8GB iPod nano hack

nano

2,000 songs. Impossibly small. Reeks of fish.

There is something very fishy going on with this conversion of a 4GB iPod nano to an 8GB nano. To start, the obligatory “new capacity” screenshot isn’t provided. Next, it is almost too simple: just piggyback the flash chips on top of each other. Wait, weren’t the chips in the 4GB nano mounted on a daughter card? ([Omikron]‘s photos of the daughter card in his 4GB nano) The 2G version had flash chips on the main board, but those were Toshibas not these Samsung chips. There are really basic instructions provided that encourage you to buy a broken nano on eBay and salvage the necessary chips. If that seems a little hard, the author has plenty of the correct memory chips on hand and is willing to upgrade your nano, for a fee. This page is mirrored in an auction. What kind of person has a pile of 2GB iPod flash chips on hand? I don’t know, but they seem to have sold a lot of 4GB iPods in the last month. I wonder what capacity the iPods really were

Comments

  1. DCGrendel says:

    http://www.samsung.com/Products/Semiconductor/NANDFlash/SLC_LargeBlock/32Gbit/K9NBG08U5M/K9NBG08U5M.htm
    is the correct link for the 4GB/32Gbit chip
    the one linked from the article is wrong (2GB/16Gbit), and not even the one shown in the pictures.

    as long as the pads are all wired, 8GB is quite possible. though if they are only wired for 2GB chips then this will result in a 4GB ipod with another 4GB nonaccessable.

    also the chips do look a little thick for TSOPs though.

  2. splat1 says:

    it could be done, but I doubt it could with just the infomation provided on that page. See http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/HowTo/FattenYourSlug
    for an example of piggybacking ram.

  3. strider_mt2k says:

    I guess the questions begs to be asked then:

    Why report this at all?

  4. luke says:

    so if you did do this and you ended up with a 4gb nano with 4gb nonaccessable wouldnt you be able to mod/hack the nanos firmwere to accept the new 4gb?.

    also he says that “8. Do a factory reset” now if this alows the nano to acces the new 4gb to make the total 8gb i dont know…

    if it works that would be very cool and i for one would buy a nano to try it out on…
    luke

  5. twitchy says:
  6. andrew says:

    I emailed the guy with requests for pictures of a working 8gb nano and a bit more info. We’ll see what shows up….

    My hunch is that this is a hoax/incorrect info….but we’ll see

  7. mike says:

    A capacity screen shot would have been nice. I would be very surprised if the nano firmware didn’t limit itself to the capacity it ships with. Although Apple generally doesn’t seem too worried about what hackers do to iPods.

    Based on a few nano teardown pictures the pictures in the MultiArcade article do seem feasible to me.

    It does look like Apple uses flash parts in various combinations. It seems not all 2G nanos are created using the same parts. The Japanese teardown shows the 2GB Samsung K9WAG08U1M on the daughter card. This article:

    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=26485

    shows two 1GB Samsung K9W8G08U1M on the base board. I have also seen a Toshiba part on the base board but I can not find the picture at the moment. If my memory is correct the Toshiba part was a 2GB part.

    The MultiArcade 8G ipod nano article shows a 4GB Samsung K9NBG08U5M on the base board. As noted previously, the Samsung link in the MultiArcarde article is incorrect. It contains a link to the 2GB Samsung K9WAG08U1M and not to the 4GB K9NBG08U5M shown in the pictures.

  8. perry says:

    Stacking chips is an old school method of increasing storage. The important thing that’s missing is an additional CS (chip select) wired to the flash. Just stacking 2 flash chips is asking for trouble, since flash chips have a fairly long write cycle and use and acknowledge mechanism to notify the host of write completion. Additionally, as flash chips age, the write time increases, requiring additional write cycles to overwrite a given page of data, sort of like tracing over an outline to make it darker.

  9. Edz says:

    Stacking chips does wrk for increased storage (the GP32 can be upgraded this way). what i’m not sure of is whether the nano would then need a firmware update/hack to allow it to see the full 8gb. If it’s already set up to be expandable, then it might work. If not, the firmware needs to be hacked.

  10. JEsse says:

    Why the hell is this on the frount page.

  11. grayskies says:

    hey jesse,

    if you dont like it, submit something better.

    kthxbye

  12. dave says:

    Dearth means a lack of, I think you mean abundance.

  13. Richard says:

    Well, wait… if Apple was shipping 2Gb Nanos with 2 x 1Gb chips, then switched to 1 x 2Gb chips, it makes perfect sense that you can add another 4Gb chip to the 4Gb and make 8 gig.

    It makes sense for the following reasons:
    1. A heck of a lot more flexibility in manufacturing… lets you start with 2 x 1 gig chips (which are cheaper initially) and as production ramps up, lets you switch to a single 2Gb chip.
    2. Allows for planned expansion… nothing simpler than building an upgrade into a product. Apple wants to sell an 8 gig Nano? No problem! Just add a second chip. Just from the looks of things, this is entirely possible.

    I live in Queens, I’m going to contact him and see if I can deliver it to him in person.

    I’ll then post a screenshot of the capacity, and if it’s legit, we’ll all know he’s for real.

  14. Francis says:

    hmm, i don’t know a lot about the ipod, but if it’s using a 32 bits CPU, then would it cause some problems to adress more than 4 gigs?

  15. thanks Dave, I know I shouldn’t write copy at 4AM

    Fabienne and I spent most of the morning trying to dig up pictures of the 4G being disassembled to determine if Apple had changed there production and wasn’t using the daughter card anymore.
    http://www.tuaw.com/2006/01/12/scam-or-not-8gb-ipod-nano-upgrade

    I did see that inquirer article about the 2G with the photo of the Samsung chips, but Fabienne split hers open on the spot and confirmed that it was using chips from Toshiba.

  16. Bigg_al says:

    That’s not a hack, that’s major surgery!

  17. josh says:

    francis, no, it wouldn’t. You’re thinking of RAM limitations of x86 machines. This is solid-state storage, which doesn’t have that limitation

  18. tom Finley says:

    I say hoax – how do you guarantee that the iPods firmware will detect the extra RAM? What about file systems? There was no mention of it. I’ve had load of trouble taking 4th gen drives and putting them in 3rd Gen Ipods, let alone just slapping a chip on a nano’s board.

    Even if it’s real, it’s ballsy and dangerous to mod your nano in such a manner. It’d be really easy to brick a perfectly good 4GB. My thought is that it’d be simpler to buy a good one and one with a broken screen from eBay, replace the screen, and tape them together. There’s your 8BG DS super nano…

  19. Paul says:

    josh: It is a limitation of 32-bit addressing (DRAM and flash are both solid-state storage btw). However, if instead of addressing individual bytes you address words (2/4/8/etc bytes at a time), then you could go beyond 4GB. Since the flash memory is used for bulk storage, this seems reasonable.

  20. Craig says:

    Ok guys here it is. This is what you’ve been waiting for. I’m in no way affiliated with the guy that wrote the original post, but i’ve come up with a way to do it. Its actually quite simple… all you do it take two 2 gig flash chips and scotch tape them to the back of the ipod. You have to use scotch tape as its mystical powers create a sexual tension between the chips and the device. They then mate and there you go, an 8 gig ipod nano. I’m actually experimenting with mating a nano and a 2 platter seagate 400 gig disk but so far no luck… i’ll keep you updated

  21. http://ipod.hackaday.com/entry/1234000547035805/

    In that case there must be some significant sexual tension in this ipod, you sarcastic bastard.

  22. Kaphine says:

    Re: Stacking, etc.
    The images look like the Flash was stacked, however the instructions say to solder the flash to the open slot. The part numbers are for 50ns 4G NAND flash. So it would seem from the pictures that there are 4x4G for a total of 16G? Confusing!
    And why would he unsolder the chip stack from the right and re-solder it on the left, then solder the new stack where the old one was?
    I am so confused!

  23. Omikron says:

    Okay, there are many inconsistencies in this story:

    – All three 4GB Nanos that I have opened to date use a daughter board that has two 2GB flash chips, one on each side of the board.

    – The part number he LINKS to is the same part number that is in all of my 4GB Nanos. It is a 2GB part.

    – The part number seen in his pictures is a 4GB part number, which can be seen here: http://www.samsung.com/Products/Semiconductor/common/partnumbersearch.aspx?partnum=K9NBG08U5M&cd1=&x=0&y=0

    – If what he claims is true, then that board that he has pictured has FOUR 4GB chips, meaning 16GB of available flash! Don’t you think he would have bragged about this if it were possible?

    Furthermore:

    http://www.public.iastate.edu/~omikron/Shenanigans/MultiArcade/

    Those are the pictures that I took just moments ago from my own 4GB Nano. Things don’t quite match up to his story, do they?

  24. Rick says:

    What’s this about stacking? He doesn’t mention stacking – just removing the chip from the broken nano and installing it in the open ‘socket’ (for lack of a better term). The photos clearly show an area on the PCB for another chip.

    I have no idea if it works, but the instructions seemed straightforward to me.

  25. Hybrid says:

    if it may not be a hack, if you dont have enough proof to tell, if you arent sure that its even a real hack…then why post this crap. didnt know this site was a big discussion forum….”here this might not be a real hack, tell us if you think it is” bs

  26. billw says:

    The chips aren’t stacked… that’s how thick 4 gig flash are. Lots of manufacturers allow for additional flash chips for flexibility so they, for example, can use 2 2 gig chips if the supply of 4 gig chips runs short. I’ve cracked open CF cards that have 3 unpopulated spaces for flash chips.

    I’ve done similar transplants on the CVS cams (for different reasons) – he’s provided all of the information required and I don’t see any inconsistancies. Also, I’d expect that the ipods’ firmware is sophisticated enough to autodetect the amount of flash installed.

  27. greybeard says:

    The chips can be had from Samsung in stacked config with chip select properly configured.

    Here’s the link to the datasheet (.PDF) for the K9WAG08U1M
    http://www.samsung.com/Products/Semiconductor/NANDFlash/SLC_LargeBlock/16Gbit/K9WAG08U1M/ds_k9xxg08uxm_rev10.pdf

    Not an endorsement of this “hack”, which indeed has a cat-candy stench to it.

    I wouldn’t send this guy a dime, let alone a Nano and $$$

  28. Mooga says:

    When you compare the picture on that site to the pictures posted eveywhere else of the nano you can tell that it hasto be fake. The 4gig nano has a daughter board with 2 2gig chips. One on the front, one on the back. That site is showing a daughter board with 1 4gig chip on the front with an empty slot next to it. I don’t see how it’s real. It looks like a get rich fast sceem.

  29. chris says:

    Well you know, it seems like this could work out to be a good scam for him; he tells people that they can double their storage by buying a broken 4gb nano, or by buying a chip from him. He removes the chips from a bunch of nanos, sells them as “broken” and sells the chips seperately. He wins twice (3 if you count installation). This theory falls flat however, when you notice he’s not selling any broken nanos. In fact, nobody is.
    Worse yet, he could get you to send him your ipod nano and then simply sell it on ebay, like he’s been doing.

    That said, I think there is a good possibility that it isn’t a scam. There definitely needs to be more investigation though, as opposed to people whining about the 4gb chips looking like 2 2gb chips stacked on top of each other. Why can’t anyone contact this person?

  30. Michael the Great says:

    not endorsing at all, but his pictures don’t seem to mention the stacking because they seem to be already stacked. I think (if real) that his has “stacked” memory already and he adds a “stacked” memory from another nano. I’m not horribly excited about the hack, but if real it shows that Apple is ready for an upgrade when the time comes.

  31. DJDole says:

    I’m guessing the daughter board was probably a later addition to make it easier on apple to replace under-warranty memory. All they’d need to do is pop it open, replace the old daughterboard with a new one, snap it closed and ship it back. It’d definitely make sense, since Apple would probably not want to replace the entire device if just that one component fails. (and we know how apple has a track record with components failing…nano screen…original click-wheels failing…batteries failing…. etc)

  32. pretorious says:

    upon looking at the data sheet for the recomended chips, you will notice that they /come already stacked/ from the manufactuer, not saying this will work, but it looks as though this is just an issue if the firmware wil support the extra storage.

    my prediction is that apple will eventually re-release the nano in a higher capacity form, and at the same time give current users the option to send in their old nanos for a memory upgrade. (just changing out the daughter board)

    it’s only beena day, lets give this guy a chance to put some pictures up, I am not touching my nano till I see somone else do it.

  33. smilr says:

    I was under the impression that the 4 gig nanos came with ONE 4 gig chip on the motherboard, while the 2 gig units shipped with TWO 1 gig chips on a daughtercard. So his chips, assuming they are the factory-double-stacked chips mentioned above could be Legit.

  34. lordbyron says:

    Elliot,
    Someone should call and ask. You probably already know this, but a search at whois.net pulls up the telephone number, address and e-mail for the website (multiarcade.com) in Boca Raton, FL. Or don’t — hope this is helpful.

  35. abatcher says:

    Ok guys, this is one big scam: if you investigate a little further and have a look at his ebay feeback page: http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback&userid=multiarcade-com
    Check out the people who gave the positive feedback. It’s just one big fake network of ‘users’ who give eachother good ratings. Some of them gave thousands of good feedbacks to other users and 0 negative feedbacks.

    Don’t fall for this one, it’s a bit too obvious…

  36. mike says:

    Anyone else notice the auction has been removed?

  37. noone21000 says:

    Look at the pictures in #22 and the pictures on his site. Notice that you are looking at the same things minus the slot for the daughterboard. This could be faked by using photoshop etc, but also notice that the two mountig holes are missing from the udate pictures. This is obviuosly a different model iPod or earlier version.

    I personally believe that this is an early version of the model that did not use the daughterboard. and a single flsh. Apple was in negotiations with Smasung for a long time and then had to wait for procustion to ramp.

    Look again at the pictures; if the daughter socket and mounting holes were removed from a curent model iPod, as shown ion #22, it would look identical to the one in the picture. Apple even left the pads on the board when they added the socket.

    Plausable :Myth not busted.

  38. Yorgle says:

    man… this article cracks me up. good one guys… should have saved it for april 1st though…

  39. Erik Baca says:

    do you guys beleive if this is true….it will also work on a SHUFFLE????

  40. Todd says:

    Ok, so from being in the electronics industry at a level sufficient to debunk this, let me state a few things:

    1. double stacking chips is done in some cases to increase density without increasing real estate, HOWEVER, there is need for an “interposer” that handles the chipselect for the top chip separate from bottom chip, because as stated in #8 above, just stacking the two won’t get you to 8GB. So on that alone, I throw the bullshit flag.

    2. assuming this did work, you just set yourself up for a headache in case you even drop your Nano from a very short height, because of the nature of ChipQuik (what he uses to remove the chips). This stuff is an alloy that is physically weak, and created that way on purpose so that you can desolder a part without much headache. It works by you “resoldering” the part with the ChipQuik alloy, and then using a dental pick to pop the part of the board. However, if not cleaned off said part or PCB properly, then you contaminate any of your new solder joints, and weaken them as well. This leads to early failure after a shock or two. Nevermind thermal cycling of being in your pocket, then on the desk. In his steps, it mentions nothing about removing the ChipQuik from the parts or the PCB. So while this is not a “bullshit flag” worthy item, it does lead me to think this guy doesn’t know his head from his ass in using a soldering iron (that could be quite painful! :) ).

    3. as most people well know, assemblies and such are always reused if possible. Same goes for software, which is why it would not surprise me to see it recognize an 8GB flash section, because no doubt Apple is smart enough to make the software forward looking for something as simple as a change of storage space size. However, as stated in point #1, without the extra chip select lines coming from the processor, the extra flash chips will never be seen. End of story.

    To answer #14, #17 and #18, no, 32 bit processor has nothing to do with this, only because it’s code storage (where it’s going to be issuing code fetches to) is not the same as the song storage. If it were the same, then it would indeed only be able to see the 2^32 (~4GB) limit. The difference comes in how they hooked up the address lines of the flash devices. Usually a storage section like this will be addressed completely differently than that which would be hooked up to the address/data lines of the processor. For example, it is very possible to address any sector of a hard drive (which is bigger than 8GB) with even an 8 bit microcontroller. This is possible because the addressing is different. Look at http://www.pjrc.com/tech/mp3/ for one example of hooking up an 8051 to a hard drive.

  41. pretorious says:

    again, /the chips come double stacked already from the manufactuer/ this maybe-hack in no way involves sodering one chip on top of another.

    considering we once had a hack that involved making two ipod photos into a stergraph, somone out there has to have the financial means to at least try this. I know from experence that just because somthing shouldn’t work does not mean that it will not work.

    still sounds fishy, but possible. consider maybe that he made purposly vauge instructions so non technical people would just give him the $ to do it.

    whatever, I am happy with my 40Gb nomad xtra :P

  42. mycroes says:

    “Broken Nano with 4gb chip which I remove”

    He is talking about removing a 4GB chip from the nano, seeing a normal nano has 2 2GB chips this is kinda hard…

  43. Anunnaki says:

    hmm you have two pads on all of the different variations of ipod nano boards. depending on what chips are avail and to what prices, apple this way can put var. combinations of NAND flashs on it.

    if later ipods have “denser” chips, the 4gb version still uses only one chip, leaving the other pad open.

    if you read on the chip its a 2GB, that doesnt mean it IS – in contracts of this size, sometimes you dont label (in this case) stacked chips with the new number, since they are already sold bevor the leave samsung.

    all that doesnt mean the hack is working… but if the nano can adress 8gb, and if apple uses 4gbyte (stacked) samsung chips, it should

    from samsung:
    “An ultra high density solution having two 8Gb stacked with two chip selects is also available in standard TSOPI package and another
    ultra high density solution having two 16Gb TSOPI package stacked with four chip selects is also available in TSOPI-DSP. “

  44. Brett says:

    I would say this is highly possible. back about 1990, I bought an LED based printer (same print engine as a laser printer, but used a row of LEDs instead of a scanning laser to illuminate the print drum.) Okidata OL400e

    This printer came with 0.5MB memory, but by buying an expansion card, you could increase this to 1.5MB. The expansion card had sockets on it to plug in more memory chips, up to 3.5MB.

    I was walking through the local office suplies store, and noticed they had four of these cards on their clearance table – I bought them all. Once I got home, I unsoldered the chips from three boards and plugged them into the forth. After installing the board into the printer, the printer reported the full 3.5MB of memory.

    So yeah, I’d say this iPod nano upgrade is right on target.

    PS The printer is running fine today…

  45. andrew says:

    OKAY
    This hack seems really plausible to me and seeing as I

  46. Amish3006 says:

    I’m just wondering, I’m seeing alot of folks say yeah or nay on this subject but has anyone actually tried it? I don’t know jack about nano’s or their capabilities but I think it would be nice if someone who has actually tried it posted the experience.

  47. paul oberman says:

    yea, i think the one thing which strongly points towards the impossibility of this, is the fact that no one has a working version that they can post pictures of.

  48. Alex Rueda says:

    It looks to me lke he just bought a nano, opened it, ripped of the socket for the daughter board, soldered on some random flash he memory he had laying aroud over where the socket had been, soldered on more random flash memory next to it, Then took pictures to convince people to send him ther ipods(and their $$$) so he could sell them on ebay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s