Nintendo DS storage devices

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Nintendo DS storage devices are some of the devices used to store a licensed developer's work-in-progress images, homebrew video games, or downloaded commercial games, since the Nintendo DS is not sold with a rewritable storage medium. (Licensed developers can use the blue Intelligent Systems Nitro Emulator box to flash cards.) There are two main classes of storage devices: older devices that fit in SLOT-2 (the Game Boy Advance Game Pak slot) and newer devices that fit in SLOT-1 (the DS Game Card slot). SLOT-2, or 1st generation, devices have historically been cheaper due to economies of scale inherited from their use with Game Boy Advance homebrew but require a booting tool in SLOT-1 in order to use the touch screen and other DS features. Devices that only use SLOT-1, or 2nd generation, do not work with GBA homebrew, but as of 2007, they are becoming easier to use and less expensive, rivaling many SLOT-2 devices in price which may have been cheaper.

First generation devices include GBA flash cartridges, GBAMP CF, SuperCard and M3. Second generation devices include R4 Revolution, CycloDS, G6 Real, and DS-X. The storage device either contains flash memory or a slot for a memory card to store homebrew. Storage devices with a memory card slot usually have a larger storage capacity than flash memory devices. Although flash memory capacity is usually measured in megabits (Mbit), memory card capacity is usually measured in megabytes (MB). (8 Mbit = 1 MB)

Different brands of storage device differ in their support for homebrew, support for DS and Game Boy Advance ROMs, special features, such as playing media files, physical size and cost. Strictly speaking, a storage device is not necessary for DS with FlashMe installed because homebrew can be sent to the DS using WMB. However, this is not a very portable method because the DS needs to be within range of a suitable Wi-Fi card.


[edit] First generation

[edit] GBA flash cartridges

The first method of storing homebrew applications were flash Cartridges designed for the Game Boy Advance system. These were ideal for finding exploits since they are a 32 MiB block of rewritable flash memory directly accessible by both CPUs of the Nintendo DS. Many people who used a lot of GBA homebrew use these for DS homebrew as well, however their limited storage space, variety and price makes them non-ideal for new users. Since there were many types of flash cartridge, each with its own method for writing to the flash ROM, most homebrew programs only supported saving to the included 64 KiB of SRAM intended for game saves. With the creation of DLDI, this is no longer a problem, and any program from 2007 or later works with any flashcard. This method of storage does not work with the Nintendo DSi, as it does not have a GBA slot.

[edit] GBA Movie Player

The GBA Movie Player, often called GBAMP, is a CompactFlash adapter for the Game Boy Advance which supports playing music, movies and NES and Game Boy games (under 200kb) (as well as very small Game Boy Advance games. Under 256kb) from the CF card as well as reading text files. Although its standard features are sub-par, its low price and simple design made it ideal for DS homebrew. A hacked firmware is available which adds the ability to run DS homebrew while keeping the GBA features. This is the most widely supported homebrew device; nearly every homebrew which writes to the storage medium supports it.

Users should note that there are three versions of the GBAMP; a large pass-through device (version 1), a small white and red cartridge (version 2), and a slightly smaller SD version (version 2 SD). The device that has the most support is the 2nd version.

[edit] SuperCard and M3 Perfect

SuperCard and M3 Perfect are two devices similar to GBA Movie Player but with more features. M3 is made by the makers of GBAMP. Both contain a CompactFlash, Secure Digital, miniSD, or Transflash slot as well as 32 MB of built-in RAM. They offer all of the GBAMP's features, plus the abilities to play all GBA games and homebrew by using the built-in RAM as a mock flash cartridge, and DS backups using sequential reading. (There have been complaints that SuperCard's built-in RAM is too slow to play some GBA games accurately.) Some DS homebrew also uses this additional RAM, though addressing issues and speed make it less useful than the DS's built in memory. These are more expensive than GBAMP, however (M3 being more expensive than SuperCard), and not as well supported by homebrew. Most homebrew has trouble writing to SD cards because the more complex and proprietary protocols used with SD were reverse engineered later than the well-known CF protocol. The SuperCard has full support for booting DS game backups, with no problems with saving or booting, aside from the slow speed, which causes games load noticeably slower, and even has a cheat system and rumble support. However, the SuperCard only has partial support for DS Download.(Most games work, but some freeze upon loading)

Other variations have been released such as SuperCard Rumble and M3 Pro. These variations bring about many changes, from a smaller form factor that better fits the DS Lite, to the removal of the built-in RAM.

[edit] Max Media Player

The Max Media Player (not to be confused with Max Media Launcher, which is a NoPass device) is similar to the GBA Movie Player, but does not function in GBA mode.[citation needed] Although the easiest device to find - it is the only DS homebrew device sold in major retail stores such as Wal-Mart - its price, power consumption and poor homebrew support make it an unpopular choice. Its main attraction is the ability to be used to play DS game backups, although all of these devices can be used for this purpose. (The developers of the GBAMP firmware hack have made an effort to prevent this, though methods do exist.)

[edit] Second generation

Once the DS card encryption was broken, it became possible to design cards that boot and read directly from slot 1. This meant that pass through devices or flashed firmware were no longer needed to read from an external storage device and led to a wide proliferation of various 'all-in-one' 'plug-n-play' cards.

One drawback was that the new cards had very low compatibility with the significant portion of homebrew applications that required filesystem I/O. DLDI (Dynamically Linked Device Interface for libfat) patching has since solved the problem. All 2nd generation cards that have a DLDI driver written for them are now able to run most of the homebrew that requires filesystem I/O.

[edit] Action-Replay-DS-Media-Edition

A bulky device that protrudes out of the top of the DS,and has a slot (pointing down) for a game to be plugged in (behind the DS)

The device is similar in appearance + functionality to orbit's "I-Cheat Xtra".

DLDI functionality

Not supplied with a microSD card. (supports microSD cards up to 2GB)

[edit] Acekard 2

The Acekard 2 is a relatively new card (April 2008). It earned the Golden Award on[1] and 90% on[2]. 100% game compatibility, skinnable, download-play support, micro SD/SDHC memory card support, very fast loading, Action-Replay cheat support are some of its features. There was some problem with the first batch, many people reported the card was always freezing when loading games or that it showed 'FAT error' when reading cards. Those problem are now solved, and fixed cards show '2.1' on their sticker. They are also identifiable by the fact that there is no longer a microchip bulge underneath the sticker.

The card is now considered to be one of the best cards on the market, along with the CycloDS Evolution. The official Acekard Team is very active; their website is updated very frequently.[3] A new run of Acekard 2.1 cards started in late December 2008; those new Acekard 2.1 are now of stronger build and the microSD slot is not spring-loaded anymore, making it less prone to damage. Those new Acekard 2.1 have a blue PCB to distinguish them.

In addition to the official firmware, an Open-Source firmware is also under active development, called AKAIO[4]. It is currently at version 1.4, with support for the EZ-Flash V 3-in-1 and 3-in-1+ Expansion Packs.

[edit] Acekard 2i

An updated version of the Acekard 2, dubbed the Acekard 2i, is the first commercially available card compatible with the new Nintendo DSi. It is otherwise identical to the previously released Acekard 2. [5]

[edit] Acekard R.P.G

The Acekard R.P.G is the only device on the market to feature both NAND memory, and a MicroSD slot.

The Acekard R.P.G, like most newer devices, is able to utilize the newer SDHC cards, which range from 4GB to 32GB. The Acekard R.P.G comes with a Mini USB cable to connect the card with a computer to access the 1GB of internal NAND memory. The card is currently the only card with a completely open source loader. This has led to numerous custom loaders, with a wide range of extra features. The most prominent of these features is the native support of the EZ Flash V 3 in 1 expansion pack, which enables the Acekard R.P.G to utilize the internal PSRAM for the Nintendo DS Browser, the Rumble function in games which support it, and the ability to load GameBoy Advance games to either the PSRAM or the NOR memory.

[edit] CycloDS Evolution

The CycloDS Evolution features DLDI auto patching and full DS download play support. It is one of the most popular cards on the market, but also more expensive due to its higher quality components and extra features other cards do not have. It earned a golden star on

Like most other slot-1 devices, the CycloDS Evolution uses MicroSD cards for storage and media is played with the built in media player. It was one of the first to use SDHC cards, which range from 4GB to 32GB. The CycloDS Evolution package comes with a fast USB MicroSD reader/writer compatible with SDHC. The "Enhanced Mode" provides unique features activated through an in-game menu which other cards do not support. These features currently include slow-motion, soft reset, a built-in cheat device, a realtime save feature, the option to change the brightness of the DS Lite's LCD backlight in-game, and an in-game text reader for video game walkthroughs.

The card also acts as a pass-me and slot-2 cards like the 3-in-1 extension or G6 lite can be recognized as expansion packs for the CycloDS Evolution. This allows to extend memory for DSLinux, to play GBA games launched from the Slot-1 device and to use the Opera Web Browser, which normally requires a separate RAM expansion pack. A recent update allows the CycloDS Evolution to boot and patch GBA games directly from the CycloDS menu instead of using a separate homebrew program.

There are some clones of this card, the best known being the EDGE DS, which is a cut-down version which does not offer all of the CycloDS features. EDGE DS requires the user to download the Operating System (OS) of the card from the official website, rather than having an in-built OS like CycloDS.

[edit] Datel Games n' Music

Datel's "Games n' Music" is one of the few homebrew players available on most high streets (Orbit's "I-cheat xtra" is ?probably? the only other)

The Games n' Music is a slot-1 device made by Datel. It uses microSD cards for storage, like many other slot-1 devices. It uses a similar firmware to the Max Media Dock, but accesses data from the microSD rather than the slot-2 CF device. This device was considered a poor choice for homebrew by many, because it did not have a DLDI and could not run many applications, but it has since been hacked and a DLDI driver has been written.[1] The Games n' Music is one of the few homebrew devices to make it into stores, along with Datel's other devices, the Max Media Dock and the Action Replay (a cheat engine). There have been some issues, however, with compatibility with certain microSD cards not working, MP3's not playing, breaking very easily, and the device crashing or freezing the DS.

Is compatible with/supports microSD cards capacities up to 2GB. (isn't compatible with/does NOT support SDHC (SD High Capacity) cards.)

supplied with:

a 256MB microSD card(originally supplied with a 128MB). usb microSD card reader

a cd containing 25 homebrew games(playable on the DS once they've been transferred onto the microSD card).

[edit] DS Link

The DS Link was one of the earliest slot-1 devices, and like most other cards, it uses MicroSD cards for storage. The DS Link wasn't as popular as its competitors because unlike all other cards, it does not contain a No-Pass, which means you must use a Mk-4 Mini to boot it, or flash your DS with FlashMe. The loader was recently updated to support the newer SDHC cards (Up to 4GB).

[edit] DS-Xtreme

The DS-Xtreme flash card is a one-card solution that contains 4 Gbit (512 MB) (or a newer 16 Gbit model (2 GB)) of internal flash memory, with no option to add external memory on top. The DS-Xtreme hardware supports the generic USB Mass Storage specification, and therefore functions as a drag & drop USB drive with no additional drivers needed. It also sports two color-adjustable LEDs. After connecting the DS-Xtreme to a PC via the included USB cable, files can be transferred to the DS-Xtreme memory and be used on the DS immediately thereafter. Although 100% of the games boot, some of them have errors. This problem is usually corrected by installing the newest version of the firmware, as with any flashcart. In terms of homebrew compatibility, it is one of the highest-rated and does not require extra fixes due to the auto-patching software included. The biggest drawback to this card is its price, usually retailing around $100. It is not recommended to buy, due to a lack of support from the developers (they've disappeared since 2007).

[edit] DSTT

DSTT is a very popular card compatible with SDHC cards. Recently, the DSTT has fallen to the same problem as the R4: clones have found their way into the market. Many manufacturers are making cards that imitate the package and look of the DSTT. Some clones change the name (ie: DSTT-ADV or CN-DSTT) but most label their product as DSTT even if they are not affiliated by real DSTT Team. There is now a lot of information on DSTT official website to identify fakes and clones.[6]

Running any available firmware currently available from the official website can brick clones, requiring a recovery program to be run from a working device, and then a hotswap to fix the card.

[edit] EZFlash V

The EZFlash V uses MicroSD cards for storage. The newer EZFlash V Plus supports Micro SD cards over 2GB while the original model does not. Also available is the 3in1 Expansion Pack which supports rumble, cache, and GBA ROM.

[edit] EZFlash Vi

The EZFlash Vi is an upgraded version of the EZFlash V Plus, made for the Nintendo DSi

[edit] G6DS Real

The G6DS Real comes with a built in 8Gbit or 16Gbit (non-expandable) of NAND memory and offers a simple drag and drop interface via its USB linker with high speed USB 2.0 write speeds like its predecessors. The card features 1:1 gameplay, offering the same ROM backup compatibility as commercial cartridges.

By using the same firmware as the M3DS Real, it supports Action Replay Max. It also offers features such as skinning, soft-reset and DLDI homebrew auto-patching. A feature unique to the G6DS Real is that it allows the user to select whether or not the card bypasses the Nintendo DS' main menu, and go straight to the G6 Real's loader.

[edit] I-Cheat xtra

A bulky device that protrudes out of the top of the DS, has a slot (pointing down) for a game to be plugged in (behind the DS). The device is similar in appearance and functionality to Datel's "Action Replay Media Edition".

The Orbit I-Cheat Xtra combines the functionality of:

Cheat Cartridge

Gamesave Backup/Install

Homebrew player

Cheat updates can be downloaded from the website and saved to microSD card.

[edit] M3DS Real And Itouch Ds

The M3DS Real is similar to the R4DS, it uses MicroSD cards for storage. Like most other cards, it supports the newer SDHC cards, although some users have been reporting issues with 6GB MicroSD cards.

The Itouch Ds is similar to the M3DS Real in most respects. Like most other cards, it supports the newer SDHC cards. It is also made by the M3 team and is marketed as a budget flashcart. Unlike most storage devices that use MicroSD cards for storage, the M3DS and Itouch Ds have a spring loaded Micro SD slot. The Itouch Ds has a feature to make shortcuts to access games and apps to a windows desktop.

Both come with a standard micro SD-reader/writer but the M3DS also has a addon rumble/expansion pak and other accessories in a value pack.

[edit] N-Card (NAND Card)

During its lifetime, N-Card where available in 128MB, 512MB, 1GB and 2GB. Today there are two versions of N-Card, 1GB and 2GB, smaller cards are discontinued. N-Card doesn't require FlashMe, PassMe or any other device or modification. It is compatible with all commercial games without having to patch them. No additional software is required to transfer games from PC to the card, you just hook it up and transfer your games exactly like with an USB Jump Drive. At first N-Card didn't support download-play, but this has been solved in firmware 1.45 (released in August 2007), Wi-fi play was always supported.

Because this card uses its own internal memory, just like original DS cartridge, read speed is really fast, faster than microSd card, so there is absolutely no slow-down during gameplay and loading games takes about 1 second only.

In order to read the card on the computer to add or remove files, there is a special adapter and an USB cable that comes with the N-Card.

It was the most cloned card on the market with about 6 different clones : DS Fire Card, K6, MK5, Ultra N-Card, DS Linker, F-Card, and many more. All clones can run the original N-Card firmware.

[edit] NinjaPass

NinjaPass is a one-card solution that uses MicroSD cards for storage. A few games still don't work. Compatibility is highly dependent on the MicroSD card brand and model. The card works with most homebrew including but not limited to DSAIM, DSLinux, MoonShell, NesDS, LemmingsDS, and DSOrganize. It is compatible with MicroSD cards of up to 4 GB and works with cards of all speeds provided that the speed is adjusted for on the main boot menu before loading any applications. The product website provides users with all of the necessary startup software for download.

[edit] YushenDS Card, R4DS, M3 DS Simply, and their clones

R4DS (Revolution for DS), YushenDS Card (YDC) and M3DS Simply are essentially the same hardware product. The same method is used to distinguish between Chinese, English and Japanese (and German for the YDC) versions of the cards. The firmware for the various brand and language versions can be readily patched to work on other language or brand versions of the hardware.

The original R4 card was replaced in late 2007 by the so-called "R4 version 2" or "R4v2". This new version removed the need for a spring mechanism to insert a Micro-SD card. Instead, it simply had a slot in the back where a user could manually slot a Micro-SD card in. This eliminated the problems of the original R4 Revolution DS Card where the spring mechanism reportedly malfunctioned after prolonged use.[7]

Further confusion has been added by the arrival of numerous poor-quality clones of the YDC(R4,M3) hardware - selling under the brands including N5, E7, ND1, NPlayer, U2DS, MARS and numerous variations on the R4 name, such as "R4DS Upgrade-II", New R4, R4 Deluxe, R4 Advance, R4 DS III, R4 SDHC, R4 Pro, and R4 Ultra. The firmware for genuine YDC(R4) cards is encrypted, although the encryption scheme was broken in 2007 and several utilities exist for encrypting, modifying and decrypting YDC(R4) firmware. The N5 and most other clones use a decrypted version of the firmware; decrypted YDC(R4) firmware can be used on the N5 and some other clone cards, and encrypted clone firmware can be used on the R4. Some clone manufacturers have released modified versions of the firmware to support additional games; others have done away with the R4 firmware entirely and replaced it with homebrew loaders such as YSMenu or other alternatives.

All of these are one-card (Slot-1) solutions that use MicroSD cards for storage, and all the final official firmware versions include Action Replay cheats, auto-DLDI patching and support for Nintendo Wi-Fi connection and Download Play. They also include a hardware-specific version of the Moonshell media player, selection of which is integrated with the main menu. Around August 2007, the R4 team also revised the hardware to use a springless memory slot as there had been significant complaints about the failure of the slot.

Unlike newer cards, the R4 cannot read SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards due to hardware limitations, although certain clones add this functionality. There exist several clones of the R4 card that are capable of using SDHC cards, but some studies have suggested that certain types of these cards have high failures rates. One clone, named the "R4 SDHC", is reported to be reliable. R4DS is now known to be outdated, as many other flashcarts are known to be better and cheaper (Acekard 2, M3 Real Supercard One, and Edge), and a genuine R4DS is hard to find.[8]

[edit] SuperCard DS ONE

SuperCard DS is a Slot-1 solution that uses MicroSD cards for storage, made by the SuperCard Team.

However, SuperCard DS demands an extremely High-Speed microSD to fully utilize its gameplay function. Most of the games could not be played with other MicroSD cards, where they hung with a white screen after starting the game. Only a few High-Speed Micro SD cards are available in the market. Even when using High-Speed MicroSD cards, games will sometimes lag and freeze. Updates are maintained at sporadic rather than regular intervals. Such users should take care not to move the white sticker cover on the front facade as this would have dislocated the exposed chip out, and hence spoiling the product.

With the newer SDHC compatible models, games are playable with lower speed SD cards, nullifying the most significant problem with the original. The latest Firmware allows functions like Real-Time save, Real-Time Game Guides and Multi-Save.

[edit] References

R4DS Wholesale R4DSi Wholesale

[edit] Official websites

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