Hacking M3 Questions

Arcane Ether

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After using my R4DS for many months now, and being highly pleased, I think it's time for me to pick up a GBA Flash Card.

After doing some research, it seems to me that the "M3 Perfect" is the hot item everyone is talking about.
I've done a few online shop searches, both through the links provided here and through several Google searchs,
but I cannot turn up enough information about the device to know exactly what I'm buying.

I've bumped into several devices with the name "M3", including the Perfect, the Professional, the Lite, and the Real.
The shop site descriptions for each of these are all the same, but that can't be right.
I've read here on GBA Temp that people don't recommend the Professional; but no one has mentioned exactly why.

With DS Flash Cards, I know there are problems with fake clones. Are there such clones with the GBA Flash Cards too?

Basically, I want a GBA Flash Card that will boot from the "Slot 2" option of my R4DS menu, so I don't have to switch cards whenever I switch games;
one that is MicroSD compatible (I wouldn't mind MiniSD either); and one that is recommended by the alumi members here.

I've also had trouble finding an online shop that has any in stock. Any recommendations? Preferably with PayPal options.

Thanks in advance!
 

DanTheManMS

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Slot-2 M3 devices have two adjectives to describe them. First is the type (Perfect vs Professional) and second is the type of media it takes (SD, miniSD, microSD aka Lite). The M3 Real is a slot-1 device like your R4, so that's not what you want, while the M3 Pro doesn't have GBA compatibility (supposedly it can run 4 MB games but nobody has reported success doing so), so you don't want that. Thus, your options are the M3 Perfect Slim SD, M3 Perfect MiniSD, and M3 Perfect Lite. If the store doesn't say Perfect vs Pro, more than likely it's a Perfect but you'll want to contact them to be absolutely sure before buying.

The SD version will stick out of a DS Phat noticeably, the miniSD will stick out of a DS Phat by a couple of millimeters, and the Lite will sit flush in a DS Lite and requires an included shell in order to fit into a DS Phat or regular GBA.

Hope that helps clear up some of the confusion, even if I haven't really given a recommendation.
 

Arcane Ether

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Thank you for the info so far.

I should have been a little more clear, myself, though. I own a DS Lite, not a Phat.

Is there a model of GBA ROM Player/Loader for the DS Lite that will not stick out and is SD Compatible?
If not, is there such thing as a Slot-1 Device that will Boot GBA ROMs?
 

DanTheManMS

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The M3 Perfect Lite takes microSD cards and sits flush within a DS Lite. Unfortunately they're very hard to find nowadays.

No slot-1 device can run GBA games natively. However, a popular solution is to get a slot-1 device and the slot-2 EZ-V 3in1 expansion pack.
 

Arcane Ether

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I'm-a going to take a shot in the dark here and guess as to why Slot-1 cannot play GBA properly...correct me if I'm wrong.

I was once told that DS games run differently from GBA games. The entire game is booted all at once, requiring no RAM.
GBA, however, does require RAM, therefore, the Slot-1 half of the DS cannot supply the GBA ROMs with any RAM to function.
This explains why it is possible to play GBA ROMs in Slot-1 half so long as you have an Expansion Card in the Slot-2 half to supply the Slot-1 with usable RAM...am I correct?

Although that would work fine for me, I do not like the fact that I'd have to switch hardware whenever I switch from playing a DS game to a GBA game.
For me, the whole point of using Flash Cards is to leave my mile high stack of games and cases at home, and just take the digital copies with me. It take far less room in my back pack when at travel.

So! My final point...I thank you for the information and I think I've decided to take my chances in locating an M3 Perfect Lite. They may be difficult to locate, but in time, I think I'll find one.

Thank you again!
 

DanTheManMS

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It's actually a bit simpler than that. GBA games must be run in GBA mode, and when you're in GBA mode you have no access to any of the DS-specific stuff, including slot-1. The reason you can't run GBA games in DS mode is because the processors act entirely differently depending on which mode they're in.

Now the whole slot-2 RAM thing does play a role though. In essence, it's due to the way the games run. DS games stream data from the card into RAM and execute instructions from there. The GBA only has 256 KB of RAM, and so rather than doing that, it executes the game directly from the cartridge itself. This means that the cartridge has to have a really fast response time. Things like SD and CF cards cannot provide the response times necessary, and so the entire game is loaded into faster external RAM and launched from there. Back in the older days of the GBA, rather than RAM they used a type of flash called NOR flash. NOR is very slow to write to, but very quick to read from, and the game is still stored in there even after poweroff. This is still used in the EZ-Flash line for games larger than 16 MB. Regardless, the point is that slot-1 is not capable of executing parts of the games directly from the cartridges due to the way the slot itself works.
 

ZombiePosessor

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I picked up an M3 Perfect when I got my Simply a few years ago, I love it. a 2GB MicroSD Card holds all the GBA games I'd ever need. When I got mine it was $80 or so, came w/ Passkey and stuff too. I was looking for one for a friend a few months ago and I found one, I think kick gaming or some other popular site, check GBATemp's Official List of Flashcart Sellers and maybe you'll be able to find one. Good luck, they're great little pieces of hardware.
 

Arcane Ether

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Thank you for your explanation, DanTheManMS. From what you say, I was almost right, I just had it the other way around...sorta.
wacko.gif


Anyway, I found two sellers that are both offering the device, so I've e-mailed both for more info. I should have my M3 Perfect in a week or two.
gbasp.gif
 

Sorakun

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I'll add my own question here if you don't mind.

I have a DS with the M3 Real and my father got my old GBASP.
I want to play GBA games on my DS and my father wants to write some programs for the GBA (and of course use them).
The question is: Is the M3 Perfect fit for both?
 

Arcane Ether

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I think I can answer this one, actually.

The "M3 Perfect" is the hardware's actual name, but there are two kinds, the regular "M3 Perfect" and the "M3 Perfect Lite".

"Lite" refers to being smaller, slimmer, and having that little extra tab of plastic on the left side that is molded for a DS Lite.
The Lite model typically isn't made for a GBA SP. For that system, you should use a regular "M3 Perfect".
Aside from the shape difference, the chip itself is exactly the same, so I've read.

I have a DS Lite, myself, so I want the Lite version.
 

Sorakun

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The Perfect Lite comes with an interchangeable shell for use with the GBA and DS phat, so that's not a problem.
I just want to know whether you can run Homebrew on GBA and normal GBA games on the DS with it.
 

DanTheManMS

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It will function exactly the same on a GBA as it would on a DS in GBA mode, so yes it will run both commercial games and homebrew files just fine.
 

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