SD Card Issues

Designing hardware that use VLSI Solution's devices as the system controller for the entire design.
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SD Card Issues

Post by cgarman » Wed 2018-03-21 2:31

We're using the VS1053b as our main controller and MP3 decoder, with the USB2244 card controller chip. This is a proven design, with about 70+ PCBs working as expected, over 1.5 years. We recently received a new shipment of Micro SD cards (from China) and they are not working as expected. They register correctly via Windows (in a USB card adapter, and through our USB circuit with the 2244 chip) but when trying to play music, they send out garbled sounds, or simply static. If we switch back to an old card, the player works as expected, so it's definitely an issue with the cards.

Does anyone have a thought as to what the difference might be? As I said, Windows is satisfied with these cards, but the 1053 chip isn't. They came from the same supplier as the previous working cards, but are definitely different. The first were marked as "SanDisk" (although I'm skeptical of the authenticity) and the second batch of troublesome cards have no manufacturer marked at all.

We've also tried reformatting the new cards (FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS) and using an SD card imaging program, but nothing seems to work. To me, it seems like there's a physical difference with the interface, although it seems like Widows would be "pickier" about things like data rates.

Any help would be appreciated - we need to sort this out soon. We'd be willing to buy other cards, but until we know what's wrong with these, we don't know what specs we need to look for.


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Re: SD Card Issues

Post by Panu » Thu 2018-03-22 10:23


It could be something simple such as the new cards not supporting the SPI mode file transfer, which is the only way VS1053 can use the SD cards, since we don't have an MMC bus controller in the VS1053.

Can you send us one of those cards? We could check it here..

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Re: SD Card Issues

Post by pasi » Wed 2018-04-04 14:02

The following is about the SPI communication mode.

I was quite satisfied when I made a version of the standalone player which uses MULTIPLE_BLOCK_READ to read the audio data.

The joy didn't last long though when some uSD cards failed returning the correct data in the middle of the MULTIPLE_BLOCK_READ transfer. So, I just could not enable that part of the code.

A little later we were sent a uSD card that was failing with the standalone player. It was strange. A single block read would return the wrong data occasionally. Multiple block read works with this card.

So, to support both of these, I made a special vs1011 standalone player which uses only multiple block read but uses it to read single sectors only. This version works with both types of the offending cards.

I have also come across one uSD card type which just doesn't always respond to a certain request (probably a read). If you now re-initialize the card and send a new read command, the data for the previous read (which got no response) is returned instead of the data for this read, causing the data to be out of sync with the actual read commands.

So, it seems hard for the manufacturers to produce cards that would actually work according to spec.

Unfortunately the changes made to the vs1011 standalone player have not been ported to the vs1053 standalone player. The vs1053 standalone player code is also under a rewrite. What's the standalone player version you are using?

It would also be interesting to get a sample of the card so we can check what the issue is.
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