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authorDaniel Stenberg <>2002-10-01 08:20:33 +0000
committerDaniel Stenberg <>2002-10-01 08:20:33 +0000
commitd3f4c362b368a9c65ff8b6d3eaec3929c4025dbc (patch)
tree0a0adad7db62c95614b4c520437f96d5ea30fc45 /docs/TECH
parent18f6ea638efddc4c0141b426a09da4733057cf69 (diff)
"Rockbox From A Technical Angle", take 1
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+ Rockbox From A Technical Angle
+ ==============================
+ Björn Stenberg started this venture back in the late year 2001. The first
+ Rockbox code was committed to CVS end of March 2002. Rockbox 1.0 was
+ released in June.
+Booting and (De)Scrambling
+ The built-in firmware in the Archos Jukebox reads a file from disk into
+ memory, descrambles it, verifies the checksum and then runs it as code. When
+ we build Rockbox images, we scramble the result file to use the same kind of
+ scrambling that the original Archos firmware uses so that it can be loaded
+ by the built-in firmware.
+ The CPU in use is a SH7034 from Hitachi, running at 11.0592MHz or 12MHz.
+ Most single instructions are excuted in 1 cycle. There is a 4KB internal ram
+ and a 2MB external ram.
+Memory Usage
+ All Archos Jukebox models have only 2MB ram. The ram is used for everything,
+ including code, graphics and config. To be able to play as long as possible
+ without having to load more data, the size of the mpeg playing buffer must
+ remain as big as possible. Also, since we need to be able to do almost
+ everything in Rockbox simultaneously, we use no dynamic memory allocation
+ system at all. All sub-parts that needs memory must allocate their needs
+ staticly. This puts a great responsibility on all coders.
+Playing MPEG
+ The MPEG decoding is performed by an external circuit, MAS3507D (for the
+ Player/Studio models) or MAS3587F (for the Recorder models).
+ ...
+Spinning The Disk Up/Down
+ To save battery, the spinning of the harddrive must be kept at a minimum.
+ Rockbox features a timeout, so that if no action has been performed within N
+ seconds, the disk will spin-down automaticly. However, if the disk was used
+ for mpeg-loading for music playback, the spin-down will be almost immediate
+ as then there's no point in timing out. The N second timer is thus only used
+ when the disk-activity is trigged by a user.
+FAT and Mounting
+ Rockbox scans the partitions of the disk and tries to mount them as fat32
+ filesystems at boot.
+Directory Buffer
+ When using the "dir browser" in Rockbox to display a single directory, it
+ loads all entries in the directory into memory first, then sorts them and
+ presents them on screen. The buffer used for all file entries is limited to
+ maximum 16K or 400 entries. If the file names are longish, the 16K will run
+ out before 400 entries have been used.
+ This rather limited buffer size is of course again related to the necessity
+ to keep the footprint small to keep the mpeg buffer as large as possible.
+Playlist Concepts
+ One of the most obvious limitations in the firmware Rockbox tries to
+ outperform, was the way playlists were dealt with.
+ When loading a playlist (which is a plain text file with file names
+ separated by newlines), Rockbox will scan through the file and store indexes
+ to all file names in an array. The array itself has a 10000-entry limit (for
+ memory size reasons).
+ To play a specific song from the playlist, Rockbox checks the index and then
+ seeks to that position in the original file on disk and gets the file name
+ from there. This way, very little memory is wasted and yet very large
+ playlists are supported.
+Playing a Directory
+ Playing a full directory is using the same technique as with playlists. The
+ difference is that the playlist is not a file on disk, but is the directory
+ buffer.
+ Since the playlist is a an array of indexes to where to read the file name,
+ shuffle modifies the order of these indexes in the array. The randomness is
+ identical for the same random seed. This is the secret to good resume. Even
+ when you've shut down your unit and re-starts it, using the same random seed
+ as the previous time will give exactly the same random order.
+Saving Config Data
+ The Player/Studio models have no battery-backuped memory while the Recorder
+ models have 44 bytes battery-backuped.
+ To save data to be persistent and around even after reboots, Rockbox uses
+ harddisk sector 63, which is outside the FAT32 filesystem. (Recorder models
+ also get some data stored in the battery-backuped area).
+ The config is only saved when the disk is spinning. This is important to
+ realize, as if you change a config setting and then immediately shuts your
+ unit down, the new config is not saved.
+Resume Explained
+ ...
+ (Charging concerns Recorder models only, the other models have hardware-
+ controlled charging that Rockbox can't affect.)
+ ...