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  1.    #1  
    Back in May, I saw this post on Hackaday.com that got me wondering:

    Upgrading a Nexus 5 eMMC to 64GB | Hackaday

    ...could I figure out how to do this on my TouchPad or Veer?

    I started researching how to do BGA rework at home, and decided, that yes, I could give this a try. I realized replacing the eMMC (flash storage) would be more work because I'd have to create the partition table somehow, so I decided to try to upgrade the RAM instead.

    Fortunately, Sumy posted information on the possible chip to use for the RAM upgrade here:

    Touchpad Memory

    I procured a small number of the RAM chips, and after practicing the BGA rework techniques I found on YouTube on an old graphics card, I replaced the stock RAM on my 16GB TouchPad with the new 2GB chip. (Pic attached)

    I knew from my research that there were a lot of things that could go wrong, but I took confidence in several videos I had seen on YouTube of successes, not to mention the successful attempt in the Hackaday article I mentioned.

    Finally, tonight, I put together the TouchPad, turned it on, and it worked!!! I mean it booted up, which meant that the new RAM was working, right?

    Well, yes and no.

    I used novaterm to login and confirm how much RAM I had, and got this:
    Code:
    root@webos-device:/# free -m
                 total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
    Mem:           411        328         83          0         16        138
    -/+ buffers/cache:        173        238
    Swap:          511          0        511
    root@webos-device:/#
    Instead of 2GB, I only have 411MB?? (Probably just recognizing 512MB, some used by the kernel)

    Here is the free memory on my other TouchPad, not upgraded:

    Code:
    GeorgeMariHPTouchpad32GB / # free -m
                 total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
    Mem:           918        528        390          0         54        211
    -/+ buffers/cache:        262        655
    Swap:          511          0        511
    GeorgeMariHPTouchpad32GB / #
    I suppose it's possible one or more of the solder balls under the chip may have bridged, or something like that. I would think, though, that the tablet wouldn't even boot if that were the case, but who knows?

    I'm going to look at the dmesg output and klog output in detail and see if I can see anything wrong there.

    If anyone has any ideas - other than I messed up the solder job - let me know.

    Thanks.
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  2. ggendel's Avatar
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    #2  
    I commend you for your bravery. Ball Grid Arrays are a real bear to replace without specialized tools. I see two possibilities:

    1) You have open or bridged connections.
    2) You have it right but the on-board memory controller was designed specifically for the 1GB memory chip connections and and signaling. Memories are built up of multiple chips internally The y have an internal controller which could provide a slightly different interface for 1GB vs 2 GB packages.

    I would think (1) has the highest probability. Like I said reworking BGA packages is a challenge.
    Palm III->Palm IV->Palm V->M130->Tungsten->Treo 270->Treo 600->Treo 700->Palm Pre Plus->FrankenPre 2->Pre 3 & TouchPad
  3. #3  
    what am I looking at in these pics?

    Not 100% positive that the rest of the hardware would support it, but I can confirm that there at least exists a chip that is compatible, that would give 2GB, if the rest of the hardware worked. I don't know what chip that is specifically, if it's this one or some other. :-S
    Author:
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  4.    #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by ggendel View Post
    I commend you for your bravery. Ball Grid Arrays are a real bear to replace without specialized tools. I see two possibilities:

    1) You have open or bridged connections.
    2) You have it right but the on-board memory controller was designed specifically for the 1GB memory chip connections and and signaling. Memories are built up of multiple chips internally The y have an internal controller which could provide a slightly different interface for 1GB vs 2 GB packages.

    I would think (1) has the highest probability. Like I said reworking BGA packages is a challenge.
    I agree 1 is possible.

    I did use a hot-air rework station, suitable bottom heater, and thermocouple. Not factory equipment, but should be suitable.

    Still, it was my first attempt, so who knows? I have several more chips - I could try again.

    -- Sent from my Palm Veer using Forums
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by eblade View Post
    what am I looking at in these pics?

    Not 100% positive that the rest of the hardware would support it, but I can confirm that there at least exists a chip that is compatible, that would give 2GB, if the rest of the hardware worked. I don't know what chip that is specifically, if it's this one or some other. :-S
    First pic is the TouchPad motherboard, just for context.

    Second pic is the 2GB chip soldered to that motherboard.

    I got the part # from the forum post I linked to, by Sumy. He speculated that would be a compatible chip, and after I researched it, I thought so, too. So I went forward with my little project.

    Is your confirmation that there is a compatible 2GB based on your past work at HP/LG? Any info you can provide is appreciated.

    -- Sent from my Palm Veer using Forums
    hfGermany likes this.
  6. #6  
    George,

    I must commend you on this project. I have HUGE interest in learning how to do this type of work. Was your rework station very expensive? I would love to be able to do this. Of course my BIG question is would this be possible to do to a pre3? I am ALWAYS out of ram on the pre3 and I think it would be MUCH better in daily use If it had 1gb.
  7. #7  
    Gold stars all around for the effort. I would definitely give removing and replacing another go. At least it would then theoretically rule out a bridged connection. I also wondered if this would be possible for the main storage chip so a 16GB TP could become 64GB or maybe even 128 as also mentioned in the referred to posting if such chips were available and not too expensive. That would make a triple boot TP a dream!

    If you succeed you may end up with a nice TP chip upgrade side business!
    Last edited by joeytino; 08/19/2016 at 01:50 AM.
  8.    #8  
    Replacing/upgrading the eMMC flash storage in both phones and TouchPad is my ultimate goal.

    But it's complicated by the fact you have to partition the bare flash in the device, or outside the device before installation.

    Upgrading RAM is easier, in that respect.

    -- Sent from my Palm Veer using Forums
  9.    #9  
    RAM upgrade on phone is more difficult, because RAM soldered on top of CPU, CPU Is then soldered to motherboard.

    On TouchPad, RAM is soldered to motherboard, so it's easier to start with.

    If I can get TouchPad upgrade working, I will move on to Veer, eventually.

    -- Sent from my Palm Veer using Forums
    Last edited by George Mari; 08/19/2016 at 10:25 AM.
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by George Mari View Post
    Replacing/upgrading the eMMC flash storage in both phones and TouchPad is my ultimate goal.

    But it's complicated by the fact you have to partition the bare flash in the device, or outside the device before installation.

    Upgrading RAM is easier, in that respect.

    -- Sent from my Palm Veer using Forums
    Are you referring to this process that we use to rebuild a corrupt TP:

    lvm.static vgscan --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgchange -ay --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgremove store
    lvm.static vgscan --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgchange -ay --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgcreate -s 8M store /dev/mmcblk0p14
    lvm.static vgscan --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgchange -ay --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static lvcreate -l 71 -M y --major 254 --minor 0 -n root store

    etc

    Or is a deeper level partition formatting that may not be as easy to perform with the chip in the TP?

    Just curious
  11.    #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by joeytino View Post
    Are you referring to this process that we use to rebuild a corrupt TP:

    lvm.static vgscan --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgchange -ay --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgremove store
    lvm.static vgscan --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgchange -ay --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgcreate -s 8M store /dev/mmcblk0p14
    lvm.static vgscan --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static vgchange -ay --ignorelockingfailure
    lvm.static lvcreate -l 71 -M y --major 254 --minor 0 -n root store

    etc

    Or is a deeper level partition formatting that may not be as easy to perform with the chip in the TP?

    Just curious
    It's a deeper level I'm referring to. If I buy a 128GB eMMC flash from somewhere, and install it in my webOS device, it's just as if I've bought a brand new hard drive and installed it in my PC.

    Just like on a PC with a bare, new drive, I need something to boot into to prepare that storage to install the actual operating system to. On a Linux PC, for example, I would download an OS image, and write it to DVD or USB flash drive, and boot the PC from that. Then I could install the OS to the new hard drive.

    On a webOS device, you don't really have the option to boot it from something external, like a USB flash drive. webOS, even Bootie (the recovery image) all reside on that eMMC flash chip.

    Just like a PC hard drive, there are several partitions on a webOS device's eMMC flash - one holds the tokens, one is for the Bootie recovery image, one is for webOS, another is for the media partition, where your photos and other personal files go.

    I can't use the webOS doctor on a device that I just installed that giant, but bare, 128GB eMMC flash to. When you run the webOS Doctor, the first thing you're supposed to do is put your device in Recovery mode. Well, recovery is a program (bootie) that lives in a partition on your eMMC flash.

    The Android community for TouchPad created a tool, tpdebrick, by JCSullins, that can do this for TouchPads - it comes with programs and files to create those partitions and install things like bootie to a bare flash drive, or at least a corrupted flash drive. But it only is available for TouchPads, not webOS phones, and it won't really help me if I want to install a 128GB flash chip, because it only supports existing TouchPad flash sizes - 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB.

    Another issue is tokens - each webOS device has a partition that holds device-specific tokens, without which webOS won't really run. They can be backed up and transferred from another device, with some effort.

    Supply shops for cell-phone repair businesses sell adapters that let you temporarily mount an eMMC flash chip as an SD Card, or plug it into a USB port. And then you can use your standard Linux tools (or Windows, or Mac) to do things like create partitions and restore boot images, webOS tokens, etc. Then when you're done formatting and populating your new flash chip, then you can solder it into your old device. And this should be doable equally for TouchPads or phones.

    I think formatting and preparing the new flash chip before installing it in the webOS device is the easier way to go. Only problem is you have to buy one of these adapters - I think anywhere from $150 to $200.
  12.    #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by creepingmee View Post
    George,

    I must commend you on this project. I have HUGE interest in learning how to do this type of work. Was your rework station very expensive? ...
    I got this one, from Sparkfun:

    https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10706

    I know they don't actually make it - it's rebranded from one of the major Chinese or Japanese suppliers of these things - I'm not sure which.

    I've only used it a little bit so far, but it seems great.
  13. #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by George Mari View Post
    The Android community for TouchPad created a tool, tpdebrick, by JCSullins, that can do this for TouchPads - it comes with programs and files to create those partitions and install things like bootie to a bare flash drive, or at least a corrupted flash drive. But it only is available for TouchPads, not webOS phones, and it won't really help me if I want to install a 128GB flash chip, because it only supports existing TouchPad flash sizes - 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB.
    On the assumption that the file systems are (basically) the same, the differences between models is simply the amount of free space. Perhaps it would be fairly easy to add code for larger storage sizes - or even add a user customisable setting. Could it even be as easy as adding "128" to the end of an array of options? Is TPdebrick open source, or could you make a request of JCSullins?

    My second question is, might it be possible to (perhaps using a broken TP) to build a rig that would allow the prep of flash chips for TPs AND phones?

    I'm curious about this project because RAM size is apparently a reason why LuneOS won't make it to the Pre3 or any other legacy phone. An upgrade might mean a LuneOS phone with KB & H/W gesture area, though of course the rest of the phone will still be old & this kind of work will be beyond the majority of users.
    Last edited by Preemptive; 08/20/2016 at 03:39 AM.
  14.    #14  
    Hi Preemptive.

    Tpdebrick works by writing binary files to the bare flash, among other things. We'd need a binary for 128GB flash.

    Building a rig from scratch is a lot more work than buying an eMMC adapter that will do the job.

    -- Sent from my Palm Veer using Forums
  15. #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by George Mari View Post
    Hi Preemptive.

    Tpdebrick works by writing binary files to the bare flash, among other things. We'd need a binary for 128GB flash.

    Building a rig from scratch is a lot more work than buying an eMMC adapter that will do the job.

    -- Sent from my Palm Veer using Forums
    So assuming JCSullins either wrote or acquired the binaries, he might respond to a request for an extra option or perhaps the source code is available..?

    eMMC vs. SSD: Not All Solid-State Storage is Equal

    As for prepping a non standard, blank eMMC, I'm reminded of the process of 'burning' an SDcard for a Raspberry Pi. I'm looking at a Belkin card reader. It has a slot labelled, "SD/MMC/Mini SD". Assuming (again!) that eMMC works internally the same as MMC, I'm wondering if any of the following would fly:
    1. If the chips are a standard size, an MMC card could be formatted and have the basic programs installed using a card reader and a PC. Open the card (or card-sized rig) and 'rework' the chip onto the TP board. You might have to format it as 64Gb, then use hoped for extra options in tpdebrick to expand the partition or maybe this could all be done in the first step.
    2. If different chip sizes, an old MMC card could be used to extend wires from a card reader to a board holding the chip.

    Option 1 would be best as it amounts to, 'buy storage in card form, format & transfer the chip to the TP.' the card is the rig. Option 2 requires work to build a simple rig.

    As you wrote that you hope to increase the eMMC size, I'm just idly thinking of ways that might work, but it seems you're willing to spend the price of the adaptor - which I suspect will be some version of my above suggestions. (disclaimer: I've done no real research & don't know what I'm talking about!)
    Last edited by Preemptive; 08/21/2016 at 09:52 AM.
  16. #16  
    One other ignorant thought: Though webOS devices don't support expandable storage, I wonder if there's any option on the board. Like a spot where an SD holder might be added. There is also the SIM slot on the 4G ones, but I don"t know what could be done with that. How much data will fit on a SIM card? And I never heard of booting from one.

    With a Linux driver, it might be possible to boot a basic system from an SD, but I'm guessing it's not an option because someone would have tried it by now and of course that would solve the storage limit anyway.
  17.    #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    So assuming JCSullins either wrote or acquired the binaries, he might respond to a request for an extra option or perhaps the source code is available..?
    I am confident I can create the necessary disk image/binary files using standard Linux tools, if I take the route of mounting the eMMC flash via an adapter, which I would then plug in to my Linux PC. If I ever get it working, I will gladly submit whatever new files are created to JCSullins for inclusion in tpdebrick to support possible, future 128GB TouchPads.

    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    As for prepping a non standard, blank eMMC, I'm reminded of the process of 'burning' an SDcard for a Raspberry Pi. I'm looking at a Belkin card reader. It has a slot labelled, "SD/MMC/Mini SD". Assuming (again!) that eMMC works internally the same as MMC, I'm wondering if any of the following would fly:
    1. If the chips are a standard size, an MMC card could be formatted and have the basic programs installed using a card reader and a PC. Open the card (or card-sized rig) and 'rework' the chip onto the TP board. You might have to format it as 64Gb, then use hoped for extra options in tpdebrick to expand the partition or maybe this could all be done in the first step.
    Yep, that's basically the same as what I would do. The only difference would be using an eMMC adapter to temporarily plug in the flash via USB or an SD card reader.

    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    2. If different chip sizes, an old MMC card could be used to extend wires from a card reader to a board holding the chip.
    Theoretically possible, but I'm not really interested in this, for now. I can't imagine hand-wiring 100 or more tiny wires to the eMMC solder pads on the mother board, to allow for a removable SD card.

    Maybe in the future, but for now, one impossible challenge at a time.
  18.    #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    One other ignorant thought: Though webOS devices don't support expandable storage, I wonder if there's any option on the board. Like a spot where an SD holder might be added. There is also the SIM slot on the 4G ones, but I don"t know what could be done with that. How much data will fit on a SIM card? And I never heard of booting from one.
    I have not seen anything obvious on the TouchPad motherboard so far that looks like a place to connect an additional eMMC flash or SD card. webOS wouldn't really recognize it, anyway, as you said.

    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    With a Linux driver, it might be possible to boot a basic system from an SD, but I'm guessing it's not an option because someone would have tried it by now and of course that would solve the storage limit anyway.
    The storage limit is already solved for webOS - search the forum for USB OTG connections. People have connected all sorts of standard USB flash drives, and even USB hard drives, I think. The problem is, webOS doesn't really support it, and I think you need specific programs to even access the files on those external USB storage devices.

    An SD card reader built-in somehow to the TouchPad would be more physically convenient, but still would need specific software to access the files there, so no real advantage, in my opinion.

    Besides, 128GB ought to be enough for anyone.
  19.    #19  
    So yesterday, I decided to remove the "failed" 2GB chip and inspect the solder underneath to see if I can figure out if I had any bridged or open connection. I was betting on one or more bridged connections (where the solder from 2 separate areas run together, creating a short circuit).

    So I dis-assembled the TouchPad again, removed the motherboard again, and used the hot-air tool to heat up the solder under the chip to remove it.

    When I looked underneath, I thought I might see areas where one or more solder balls had run together. Instead, I saw one or 2 rows of solder balls toward one edge of the chip that look like they never melted.

    I've attached a photo with a highlighted area showing what I'm talking about. The chip on the left is the 2GB RAM chip I removed, the one on the right is a new one, with solder balls already attached, ready to be installed. If you notice the solder balls in the highlighted area, they look almost as unchanged as the solder balls on the new chip to the right.

    So now I'm thinking I just didn't allow quite enough time with the hot-air tool to heat up all the solder balls underneath, or I just didn't do it evenly across the whole area of the chip.

    I decided to go ahead and try again, with a 2nd 2GB chip, this time being more careful to evenly heat across the entire surface of the chip, and also allowing a little more time to heat up those solder balls underneath enough to melt them thoroughly.

    To make a long story short, I tried all this yesterday, and I still ended up with the same result - it looks like it is only recognizing about 512MB on that 2GB chip.

    I made some videos I am currently uploading so you can better see what I'm doing. I'll post them soon.

    In the meantime, I'm trying to decide what to try next. I can think of a few things that might be going on:

    1. These chips I'm using - Samsung Samsung K4PAG304EB-FGC2 - somehow aren't compatible with the TouchPad or the CPU. But the documentation I do have for the CPU says it does support up to 2GB.
    2. I messed up the soldering again - but really? I mean twice in a row in the same way that results in only part of the RAM available? And the exact same amount available? Doesn't seem likely.
    3. The chips I got are marked as Samsung K4PAG304EB-FGC2, but they are really something else - the vendor I got them from cheated me. OK, it's my first time ordering something from Alibaba.com, and believe me, I did A LOT of research to try not to get cheated, but it is possible. I don't know, the order wasn't for that much money that it would seem worth the effort.
    4. When I removed the original 1GB chip, in spite of being as careful and gentle as possible, I damaged or broke one or more of the BGA solder pads for the RAM.

    What I might do next is get some equipment needed to re-install the original 1GB chip.

    If that works, I would know that the BGA reflow technique is working ok, and I didn't damage any solder pads on the motherboard.

    If I have the same trouble - only part of the RAM on the chip is recognized - I would know either the solder pads are damaged, or I am not as good at the BGA rework as I am hoping.
    Attached Images Attached Images
  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by George Mari View Post
    Theoretically possible, but I'm not really interested in this, for now. I can't imagine hand-wiring 100 or more tiny wires to the eMMC solder pads on the mother board, to allow for a removable SD card.

    Maybe in the future, but for now, one impossible challenge at a time.
    Ah, right. 100 wires. A lot of tricky work!

    Quote Originally Posted by George Mari View Post
    I have not seen anything obvious on the TouchPad motherboard so far that looks like a place to connect an additional eMMC flash or SD card. webOS wouldn't really recognize it, anyway, as you said.
    Unsurprising. I wasn't sure if there had been mention of this - of course some consumer devices have options for different models in ranges. I wonder if there was anything in a TPGo...
    Quote Originally Posted by George Mari View Post
    The storage limit is already solved for webOS - search the forum for USB OTG connections.
    Yes, I remembered this, but assumed to mount an external device would require a running system internally - so a non starter unless there was some vestigial code in the kernel to mount from USB, but I think it was a custom version, so not likely to include unused functions... Then again, webOS Internals made the uber kernels... no, if the TP is similar to a PC, then that's a 'BIOS' / firmware option - probably not exposed to / configurable by the user.

    Well, good luck!

    EDIT: I hate to suggest this, but if the TP lacks scope for additional H/W, is it possible the board is designed solely for a particular chip & lacks the physical connections to recognise a larger one? I see above ggendel suggests this - or a particular memory controller. If so, then it's another part to replace and the more complex it gets, the less likely to work...
    Last edited by Preemptive; 08/21/2016 at 06:23 PM.
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