Can I increase flash Memory Size?

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Zelda
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Joined: 28 Sep 2009
Posts: 78

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 23:30    Post subject: Can I increase flash Memory Size? Reply with quote
Heres a noob question:

I want to increase the memory on the WRT54G V8.0 from 16MB/2MB to 16MB/8MB.

Is this something that I can do by soldering a 8MB flash chip?
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barryware
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Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 13049
Location: Behind The Reset Button

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 14:26    Post subject: Re: Can I increase flash Memory Size? Reply with quote
Zelda wrote:
Heres a noob question:

I want to increase the memory on the WRT54G V8.0 from 16MB/2MB to 16MB/8MB.

Is this something that I can do by soldering a 8MB flash chip?


Yes.. While you are at it, I would replace the ram also.. The V8 has 8mb ram unless you already replaced it.

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snafu
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Joined: 09 Nov 2009
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 23:32    Post subject: Re: Can I increase flash Memory Size? Reply with quote
barryware wrote:
Zelda wrote:
Heres a noob question:

I want to increase the memory on the WRT54G V8.0 from 16MB/2MB to 16MB/8MB.

Is this something that I can do by soldering a 8MB flash chip?


Yes.. While you are at it, I would replace the ram also.. The V8 has 8mb ram unless you already replaced it.


** I would love to find instructions on how to do this. Which is more important to upgrade RAM or Flash? (especially if I want to load something bigger than micro)?
barryware
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Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 13049
Location: Behind The Reset Button

PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 23:42    Post subject: Re: Can I increase flash Memory Size? Reply with quote
snafu wrote:
barryware wrote:
Zelda wrote:
Heres a noob question:

I want to increase the memory on the WRT54G V8.0 from 16MB/2MB to 16MB/8MB.

Is this something that I can do by soldering a 8MB flash chip?


Yes.. While you are at it, I would replace the ram also.. The V8 has 8mb ram unless you already replaced it.


** I would love to find instructions on how to do this. Which is more important to upgrade RAM or Flash? (especially if I want to load something bigger than micro)?


There are no instructions. It is just a matter of replacing the chips with compatable chips and changing the ram parameters in the cfe.

You need the right tools, supplies, and skills to replace the smt chips.

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ronin Anarchist
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Joined: 11 Nov 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:52    Post subject: RAM/Flash chip compatability details Reply with quote
It's nice to see that i'm not the only one lost in this process, and that i'm not entirely behind everybody else.
I'm trying to replace both the memory and flash chips on my wrt54g v5 (I haven't yet backed anything up, but I will before the hardware upgrade).

barryware wrote:
There are no instructions. It is just a matter of replacing the chips with compatable chips and changing the ram parameters in the cfe.


I know nothing about electronics, particularly IC components. After quite a bit of researching, I've figured out some of the basics (for a wrt54g v5):
Memory: TSOP-54
Flash: TSOP-48

But there are some details that aren't so straightforward:
I've read elsewhere in the forum that the wrt54g series runs in 16-bit mode, and someone else asked if the flash also works in 16-bit mode (I don't see why it wouldn't), but no one answered.
so from these issues arise the following questions:

1. Does the flash memory run in 8-bit or 16-bit mode? Also, is there a limit to the amount of Flash memory that the router can use? Furthermore, since I'm not planning on doing anything crazy with the router (I just want it to run stably while using torrents, and eventually run a multi-WAN connection), do I even need more than 8MB of Flash? More than 4MB?

2. Must a chip be rated a certain depth to function at that depth? (i.e. If i want 16MB of RAM, does the replacement RAM chip HAVE to be 128Mb (8M x 16)? Or can it be 256M (32M x 8)? As I've understood it, the total capacity will be halved if an 8-bit chip is used on a 16-bit system, and doubled if a 16-bit chip is used on an 8-bit system). Does the answer to this question differ based on which chip we're talking about (RAM vs Flash)? Given that I just want to use torrents and (hopefully) set up a multi-wan, is 16MB enough RAM?

In addition to those questions are the following:

3. With regards to TSOP and BGA chip packages, I was convinced that a chip is either TSOP or BGA, but here someone is implying that the board has a place for both pins AND balls. Am I right to assume that I should only be looking for TSOP packaging?

4. The RAM chip currently installed is rated 133MHz. If the CPU is rated 200MHz, isn't the RAM becoming a bottleneck of sorts? My logic tells me that the router would function better if i could get a faster RAM chip. Or is it that there's something else limiting the RAM speed to 133MHz? Would higher clock rates even make a difference (aka, considering that the fastest, reasonably priced SDRAM chip is only 167MHz, is it worth the extra money?)

5. I keep saying "RAM" and "Flash" but as it turns out those are pretty darn vague terms. Others who have modded different wrt54g(L/S) have used DDR memory, but v5 doesn't support DDR, plus I've only ever found TSOP-54 packages for SDRAM. I just want some confirmation that SDRAM is the correct type to use. With Flash memory, things got more complicated. I haven't been able to deduce what kind of flash is appropriate. Digi-Key has a bunch of kinds, but which are acceptable? (Advanced+BootBlock Flash, Advanced BootBlock Flash, BootBlock Flash, Flash (regular, no extra label), Flash-Nand, Flash-Nor, or PageMode Flash)?

6. There has also been mention of support from the JTAG debrick utility. What's that about? Is such support absolutely necessary?

...For economical reasons, I've also looked at using a RAM chip from a sacrificial memory stick, but i haven't done so because I've been waiting to find out if faster RAM is worth it, or even compatible. I would rather pay a few extra bucks for faster RAM, but if it's not feasible, please let me know so I can just get a RAM stick from eBay.

I apologize if these questions are ridiculous, too many, or out of place. I've searched through the forums for days and have found relevant material, but no answers to my questions. I do believe these questions are pertinent, and the answers might help others in the future.

Any help would be appreciated...
ronin Anarchist
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 11 Nov 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 19:00    Post subject: Re: RAM/Flash chip compatability details Reply with quote
Bump

Also, while speaking with one of the head technicians at my school's IT dept., he reminded me that the real limiting factor for the communication between the CPU and RAM is the FSB. He also mentioned a "multiplier", which I had heard of before, but I don't know what it means. How do these things play into the operation of the wrt54g, if at all? Does anyone even know the router's bus speed?
tedm
DD-WRT User


Joined: 13 Mar 2009
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:42    Post subject: hardware updates Reply with quote
I haven't seen one of the v5's open but if the ram and flash chips are soldered on the board then your screwed - if you don't already have access to a static-protected soldering station with the appropriate tools for unsoldering, the cost of the required tooling is going to be more than it would be worth to simply buy a better router and sell yours on Ebay or some such.

So you need to open your router up and see what you have inside.

Supposedly the Macronix International 29LV320BTC-90 is a compatible 4MB flash chip for the v8 routers.

Supposedly the Intel flash chip TE28F128 is a compatible 16MB flash chip for the v4 routers.

I understand that at least the older wrt's are socketed flash.

That should get you going for looking up pricing and how you would go about obtaining the part needed, and who you would get it from, how much they would charge to ship it to you, etc.

with a jtag cable you can copy the existing cfe.bin and nvram.bin from the existing flash chip in the router, then install the new flash chip, then copy it back.

I would suggest you start by updating either the ram or the flash, not both at the same time.
snafu
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 09 Nov 2009
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:37    Post subject: Re: hardware updates Reply with quote
Thanks. My two alternatives now seem to be (i) hire someone to do this or (ii) redo the firmware, removing unwanted modules and adding in the ones that I want.

Why is a JTAG cable needed to copy the firmware? Doesn't the administrator panel have a backup option?!

tedm wrote:
I haven't seen one of the v5's open but if the ram and flash chips are soldered on the board then your screwed - if you don't already have access to a static-protected soldering station with the appropriate tools for unsoldering, the cost of the required tooling is going to be more than it would be worth to simply buy a better router and sell yours on Ebay or some such.

So you need to open your router up and see what you have inside.

Supposedly the Macronix International 29LV320BTC-90 is a compatible 4MB flash chip for the v8 routers.

Supposedly the Intel flash chip TE28F128 is a compatible 16MB flash chip for the v4 routers.

I understand that at least the older wrt's are socketed flash.

That should get you going for looking up pricing and how you would go about obtaining the part needed, and who you would get it from, how much they would charge to ship it to you, etc.

with a jtag cable you can copy the existing cfe.bin and nvram.bin from the existing flash chip in the router, then install the new flash chip, then copy it back.

I would suggest you start by updating either the ram or the flash, not both at the same time.
ronin Anarchist
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 11 Nov 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:15    Post subject: Re: hardware updates Reply with quote
snafu wrote:
Which is more important to upgrade RAM or Flash? (especially if I want to load something bigger than micro)?


The firmware is located in the Flash memory, so if you want something bigger than micro, you need to upgrade the Flash memory chip. (The reason you currently can only use micro is because the Flash memory (not RAM) is too small to install anything bigger than micro.)

As barryware said, though, you might want to change the RAM chip too, since more RAM would help performance. But then again, tedm is also right to advise that all this is not worth the hassle if you don't already have the proper equipment, in which case it would be better to get a new router.

snafu wrote:
Why is a JTAG cable needed to copy the firmware? Doesn't the administrator panel have a backup option?!


The backup feature in the administration panel of the web GUI is to back up your router's settings. Such a backup can only be used to restore settings in the particular firmware version from which it was made. (remember that you SHOULD NOT use the backup from one firmware version to load your settings in a different version). The web GUI backup function does not backup the firmware.

You actually don't really need to back up the firmware since you can just download and install it (unless it's some custom firmware, of course). Even if you don't backup the firmware, you MUST BACKUP THE CFE if you plan on changing the Flash chip (the CFE is in the Flash chip as well). You should do it even if you don't change the chip in case something happens someday.

While you don't necessarily need a JTAG cable to back up the CFE, you DO need it to restore the CFE, because before the CFE is present, the JTAG interface is the only way to communicate with the router.
burkettc
DD-WRT Novice


Joined: 23 Sep 2020
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2020 3:17    Post subject: Ok, so when you do change out the flash chip.... Reply with quote
What's the next step?

Yeah, 11 year old thread.

I have a Linksys WRT310N that now has a 16MB SPI Flash chip in it. I removed the original 4MB, read the contents, wrote the contents to the 16MB and then placed it in the WRT310N.

It boots. I can access the CFE via serial or login via serial to the busybox session. I can interact in every capacity except ethernet.

It appears the MTD definitions/filesystem need to be goosed into the larger size chip, and something is stopping br0 from coming up.

So... While I have a ton a generic experience with Unix/Linux/electronics, I am not an expert, and have very little experience with embedded.

Any recommendations on next steps?

This is all academic, btw. I am not in need of this, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be nice to see a successful transplant work.

** Edit: Ok, I got it running by starting over completely. Here's what I did:

Pre-requisite: Desolder the existing SPI flash and read it with a memory device reader (TL866, GQ-4X, Bus Pirate & Python?, etc). Pick your poison on this. It's your fate for performing the hardware surgery. Write the data pulled from the 'stock' flash chip to the oversized flash chip, and install it. Connect a 3v3 TTL UART adapter to the router and confirm you can get into CFE. If you make it this far, you should be able to complete the task using the following steps.

1) With the oversized SPI Flash installed, locate and flash a genuine Linksys WRT310N v2 firmware bin file to the device using CFE:

CFE> flash -ctheader : flash1.trx

(tftp client to send the bin file)

2) Use the recommended dd-wrt image (14896, per standard dd-wrt install guide for WRT310N v2) via the standard process (30-30-30 + 10 second to get to Management web console). See the standard process for full steps.

3) DO NOT ISSUE a dd-wrt reset to Factory Defaults

4) Download the generic 40559 mega image, non-nv60k, to your computer and flash using the dd-wrt web gui The exact file I used was "dd-wrt.v24-40559_NEWD-2_K2.6_mega.bin"

There was nothing fantastically difficult about this. Just a bunch of guess work and hope that it would work. The BIG gotcha was to NOT select "Reset to Defaults" during the flashing process. Once you're on 40559 Mega, the Factory Defaults process works fine. Not sure what that's about, but it's running.

Edit 2: I ran into the info about "not using" the router database and 40559 being a bad build, so I updated it to the latest of 44467 successfully.

This router can now go back in a box for some crazy day when I might need it? Not sure why, but there you have it.

Colby
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