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PS Vita Cartridge - EPROM or MASKROM?


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there's very little information on what type of memory chip is used on Vita game cartridges, though it would appear that it uses some kind of flash memory as its storage medium, but i could be wrong, can anyone here confirm this for me?

 

Questions:

 

- Do Vita game carts use EPROM or MASKROM?

 

- If EPROM was used, does that mean the game data inside the cartridge is not permanent?

 

 

 

Thanks for taking your time in reading this and letting me know!

Edited by beautifulman
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I'd speculate that it's probably a variant of whatever was used in Memory Stick Pro Duo. By the time the Vita was out, it was obvious that format was going by the wayside, but no sense in Sony losing their R&D investment on it when they could repurpose it.

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Good question. Sony is pretty secretive about that kind of stuff. I always figured they were based off SD cards.

 

I like your avatar!

 

Thank you! i like your avatar too, it reminds me of Dune!

 

If it turns out that playstation Vita game carts does indeed use flash memory as storage, then i supposed it would only be a matter of time before all the game data inside the cartridge begin to degrade and disappear entirely, effectively rendering the vita game cartridges unplayable.

 

i think it's possible that 15-20 years from now, people are going to start complaining about their vita game carts suddenly not working or booting up at all. When that happens, then we'd know the Vita game cartridge does not store its game data permanently.

 

For now it seems, we can only wait and see what will happen in the next decade or so, i guess only time will tell whether these Vita game carts are meant to last or not.

Edited by beautifulman
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Thank you! i like your avatar too, it reminds me of Dune!

 

If it turns out that playstation Vita game carts does indeed use flash memory as storage, then i supposed it would only be a matter of time before all the game data inside the cartridge begin to degrade and disappear entirely, effectively rendering the vita game cartridges unplayable.

 

i think it's possible that 15-20 years from now, people are going to start complaining about their vita game carts suddenly not working or booting up at all. When that happens, then we'd know the Vita game cartridge does not store its game data permanently.

 

For now it seems, we can only wait and see what will happen in the next decade or so, i guess only time will tell whether these Vita game carts are meant to last or not.

Thanks! It's from the second book.

 

I think the games will last a long time. Only time will tell though. I heard some of the memory cards have been going bad though.

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I don#t know what the deal is, but I have heard that on the 3DS some cards are flash, but most are ROMs. I don't know about the vita, but I am also very curious about that. I do try to buy as much physical as possible for the vita, but if those are SD cards this will end up being quite a bad choice...

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Looks like some Vita Game Carts have already started to fail...well, that's kind of depressing actually.

 

 

RevQuixo

Dead copies of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3 V Generation

Looks like a bad batch was received by ebgames Canada and Best Buy (based on threads on Gamefaqs...and my own personal copy).

Vita doesn't recognize the cartridge at all.

 

thedrewcruz

I had my Mortal Kombat fail after about a year so

 

Xero--

I say it's actually pretty easy for one to die.I had a game that died after a year

 

Andrew129260

My killzone mercenaries game cartridge died. I was so pissed.

 

 

 

Also, would it be possible to move this thread to the Hardware section?

 

Thanks for the help!

Edited by beautifulman
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That's going to happen with any media though. There are several million Vita carts out there so some are bound to be bad. Reminds me of the time when I picked up Metroid for the GameCube on launch day and I actually got a bad disc. The game would always crash in the same spot no matter what. Went back to Target and swapped it out and the new one worked perfect. Thinking about it makes me want to get the game again .

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That's going to happen with any media though.

 

*sigh* you're right, i guess nothing really last forever, somehow i keep forgetting that.

 

With cartridges there's component rusting & bit-rot, then with discs there's disc-rot / CD-bronzing.

 

Years ago i had to get rid of all my floppy games because most of good ones had become un-readable or corrupted (police quest/wing commander 2/doom).

 

Even so, i still very much prefer physical releases than digital releases, even though it would be painful to see the game carts die off eventually. I'm a strange person really.

 

Reminds me of the time when I picked up Metroid for the GameCube on launch day and I actually got a bad disc. The game would always crash in the same spot no matter what. Went back to Target and swapped it out and the new one worked perfect. Thinking about it makes me want to get the game again .

 

I read that disc-rot is now a widespread issue for a lot of gamecube collectors, a number of the discs are quite literally falling apart from the inside. Very scary.

Edited by beautifulman
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I'd like to quantify "widespread issue". With laserdiscs, for example, there are some titles where there's a better than 50% chance it's going to rot. If GameCube discs are more like 1% or 2%, then it still sucks, but maybe I just make sure to pick up doubles...

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-EPROMs can't be erased electrically, and are programmed via hot carrier injection onto the floating gate. Erase is via an ultraviolet light source, although in practice many EPROMs are encapsulated in plastic that is opaque to UV light, making them "one-time programmable".

 

-During storage, the electrons injected into the floating gate may drift through the insulator, especially at increased temperature, and cause charge loss, reverting the cell into erased state. The manufacturers usually guarantee data retention of 10 years or more.

 

-If a floating-gate memory device with a guaranteed data retention spec of 10 years, on average you can probably expect it to last longer than 10 years, but for the reasons above, every year that it continues to operate reliably past the 10 years should be considered a bonus, since there is no expectation of reliability past that time.

 

-Solid-state media, such as EPROMs, flash memory and other solid-state drives, stores data using electrical charges, which can slowly leak away due to imperfect insulation. The chip itself is not affected by this, so reprogramming it once per decade or so will prevent data decay.

 

-Estimation of flash memory endurance is a challenging subject that depends on the SLC/MLC/TLC memory type, size of the flash memory chips, and actual usage pattern. As a result, a USB flash drive can last from a few days to several hundred years

 

-All EEPROMs (Flash ROM), and EPROMs chips have a finite data retention time. Typically 10-15 years and after that they just start to forget their data.

 

 

More info below.

 

Basically, EPROMs are programmed through the accumulation of electrons on

the floating gate of an N-Channel EPROM cell (see Figure 1) by the process

of hot-electron injection. Hot-electron injection is where electrons,

flowing as a current between the drain and source of a saturated EPROM

cell, gain enough energy from the high electric field to jump the oxide

barrier between the channel and the floating gate (see Figure 2). Before

programming, the MOS threshold voltage, VTH (otherwise known as the

gate threshold voltage) of the erased floating-gate EPROM cell is about

1.0V to 2.0V (see Figure 3). After programming, its threshold voltage

is about 6.5V to 9.0V, due to the accumulated electrons on the floating

gate. In read mode, the address decoding circuitry in the chip selects the

desired cell by pulling the gate voltage of the cell to VCC. Since VCC is

typically 4.5V to 5.5V, an erased cell with a VTH = 1.5V would be turned

on (Figure 3), while a programmed cell with a VTH = 7.5V would remain off

(see Figure 4). This floating-gate process is how a single MOSFET-like

transistor can provide for the two logic levels used in digital circuitry.

 

 

If VCC is gradually raised in voltage to a point near the threshold voltage

of a programmed EPROM cell, the cell would just begin to conduct, and

would no longer appear to be programmed. This point, where the programmed

EPROM cell begins to look unprogrammed, is defined as the programming

margin (see Figure 5). The value of the programming margin can, in some

cases, be simply equal to the value of the VCC voltage present during

programming. This is why the RAPID algorithm holds the value of VCC

constant at 6.5V during programming; to insure that each EPROM cell has a

programming margin of at least that voltage. This margin is verified by

reading each byte twice, once during the initial programming operation

and again during the final read (or verify) operation, where the data

from the EPROM is compared to the desired data. The difference between

the value of VCC during programming (the guaranteed programming margin)

and the 5.5V VCC maximum supply rating (from the data sheet) serves as a

reliability guardband for long-term data retention and, more importantly,

for system noise immunity. Poor programming margin can reduce system noise

immunity and lead to EPROM chip instability due to power-supply noise on

the VCC pin. This instability can cause oscillations and read-mode data

glitching that can be a problem in even in the slowest and most noiseless

of systems. Since powersupply noise is a somewhat random occurrence, data

errors can happen intermittently, which can undermine the reliability and

integrity of the host system. These problems can be avoided by using the

programming algorithm recommended by the EPROM chip vendor. The higher

the guaranteed programming margin, the less likely any problems will occur.

 

Another important benefit of high-programming margin is that it extends

the long-term data retention of the device. If the 6.0V programming

margin (FAST algorithm) on the EPROM gradually diminishes to 5.5V over a

10-year time span, the randomly occurring noise spikes on the VCC line can

cause the EPROM to yield faulty data. On the other hand, given the same

discharge rate (as a function of the silicon processing), an EPROM with a

programming margin of 6.5V (RAPID algorithm) would take over 20 years to

reach the 5.5V threshold that would lead to faulty data yield. All things

being equal, better programming margin leads to longer data retention.

 

well i think that's all there is to know for EPROM, if anyone has more to add in, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Edited by beautifulman
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More info below.

 

 

 

well i think that's all there is to know for EPROM, if anyone has more to add in, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Very informative! I'd be curious to know how all that data would translate into practical expected lifespans for the game carts that use this technology (Nintendo DS, 3DS, PS Vita, and any others I might have missed). Does this mean that soon many original DS carts, which are 12 years or so old at this point, will no longer work? Or does it just mean that the save data on the cart will need to be booted up at least once a decade to keep the game working? That's the part that I was a little confused on.

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