SharkCache Eliminates LifeDrive Lag

SharkCache is a new application specifically designed for the palmOne LifeDrive, that allows you to eliminate the application launch delay for your most used apps.

SharkCache for palmOne LifeDriveAs noted in our LifeDrive review, some applications can experience a small amount of delay when launched. For example, larger applications like the Blazer browser can sometimes take up to 2-3 seconds to launch from the hard drive after being selected. SharkCache helps to eliminate this lag by locking your most used applications permanently in the device memory so there is no delay time.

SharkCache allows you to select which programs you want to lock in cache. It has three options you can set for each app installed on your LifeDrive:

  • Nothing: Choosing this option for an application is the same as not having SharkCache installed (the app is not touched on reset)
  • LockCache: The application is locked into cache on reset so that it can't come out. This produces the same effect as having an app in RAM on a normal Palm (like a Tungsten T3). You have up to 4 megabytes of memory in which to store LockCached apps, so it may not be ideal for very large applications.
  • TempCache: TempCache is a better choice in the case of very large applications. It's the same as LockCache except that it doesn't lock the app in RAM and therefore doesn't eat up any of LockCache's 4mb. The trade-off is that although the app is loaded at startup, it can be kicked out of RAM if the system sees fit.

The program has a seven day trial and costs $10 USD to register.

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doesn't solve anything!

scorched @ 6/4/2005 4:25:36 PM # Q
the RAM data is deleted every time you turn off the LD,
in other words, you will have to give up on quick boot...
it will take a few seconds for the palm just to turn on!

RE: doesn't solve anything!
twrock @ 6/4/2005 10:20:03 PM # Q
Let's be careful of mixing terms.

After having a look at the SharkCache website, it seems that you might not have that right. "RAM" and "cache" memory on an LD work differently than previous Palms. From their documentation:
LockCache: The application is locked into cache on reset so that it can't come out. This produces the same effect as having an app in RAM on a normal Palm (like a Tungsten T3).
Unless I'm reading that wrong (or they are misrepresenting what happens), it seems that after a reset the apps are put into the cache memory "permanently" (i.e. until the next reset). They specifically say "reset" not "power on". So a reset might take a couple of more seconds (which reportedly already takes a significant amount of time on an LD, so wouldn't even be noticed by the user).

So how is it that with all the brilliant minds at P1, they didn't develop this solution in-house before the device shipped? It would have saved them a bundle of bad press. On the other hand, putting some real RAM in the device would have worked even better, and probably would have cost less than the $10 price for this third party solution.

RE: And another thing...
twrock @ 6/4/2005 10:38:47 PM # Q
Back in the day, there was a market for memory expansion for Palms. (I had my HandEra's memory increased to 16 mb.) Since the "RAM" on the LD is part of the HD, you can't change that, and it wouldn't solve the lag issues anyway. But is there any way to increase the cache size? I can't recall the "physical" memory configuration at the moment, so maybe there isn't. Not that it would be economically advisable to do it, but I'm always curious about the potential for hacking a device.

Revenge of the Palm Apologists (Sith)
The Voice of Doubt @ 6/5/2005 1:30:27 AM # Q

You don't understand what scorched meant.

The New York Times verified with PalmOne that when you turn the Lifedrive, the cache ERASES. Meaning whatever you were doing with LD that got cached in inevitably erases when you turn your Lifedrive. Even kissass reviewers which gave LD an excellent rating like PDABuzz (heaven help their souls) said this was true as well.

For this lockCache to work, it has to copy from HD to cache every time you start up. That's a waste of time and resources.

Lifedrive still is an utter failure, no matter how you look at it. 64 megs of real RAM would have fixed so many lag problems with this device. It is a *joke* that you can inefficiently lock 4 megs into cache only, especially with a 4 GB hard drive. Not to mention these 4 megs have to be loaded up every time you turn on LD.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceded our humanity" - ALBERT EINSTEIN

Revenge of the Palm Apologists
The Voice of Doubt @ 6/5/2005 1:38:20 AM # Q
Oops, some typos in my previous message: Basically, when you turn *OFF* Lifedrive, the cache resets. Yeah, the word *OFF* is absolutely important to emphasize.
RE: doesn't solve anything!
twrock @ 6/5/2005 3:24:55 AM # Q
No doubt I could be wrong in my interpretation of what the SharkCache documentation is saying. But if so, then it seems to me that SharkCache isn't completely up-front in its documentation. And then, yes, scorched would be right in criticizing the app for slowing down the LD every time it is turned on. (Although there still is that issue of "RAM" vs. "cache" on the LD.)

So what do you think they mean by LockCache: The application is locked into cache on reset so that it can't come out. This produces the same effect as having an app in RAM on a normal Palm (like a Tungsten T3).? Are they saying "reset" = "power-on"?

RE: doesn't solve anything!
bcombee @ 6/5/2005 5:12:13 AM # Q
The cache is not erased when the device is put into sleep mode. However, when going into sleep, any changes that are in the cache but haven't been written to the hard drive are written before the device goes to sleep. If those records aren't needed anymore, they can be flushed out of the cache, but that won't happen until the device thinks that the cache is full.

One reason you see more hard drive access than you'd expect is this behavior of writing changes back to the drive when a database is closed. This will usually happen at the end of a program, but one common scenario is modifying a program's preferences. Because of the way the OS calls are written, each call to write a preference opens the prefs DB, modifies a record, then closes the DB. That's going to force a write to the hard drive.

A simple test to verify this is to take a freshly booted LifeDrive and run the Web application. Then switch back to the launcher and run Web again. The second launch is much faster. Switch back to the launcher and put the device to sleep. Wake it back up, then run Web again. The launch is much quicker than before. I just verified this with several different programs.

RE: doesn't solve anything!
Masamune @ 6/5/2005 7:04:36 AM # Q
Hey Ben, nice to see you around again. So this program just preloadeds everything into cache memory. That adds a couple of seconds to the boot up time. Unless you've been told you've got a week to live, are a couple of seconds *really* that critical?

Seems it does solve "something".
twrock @ 6/5/2005 9:34:25 AM # Q
Ok, VOD (and others), here it is, straight from the horse's mouth. Have a look below at what Tyler from LudusTech wrote in his reponse to What Cache?.

scorched @ 6/5/2005 4:16:31 PM # Q
well.. i guess i souhld take it back...
although i'd like to hear some reviews about it!

RE: doesn't solve anything!
InsGuy @ 6/6/2005 3:00:52 PM # Q
Look at what?

All good things...
RE: doesn't solve anything!
SeanSL @ 6/6/2005 6:57:09 PM # Q
I really don't understand what the big deal is. How many of you have actually gone and tried out a LD? Yes, there is lag, but it really isn't too bad. The worst thing about drive lag is the time is takes the OS (windows) to load. With the LD it is on instantly. After reading all the complaints I was pleasantly suprised upon using one.

RE: doesn't solve anything!
hkklife @ 6/7/2005 9:42:49 AM # Q
Agreed. The lag isn't that bad at all. Yes, it can be slightly annoying at times but you can gaze upon that lovely casing and vibrant screen while you wait for it to spin up. MY main beef is the flakiness of the OS/bundled apps OUT OF THE BOX.

This is the buggiest Palm device ever, based on initial OOBE reports. Fortunately they all seem patchable/fixable via software. Normsoft has supposedly already promised a fix for the PTunes problems (and I don't doubt they will deliver) and Dataviz just released a new version of DTG.

So that leaves--surprise, surprise---P1 to provide us with some OS/Blazer/VersaMail updates. Oh, and ThinkOutside needs to hurry on up with the IR keyboard driver too. Their current BT driver works fine on the LD btw.

RE: doesn't solve anything!
DavisC @ 6/9/2005 1:25:59 AM # Q
I returned my LD after about a week. I used datebk4 and also toggled back and forth amongst many different programs (ebook reader, games, utilities, etc). The delays for power-on, power-off, appointment lookup, contact lookup, etc were just too aggravating for me. I don't mind a delay for accessing the hdd for spreadsheets or a program I know I will be working on for a while, but quick lookups just weren't!
I was very disappointed. I really thought this device would bring me back to my first love, the Palm OS.
[Still living in the Dark Side, PPC]

RE: doesn't solve anything!
nuopus @ 6/13/2005 2:01:58 AM # Q
You obviously have not used either the Palm Lifedrive or this application.

It takes a minute to boot ... but then again, in a palm you rarely have to because it is always suspended unless something goes wrong. "Turning it on" in the morning to use it gets me to my launcher in less than 1 second.

Palm works differently than PocketPC or PC apps in the way it uses RAM, because every palm app is essentially a database. The app does NOT have to be copied to physical ram FIRST in order to execute. The lifedrive uses 64mb of program storage like most other Palms .. except this is virtualized on the Hard Drive. If apps needed to be copied to RAM on every execution, large apps like Village Sim would take 20 seconds to load because HD access is slower. The WHOLE app (and other databases) is not cached .. just critical parts of it. Village Sim only takes 1 or 2 seconds to load from the 64mb of HD because of this, but it is still longer than other palms which have near instant access.

SharkCache takes your favorite apps and puts it into the faster 32mb of physical RAM on the unit when it warm reboots so that it does not have to load its data into RAM when you first run it. Without SharkCache, the unit has to load some of the app to RAM when you FIRST run it .... so normally you only have to wait 1 or 2 seconds the initial run, so it comes up fast next time you run it anyway.

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vesther @ 6/4/2005 6:16:32 PM # Q
Still it would've been best if the LifeDrive used Flash Memory (but make sure it is NVFS 2 as used on the Tungsten E2, using no more than 32 Bytes a Block, better yet, engineer NVFS Version 3 and have each block vary between 1-8 Byte Blocks, each block should take no more than 8 Blocks, make Flash Memory compatible with FireWire 800 and USB 2.0) instead of a Hard Drive, as Hard Drives do suffer heat problems more easily than Flash Memory does. If the LifeDrive actually had a Hard Drive with at least a cache of between 16-32MB, then maybe the lag problem might have been solved.

Powered by Palm OS since March 2002
RE: Still....
ackmondual @ 6/4/2005 7:24:34 PM # Q
That and this tacks on another $10 to the device. I understand that P1 and PS can't do EVERYTHING, but it would be nice if they would include natural fixes for their handhelds right off the bat rather than just tossing the problem to 3rd party devs and expecting users to fork over more $$. But then again, who knows, many of us are probably used to this by now
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bkirchhoff @ 6/4/2005 11:56:42 PM # Q
What a difference... As stated above - it really is a shame that PalmOne didn't do offer this feature from the start or offer it as a firmware upgrade.

I'm using it successfully with the following applications (3.75/4mb):



RE: Wow!
joad @ 6/5/2005 12:06:04 AM # Q
Once again, third party developers have to come to the rescue of PalmOne's wacky idea of betatesting their products for the real world...

C'mon - for $500.00 this thing moves slower than my Palmpilot Professional, the install software is buggier than Minnesota in July, and I could have fried my morning eggs on the thing if I didn't have the foresight to make it standard procedure to bring along an ovenmitt when I watch more than 5 minutes of video on the thing..

On the plus side, it uses the same (pick one direction out of 4 potential positions) charger as the 650... maybe they have finally decided upon ""THE"" "universal" connector that won't result in yet ANOTHER $200 investment in a couple years to keep the ability to charge and hotsync...

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What Cache?

ggeoffre @ 6/5/2005 12:09:15 AM # Q
The hard drive cache? I thought that the 64MB of RAM was actually a partition on the Hard Drive. It is interesting that there is a 4MB limit. This may in fact be the exact same 4MB that the Hard Drive uses for its Cache. In which case, if true, would this interfere with the operation and performance of the Hard Drive? Otherwise, why not state that that is uses ROM instead of cache.

RE: What Cache?
Ben S @ 6/5/2005 1:03:14 AM # Q
The LifeDrive has 32MB of actual RAM that's used as the scratch area for applications that are currently running (you can't run an application directly off the harddrive (well, you could, but it would be painfully slow and battery intensive)). This app grabs 4MB of that for use as "storage" rather than "memory".

The LifeDrive's memory model is much more like that of a PC than of previous PalmOS PDAs. Apps are stored on the drive until you need them, then loaded into memory.

RE: What Cache?
bcombee @ 6/5/2005 5:08:10 AM # Q
Actually, of the 32MB of RAM on the LifeDrive:

16MB is used for holding the system "ROM" after its decompressed from the hard drive.

6MB is used for the dynamic heap that's used by programs when they run for temporary storage.

10MB is the storage heap cache, aka DBCache. SharkCache tells Palm OS that the resources from the locked programs are active all the time, so it won't purge them from the cache. The 4MB limit in the application is artificial, but is likely a resonable number to avoid taking up too much of the DBCache from use by other applications or for non-program databases.

RE: What Cache?
LudusTech @ 6/5/2005 8:45:00 AM # Q
Hey guys... Tyler from LudusTech here :D
Thanks Ryan for posting this!


SharkCache *locks* things into cache... meaning that they are always in there. When you turn your Palm off they can't be copied back to the HD because the system won't touch anything that's locked.

Try it and you'll see how much faster it loads when you turn the device on and off :D

regards, tyler

RE: What Cache?
LiveFaith @ 6/5/2005 4:35:27 PM # Q
Here is an unconfirmed diagram of the NVFS architecture for T5 & 650:

Pat Horne;

RE: What Cache?
vesther @ 6/5/2005 5:00:49 PM # Q
I think that a 10MB Cache is kind of small for a device like this. I hope that the Caching Problem is improved on the LifeDrive 2. I see the device having at least 64MB (but no more than 128MB) DDR SDRAM, but also at least a 64MB EEPROM as well. I would like to see better memory management for the next revision. I think at least 32MB should be at least used for the ROM Image, 64MB should be used for the LifeDrive's Database Cache, and 32MB should be used for the Dynamic Heap. I think that the Hard Drive should be user-defined for the next revision, with a range between 32-128MB used for PDA Applications, and a minimum of 1GB used as a Removeable Drive.

Powered by Palm OS since March 2002
RE: What Cache?
hkklife @ 6/5/2005 5:09:09 PM # Q
Assuming P1 doesn't get bought out/go under, I see a T|C2 with (basically) LD specs but no HD and a landscape layout with thumbboard this fall. Not sure if it'll run Cobalt or not. The T5 is a goner by the fall, possibly even sooner.

Vesther is correct about the potential LD2 specs ( assuming the LD sales are at least moderately decent) in that it'll basically be the same as the current unit but with better specs & vastly increased HD capacity. It'll probably launch next spring. 64mb would be as much as P1 would be willing to put into the unit, especially as how they don't tout RAM capacity on the LD, only "gigs of storage".

I think that P1 *KNEW* there'd be tradeoffs with having just 32mb of RealRam on the LD but it probably either had a surplus of those modules from its supplier(s) (Treo 600, Zire 72, T2 etc). In fact, they will likely keep using 32mb in the eventual Zire 31 successor and a low-end Treo.

Basically think of the LD as a desktop PC circa 1998, with 32mb of system ram and a 4gb HD and a ~400mhz CPU but pocketable.

RE: What Cache?
LudusTech @ 6/5/2005 8:08:38 PM # Q
i agree that 10mb is too small... the LifeDrive is the slowest Palm around... even WITH SharkCache (by the basic laws of Maths there's NO way to put 64 megs of apps into 10 megs of cache :-D)

however, i did the best that i could with this app given the circumstances and i hope that it's enough to make the device usable.

regards, tyler

RE: What Cache?
whitemiata @ 6/6/2005 8:40:27 AM # Q

here's a suggestion for your app that may somewhat overcome the "there's no way to put 64 megs of apps into 10 megs of cache" statement you made.

If there's a way for sharkcache to monitor user use of their device, then sharkcache could behave in a "predictive" manner and essentially simulate a much larger cache.

Case in point... I have a Zire71 with it's ram basically full of apps.

There are a few apps that I use almost exclusively at work or during work hours anyway. Documents to go for instance.

There are apps that I use exclusively on the weekend or after work. Aeroplayer, bigclock, games.

If an application were able to essentially "learn" my usage pattern it could probably manage to nearly always have the 4mb worth of apps that I use most often in the particular circumstance.

Just a thought.

RE: What Cache?
wpowers @ 6/6/2005 11:09:36 AM # Q
Sharkcache appears to be limited to caching APPLICATIONS, not large data files. It thus failed to solve my problem, which involves loading, slightly modifying, and then saving fairly large >2MB data files (all within the same application). This process still takes forever on the LifeDrive. As a result, I'm very sadly returning my LifeDrive today.

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Does anyone notice that LifeDrive is not marketed as PDA?

Konstantin @ 6/6/2005 8:51:06 PM # Q
No where says it is a fast PDA device to bring your schedule in half a sec with instant power on.
Just relax everybody.

Yes, PalmOne got one thing right, not to use similar names for new and different handhelds a la TT5.

So dont bash with the ol "SLOW!!!" because it is not a PDA, its a Mobile Manager.


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Changes Not Saved if CRASH/RESET using this App?

Gekko @ 6/6/2005 9:05:21 PM # Q

Is this true?

RE: Changes Not Saved if CRASH/RESET using this App?
LudusTech @ 6/6/2005 11:40:35 PM # Q
Gekko - i still have to do some testing but i wouldn't worry since so far from what i can tell the system treats the locked resources like unlocked ones in regards to syncing them up with the HD at normal off and exit app. basically: whatever makes you lose data w/ SharkCache will also make you lose data w/o it (since the DBCache managment isn't part of SharkCache, it's part of the LifeDrive)

regards, tyler @ LudusTech

RE: Changes Not Saved if CRASH/RESET using this App?
Gekko @ 6/6/2005 11:43:11 PM # Q

Congrats on the Application, regardless!

RE: Changes Not Saved if CRASH/RESET using this App?
Colmerauer @ 6/7/2005 9:40:53 AM # Q
Hello Tyler,

great application! just tried and it works well on my LD.

BTW, did you build SharkCache with HB++ ?


RE: Changes Not Saved if CRASH/RESET using this App?
pablomontini @ 6/7/2005 12:13:02 PM # Q
Hi all,

Tyler, I'm a HB++ developer... and I think it was maked with HB++ too.

We're right?


RE: Changes Not Saved if CRASH/RESET using this App?
LudusTech @ 6/7/2005 12:14:39 PM # Q
gekko- thanks! of course, i'm still working on tests with SharkCache and am looking with the hope to make it better.

k- the interface and database management part of SharkCache is indeed built with HB++... the actual caching stuff is in C++ (CodeWarrior v9.3)

cheers! tyler

RE: Changes Not Saved if CRASH/RESET using this App?
Adrenochrome @ 6/9/2005 4:00:21 PM # Q
I'll probably be buying this, but first I want to see what Normsoft does with Pocket Tunes. They're going to make changes to the way PT caches music, and I want to make sure that works before I put SharkCache to work.

Also, Normsoft said that PalmOne will be issuing a ROM update soon. It would be nice if they addressed this issue.

Regardless, thanks Sharky for writing such a needed app so quickly!

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