Optical drive replacements

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An optical drive replacement is a device that replaces the Dreamcast's GD-ROM drive with an alternative storage method, typically SD cards or USB storage. These devices typically use an FPGA to simulate the GD-ROM drive hardware. Because these are devices that simulate the system's original GD-ROM, the compatibility is virtually perfect with a few exceptions. Similarly, one could attempt the IDE hard drive modification to accomplish a similar goal, however as this does not simulate the system's hardware, software hacks must be applied by a loader program, resulting in some potential compatibility issues.

GD-ROM Optical Drive Features Comparison
Device: GDEMU USB-GDROM MODE iceGDROM
price and availability €130 euros, periodic sales done on creator's website, price includes shipping from Poland
$40-$80 USD unofficial China-based clones widely available worldwide
$180 USD to purchase as a Paypal gift
$220 USD to purchase with Paypal protection
additional $15 USD for shipping from Russia to worldwide
sales through creator's website
€182, sales through TerraOnion Shop
DIY project
console revisions supported
(none support va2 models)
va1 only
(works in va0, but incorrect signal voltages may cause damage)
va0 and va1 va0 and va1 va1 only
media type SD cards USB 2.0 storage
compatible with SATA to USB 2.0 bridges
SD, USB 2.0, SATA
SATA through built-in USB 2.0 bridge
SD cards
media capacity officially, up to 32GB
large cards like 400GB and 512GB tested and widely used
up to 2TB limited by storage device size ???
menu type officially, no menu, controlled by hardware
GDMenu graphical menu is current de facto default menu
text-based menu List view and advanced covert art views no menu, controlled by hardware
media format FAT32 with images specifically named and in numbered folders
community tools such as GDEmu SD card creator exist to assist in creating cards
FAT32, drag and drop exFAT FAT32, requires conversion to custom image format, files must be specifically numbered
image format TOSEC GDI+BIN, GDI+ISO, CDI, CCD+IMG+SUB, MDS+MDF, ISO for homebrew disc-swapping (e.g. for emulator ROM discs) TOSEC GDI+BIN, GDI+ISO, CDI TOSEC GDI+BIN, GDI+ISO, CDI, CCD+IMG+SUB, MDS+MDF, Redump CUE+BIN/ISO
disc swapping Yes, swap to next disc by pressing physical button
Combined with DCDigital mod, allows swap to next disc in DCDigital menu
Yes, swap to any disc support
Pre-pick swap disc before loading game, and swap using lid open button
Yes Yes, swap to next disc by ejecting and re-inserting SD card
in-game reset Yes, reboot console to menu with X+Y+B+A+Start No, only possible with DCDigital mod No, only possible with DCDigital mod ???
custom loader/bleemshell support allows custom coded menus with direct control of console, can control of disc-swapping done through hidden API
Community menus exist including GDMenu, bleemshell, OpenMenu, etc.
none none none
bleemcast! GT2/TK3/MGS version support no
(support requires either firmware update to enhance CCD image support, or community effort to further crack protection)
no
(support requires either firmware update to enhance CCD image support, or community effort to further crack protection)
??? no
(support requires either firmware improvement for image support, or community effort to further crack protection)
known bugs Item duplication bug on Resident Evil Code Veronica (critical bug, fixed on genuine GDEMU but not clone)
Freezing during Skies of Arcadia intro video (non-critical, fixed on genuine GDEMU but not clone)
D2 disc swapping bug
??? ??? ???
additional notes Genuine devices are firmware-updatable, but clone devices are bricked if user attempts a firmware update
Clones are one firmware revision out of date (see above bugs)
Previous versions of firmware included a hidden undisclosed self-bricking timebomb unless user periodically updated firmware in order to give creator control over devices, however the latest version firmware is supposedly free of this since the timebomb was publicized also supports the Sega Saturn console completely DIY open source project