Data degradation on modern game console OS/ firmware

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by blueagent1999, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. blueagent1999
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    blueagent1999 Advanced Member

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    i can't find any discussions about this on the interwebs so i thought i ought to start a discussion about this here, since this issue has bugged me for some time and i can't seem to find any answers about this anywhere.

    so apparently modern game console nowadays store their OS/firmware on flash NAND chips, does this mean that they will be susceptible to DATA-ROT which will eventually cause the console to develop data degradation or corruption in their OS/Firmware within a few decades time?

    i read that that flash memory can retain 100% of its original data for 10 years before some form of minor data degradation starts, actually a few years ago there was an article about how nasa lost one of their asset due to data rot, which glitched out the internal software and rendering it inoperable. (i can't seem to find the article anymore though)

    so i guess my question is, are modern game console susceptible to DATA-ROT in their OS/ firmware?


    i like how older game consoles stores their OS/firmware on a permanent MASKROM chip, meaning that as long as the console is well maintained, it practically could last for decades and decades along with those MASKROM game cartridges.
     
    Last edited by blueagent1999, Aug 7, 2017
  2. Tom Bombadildo

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    I forgot
    The Xbox One and the PS4 store the majority of it's OS on the internal HDD, not any internal NAND or NOR chip.

    The Xbox One does have an 8GB NAND chip in it, but it's strictly used for caching the OS and system files, not for OS storage as it's too small.

    The PS4's NOR chip is 256Mb, which is obviously too small to hold the entire OS as well.

    But even so, they likely have some sort of ECC protection enabled on them to prevent things like data rot from effecting normal function years later.
     
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  3. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I reckon it would be considerably more likely to have BGAs and capacitors fail before this comes to pass.

    I am not so familiar with long term flash storage though. Short term/high volume/fault tolerant/forensic type things all day long but the longer term stuff has only been a handful of articles I am never sure if big spinning rust had a hand in putting out there.

    Likewise we may see workarounds made for such things -- a lot of tools and techniques now used by people that can be said to know what there are doing were seriously hot stuff 10 years ago, never mind 20.
     
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  4. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    The Xbox 360's NAND can develop bad blocks over time, however that's to be expected and the bad blocks are remapped.
     
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  5. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    That surely requires power though. I read the OP as "in 30 years would I be able to find one in the attic like I can my [insert anything from the 16 bit era or older, give or take amigas with leaky batteries], or will 30 years of cosmic rays and entropy combine with the hard crypto have messed up my plans compared to a mask ROM and security that pretty much is not of previous eras?".

    As far as I was aware NAND tends to fail read only, and you can also do active sector management. Both wonderful traits and about the only reason we have anything vaguely as cheap as it is, however for long term flash memory bit rot that may not be enough, though again I don't know the physics of this failure mode as well as I might.

    Wonder if I will have to do an annual power cycle/burn in session for 360s like I have for my various batteries and engines around here.
     
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  6. blueagent1999
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    blueagent1999 Advanced Member

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    thanks for the replies!

    i have a couple of consoles like the VitaTV, Xbox360E, WiiU, and also the FamicomMini which doesn't appear to use a hard-drive to store their OS/Firmware, so i was just worried that these consoles won't have much life left in them, that is, if data degradation starts to develop in the flash memory chip that stores these respective console's OS/Firmware.
     
    Last edited by blueagent1999, Aug 8, 2017