Mouse buttons trigger btn(4)..btn(6)
		0x4 Pointer lock (use stat 38..39 to read movements)

0x5f2e / 24366

If bit 0 (value 1) is set, causes the current palette scheme (see pal() and/or the 0x5f00..0x5f1f memory range, above) to persist instead of being reset at the end of the program.
If bit 1 (value 2) is set, causes the high-color mode configuration at 0x5f5f..0x5f7f to persist.
If bit 2 (value 4) is set, causes the audio effect switches at 0x5f40..0x5f43 to persist.
If bit 3 (value 8) is set, causes the read/write masks at 0x5f5e to persist.
If bit 4 (value 16) is set, causes the default print attributes at 0x5f58..0x5f5b to persist.
If bit 5 (value 32) is set, causes the fill pattern and its transparency bit to persist.
(Other values are unverified in limited testing.)

0x5f2f / 24367

(undocumented) If set to 1, pause the music and SFX playback engine, until 0 is written back to it. If set to 2, allow music and SFX to continue while the pause menu is being displayed.

0x5f30 / 24368

(undocumented) If set to 1, suppresses the next attempt to bring up the pause menu. This can be done as late as discovering the pause button has been pressed this frame:
  if(btn(6)) poke(0x5f30,1)

0x5f31..0x5f33 / 24369..24371

Fill pattern (fillp()). 0x5f31..0x5f32 contain the fill pattern as a 16-bit unsigned integer with the least significant byte first. 0x5f33's bit 0 is the transparency bit, bit 1 is the sprite fill pattern enable bit, and bit 2 is used to apply the sprite fill pattern rendering to other drawing functions.

0x5f34 / 24372

If set to 1, changes the PICO-8 drawing API to accept color values that incorporate not just one or two colors, but optionally include information about the fill pattern right in the color value. From the manual:
-- bit  0x1000.0000 means the non-colour bits should be observed
-- bit  0x0700.0000 0x1 transparency, 0x2 apply to sprites, 0x4 apply secondary palette 
-- bits 0x00FF.0000 are the usual colour bits
-- bits 0x0000.FFFF are interpreted as the fill pattern

0x5f35 / 24373

Invalidates the endpoint of the previous line drawn using line(), found in 0x5f3c..0x5f3f. When 0, the endpoint is valid. When 1, it's invalid, as if line() had been called with no arguments.

0x5f36 / 24374

Miscellaneous PICO-8 chipset features:
  • If bit 2 (value 4) is set, automatic newlines are no longer added after each call to print(), and '\1' through '\6' become printable.
  • If bit 3 (value 8) is set, causes sprite 0 in map() and tline() to be rendered as opaque (like other sprites) instead of the usual transparent.
  • If bit 4 (value 16) is set, the upper 32 KiB bank of protected memory is switched out, and RAM is switched in, available for the application to write and read. See addresses 0x8000..0xffff below for details.

0x5f37 / 24375

(unknown, please update this if you know)

0x5f38...0x5f39 / 24376..24377

The width and height of the map area to sample with tline(). Coordinates will be calculated modulo these numbers to produce texture wrapping. These normally should be a power of 2 to work as expected, but PICO-8 actually subtracts 1 from these before performing a bitwise AND on the offset into the map.

0x5f3a..0x5f3b / 24378..24379

The X and Y offsets of the map area to sample with tline(). These are expressed in map tiles. These are applied after the texture wrapping.

0x5f3c..0x5f3f / 24380..24383

Endpoint of the previous line drawn using line(). The x and y coordinates are stored as 16-bit signed integers with the least significant byte first. These are only used if the byte at 0x5f35 is 0.
0x5f3c..0x5f3d / 24380..24381: x coordinate
0x5f3e..0x5f3f / 24382..24383: y coordinate

Hardware state[edit | edit source]

These memory addresses represent or control various aspects of the hardware.

0x5f40..0x5f43 control various audio effects. They're encoded with the following format:


Setting bit 0 (value 1) enables a "low" effect for channel 0, bit 1 (value 2) for channel 1, etc.

Similarly, bit 4 (value 16) enables a "high" effect for channel 0, bit 5 (value 32) for channel 1, etc.

0x5f40 / 24384

Low: Halves a channel's clock rate. The main sampling rate in PICO-8 is 22.05 KHz, and enabling the feature for a channel will cause it to be approximately 11.025 KHz instead. This causes SFX and arp speeds to be halved, and the note pitch to be effectively an octave lower.
High: Halves a channel's pitch. Really, it just subtracts 12 from the note values played on the channel.

0x5f41 / 24385

Low: Force-enables REVERB-2 for a channel. This has priority over high.
High: Enables REVERB-1 for a channel, unless REVERB-2 is specified in its currently-playing SFX/pattern.

0x5f42 / 24386

Low: Distorts the output of a channel (clamps the range of amplitude levels). This has priority over high.
High: An alternate distortion that's a bit louder.

0x5f43 / 24387

Low: Force-enables DAMPEN-2 for a channel.
High: Enables DAMPEN-1 for a channel, unless DAMPEN-2 is specified in its currently-playing SFX/pattern.
Low + High: Force-enables an even stronger dampen level.
Reverb is processed first, then Distortion, and Dampen. Half-Clock slows down all these filters alongside the actual waveform/effect generation.

0x5f44..0x5f4b / 24388..24395

These 8 bytes mirror the internal state of the pseudo-random number generator that rnd() uses to create random values. This memory range can be saved before calling srand() and rnd() and then restored to continue the original stream of random numbers. This can be useful for games which need separate random number streams so that one may be deterministic over time while another can be used arbitrarily. It is strongly suggested that this state only be saved and restored, but not created. Use srand() to create a good, stable randomizer state.
Every time rnd() is called, the RNG state is updated as follows:
  1. The 16-bit words at 0x5f44 and 0x5f46 are swapped.
  2. The 32-bit longword at 0x5f48 is added to the longword at 0x5f44.
  3. The longword at 0x5f44 is added to the longword at 0x5f48.

0x5f4c..0x5f53 / 24396..24403

These 8 bytes contain the current button state. 0x5f4c contains the button state for player 0, 0x5f4d for player 1, and so on up to player 7.
Each byte is a bitmask arranged like the output of btn() when called without arguments. Particularly, 0x5f4c is btn() & 0x3f and 0x5f4d is (btn() >> 8) & 0x3f. Note that PICO-8 doesn't modify bit 6 (value 64) or 7 (value 128) of these bytes. As a result, the state of the pause button can't be read from here.

0x5f54..0x5f57 / 24404..24407

(unknown, please update this if you know.)

0x5f58..0x5f5b / 24408..24411

(0.2.2+) Default attributes for print(). From the manual:
Although attributes are reset every time <code>print()</code> is called, it is possible to set their default
		values by writing to memory addresses 0x5f58..0x5f5b.

		0x5f58 // bitfield
			0x1  when set to 0x1, bits 1..7 are observed:
			0x2  padding
			0x4  wide
			0x8  tall
			0x10 solid background
			0x20 invert
			0x40 dotty
			0x80 use custom font

			// e.g. poke(0x5f58, 0x1 | 0x2 | 0x4 | 0x8 | 0x20 | 0x40)  -- pinball everywhere

		0x5f59 char_w   (low nibble), char_h   (high)
		0x5f5a char_w2  (low nibble), tab_w    (high)
		0x5f5b offset_x (low nibble), offset_y (high)

		// any nibbles equal to 0 are ignored
		// tab_w values are mapeed to 4..64

0x5f5c / 24412

Auto-repeat delay for btnp(): When a button is held down, this controls the delay between the initial signal and the first auto-repeat signal. Expressed in 30ths of a second. The default value is 0, which tells PICO-8 to use the system delay setting. A value of 255 (or -1) disables the button repeat feature.

0x5f5d / 24413

Auto-repeat interval for btnp(): When a button is held down, this controls the intervals between auto-repeat signals. Expressed in 30ths of a second. The default value is 0, which tells PICO-8 to use the system delay setting.

0x5f5e / 24414

Allows PICO-8 to mask out certain bits of the input source color of drawing operations, and to write to specific bitplanes in the screen (there's 4 of them since PICO-8 uses a 4BPP display). Bits 0..3 indicate which bitplanes should be set to the new color value, while bits 4..7 indicate which input color bits to keep.
For example, poke(0x5f5e, 0b00110111) will cause drawing operations to write to bitplanes 0, 1, and 2 only, with 0 and 1 receiving the color value bits and 2 being cleared.
This formula is applied for every pixel written:
dst_color = (dst_color & ~write_mask) | (src_color & write_mask & read_mask)

0x5f5f / 24415

(Undocumented) Specifies a high-color mode (modes that allow for more than 16 colors on-screen on any given frame). Allows the usage of per-line palette swapping if set to 0x10, a 5-bitplane resolution-sacrificing screen if set to 0x20 (also requires 0x5f2c to be set to 1), or the usage of line-specific colors if set to 0x3n (the n digit specifies the primary screen color to replace with horizontal bars of up to 16 colors). Other values are unknown, and PICO-8 appears to just operate in regular 16-color mode. None of these modes allow for any arbitrary 128x128 5BPP image to be displayed.
See Bonevolt's BBS post for more in-depth information and examples.

0x5f60..0x5f6f / 24416..24431

(0.2.2+) Look-up table used for sprite fill patterns (pal(...,2)). Once the draw palette remapping is computed as normal, a byte is taken from this LUT using 0x5f60+color. The lower nibble specifies the color for the "0" bits in the fill pattern, and the upper nibble for the "1" bits, just like with the pen colors at 0x5f25. This value is then AND'ed with the read-mask at 0x5f5e as usual.
(Undocumented) This is also a look-up table for the secondary display palette (modes 0x10 and 0x20) and the colors that make up mode 0x3n (the first color is for the top-most 128×8 section, the second for the 128×8 section underneath, etc.). The format of this section is identical to the screen palette in the Draw State section (see above).
Since this region is used for two independent features, the programmer must decide whether the sprite fill-pattern rendering or the selection of high-color modes is applicable.

0x5f70..0x5f7f / 24432..24447

(Undocumented) A 1x128 bitfield that specifies which screen lines should use the secondary screen palette instead of the primary one in mode 0x10. Mode 0x20 instead swaps palettes on a pixel-by-pixel basis if a pixel in the hidden 64x128 half of the screen is not zero, thus, this section has an unknown or undefined purpose in that mode.
If mode 0x3n is used, these specify a +1 offset for the indexed secondary palette color on the given line (e.g. line 60 uses color 60 \ 8 = 7, setting the bit will cause it to be 8), with color 15 wrapping around to 0.
Each of these 16 bytes are for each 8-line section of the screen. Bit 0 contains the section's top-most line, while bit 7 contains its bottom-most line.
Note that the affected sections aren't limited to horizontal rows. The current screen transformation selected in 0x5f2c happens after the high-color effect 0x10 or 0x3n takes place. If rotation modes 133 or 135 are used, this can allow those effects to be applied in vertical columns instead. Mode 0x20 requires the screen transformation mode to be 1, other modes such as 2 or 3 don't seem to be supported.

GPIO pins[edit | edit source]

This experimental feature provides programs access to the GPIO (general purpose input/output) hardware pins of a Raspberry Pi or CHIP device. These addresses can be used to accept digital input from or write digital output to devices connected to the pins. JavaScript code that runs in a browser can also access them by defining a global array named pico8_gpio. There are up to 128 pins, depending on the platform.

0x5f80..0x5fff / 24448..24575

Each byte represents the value of 1 pin. The possible values vary depending on the platform.

Screen data[edit | edit source]

This 8,192-byte (8 KiB) region contains the graphics buffer. This is what is modified by the built-in drawing functions, and is what is copied to the actual display at the end of the game loop or by a call to flip().

0x6000..0x7fff / 24576..32767

All 128 rows of the screen, top to bottom. Each row contains 128 pixels in 64 bytes. Each byte contains two adjacent pixels, with the lo 4 bits being the left/even pixel and the hi 4 bits being the right/odd pixel.

Upper memory[edit | edit source]

0x8000..0xffff / 32768..65535 / -32768..-1

This address range is considered to be where the program and kernel ROM would reside if this were not a virtual console. It is protected, so trying to peek or poke this area will produce errors.

(undocumented) If bit 4 of the hardware register at 0x5f36 / 24374 is set to 1 (e.g. "poke(24374,16)"), a 32 KiB bank of user-accessible RAM is switched in. This may be accessed at addresses 0x8000..0xffff in hex, or -32768..-1 in PICO-8's decimal number system. It's also possible to write numeric literals for poke() or peek() as 32768..65535, which are technically outside of the PICO-8 number range, but which will be clipped to 16-bit values by the Lua parser, resulting in the range effectively representing -32768..-1. The choice of hex vs. signed vs. unsigned numeric literals is purely cosmetic in this case, e.g. poke(-1,0) is shorter than the equivalent poke(65535,0) or poke(0xffff,0).

Warning: At the time of writing, switching this bank to RAM is a newly-discovered undocumented feature, and it is not yet known if there are any drawbacks. Quite often a discovery like this is followed by discovering a tradeoff, so be aware that there may be unknown caveats.

Lua Memory[edit | edit source]

The Memory used by Lua (global variables, local variables, tables, etc.) is entirely separate from the Pico-8 memory discussed above and is limited to 2 MiB.

The amount of memory currently used by the program can be checked with stat(0) and adds up as follows (all numbers are in bytes):

  • nil / boolean / number - no extra cost.
  • string - 17 + 1 * (# of characters)

Strings of length <= 40 are always interned, meaning creating such a string again (through any means) will simply use the previously created string and cost nothing.

On the other hand, interned strings are also stored in a global hash table, which grows whenever the number of interned strings reaches a new power of 2. Here, each interned string costs an additional ~4-8 bytes, though this cost is only observable - in bulk - whenever the hash table grows.

  • table - 32 + 8 * nextpow2(# of 'array' entries) + 20 * nextpow2(# of 'hash' entries)

Here, nextpow2 gives the next power of 2 (e.g. 2 -> 2, 3 -> 4, 4 -> 4, 5 -> 8, 130 -> 256).

For example, {1,2,a=3,b=4,c=5} takes 128 bytes: 32 + 8 * 2 + 20 * 4

  • function - 16 + 4 * (# of captured variables) + 32 * (# of newly captured variables)

A captured variable is any local variable declared outside the function, that's accessed inside the function.

A "newly" captured variable is merely one that wasn't captured before by other functions.

A function that uses any globals automatically captures _ENV, and this counts as a captured variable. (Unless _ENV is explicitly re-declared, it never counts as a newly captured variable, though.)

If a function is created multiple times, the previously created instance is reused if possible, thus costing nothing. The previous instance can be reused if it has no captured variables, or if it has captured variables but they're all the same variables as the captured variables of the new function.

  • thread (created by cocreate) - 352 bytes.
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