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  1.    #1  
    I wonder if a developer here can comment on this. As many you know, PalmOne is now using NVFS in the T5 and Treo 650 smartphone. When I attended the Treo 650 Roadshow in Chicago a few weeks ago, I had an opportunity ask PalmOne execs a few questions about it. One was the fact that a hard reset would not only wipe out the 'ram' of the T5 but also the internal storage capacity. More specifically, afaikafaikafaik $a$ $hard$ $reset$ $on$ $the$ $T5$ $deletes$/$clears$ $both$ $the$ &$quot$;$55$ $MB$ $storage$ $heap$&$quot$; $as$ $well$ $as$ $the$ $160$ $MB$ $internal$ $drive$.

    This puzzled me b/c it seemed that a user might want to hard reset the 'ram' but not the internal storage card. That is, a user would NOT want to erase all the files on the internal storage card as well. I pointed this out to PalmOne exec and noted that this could be a major potential problem (if there weren't enough already ).

    Anyway, the response I got was pretty interesting. The PalmOne exec stated that the data on the internal storage card was NOT really deleted after a hard reset and he expected some industrious 3rd party developer to soon develop and release an app that allowed users to 'undelete' files from the internal storage card after a hard reset! Apparently, a hard reset does not really delete the files, it just prevents the OS from seeing them (i.e, similar to the way deleting a file on your computer doesn't really mean the data is gone).

    This imo brings up couple points/queries that I'ld like to discuss:

    Firstly, Can any developer out there comment on this and possibility of such an app to 'restore' files on the internal storage card of T5 after a hard reset? If possible, could they exactly explain why this is possible? Does this also mean that the "storage heap" of the NVFS can also be restored like on the Treo 650?

    Secondly, what kinda of security risk does this pose?! I mean, it would be great to be able to recover data off the internal storage card in case of a catastrophic hard reset for example. That would only mean that the safety of the data is even more secure! However, if a hard reset does not actually erase all the data on the T5/Treo650, what kind of security risk could this propose to those who would like to 'clean' their pda's?!! For example, how do you completely delete/clean a T5 if you wanted to return it or give it some one else?! I think this is a major issue and would like to see some advanced memory utility apps developed for PalmOne apps using NVFS to resolve this. For example, disk utility apps that could undelete, wipe/clean data on pda's with NVFS...

    Any thoughts?


    P.S. I also posted this same thread over at PIC:

    http://www.palminfocenter.com/forum/...c93a17e1187329
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  2.    #2  
    The following is an update from Uria from over at PIC:

    Ok, here's how deleting works:

    In a RAM memory, to delete a huge amount of data, you just skip sending them the recharge signal, and they will lose their data. If you try to do this in a non-volatile systems, you have to individually change each bit to 0, what happens when you do a zero format in your hard drive.

    When you delete a file from a NV filesystem, what you actually do is just put a sign in the area occupied by the file saying "Vacant", so that any program can take it (thats why I can go to your computer and use some tools to find out those pron movies you watched a month ago and erased, or those confidential documents showing somene is stelling money from the company).

    Thats exactly what happens during a hard reset, the OS just says that the whole place is available for buildings, so if you have a program that just goes there and, reactivates the data in that area, you can restore everything.
    Any comments? I would love if a developer could comment on this...
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  3. ERicJ's Avatar
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    #3  
    Wonderful... I felt pretty secure storing passwords and what not on my 600 protected by SplashID and OnlyMe, knowing that if I lost my 600 the odds of someone breaking in were low and a hard reset would wipe out all sensitive data.

    But now if I lose my 650 (with the same protection in place) a would-be hacker just does a hard reset then runs some "unwipe" program and

    Great....
  4. #4  
    Perhaps someone could write software that transparently encrypts specified/all databases to/from the internal flash, keeping the key in RAM. A few apps like PDA Defense have the basics needed for this, as in their card protection features (which I found to be broken on the Treo 600 for all security apps).

    Nearly all storage mediums are unsecure like that, which includes SD cards. Its the reason why I've been asking the developers of apps like mSafe to actually wipe the card (at least some specific directories) instead of the almost pointless simple format. You can easily find software to recover data from deleted/formatted flash memory cards. Its not difficult to write software to "wipe" free space on cards with 0. The only catch is that it takes some time to write to flash memory on a device like the Treo. If a security app is wiping (and is made obvious on the screen) a hacker/thief could reset/remove the card quickly before much data is gone. I prefer to have data encrypted AND wiped. Encryption only goes so far when humans have to enter memorizable passwords.

    In any case, at least the sensitive data should be strongly encrypted. For now, any of the standalone encrypted memopad-like apps should be used.
    "Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music." -Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, 1989
  5.    #5  
    Well lets figure this out. According to the detailed PalmOne explantion of the NVFS architecture of the Treo 650, I gather the 650's is organized as follows:

    - 64 MB DiskOnChip Nand chip

    From what I understand this 64 MB of Nand is divided into:

    - 32 MB of the Nand set aside as "backup storage"
    - 23 MB of the Nand is setup as "storage heap" (user accessible "ram")

    That means there is a remaining 9 MB's that probably allocated for the compressed Rom image and etc.

    Also according to the P1 explanation, there is also 10 MB of actual true volitile ram:

    NVFS on a Treo 650 operates in a similar fashion to a PC's hard disk storage. In addition to the non-volatile memory, the Treo 650 includes 10MB of true RAM. Applications are copied from the Treo 650's non-volatile memory to the RAM in order to be run.
    However, I wonder if this is actually true though. For example, on the T5 there is 32MB of true RAM, of which is half of it is taken up by ROM image, 6MB taken up as "Dynamic Heap" (the working area used by active programs), and the 10MB is used to swap data.

    Thus I'm wondering if the Treo 650 really has 64 MB of Nand and 32 MB of Ram because I doubt 10 is enough for the Rom image?!! This would make sense because then the Treo 650 would have the same architecture as the T5 except the T5 has a 256 MB Nand chip while the Treo 650 has a 64 MB Nand Chip? The only thing the 650 doesn't have that the T5 has is the extra 'internal drive' for storage that the T5 does (maybe in future Treos )

    Anyone want to comment on this and whether I made any errors in the way I allocated the ram on the 650?

    In any case, I wonder if both the 32 MB backup storage and 23 MB storage heap can be restored after a hard reset. If they can, then some dev should write an app for it!!
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  6. #6  
    FWIW, in the SDK 4.0 from PalmOne, there's a description of the memory architecture on the T5 and Treo 650. Developers are not supposed to disclose anything form that material, but at this point I think that it cannot hurt to give more detailed informations: according to this document, the memory architecture on the Treo 650 & Tungsten T5 is:

    Treo 650:
    NAND Flash (Total Size = 32 MB)
    Boot Code (< 1 MB)
    Compressed ROM (8 MB)
    User Data or Storage Heap (24 MB)
    Internal Volume (Not Present)

    RAM (Total Size = 32MB)
    Decompressed Rom (16 MB)
    DB Cache Area (10 MB)
    Dynamic Heap (6 MB)

    Tunsgten T5:
    NAND Flash (Total Size = 256 MB)
    Boot Code (< 1 MB)
    Compressed ROM (14 MB)
    User Data or Storage Heap (64 MB)
    Internal Volume (178 MB)

    RAM (Total Size = 32MB)
    Decompressed Rom (16 MB)
    DB Cache Area (10 MB)
    Dynamic Heap (6 MB)

    Hope this helps...

    On a side note, I agree with you, a talented developer will need to write a tool to actually delete the data stored in the NVFS instead of just wiping the "FAT" or equivalent structure. This shouldn't be too difficult, but then it'll probably have to be reworked once PalmOne releases the 650 (and probably T5) ROM upgrade to correct the impact of the NVFS on the databases sizes!

    Maybe they'll include a "Format Flash area" menu in the Launcher that would do just that, the same way a normal format command on a floppy used to wipe everything when a quick format would just wipe the file allocation table?
  7.    #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by euroclie
    FWIW, in the SDK 4.0 from PalmOne, there's a description of the memory architecture on the T5 and Treo 650. Developers are not supposed to disclose anything form that material, but at this point I think that it cannot hurt to give more detailed informations: according to this document, the memory architecture on the Treo 650 & Tungsten T5 is:

    Treo 650:
    NAND Flash (Total Size = 32 MB)
    Boot Code (< 1 MB)
    Compressed ROM (8 MB)
    User Data or Storage Heap (24 MB)
    Internal Volume (Not Present)

    RAM (Total Size = 32MB)
    Decompressed Rom (16 MB)
    DB Cache Area (10 MB)
    Dynamic Heap (6 MB)

    Tunsgten T5:
    NAND Flash (Total Size = 256 MB)
    Boot Code (< 1 MB)
    Compressed ROM (14 MB)
    User Data or Storage Heap (64 MB)
    Internal Volume (178 MB)

    RAM (Total Size = 32MB)
    Decompressed Rom (16 MB)
    DB Cache Area (10 MB)
    Dynamic Heap (6 MB)

    Hope this helps...

    On a side note, I agree with you, a talented developer will need to write a tool to actually delete the data stored in the NVFS instead of just wiping the "FAT" or equivalent structure. This shouldn't be too difficult, but then it'll probably have to be reworked once PalmOne releases the 650 (and probably T5) ROM upgrade to correct the impact of the NVFS on the databases sizes!

    Maybe they'll include a "Format Flash area" menu in the Launcher that would do just that, the same way a normal format command on a floppy used to wipe everything when a quick format would just wipe the file allocation table?
    Thank you Euroclie!!!!

    That was very informative and cleared up alot of confusion!

    On a side note, why does PalmOne not want developer to disclose anything about the memory architecture anyway? I mean, do they really think they can keep a lid on it? And also, what is the reason for this? Why do they not want consumers to know? Is there some reason they think is beneficial for suppressing this knowledge? Or is it for competitive reasons so consumers cannot easily compare specs with other devices? Very strange...
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  8. #8  
    This is why the 650 should have at least 64 MB NAND chip. Also I think and NVFS device should have at least 48 MB of RAM instead of the 32 MB they are using on the T5 and 650. The 32 MB of RAM is already causing issues with some apps running even on the T5. Even though the T5 has 256 MB of NAND, the 32 MB of RAM, of which only 10 to 11 MB are available for apps and associated files to be decompressed to, is the choke point.
  9.    #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by lnichols
    This is why the 650 should have at least 64 MB NAND chip. Also I think and NVFS device should have at least 48 MB of RAM instead of the 32 MB they are using on the T5 and 650. The 32 MB of RAM is already causing issues with some apps running even on the T5. Even though the T5 has 256 MB of NAND, the 32 MB of RAM, of which only 10 to 11 MB are available for apps and associated files to be decompressed to, is the choke point.
    Inichols, thanks for those insights. I was wondering what is the actual percentage of the total apps that existed that would encounter problems with the 10 MB DB cache limit? Datbk5, snapper, GPS maps, etc come to mind, but what it is the actual implications for the majority of applications that an average user may have on the Treo 650? Also, wouldn't an increase in the total amount of dynamic heap (for applications themselves) in addition to DB cache be warranted then? Just thinking out loud here... thanks again for the input...
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  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by gfunkmagic
    That was very informative and cleared up alot of confusion!
    Actually, it may add some confusion: I just read on PalmOne website, in the T5 specs datasheet, that the T5 has 55MB memory, 41MB taken by the ROM and other associated stuff, and a smaller internal drive... Go figure!

    On a side note, why does PalmOne not want developer to disclose anything about the memory architecture anyway? I mean, do they really think they can keep a lid on it? And also, what is the reason for this? Why do they not want consumers to know? Is there some reason they think is beneficial for suppressing this knowledge? Or is it for competitive reasons so consumers cannot easily compare specs with other devices? Very strange...
    In fact, it's the whole SDK content that they don't want you to broadcast, not specifically the memory architecture:

    In addition, we’d like to remind you that the SDK and all other PluggedIn Program Materials are considered “palmOne Confidential” and requires that you uphold the confidentiality requirements outlined in Section 3, Confidentiality, of the above-mentioned agreement.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by euroclie
    Actually, it may add some confusion: I just read on PalmOne website, in the T5 specs datasheet, that the T5 has 55MB memory, 41MB taken by the ROM and other associated stuff, and a smaller internal drive... Go figure!


    In fact, it's the whole SDK content that they don't want you to broadcast, not specifically the memory architecture:
    Here is how the T5's NAND works. It is a 256 MB NAND chip. 55 MB is for the ROM and apps, 14 MB of that is for a compressed ROM, and the rest is for the apps. The remaining space in the NAND looks like an external storage device to the T5 and is like 160+ MB.

    Now for the kicker. The way NAND works with PalmOS, the application that is running has to be pulled from the NAND, and put in RAM to be ran. The NAND's purpose is to store the apps, ROM, and in the T5's case more data, and keep it safe from power hits and events that would usually wipe the old palms clean. The RAM is where the devices are actually running the app you are using. On both the T5 and the 650, PalmOne only installed 32 MB of RAM. 21 to 22 MB is already taken up by OS for the normal workings, heaps etc. That only leaves 10 to 11 MB available for applicaitons to use. This is already causing issues with Snappermail, Datebook 5, and some other apps. The OS will state that you are out of memory. A larger RAM chipwould have fixed this issue on both the T5 and the 650. The 650 also needs a larger NAND chip to compensate for the inefficiency of the NAND storing data in 512 byte chunks. The NAND is basically a solid state hard drive and this is how M-sys touts them on their site. They call it DiskOnChip.
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by lnichols
    Here is how the T5's NAND works. It is a 256 MB NAND chip. 55 MB is for the ROM and apps, 14 MB of that is for a compressed ROM, and the rest is for the apps. The remaining space in the NAND looks like an external storage device to the T5 and is like 160+ MB.
    Please, don't add to the confusion with your description...

    I mean, when you say "14 MB of that is for a compressed ROM", I totally agree with you. But when you say "the rest is for the apps. The remaining space in the NAND looks like an external storage device", you're being vague... And when you say "55 MB is for the ROM and apps", you're being wrong. The exact figure (55 or 64) changes depending on which PalmOne document you refer to, but the fact is that this part of the NAND memory is the user memory (I don't call it RAM because it's non volatile memory), the one that gets reported by the "Info" menu of the builtin launcher, as was the RAM on older devices. The ROM is definitely not part of those 55 MB.
  13. #13  
    Sorry if I was adding to the confusion. Here is what Red-Mercury says about the NAND.

    This system of flash and RAM can get confusing when talking about how much "RAM" the device has. A Tungsten T5 for example has 256MB of NAND Flash, and 32MB of RAM. You won't hear anything about the 32MB of RAM, since all of it is used to store system data and the RAM buffer. Instead, the T5 literature says things like "55 MB of program memory, 160MB internal drive". What this really means is that 55MB of the internal NAND Flash is set aside to store your "storage heap" databases, and 160MB of that NAND Flash is set aside to act like a memory card. What about the other 41MB of the NAND Flash? It is used to store other system files and the ROM image (compressed).

    So in addition to all of this NAND Flash, there is 32MB of RAM in there, but it is already accounted for. Half of it is taken up by the ROM image after it is decompressed from NAND (recall that the NAND flash can't be accessed directly, so anything in use must be stored in this 32MB of RAM). Another 6MB of this RAM is taken up by the "Dynamic Heap" - the working area used by active programs. And the remaning 10MB is used to swap data in and out from the 55MB virtual "storage heap" stored in NAND.
    So I was miscorrect in saying the 41MB is part of the 55MB, it is seperate.
  14.    #14  
    Just to update this thread. I was reading a primer on PalmOne's support page about doing various types of resets and noticed a blurb about a new type of reset called a "Zero Out Reset":

    A zero out reset will regress a device that has non-volatile memory to its factory-fresh state. When done correctly, it completely rewrites your device's internal memory with zeros and ones, ensuring that any data is expunged. It should be used only if you want all information completely obliterated (example: you're selling your handheld, or you're sending it in for repair, and want to protect your privacy).

    Warning: A zero out reset will erase everything on your device. All your data will be removed, and formats, preferences and other settings are restored to their factory default settings. Don't perform a zero out reset unless you want to eradicate everyting.
    Solution ID: 887

    Resetting your device (Soft, System/Warm, Hard, In-Cradle, Power Down, Battery Disconnect, Zero Out)


    Thus it appears we were right when we hypothesized that a regular hard reset does not actually erase all the data on the NVFS of the 650 and T5! I think it is important for every treo 650 user to know how to do a zero-out reset in case they every return or exchange their 650 and want to make sure they completely clean their Treos!

    The problem is that if you read PalmOne's instructions, they make is sound like you need to be a circus performer in order to perform a zero-out on the 650!!! Chekcout these instructions!!

    Method Two (Tungsten T5 and Treo 650)

    1. Read through these instructions before attempting the reset. We made this method of zero out reset extremely awkward to perform, so that it would not happen by accident. You may need the help of a dextrous friend if you find it too difficult to do by yourself.
    2. Connect your device to its HotSync cable or cradle. The HotSync cable does not need to be connected to your PC, and it does not need to be connected to power.
    3. Press and hold the Power button and UP on the 5-way navigator.
    4. While continuing to hold Power and UP, press and hold the HotSync button on the HotSync cable or cradle. As you press HotSync, make sure your other finger doesn't slide to LEFT or RIGHT on the 5-way navigator; it needs to be exactly on UP during the entire process. Although you are pressing the HotSync button, a HotSync operation should not begin.
    5. While continuing to hold Power, UP and HotSync, press and release the RESET button on the back panel of your device (where's the reset hole?). This is very difficult to do with only one person; you may wish to hold the stylus in your mouth and use your hands to press Power, UP and HotSync.
    6. Release Power, UP and HotSync.
    7. If you did this reset correctly, the screen of your device will go blank, and you will not be able to turn it on. The charging LED will not light up, even if it's connected to power. It will appear to be "dead." (any other activity such as the Palm OS logo or a rainbow-colored Boot Log screen appearing means the reset was performed incorrectly; try again)
    8. Your device will appear "dead" for several minutes (up to 10 minutes). During this time, your device's internal memory is being reformatted. If your device doesn't appear "dead" for several minutes with the screen completely blank, the zero out reset was performed incorrectly; try again.
    9. After several minutes, your device will "wake up" and the palmOne and Palm Powered logos will appear as if you had performed a hard reset. Eventually, you'll be taken to a series of screens to calibrate the touchscreen and set date & time.
    palmOne logo screenshot Palm Powered logo screenshot Touchscreen calibration screenshot
    10. If you want your handheld to remain in factory state, stop here. If you want to restore data to your device, follow the steps for recovering after a hard reset (a zero out reset is a special type of hard reset).
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  15. #15  
    So the device that has great single handed operation takes three hands to zero out. Seems like a difficult procedure given how easy the sync cable is to disconnect.
  16. #16  
    The issue is covered though because as the article on Palm's Website say's if you have have a password set and perform a hard reset it does indeed cause a zero out reset. This is only true for the T5 though so 650 user's still need a solution for lost or stolen palms. A developer could make some money on this, release two pieces of software, one free to recover deleted data from a t5/650 and one that you have to pay for to ensure someone can't use the first program.

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