Rockbox Technical Forums

Third Party => Repairing and Upgrading Rockbox Capable Players => Topic started by: conejoroy on January 11, 2010, 04:25:48 AM

Title: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: conejoroy on January 11, 2010, 04:25:48 AM
Hello all, happy new year!

I'm very happy with my iPod nano 1G and rockbox, the only problem is
that 4GB is very little to upload music in lossless formats.

I'd like an advise from someone wise in electronics or a rockbox developer who knows the internals of the iPod nano hardware.

Given that firmware can be modified:

1) Is it possible (by means of a hardware hack) to upgrade the flash in the nano? I mean removing the little PCB with the flash storage and controller altogether and adapt something else.

2) the elements mentioned above could be replaced with (for example) the insides of an USB pendrive? is there critical differences between a USB pendrive flash controller/storage and the equivalent to be replaced in the nano?

3) apart from the flash controller and storage (that will be replaced)
is there some other limitation in the rest of the hardware to handle >4GB?

4) rockbox should be able to handle lets say 32 or 16 GB with the nano hardware?

(I'm sorry if it sounds naive.. I know little about electronics to have a picture of what's possible and what's not)

please note that I don't care about the new thing fitting or not the original case, I'll be designing another one just slighty ticker with a "diyMod", an amplifier built inside and a higher capacity battery.
If a flash upgrade could be possible it will be awesome.

Thanks =)!


PS: why not modify an iPod Video 5G with Compact Flash & an internal amplifier as some people are doing? because this is what I got and I believe a custom iPod nano case with those elements will still be smaller (and its great to have a custom made case)


EDIT: I just read that nano uses the same ATA driver than 5G and is exactly the same CPU.. so the player communicates with the flash PCB (despite its custom connectors) using standard ATA? could be possible to connect a Compact Flash without so much effort?
Title: Re: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: saratoga on January 11, 2010, 11:37:12 AM
Thats not going to work.  At most, you could replace the NAND chips with larger but electrically compatible ones.  However, I don't know of anyone successfully doing this, if its even possible.
Title: Re: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: conejoroy on January 11, 2010, 02:46:19 PM
well I found that most nanos had flash memory chips soldered directly to the main PCB.. with that PCB one must be mad to desolder chips just to "try" something.. to much risk to destroy the player..

but mine is like this: http://blog.hishamrana.com/images/nano30.jpg

it has a second PCB only to hold the flash chips, so it is very easy to remove and try something else. that's why I thought nanos had some kind of detachable "disk" like 5G.

my chips are 2 SAMSUNG K9WAG08U1M (2GB each). they seem to be very common.. now there is a 8GB part, K9NCG08U5M, that is exactly the same package with the same characteristics but higher capacity.

I dont expect to somehow get those 8GB chips, solder them on a board, plug them in and magically get 16GB available in rockbox (I dont know how that works). but in theory, is there any restriction in the flash controller in the nano to handle more than 4GB in flash chips?

the original chips are SLC.. the flash controller in the nano cares about this? I mean.. lets say that I buy some cheap pendrive with TSOP1, pin-compatible chips but MLC.. it need to be handled in a different way than SLC?

perhaps this is more trouble than its worth.. but its interesting and I'd like to give it a try =)
Title: Re: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: torne on January 11, 2010, 03:04:41 PM
Yes, MLC flash needs different wear levelling and remapping algorithms in the controller.
Title: Re: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: conejoroy on January 11, 2010, 04:00:16 PM
the nano controller need MLC handling to be implemented in software or flash type is fixed in the hardware? if its software, that functionality is already implemented in rockbox?

capacity of flash chip(s) is fixed by a constant value or detected at runtime? will it support or detect >4GB if the chips are of higher capacity?

Thanks =)!
Title: Re: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: saratoga on January 11, 2010, 04:07:50 PM
the nano controller need MLC handling to be implemented in software or flash type is fixed in the hardware? if its software, that functionality is already implemented in rockbox?

Hardware.

capacity of flash chip(s) is fixed by a constant value or detected at runtime? will it support or detect >4GB if the chips are of higher capacity?

Probably Apple is the only one who knows that.
Title: Re: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: conejoroy on January 12, 2010, 04:05:28 PM
just for the record.. according to SST55LD019 controller datasheet:

Quote
The ATA Flash Disk controller firmware contains a list of supported standard NAND flash media devices. Upon initial Power-on, the controller scans all connected flash media devices and reads their device ID. If the device ID matches the listed flash media devices in the ATA Flash Disk controller, the controller performs drive recognition based on the algorithm provided by the flash media suppliers, including setting up the bad block table, executing all the necessary handshaking routines for flash media support, and, finally, performing the low-level format

it seems the only thing they needed to do is drop in any supported flash (I saw hynix, toshiba and samsung of 1, 2 or 4GB) and the controller recognized them automatically.. well by the time of manufacturing there was no 8 or 16 GB chips, maybe not even 4GB (mine has 2 of 2GB)..

perhaps it may work with two 4GB chips of those brands.. but anyway I don't know if the controller will support >4GB..

oh well... this is it

thanks for your kind answers =)!


pd: it seems that if I want rockbox on an iPod and >4GB I'll need to get a 5 or 5.5G...
Title: Re: iPod nano 1G Flash Upgrade Hack
Post by: Chronon on January 15, 2010, 05:18:19 PM
Actually, only iPod Nanos will have capacities of <4GB.  Any other supported iPod will have a capacity in excess of this.