Discuss all hardware and software modifications
User avatar
nightrnr
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 1653
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:56 pm

Flash Memory and the Impending Doom

by nightrnr Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:45 am

I didn't know where to put this topic, but I know that potential solutions do pertain to system modding. So here it goes:

I just found out some info about flash memory that I consider deeply troubling (and it's not the write/erase limit, I get that).

No, it's something about electrons leaking out of floating gates between the cells.
It sounds like crazy talk, and someone please set me straight if I am off base. But as I understand it, given enough time, data on flash memory will start to degrade and become unreadable, which can be as little as 5-10 years. I had it explained to me that each cell in flash memory stores a charge like a small battery. Like batteries, they lose this charge over time unless that particular file is saved again (which only renews the charge for another 5-10 years).

Now, I am prepared for some of that (I can always re-copy things on USB sticks and SD cards)...
But what about game systems that have their bios and/or Operating system stored on flash memory? Are they destined to die from this (I know there are other things that will likely wear out over time, but not my point)?
Are we going to see Wii's and PS3's and Xbox's just ceasing to even boot up because of this in the near future? What systems are in danger of this (and which ones need not worry)? What is the best thing to prevent it?

I know that my oXbox systems are older than 10 years at this point and are still kicking. I've only updated the bios on one of them. Wii's are at or approaching that timeframe. I have no idea if PS2's have info stored on flash, but the one's I have are working. Even PC motherboards have their bios on writable flash chips, and I have one PC that's almost 20 years old now and still boots (I suppose that can be reflashed simple enough if needed though?).

Flash memory has always been like alien technology to me; but as much as I love and use the tech, I have never completely trusted it. But maybe I do not understand what everything is loading from.
...just another lost soul...
User avatar
emwearz
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 4665
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:24 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Flash Memory and the Impending Doom

by emwearz Sat Mar 24, 2018 3:14 am

To break your heart slightly, all EEPROM's and EPROM's have a limited time for data retention (aka all cartridges will stop working at some point).

However, all of these things (including discs that are professional pressed), tend to use high quality components etc and will outlive you.

When people talk about the life of flash memory, etc. It is generally in that lovely 100-200 year theoretical lifespan. Magnetic storage like floppy discs, always told they would lose data in 10 years or they would rot, etc. While many don't work, I have heaps of floppys that work just fine 30-40 years down the track. It is not a concern to 99.9% of the population because the hardware would be so obsolete by that time, it won't matter.

As for systems in danger, any that use a bios (doesn't have to be writable) so pretty much anything CD based onward.

Edit: In regards to modern systems dying, I would imagine the silicon transistors lifespan (which again have a finite lifespan) life would run out before you had to stress too hard about the flash (as the bios chips would hardly be written to, only ever read).

But as I understand it, given enough time, data on flash memory will start to degrade and become unreadable, which can be as little as 5-10 years.

People said (read up, many still do) that the life of silicon transistors is like 20-30 years, tell that to all the people who have Apple II's that are 40 years old. Many people will have those cheap $20 MP3's that were like 32mb-64mb in space from the early 00's that still work a treat. 5-10 years is a gross under-prediction.
User avatar
nightrnr
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 1653
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:56 pm

Re: Flash Memory and the Impending Doom

by nightrnr Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:44 am

emwearz wrote:To break your heart slightly, all EEPROM's and EPROM's have a limited time for data retention (aka all cartridges will stop working at some point.

That will be a sad day indeed. I hope that is well out of my lifetime.

Yeah I guess nothing lasts forever. But it would seem most of what I have will do for my own purposes as things tend to beat the odds in practice. It just annoys me that I put so much time and effort towards trying to save and prolong a system's life and it is just going to die some day anyways.

But I guess the same can be said of my own mortal existence.

In any case, I still don't trust flash memory, and plan to resort to gold archival DVD's for long-term backups in the future.

As for my systems, I'll just have to accept natural selection if they do die off.
...just another lost soul...
User avatar
Ziggy587
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 12275
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:12 pm
Location: Long Island, NY

Re: Flash Memory and the Impending Doom

by Ziggy587 Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:03 am

nightrnr wrote:In any case, I still don't trust flash memory, and plan to resort to gold archival DVD's for long-term backups in the future.


The single most important part of backups is not what media you store the data on, it's redundancy.



As for flash memory, I don't know if this is true, but as far as them "losing the charge," I've heard that simply reading the data periodically is enough to retain the charge.
Image
User avatar
marurun
Moderator
 
Posts: 9428
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 8:51 am
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Flash Memory and the Impending Doom

by marurun Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:37 am

Most mass produced flash memory does indeed have a cap, both in age and use. Hypothetically BIOS flash is going to be a more durable kind that what’s in a large USB stick or SSD. BIOS flash will be optimized for age where other flash will be optimized for large numbers of writes.
B/S/T thread
My Classic Games Collection
My Steam Profile
The PC Engine Software Bible Forum, with Shoutbox chat - the new Internet home for PC Engine fandom.
User avatar
TSTR
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 5656
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:55 am
Location: Durham, NC

Re: Flash Memory and the Impending Doom

by TSTR Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:54 pm

This thread title sounds like a sick band name.
User avatar
Sarge
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 7215
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:08 pm

Re: Flash Memory and the Impending Doom

by Sarge Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:30 am

Well, some carts won't hold their saves, but other than that, I believe carts are mask ROM chips, not EPROM/EEPROM. The contents are not modifiable, so in theory as long as the interconnects don't corrode or break, the chip will keep going. How long that is, I don't know, because I do have some failed Genesis carts that seem to be dead through no fault of the edge connector, at any rate. Perhaps a power spike or something similar blew something up, or it could be a failed cap (the Genesis games I had fail had an electrolytic cap in them, but replacing it didn't fix them).
Hardcore Retro Gaming - Talk about games ten years old or older. Now with a modern gaming section!
“History isn't just the story of bad people doing bad things. It's quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong.” -- C.S. Lewis
Return to Hacks and Mods

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests