MobileInfocenter

palmOne NVFS Flash Memory Controversy

Members of the handheld community have uncovered a few issues involving the new Non Volatile Flash Ram systems (NVFS) found in the new Tungsten T5 and Treo 650. Users are claiming the new memory requires as much as 30% more of the same space on a non-NVFS handhelds and has some performance issues.

While the new flash systems found on the Tungsten T5 and Treo 650 smartphone, do offer some advantages users are also discovering some not so advantageous side effects. The new Flash systems require less power and continue to store the devices memory contents without a charge.

Bececause the new system the DataManager for NVFS systems was changed to now store memory in 512 byte storage chunks. Initial users are discovering that this causes some files, especially smaller databases, to require as much as 30% more space than usual, because any file record under 512 bytes is stored in a 512 byte space. This creates a situation where even less memory is available to the user, making an already paltry 23MB free on the Treo 650, even more cramped.

User reports and discussions on this topic have been raised on a number of websites lately including, Slashdot, myTreo.net, Treonauts and the Treo message boards. PalmInfocenter has confirmed that files stored on the Tungsten T5, do consume a larger percentage more in internal RAM storage, than they do on non-NVFS handhelds.

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Well... I guess it IS a pig

acaltabiano @ 11/22/2004 5:56:35 PM #
Who called the T5 a pig? Sure looks like it now, what with all that space hogging going on. Go ahead, just eat up all that ram that you can... that's right.

Dammit. If palmone can sell this god-awful device at 400 dollars, I might just consider getting a palmsource license myself -- and do it right.

RE: Well... I guess it IS a pig
Strider_mt2k @ 11/22/2004 6:06:36 PM #
Man, and they wanted the 650 to be the piece that defines them.
They got it.



RE: Well... I guess it IS a pig
Patrick @ 11/22/2004 6:09:41 PM #
I would say that one of the most active discussions on this topic is to be found at TreoCentral (http://www.treocentral.com). They have engaged one of the Treo architects in email conversation and he says they are actively looking at the problem, saying "We'll fix it."

The 30% figure quoted in Ryan's article is just an average that seems to capture the problem as a whole. There have been some extreme cases reported that are much worse. One user reported their 300K address book database ballooning to over 1300K when moved from the Treo 600 to the 650. Those little a68k files that are normally around 84 bytes or so on a T3 become 2560 bytes on the 650 (5 records x 512 bytes per record). Of course, for some other files where the record size was already large to begin with the problem is much less, hence the 30% average. Your milage may vary.


RE: Well... I guess it IS a pig
Gekko @ 11/22/2004 7:46:01 PM #

A pig is a pig.



A winner like the m130

kevinbgood @ 11/22/2004 6:10:43 PM #
I keep track of almost 1300 pda users and some of them have recently purchased the T5. The first few days were great. Then the complaint on memory usage started flooding in. While trying to close any sizeable document, and I mean something like 145megs, it almost freezes. We are talking one or two minutes to close.

PalmOnes quest for performance just crashed. This reminds me of the m130 and it's comparison to the m515. Palm got egg on their face with that disaster and it looks like the public is gearing up for them again.

Addicted to Palm

RE: A winner like the m130
Gekko @ 11/22/2004 7:58:10 PM #
145megs???

is that a typo?

RE: A winner like the m130
LiveFaith @ 11/23/2004 1:28:37 PM #
Sounds like PalmOne has finally succumbed to a PDA vision equivalent to M$. Future PalmOne handhelds seem that they will all operate as inefficiently as a desktop PC. This NVFS simply acts like a "hard drive" on a PC with all the data swapping etc.
The "Zen" is a distant memory. No pun intended.

Pat Horne; www.churchoflivingfaith.com
RE: A winner like the m130
ackmondual @ 11/24/2004 3:49:24 AM #
145MB for an office file.... not likely. But if there are LOTs of pics/graphics (word/excel), animations (PowerPoint), it's possible a single file can get there. I remember a 56+ page tech page for some software we wrote in school toook up 13.4MB

[signature0]the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse[/signature0]
[signature1]My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71.... so ends the "marathon", for now[/signature1]

Gone are the old days....

feranick @ 11/22/2004 6:34:19 PM #
... where Palm used to be memory efficient.

An application (not using databases) I wrote takes 20K on regular palms. In both the T5 and the Treo650 it takes 28K. So it's not only databases that takes more space...
Nick

RE: Gone are the old days....
feranick @ 11/22/2004 6:37:13 PM #
By the way, you can try your favorite application. Use the T5 and Treo650 simulators you can find in P1 website.



RE: Gone are the old days....
Strider_mt2k @ 11/22/2004 6:53:30 PM #
Do I have to? ;)

RE: Gone are the old days....
feranick @ 11/22/2004 6:54:19 PM #
No, you don't have to. It's only amusing (and depressing)...
RE: Gone are the old days....
vesther @ 11/22/2004 8:23:05 PM #
Oh me...Oh my....

How dangerous NVFS Memory can become!!! I just wished that the Tungsten T5 used 64MB of "Shin" RAM instead of NVFS RAM. 192MB can be used as NVFS RAM instead. I got to see how much memory the Tungsten T5 uses with Sketch, and compare that with the Tungsten C.

I pledge to the Palm-Powered community that I will seek to make a better handheld through research one day!!!

RE: Gone are the old days....
vesther @ 11/22/2004 8:28:05 PM #
Sketcher on the Tungsten C--87KB Memory Used
Sketcher on the Tungsten T5--174KB Memory Used

Big Ole BLARG

I pledge to the Palm-Powered community that I will seek to make a better handheld through research one day!!!

RE: Gone are the old days....
dona83 @ 11/23/2004 12:33:36 AM #
You people asked for a REAL file system, you got it.

You guys weren't happy with Palm's very efficient database system... and this is what happens.

I'm gonna get the Treo 650 anyway, it's a good device IMO despite the memory issue. I suppose once the program is in RAM it should run like a charm.

RE: Gone are the old days....
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 11/23/2004 2:20:13 AM #
You people asked for a REAL file system, you got it.

You guys weren't happy with Palm's very efficient database system... and this is what happens.

Get serious. Even though I feel strongly that Palm doesn't need to institute a desktop-type file system for RAM, the current problems all boil down to sloppy execution on Palm's part rather than any intrinsic problems there are with having a file system on Palms. Tapwave came up with their own filesystem solution and no one seems to be complaining too loudly about them. And had Palm spent the extra $10 to spec a 256 MB card, fixed the DataMangler bugs and fixed the backup "issues", the novel memory juggling would never have been mentioned beyond the developer groups. Instead, now we've got everyone - including Zire 21 owners - fearful because Palm has now given up on the three features that used to comprise the best parts of PalmOS: Simplicity, Efficiency, and Stability.



******************************************************************
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.

RE: Gone are the old days....
EdH @ 11/23/2004 9:51:07 AM #
>You people asked for a REAL file system, you got it.
>You guys weren't happy with Palm's very efficient database system... and this is what happens.

That is the silliest thing I've heard. The Treo has the worst of both worlds. Still no real file system for seamless access to programs and data on storage cards and now their internal databases have been messed up to include insane amounts of slack space.

Pocket PCs have true file systems but they still maintain true databases for PIM and other system information. Maybe PalmOS7 will have this.


RE: Gone are the old days....
statik @ 11/23/2004 11:46:23 AM #
"Sketcher on the Tungsten C--87KB Memory Used"
"Sketcher on the Tungsten T5--174KB Memory Used"

That is a huge jump! Out of curiosity, if you search through Filez, how many databases are attached to that app? (They should all have the same Creator ID)

When you view the size of the app through the Palm Info screen it returns the size of the app + the size of all the databases it includes.


RE: Gone are the old days....
JonathanChoo @ 11/23/2004 1:16:31 PM #
Personally I can't believe the outrage that is happening here. This was already expected and frankly 512 bytes cluster size is pretty small (smallest for the FAT file system).

We all experienced wasted storage space not only on our SD cards (I believe it to be 2kb) but also on our PCs (with its 4-64kb size).

Why complain now?

RE: Gone are the old days....
LiveFaith @ 11/23/2004 1:34:17 PM #
<>

Ouch! That's a 3 for 3 hit.

Pat Horne; www.churchoflivingfaith.com

RE: Gone are the old days....
feranick @ 11/23/2004 2:37:07 PM #
Why complain? I answer with another question: why changing something that works and iss efficient?

Imagine you buy a car that gives you 15 mpg. Then after some time, you buy the next model and you get a 10 mpg mileage (30% less). you may say: well why complaining, it's only 4.5 mpg. Also you may say that there are SUVs that makes well below 10 mpg, so it's fine if your car makes it.

Because Microsoft way of handling the file systems is bloated, it doesn't mean that Palm has to copy it. Progress is supposed to make thigs better not worse.

RE: Gone are the old days....
AyDb @ 11/23/2004 3:03:32 PM #
"You people asked for a REAL file system, you got it.
You guys weren't happy with Palm's very efficient database system... and this is what happens."

Nonsense and horse****. This has nothing to do with any file system. For that matter, the 50-odd megs of 'main' memory don't have an FS, so why is that affected? It's just the nature of flash memory.

RE: Gone are the old days....
vesther @ 11/23/2004 7:07:10 PM #
I used FileZ to tabulate the Size and the Amount of Records Required:

Tungsten C: 88855 Bytes with 156 Records (N/A was the Record Indicator on palmOne's Info Screen)

On the Tungsten T5: 157184 Bytes with 156 Records (1 Record was the record indicator on palmOne's Info Screen)

BOTH have RCAD as the Creator

Even with FileZ--STILL BIG OLE BLARG

Powered by Palm OS since March 2002

If Palm doesn't fix this...

IsLNdbOi @ 11/22/2004 7:09:14 PM #
If Palm does not fix this mess by the time the GSM Treo 650 releases, then I'll be getting an iMate PDA2K. I would like to see nothing less than Palm actually adding more physical memory to the Treo 650.

RE: If Palm doesn't fix this...
vesther @ 11/22/2004 7:30:14 PM #
I did a web search for the iMate PDA2K, and I found out it's a FORBIDDEN Windows Mobile device. Ewwww........

I pledge to the Palm-Powered community that I will seek to make a better handheld through research one day!!!
RE: If Palm doesn't fix this...
IsLNdbOi @ 11/22/2004 11:48:45 PM #
The PDA2K has got the form factor I've been looking for and all the features... Except for the OS.

RE: If Palm doesn't fix this...
IsLNdbOi @ 11/22/2004 11:49:37 PM #
And what do you mean by "forbidden"?

RE: If Palm doesn't fix this...
vesther @ 11/23/2004 12:30:10 AM #
The "thing" that I was referring as "Forbidden" is the Windows Mobile software that is installed on that SmartPhone the original poster was talking about.

I pledge to the Palm-Powered community that I will seek to make a better handheld through research one day!!!

Data Manager Issue

T. @ 11/22/2004 9:55:21 PM #
Someone please explain this to me. Since the issue is with the Data Manager, does that mean it is simply an inevitable software update issue since they obviously recognize the importance of this issue?

(Do I root for this fix or the T3 keyboard driver?)

Welcome to the world of Microsoft!

mikecane @ 11/23/2004 8:03:14 AM #
It uses FAT. Of course it's going to be inefficient for SMALL files. MS never thought of handheld devices and *small* files when creating (and then trying to patent!) FAT.

All of you are now finding out what I came across three years ago: How just *2MB* of files in my S320 could max out an *8MB* MStick.

But what I wonder is... how come none of you saw this when dumping files onto your *SD* cards?!

Bummer...

mopcodes @ 11/23/2004 9:14:04 AM #
Well this is the second disappointment for me as a long term Palm customer since the old b/w Palm devices. I've stuck with the Palm OS and Palm devices. I have a T3. I was planning on upgrading my phone in September to a Treo 650. Well that will not be happening now. As for the T5 - what was Palm thinking they added but took much away. Big disappointment all the way around.

I hope Palm marketing reads this board! You guys goofed big time. The problem with the 650 is a big one. I'm definitely not interested in that device any longer.

Just my $.02 worth. SIGH!

D. Martin
Former Amiga/Commodore Author/Writer/Reviewer

RE: Bummer...
statik @ 11/23/2004 11:53:04 AM #
Is there any way to give an estimate to just how much extra memory the new method will use up?

If I grab a list of all the files / sizes off my palm and then round up to 512bytes it should give a pretty fair estimate of just how much space it uses in the new ram. Correct?

hmmm... I'll try it tonight and see.

RE: Bummer...
DevPOV @ 11/23/2004 12:39:53 PM #
I think it's more complicated than that. It appears that it is RECORDS that are rounded to 512 bytes. So, you might have database containing 10 records each of 100 bytes. The slack space would be (10 x 512) - (10 x 100).

At least, this is what I've been reading.

RE: Bummer...
mikecane @ 11/24/2004 4:38:58 PM #
Geez. Would SOMEONE solve this? It can be done very easily, I think.

1) Use a program that can create a DOC file (WordSmith, f'rintance)

2) Create a DOC with just ONE WORD in it.

3) Save it to RAM.

4) Use Filez (NOT Files) to note its size (ie, 1K).

5) Use Filez to MOVE it to Internal.

6) Use Filez to note its size again.

Using FAT on a Memory Stick, that teeny 1K DOC takes up -- drumroll, please -- ** 16K **.

Is it as bad on the T5's Internal store?

RE: Bummer...
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 11/24/2004 8:07:34 PM #
No.



******************************************************************
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.

Flas Memory

MarinaKarin @ 11/23/2004 11:39:43 AM #
Hi
keep cool ! As a matter of fact, all Flash RAM cannot delete info by bit/byte, but only by block. Accordingly info to be saved need to organised by block as well, to avoid data loss when deleting data.
In fact this structure applies to all SD cards etc. since ever, and has not caused any harm to anybody.
The discussion is rubbish. T5 and TREO650 memory is perfect.
The 30% is also just assumption, and depends a lot, of the data itself.
Gerhard

RE: Flas Memory
tompi @ 11/23/2004 12:55:44 PM #
:As a matter of fact, all Flash RAM cannot delete info by bit/byte, but only by block. Accordingly info to be saved need to organised by block as well, to avoid data loss when deleting data."

People have known how to store and update database data on block oriented file systems for more than half a century. It's not even a question of whether Palm uses the FAT file system, it's a question of how they represent databases on the FAT file system.

"The 30% is also just assumption, and depends a lot, of the data itself. "

Yes, 30% is only an average case. In the worst case, you might see a 10x or even 100x increase in the amount of memory.

"T5 and TREO650 memory is perfect."

The T5 and Treo650 are a testament to technical and managerial incompetence at PalmSource. Those handhelds are faster and more powerful than scientific workstations, desktop PCs, and Macintoshes of a few years ago, yet Palm can't even ship an operating system that reaches the capabilities of DOS 1.0. What's particularly stupid about it all is that PalmSource doesn't even have to develop anything: they could use dozens of open source and/or commercial kernels, libraries, and tools.

Let's hope PalmOne sees the light and starts using a different kernel and set of libraries on future handhelds. Since they are PalmSource licensees, they can even keep complete backwards compatibility with PalmOS 5 and earlier with not much effort.

RE: Flash Memory
robman @ 11/23/2004 2:23:28 PM #
There's no question about it, the entire history of the Palm OS "file system" up to this point was based on the performance requirements of the original Pilot from the dark ages of 1996. Since that machine did not have the horsepower---and most important ly, the BATTERY LIFE, to dance around long cluster chains as required by traditional file systems, Palm gurus whipped up the database system we all know and love through Filez. This worked really well for making small changes to flatfile-esqe databases, which was pretty much everything handheld applications needed to do in those days.

Now we want to use our handhelds to read gigantic PDF documents, cut and paste piles of text from one side of a Word document to another, and listen to MP3's that are MEGABYTES long. So the old system would just not cut it. And Palm just picked one of the many readily available file systems to use---probably not for any reason other than the fact that FAT is very common.

Of course, FAT is STUPID for handheld devices, as Mike Cane points out. It wastes lots of space on small files, thusly burning valuable memory and creating fragmented, battery-sucking structures. I don't know if anyone has even designed a file system optimized for handhelds, but PalmSource obviously needs to locate or develop one.

The only question is, as always, will they survive long enough to make this change?

Palm Enthusiast since 1998

RE: Flas Memory
Altema @ 11/23/2004 5:13:45 PM #
"Now we want to use our handhelds to read gigantic PDF documents, cut and paste piles of text from one side of a Word document to another, and listen to MP3's that are MEGABYTES long. So the old system would just not cut it. And Palm just picked one of the many readily available file systems to use---probably not for any reason other than the fact that FAT is very common."

The thing that gets me is that OS5 devices can do all you mention just fine (unlike OS4 and below). I have individual files on my 1GB card that are over 200MB in size. Seems the only thing bought by going to flash is power loss retention.

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