DRAGON is a high order, wide field AO test-bench at Durham. A key feature of DRAGON is the ability to be operated at real-time rates, i.e. frame rates of up to 1kHz, with low latency to maintain AO performance. Here, we will present the real-time control architecture for DRAGON, which includes two deformable mirrors, eight wavefront sensors and thousands of Shack-Hartmann sub-apertures. A novel approach has been taken to allow access to the wavefront sensor pixel stream, reducing latency and peak computational load, and this technique can be implemented for other similar wavefront sensor cameras with no hardware costs. We report on experience with an ELT-suitable wavefront sensor camera. DRAGON will form the basis for investigations into hardware acceleration architectures for AO real-time control, and recent work on GPU and many-core systems (including the Xeon Phi) will be reported. Additionally, the modular structure of DRAGON, its remote control capabilities, distribution of AO telemetry data, and the software concepts and architecture will be reported. Techniques used in DRAGON for pixel processing, slope calculation and wavefront reconstruction will be presented. This will include methods to handle changes in CN2 profile and sodium layer profile, both of which can be modelled in DRAGON. DRAGON software simulation techniques linking hardware-in-the-loop computer models to the DRAGON real-time system and control software will also be discussed. This tool allows testing of the DRAGON system without requiring physical hardware and serves as a test-bed for ELT integration and verification techniques.