Format warnings!

Discussion in 'DSTT' started by neogba, Mar 18, 2008.

Mar 18, 2008

Format warnings! by neogba at 8:49 PM (5,199 Views / 0 Likes) 6 replies

  1. neogba
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    Member neogba GBAtemp Regular

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    Panasonic has a download-able formatter that claims to do it right.

    http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/sd/d..._formatter.html

    Here's the deal. Apparently, if you repartition (before formating) a flash drive and that removes any unused, beginning areas, it may trash your Flash. How? By getting it out of "alignment". That's what the blank areas before your partition; on some of these (SD) cards, are doing! That is setting the proper alignment, and thus the reliability. If you do not record the details and then repartition (which some formatters do automatically) then you lose stability. There's no easy way to fix that.

    http://www.hjreggel.net/cardspeed/

    ...and click "Formatting" Then see "Conclusion" near the bottom.

    Flash drives (memory cards) are obviously not physically like spinning drives are, internally. They emulate SCSI drives and thus act like (other) hard drives. Many utilities thatt are not made for Flash, will trash your Flash.

    Formating, in a device such as a new SD HC(just one of the SD 2.0 specs) camera would seem the best way to format. I'm guessing, they do NOT mess with alignment OR do other things that a given PC formatter might mess up. What other things? I now read, Windows formats a Flash like a Floppy; where there's no partition #1, just the One whole drive. It's like sdb rather than sdb1. That could kick out (reject) your Flash; on certain devices. It's compatibility issue. The idea was a standard, right?

    Of course, our DSTT's do not format, in cartridge. How many of you also repartitioned your Flash when you reformatted (discovering FAT32 is slower; for example) only to mess up your Flash "Alignment" and got corrupted files and other incompatibilities. Who know a SD 2.0 format was unique?!

    OTHER TECHNICAL INFO:

    So you probably know, FAT16 is faster and today, we use VFAT16, right? Everything 2GB or less is going to come with VFAT16; no problem. Everything 6GB and over is going to have to be SDHC, with (V)FAT32 and, require a SDHC reader (a good quality one too, perhaps not the one you got with the DSTT, and you may have to try Three or more). The DSTT's menu is too slow with VFAT32 for me. I don't not know if the DSTT team can or will be able to fix that speed. FAT32 has more overhead but it is a newer file system. That leaves 4GB or less.

    OK so, 4GB Flash is in the middle. With SD, it can be a non-spec large 4GB SD that new cameras are made to reject. Else it can be the SD 2.0 spec SDHC type(High Capacity = HC). I don't know what uses a non-spec 4GB. So, I would avoid them. They are probably not as fast, anyway.

    Also, 4GB flash uniquely, can be either VFAT16 or VFAT32; unlike higher capacities. Lower capacities (256MB RAM and Win 2000 will not be much fun under 256MB RAM either). You might be able to squeak by with Xubuntu OS at 128MB RAM but it's TIME FOR AN OVERHUAL, as Jim Carrey said. Meaning, it's time to beg if you have no funds. You can do it! [​IMG]

    3. The 2GB FAT16 files size limit was due to the old max. Thus the file limit is now about 4GB (unless you run those old unsafe Windows above).

    4. Keep in mind the the file size limit of VFAT32 now, is almost 4GB too, even though the partition size tops out at 32GB (until extended). So, you would not be able to record over a 4GB movie in one file, on a bigger than 4GB flash with FAT32 anyway. Got it? My new "still" camera records 16:9 VGA 848x480 video at 30fps ("Quicktime" wrapper) for a whopping 38 mins when given 4GB. See, so either way, I'd have to check it at 38 mins. Other video formats would be less than 38 mins (at once, on any SDHC flash). So the real advantage to bigger than 4GB is only, you would not have to pop in another 4GB card. You would still have to start a new recording segment. Back to the DSTT... One could get more games on one card but I would not like the FAT32 speed penalty.

    5. So, the question of the day seems to be, would a newer and faster cards, override the VFAT32 speed penalty that is required on 6GB SDHC and up?

    Are we having fun yet? [​IMG]

    P.S. OK now, I read that these (new SDHC) cameras, which are supposed to be best at formating safely (Some pros format to erase) have a problem. They apparently do not gauge the end of the partition correctly and once full, your last file locks up the drive (as it writes past where it is supposed to) and requires computer help to repair. You lose (at best), that last file. I filled up the tiny internal (usually slow) memory with no problems but not my Flash card. be advised. You might want to run some tests filling it up. You could lose a long, big movie files and that would stink.

    I wonder if the DSTT crashes; when filled up too? Your game save files, could tip it over. I wonder which SD cards, sizes and standards are most affected.

    I hope this help track down any glitches you may have. Just, FYI.
     
  2. neogba
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    Member neogba GBAtemp Regular

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    I think tests are showing speedy new class 6 SDHC (6GB, 8GB) with the VFAT32 overhead slowdown is not an issue on the PC. But is may be on the DSTT and other devices.

    Note three things with speed:

    Read speed maximum ratings (like 150X) where instead, minimum and average is good to know. This reduces game lag.

    Write speed (see above). (Class 6 is 6MBs write minimum. This is what we want for cameras, quick game uploads on computer, and fast game saves.)

    Then, access time! Which looks to be the menu speed on the DSTT. Here you don't care about sustained average reads, so much as how fast small files get read in a hurry.

    Also the "Alignment" issue may be just about an even number of "cylinders" (thus the pre-partittion slack) that some devices require to recognize the Flash. So it may be an issue of maximizing compatibility; across various devices that you may want to use.

    It starting to seem. it's best to dedicate one SD(HC) per device and formated there. That's not how standards are supposed to work. Still, SDHC is the best we have. So, all this is why a SDHC specific camera (like in a store) may be the best and easiest way to format your MicroSDHC for the DSTT. Plus, why you do not want to try and get back that tiny amount of space before your partition (if you even ever knew it was there).
     
  3. neogba
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    Member neogba GBAtemp Regular

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    I'm attempting to put this in simple terms as I gather info.

    The alignment issue is not just an even number of cylinders exactly. It's about the fact that the internal Flash memory, does reads and writes in bigger chunks/pages than is represented to the standard FAT OS. The smaller chunks of data, have to fit evenly into the larger; real chunks of the given internal flash. Else, it is out of "alignment".

    Therefore, just changing from FAT16 to FAT32 or the reverse, MIGHT mess it up (and be hard to put back!) See? The (Two) FAT (File Allocation Tables) for FAT32 are bigger (for example) and therefore, they start the files system further out, and likely then get misaligned/unmatched to the lower level and bigger flash pages.

    What I think this means for 4GB SDHC flash, is you might want to stick to the formatted it comes with. Which, I suppose could be either FAT32 to follow the SD 2.0 standard SDHC, or FAT16 for faster access speed. I don't think some new SDHC cameras would read/write well with a 4GB as FAT16. They may be keyed to expect only 2GB from FAT16 formats. I'm not sure.

    So, I would just move on to 8GB (Micro)SDHC and as class 6, from a reputable seller (that had easy returns.) Yet being FAT32 by necessity, the DSTT menu lags (unless there could be fix). At least it did with 4GB when FAT32.

    Remember not to format with XP when it says a flash media may need it. XP will format anything over 256MB as FAT32 and like a Floppy. That is, without even one partition.

    Anyone done extensive testing with an 8GB?
     
  4. mcsenerd

    Newcomer mcsenerd Newbie

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    All I can tell you is that I used the instructions and tool from Panasonic discussed in the first post of this thread and in so doing "DRAMATICALLY" sped up the menu and overall operation of my two DSTT's. This was using an El Cheapo Patriot 2GB card and a Class 4 Kingston 4GB card in the other. I honestly couldn't believe the difference...as most claims such as this in the tech world I take with a grain of salt...but this honestly worked. The difference was so stark that I thought about trying to record a video and upload it to YouTube to display the difference. If you're disappointed in the menu performance of your card...you owe it to yourself to take the time to use this tool and see if it solves your performance issues...
     
  5. hirusho

    Newcomer hirusho Member

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    i hereby agreed to mcsenrd fully. I tried the format on windows xp professional for a-data 4gb sdhc and the menu scrolling speed was slow but after using panasonic format software menu scrolling is almost instant. Speaking day and night experience. Although I don't find the game loading speed is any different (or difference is big enough for me to notice), but I'm so happy about my fast response DSTT now.
     
  6. neogba
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    Member neogba GBAtemp Regular

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    Yes, that is exactly the experience I had with the DSTT. It's the menu that's (much) faster with VFAT16 (I did mine with Kubuntu). Besides, write speed being more critical than read speed, then there is access time, and especially for the smaller (menu) files. VFAT16 has a faster access time.

    The Panasonic formatter, is supposed to make sure your flash is SDHC (SD 2.0) compliant. What's unique, is the addition of what I think is the appropriate slack/empty space before the correct partition which may be needed on some drives in oreder to match up better with internal flash memory (larger) page sizes.

    "Working" is a subjective term. What works in the short term may not be the best solution.

    First of all, if you turn off a FAT (any type) system during a write then you have a drive to repair. The is the way FAT(16/32) works. So you will need a good utility to check and repair your flash drive; without (possibly) corrupting it with tools made for regular flash drives.

    Now I'm concerned that changing a flash drive from one type of FAT to another, may introduce eventual errors. This mainly being a concern with 4GB Flash. Under 4GB is best at FAT16 and Over 4GB is best at FAT32 (as one partition) so the choice their is easy.

    My guess (at this point) is some 4GB flash memory can handle changes more than others. One can always go back to the manufactures choice of VFAT16 or VFAT32. What bothers me, is the pre-partition alignment space and how that is done exactly.

    I know that the ADATA 4GB MicroSDHC Turbo card comes with that tiny empty space, before the partition and it is for Flash "alignment". So I wonder about my 4GB Kingston USB drive/stick.

    I also know, I have experienced the weird "hieroglyphics" and had to reformat too (Don't re-format unless you have tried repairing FAT). I tracked my problems then, to the cheap SDHC reader that comes with the DSTT. Other/different, quality, SDHC readers seemed to full fix the problem (after reformatting and using VFAT16). Yet only time will tell as I have not tested/used the DS lately.

    I say this "bothers" me, because I expect reliability from Flash memory.

    I need to know a few things here. Which one did your 4GB Flash come with? VFAT16 or VFAT32? Is it SDHC?

    Does anyone know how to repartition and align the size, to the Internal flash pages? Can the Panasonic utility be relied on for this? I think it says the utility is only for SD (or only for Flash at least). What about a 4GB USB stick?

    Why would some Flash need "alignment" space and some not? How can one know?

    Now, I really wonder if the "new" SDHC is slack space aligned partition and FAT32 (for over 2GB)? Yet, I know the SDHC is coded to NOT work in regular SD to prevent loss.
     
  7. The Afroman

    Newcomer The Afroman Member

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    How do you format to VFAT16 in windows xp? Can you? I don't see an option in the Panasonic tool. I have a 4gb Kingston that i want in VFAT16..
     

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