Author Topic: FRAM or better N64 memory card.  (Read 11524 times)

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Offline helladamnleet

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Re: FRAM or better N64 memory card.
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2021, 09:55 PM »
The N64 seems to be hard coded to only support memory cards that have 32kb of storage space, made up of 123 pages and 16 save slots. I've not seen or heard of any memory cards that support more than this, and if it was possible, then surely some manufacturer would have made one.

There are larger capacity controller paks, of course, but these don't increase the number of pages or save slots as such, instead they have multiple banks, each one of which is made up of the usual 32kb/123 pages/16 save slots, so that for example a 128kb controller pak doesn't have 492 page and 64 save slots accessible all at once, instead it has a switch for you to select which bank to use. In effect this means that the controller pak is really four controller paks in one, each 'seperate' controller pak having the same storage capacity as a normal controller pak, which has the result that if the controller pak is nearly full, say:


Bank 1   119 pages used 4 pages free
Bank 2   122 pages used 1 pages free
Bank 3   111 pages used 12 pages free
Bank 4   121 pages used 2 pages free

then even though there are 19 (4 + 1 + 12 +2) empty pages, you can't use them to save a save game that takes say 15 pages, as the free space is divided over the four memory banks. The largest save you could make in the above situation is 12 pages.

On the plus side though, if you have a game that will only make one game save per controller pak then you can create two, three, or even four of these game saves, as the N64 sees each bank of storage as one individual controller pak.

The Everdrive 64 does allow you to copy entire controller paks to the SD Card (and back again, of course), so even if you only have one controller pak then you can in effect have hundreds, provided you are happy copying the contents of the controller pak to the SD card when you've finished playing a game that you've created a save game from, and that you'll copy that game's controller pak saves back to the controller pak whenever you want to play the game.

Note that at the moment you can't copy single saves to/from the SD card, you can only copy the entire controller pak (of course if your controller pak has more than one bank, then you can only copy whichever bank is currently selected by you via the controller pak's switch).

Google brought me here in search of something I had as a child and teenager, and seeing this post prompted me to register.

I just wanted to say: You're wrong. I had a yellow N64 Controller pak that was 4x the capacity of a normal controller pack and didn't have any switching method. It was simply a higher capacity card.

Offline nuu

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Re: FRAM or better N64 memory card.
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2021, 11:50 AM »
I've never seen one like that. Do you know what brand it was?
Someone did say that some games (Mario Kart 64?) may have support for a bigger capacity, but Nintendo never released one with more than 32kB SRAM. It should be possible to make, but it will probably only work in games that are designed to support the bigger capacity.


When you reset the system, does that not temporarily cut off the power supplied from the controller port to the Controller Pak?
No, power supply is most likely maintained even when pressing reset. Otherwise ED64 without battery wouldn't be able to maintain the cart save over the reset.

Offline Kerr Avon

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Re: FRAM or better N64 memory card.
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2021, 02:35 PM »
I just wanted to say: You're wrong. I had a yellow N64 Controller pak that was 4x the capacity of a normal controller pack and didn't have any switching method. It was simply a higher capacity card.

That's very interesting. Can you remember anything about it, to help us identify it, please? I'm really keen to find out how it worked (and why, if it is possible for an N64 controller pak to function that way, didn't every other N64 controller pak function that way too). Do you know what it's name was, or the manufacturer? Did it require batteries? Did it also function as a rumble pak?







When you reset the system, does that not temporarily cut off the power supplied from the controller port to the Controller Pak?
No, power supply is most likely maintained even when pressing reset. Otherwise ED64 without battery wouldn't be able to maintain the cart save over the reset.

Yes, the N64 reset switch doesn't interrupt the power, it doesn't even send a fixed reset signal, from what I've read. Instead, the reset switch causes the CPU's PC (program counter) to jump to a certain address, and that address can be set by the game (or whatever the program being executed is ) at any time.

Offline IRL Random Hajile

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Re: FRAM or better N64 memory card.
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2021, 06:44 AM »
Pretty random, but I thought I'd share this video link here of an old TV commercial below. Turns out, a higher capacity controller pak (without a bank switch) did in fact exist during the console's lifespan. It was even advertised in magazines. However, I am unsure of its overall compatibility with N64 games. Makes ya wonder why Nintendo themselves didn't release a controller pak higher than 256Kilobits (32KB) back in the day, especially considering there are N64 games out there which required an entire pak to save.
https://youtube.com/watch?v=mQS3ULZlLn8

"BH75001, Random Hajile... that's
R-A-N-D-O-M H-A-J-I-L-E."

Offline Kerr Avon

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Re: FRAM or better N64 memory card.
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2021, 03:38 PM »
Wow. There's a review of it at:

https://www.nesworld.com/n64-datel4megcontrollerpak.php

and apparently it comes in two capacities; a one megabyte version (equal to four official Nintendo controller paks) and a four megabyte version (equal to sixteen official Nintendo controller paks), known as the Datel 1 Meg Memory Card, and the Datel 4 Meg Memory Card .

According to the review, it genuinely does what it claims; you really don't have to manually select a save bank, all of the save slots/pages are available at once. The review does say that not all games can see all of the save slots, and at least one game (Turok: Dinosaur Hunter) cannot save to 4 Meg version, and the review doesn't go into detail about compatibility, making it seem like the reviewer didn't test it with many games, so there might well be more games that either can't save to it, or have problems with their game saves becoming corrupt.

The reviewer also doesn't mention what happens with games that deliberately are programmed to only make one game-save per controller pak. Are these games still limited to one save, even if you're using a 4 MB version of this controller pak? I would imagine so.

It's a little strange that this product seems to have had so little publicity. I don't remember reading about it at all in any N64 magazines back in the day, and something like this would surely have garnered some interest, even if it was just people saying "Stay away from it, as such and such games don't work with it". If I had have heard of it, I would have tried to find one, to see how good it was.

Offline nuu

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Re: FRAM or better N64 memory card.
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2021, 01:49 PM »
Cool, both these are proof that it exists! 1 Meg and 4 Meg versions for 498 and 1998 usable pages respectively. That suggests that 14 pages are needed for the file system header in the 1 Meg (1 Mbit = 128 kB = 512 pages) and 50 pages for the 4 Meg (4 Mbit = 512 kB = 2048 pages). For reference the standard 32kB Controller Pak uses only 5 pages for the file system header (32 kB = 128 pages) for 123 usable pages (a "page" is a unit of 256 bytes). The standard Controller Pak has a hard limit of 16 notes of any size on a card, and a note can be 1 to 123 pages large. I suppose these bigger cards allows a larger number of notes due to the bigger file system header. But if they allow notes to be larger than 123 pages they wouldn't be usable on smaller cards though, so I guess there must be a max size of 123 pages for any single note on any card.

They admit that their cards doesn't work with every game in the manual, but in the advertisement they are lying and claims that they work with any game that supports memory paks. Some games can only see the first 123 pages, and other games apparently can see up to 998 pages. The review doesn't mention data corruption, but they say that some memory card manager menus outright crashes when using these cards, and others loads slowly.
Games that can only have one save per card would probably work the same on these as on a standard memory card. I think that's an arbitrary limitation done intentionally by the game programmers, and not a limitation of the file system that N64 memory cards use.