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PalmOne to give Treo 650 users 128MB SD cards

Short-term fix for memory glitch

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PalmOne has pledged to provide every Treo 650 owner with a free 128MB memory card until it can fix a memory issue that has drawn a significant number of complaints from early adopters.

The problem also affects Tungsten T5 users, but PalmOne focused its attention on its top-of-the-line smart phone product, which contains only 32MB of RAM to the T5's 256MB. Both, is said, have ample memory for new users, but it accepted that anyone upgrading from a Treo 600 to the 650 might run into difficulty.

The issue arises from company's decision to equip both devices with Flash rather than SDRAM, to ensure data isn't lost even if the device runs out of battery power. Both the Treo 650 and the T5 use a special file allocation system for data stored in Flash. That's fine as it goes, but the size of each block in which data can currently be stored to is 512B. The upshot is that files smaller than 512B still take up that amount of Flash, the result being that files copied to the new machines suddenly appear rather larger than they are.

It's a problem hard drive upgraders used to see when they copy files over to new, much more capacious drives, which invariably had larger block sizes than their smaller predecessors. However, here the issue could be addressed by re-partioning the drive into smaller sections, which usually resulted in a smaller block size.

To solve the problem, PalmOne said it would offer a ROM update that will "increase memory use efficiency to allow users to recapture most of the non-volatile file system (NVFS) overhead space currently lost to them" - in other words, reduce the block size. In the meantime, it said it will next month offer Treo 650 users a gratis 128MB SD card to use if they find their machines running short of memory.

It did not offer any further details of the scheme, simply noting that full details will be posted on the Treo 650 support website "early December". ®

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RIM rises as PalmOne slides in Euro device market

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