Hacker challenges MemoryStick to a fight and wins

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It’s amazing when an experienced hacker reverse engineer a proprietary format and share the gist with everyone. Today is a day when we receive such an article – via MemoryStick. It’s one of these proprietary formats, a staple of Sony devices, these SD card-like storage devices were obviously designed to line Sony’s pockets, as we can see from the tight ties and inflated prices. Therefore, this format has always remained inaccessible to hackers. No more – [Dmitry Grinberg] is here with a detailed breakdown of the MemoryStick log and internals.

If you’ve ever wanted to read about a protocol that wasn’t exactly designed sensibly, from physical layer quirks to things like inexplicably huge differences between MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro, this will be entertaining reading for hackers of all calibers. However, Dmitry doesn’t just describe the bad parts of the design, fun as it is to read – most of the page is taken up by register summaries, structure descriptions and insights, the stuff about MemoryStick we never got.

A sentence is used to link to a related side project by [Dmitry] that’s a rabbit hole in itself – he has binary patched MemoryStick drivers for PalmOS to add MemoryStick Pro support for some of the Sony Clie handhelds. Given the aforementioned differences between non-Pro and Pro standards, this is a monumental undertaking for a device that predates some of this site’s readers, and we can’t help but be impressed.

To finish writing [Dmitry] shares with us some MemoryStick bit banging examples for the STM32. Anyone who has ever wanted to approach MemoryStick, whether for the manufacture of converter adapters to revive old technologies, for data recovery or preservation purposes, or simply to pique hackers’ curiosity, can now feel a little less alone in their endeavors.

We’re glad to see such great hacking on the MemoryStick front – it’s badly needed, to the point where our only article mentioning MemoryStick is about banning the use of the MemoryStick slot altogether avoid. [Dmitry] is just the right person for reverse engineering jobs like this, with an extensive reverse engineering history to follow – his recent reverse engineering journey of an unknown microcontroller in cheap e-ink devices is worth watching.

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