MobileInfocenter

32 MB Memory Upgrade Coming Soon (Updated)

PDA Kobo has announced that it has developed a hardware and software solution that upgrades a Dragonball VZ processor to 32 MB of RAM. The process begins by taking out the handheld's current RAM chip and putting in 32 MB one. This could have caused problems because the handheld can't address that much RAM but the company came up with an interesting solution. It developed the Enhanced RAM Disk Driver (ERDD), which makes the additional 16 MB of memory act like an SD Card or Memory Stick.

There are several companies that can upgrade Palm OS handhelds to 16 MB but none that are currently offering 32 MB ones.

The service is not yet available. "In the beginning, we will start to provide services through a reconditioned machine shop, a part of our online PDA shop. Soon thereafter, we will start to provide 32 MB memory upgrade services for outside PDAs. And for the convenience of Palm users all over the world, we are planning partnerships with memory upgrade centers in their areas with PDA Kobo providing such partners with this original driver", said Keitaro Fujii, President of Universal Systems, PDA Kobo's parent company.

The company says this upgrade will work with the Palm m500 series and the Sony N and T series. It has not yet decided what it will cost.

The original description for this product was incorrect, thanks to problems with translating from Japanese to English. This article has since been updated with a (hopefully) much more accurate version.

Thanks to Russell Howell and Tommy Fung for the tips. Also thanks to Eugene, who always comes through when I need something translated from Japanese into English. -Ed

Article Comments

 (34 comments)

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Comments Closed Comments Closed
This article is no longer accepting new comments.

Down

Replace RAM Chip

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 9:52:38 AM #
Can someone explain why they are replacing the RAM chip is the software make use of memory on the MS/SD/MMC card?
RE: Replace RAM Chip
Beavis @ 8/12/2002 9:56:39 AM #
I think thay mean that it will reserve 16Mb on the memory card that will trick the operating system into thinking it has an additional 16Mb of RAM available. 16Mb real RAM and 16Mb on the memory card. This sounds like it will be very slow, and it also sounds like a gimmick. Maybe someday when we put a 128Mb memory stick in our PDA's it will just be "seamless" and look like we added an additional 128Mb of memory without having to resort to tricks.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
Ed @ 8/12/2002 9:58:14 AM #
Obviously details are still sketchy but it looks like the company is currently concentrating on upgrading models with 8 MB of memory. The new chip is to upgrade them to 16 MB of hardware RAM, then ERDD takes over with the remaining 16 MB.

---
News Editor
RE: Replace RAM Chip
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:02:49 AM #
> Maybe someday when we put a 128Mb memory stick in our PDA's it will just be
> "seamless" and look like we added an additional 128Mb of memory
> without having to resort to tricks.

When you put a 10GB harddrive in your PC, does it act like you have 10GB of RAM? No, because this isn't the best way of handling it. Same goes for PDAs.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
seanhennessy @ 8/12/2002 10:05:30 AM #
I think it's because the processor cannot directly access memory over 16 MB, and the extra logic needed to do it must be on the chip. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with this upgrade though. How could we be sure that it will be compatible with future OS upgrades for instance?
RE: Replace RAM Chip
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:20:17 AM #
> I think it's because the processor cannot directly
> access memory over 16 MB, and the extra logic needed
> to do it must be on the chip. I'm not sure I'd be
> comfortable with this upgrade though. How could we be
> sure that it will be compatible with future OS
> upgrades for instance?

Since all future PalmOS upgrades will be for ARM based chips, changing this for your Dragonball PDA won't matter.

I don't think this will be cost effective enough or timely enough to purchase when you will have OS 5 devices appearing soon than can handle much more memory anyway.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:28:29 AM #
"When you put a 10GB harddrive in your PC, does it act like you have 10GB of RAM? No, because this isn't the best way of handling it. Same goes for PDAs."

Yes and no. ever hear of virtual memory? most operating systems use a portion of the hard disk to swap out RAM as needed, making it appear to the computer that it has more memory than it rally has.

Hard Disks are reasonably fast. Memory cards are painfully slow on PDA's at the current time. I can load a 2 meg photo in a couple of seconds from a hard drive. Loading a 2 meg photo from a memory card takes forever on a PDA.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
Altema @ 8/12/2002 10:48:21 AM #
They are replacing the RAM chip with a 32Mb RAM chip. The software already exists with the purpose of using SD/MMC memory as a type of RAM disk, but this software will be modified to use the extra 16Mb on the new RAM chip.

When all is said and done, you will have 16Mb RAM, an additional 16Mb Virtual RAM via the software. This is independent of your expansion card. The software takes care of addressing the additional memory because it is beyond the addressing range of the Dragonball. If you delete the software, your Palm will not be able to "see" the additional RAM.

Although I have not seen this product, it seems a lot like the tricks they used to pull with the Apple /// to get it to recognize 512k, only in that case we had to replace the memory board AND solder extra addressing lines between the motherboard and the memory board.

PS: This is an educated guess, so I could be totaly wrong!

RE: Replace RAM Chip
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:29:43 AM #
This sounds like the classic "bank-switching" technique used on earlier processors with limited address spaces.

Now the Dragonball, like other 68K processors "thinks" in a 32 bit address space, but only allows 24 bits to exit the chip into the "real" world where memory chips exist.

I think the reason for removing the RAM chip has to do with releasing the high-order bit of the address bus so that it can be used (along with an I/O bit or two) to switch other memory chips in and out under software control.

Just speculation...

-Brett

RE: Replace RAM Chip
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 12:12:44 PM #
>>This is because the Palm OS running on a Dragonball VZ processor can only address 16 MB of RAM.<<

Yes, the DragonBall-Palm OS platform can only access 16 MB of RAM, but I believe that limitation is imposed entirely by the DragonBall's memory addressing scheme. Palm OS should be able to address a larger memory space, given a better processor.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 1:08:10 PM #
"Yes, the DragonBall-Palm OS platform can only access 16 MB of RAM, but I believe that limitation is imposed entirely by the DragonBall's memory addressing scheme. Palm OS should be able to address a larger memory space, given a better processor."

Or an external memory controller.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 1:54:53 PM #
> ever hear of virtual memory? most operating systems use a portion
> of the hard disk to swap out RAM as needed, making it appear to
>the computer that it has more memory than it rally has.

> Hard Disks are reasonably fast. Memory cards are
> painfully slow on PDA's at the current time.

The real issue is that so called "memory" cards are plain and simply removable media, just like a floppy or Zip disk. You would essentially never want to run virtual memory off of removable media. I sincerely hope that is not what these people are trying to do.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
seanhennessy @ 8/12/2002 1:59:25 PM #
"Since all future PalmOS upgrades will be for ARM based chips, changing this for your Dragonball PDA won't matter."

Not necessarily so, it is possible (though I admit not very likely) that Palm may release fixes to OS4 to fix specific issues. You never know, and I wouldn't like to do anything to endanger an upgrade path. There again, I don't have specific information that there would be a problem, so it may not matter anyway.

RE: Replace RAM Chip
Ed @ 8/12/2002 10:17:01 PM #
You should pretty much ignore this whole thread because it is based on the incorrect information I originally ran about this product. If you haven't reread the article since I rewrote it and put the "Updated" label on it, you should.

---
News Editor
RE: Replace RAM Chip
Altema @ 8/12/2002 10:32:57 PM #
Thanks for the re-write Ed. Although not quite as useful as tricking the OS into thinking it can address 32Mb, I can see where having a virtual card of an extra 16Mb would be very useful. Presenter To Go is one example, and other accessories that use the slot (bluetooth, camera) would be much more practical with this upgrade.

I wonder though, why not just upgrade the ROM to 8 or 16Mb and bundle JackFlash as an alternative? Not as nice, but it would still be a benefit. I remember being tempted to ship my old Palm IIIc to the other side of earth to have the ROM upgraded to 4Mb.

Its 32 Mb RAM, not 16 mb ram+16 mb on the card

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 12:28:25 PM #
It DOES install 32 mb of ram, but since the dragonball can only support 16mb, its like splitting the 16mb remaining into another drive..... imagine FAT, if u have a 4gb drive, its 2GB+2GB on another drive.... same concept here.... its 32 mb ram, but 16 mb acts like built in ram, and the remaining 16mb, acts like a memory card
RE: Its 32 Mb RAM, not 16 mb ram+16 mb on the card
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 1:23:05 PM #
This is correct. The English version of their page is a bit confusing because of the poor translation. What they are doing is they are installing 32MB of RAM. But because the Dragonball processor can only see 16MB, they are tricking it to think of the remaining 16MB as if it were some external memory card (like SD/MMC/MS). They also demonstrate (via screenshots) that this scheme works fine even if you insert an external memory card in addition. The software properly recognizes the extra 16MB and the inserted memory card as two separate storage cards.
RE: Its 32 Mb RAM, not 16 mb ram+16 mb on the card
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 1:48:41 PM #
OK, this makes much more sense. So it sounds like you'll essentially be upgraded to 16MB actual RAM plus an additional 16MB internally that acts like a VFS RAM disk (32MB total, all internal).

Much better than the nightmarish idea of running virtual RAM off of slow, removable media.

RE: Its 32 Mb RAM, not 16 mb ram+16 mb on the card
PenreeSoft @ 8/12/2002 9:13:26 PM #
Is the 16mb that acts like an expansion card run faster than an actualy expansion card?

Nicholas J. Penree
PenreeSoft
http://www.penreesoft.com
RE: Its 32 Mb RAM, not 16 mb ram+16 mb on the card
Ed @ 8/12/2002 10:20:04 PM #
As has already been pointed out, my original description of this service was incorrect because I based it on a not very good translation from Japanese. I've since updated this article with a much more accurate description. Thanks for your help with this.

---
News Editor
RE: Its 32 Mb RAM, not 16 mb ram+16 mb on the card
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 4:19:45 AM #
Theoretically the 16 megs or "Virtual Ram" should run just as fast as the "real ram" I'm sure a few software subrouties slow it down somewhat (probably not much at all)

Why doesn't someone ask Tony Rudenko how he did this?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 1:00:44 PM #
Tony Rudenko at palmpilotupgrade.com had a 32MB upgrade available for the Neos and Pros until he couldn't get the chips anymore.

http://makeashorterlink.com/?U52D12F71

RE: Why doesn't someone ask Tony Rudenko how he did this?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 9:08:22 PM #
How can he do this but Palm can't? Didn't they say 16MB was max for OS4/Dragonball?????
RE: Why doesn't someone ask Tony Rudenko how he did this?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:13:45 PM #
I suspect that Palm, et al did not go this route because it would have really crimped the SD market. A lot of folks might never buy a SD card if they already had a 16meg one "built in" as it were.

Any better than PiDirect?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 5:32:26 PM #
How is this any better, or more seamless than PiDirect? If the system think the extra 16 is a memory card, is managing apps and data just as awkward? You are still swapping apps in and out of main memeory. Perhaps data loads faster?


RE: Any better than PiDirect?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 10:11:17 AM #
RAM access time should be a lot faster than flash memory, and it will probably be easier on battery life.

For PDA's that don't have a memory card slot (e.g., Palm V series), this is a nice plus even with the added memory management overhead. Of course, depending on the price of the upgrade, it might be more economical to simply buy a newer model with a card slot. Many of the current Palm-based PDAs will drop in price when the new OS5 models are released fairly soon.

In comparison, if your PDA has a flash memory card slot, while access is slower than RAM, it's also nonvolatile so you can have a mobile backup of your PDA with you at all times, using programs like PiBackup II or BackupBuddyVFS -- and you can store a lot more. My 64MB Smartmedia card (MemPlug on an 8MB Visor) is nearly full with all of my extra programs, eBooks and backups, and I still have 2MB of free Palm RAM. If my batteries die, I'm only minutes away from a full restore, wherever I am.

RE: Any better than PiDirect?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/14/2002 8:11:41 AM #
It is faster !!!

Just like the old days Grandpa!

Timothy Rapson @ 8/12/2002 7:58:56 PM #
I think they did something like this for the last of the Desktop Motorola 68000s. Aftermarket hackers who were pushing the 20 MIPS envelope. I just could not believe a desktop could match an old Cray SuperComputer (Yes, I know you young pups don't even know what a Cray was.)

RE: Just like the old days Grandpa!
Token User @ 8/12/2002 8:13:03 PM #
I just could not believe a desktop could match an old Cray SuperComputer (Yes, I know you young pups don't even know what a Cray was.)

Are you referring to Cray the company or Cray the person? While Seymour cray died in '96, Cray, Inc. (www.cray.com) is very much alive with the X1.

But you are correct, many of the "old school" techniques relied on a memory fault being generated, and then data being swapped in from alternate storage. Many of the old school programming trick are applicable in the PDA world because when it comes down to it, apart from size, availabel memory and CPU speeds are comparable to the big iron of the 70's, 80's and early 90's.

CICS anyone? How about MVS? Imagine a port of PalmOs 5.0 to an IBM 3084Q :)

RE: Just like the old days Grandpa!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 8:36:07 AM #
How about VMS? Then you could cluster Palms and have disaster tolerent diaries :-)

It's not bad... for now.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:42:22 PM #
Well, it's better than nothing... as long as the LAUNCHERs recognize this! Right now I'm using the aged Commander and it's not pretty (and no VFS!) but I love it. I have a 64MB MMstick brimming with apps via PowerRun and a 64MB MGstick for the odd Family Guy episode :)

HandWatch RAM Disk

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 1:45:30 AM #
If your Palm has PalmOS 4.0 and above with VFS capability, there already is an utility called RAM Disk. You use it in combinations with file management utilities to copy files on a memory card.

RAM Disk:
www.handwatch.com/handwatch/fetch.php3?form_sec_name=PalmRamDisk


If you own PalmV or Vx and know how to do ROM flashing, you may want to take a look on this:

RAM Disk on PalmV/Vx:
www.handwatch.com/handwatch/fetch.php3?form_sec_name=PalmRamDiskVx
:)

How many power ?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/14/2002 9:37:57 AM #
Hi,

it might be that this is a power consuming solution, isn't it ?

RE: How many power ?
cyruski @ 8/14/2002 4:22:28 PM #
it is. you use a little bit
more power to keep the data
when the handheld is off.

Top

Account

Register Register | Login Log in
user:
pass: