PS Vita hack: Dual Firmware Boot prototype by Katsu. Vita downgrade a possibility?

It didn’t take long for Yifan Lu’s investigations to become useful for other hardware hackers! Our community member katsu, guided by Yifan’s precise description of the Vita’s NAND pinouts, was able to hack his PS Vita in order to boot from a previous firmware, technically performing something very similar to a downgrade. Check the video below, it’s cool and full of “electronics porn”, like your favorite cyberpunk movie.

What katsu did was dump his firmware 2.12 (on the NAND), probably using Yifan Lu’s technique. He then copied that Firmware dump to an SD card. In the meantime, he upgraded the PS Vita to firmware 3.01. On the video, you see him inserting his SD card in a reader connected to the Vita. The Vita then reads the content of the SD card (the firmware 2.12 he dumped earlier) instead of its own 3.01 NAND.

What the hell does all of that mean? First of all, that Yifan Lu’s little experiment in the hardware world is proving successful, by providing inspiration and documentation for other talented hardware modders.

vita_dual_boot

Secondly, that downgrading a PS Vita is a possibility under certain conditions: what the experience proves here is that technically your Vita is able to go back to a firmware that was previously installed on it. This might sound obvious, but it means that installing firmware 3.01 did not “change” anything that would make the Vita backward incompatible with its previous firmwares. That’s something that eventually Sony could change, but for now this is promising.

Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean downgrading a Vita will become mainstream overnight! The hardware modifications required here are pretty big for now, and more importantly, this would only work with a NAND dump of your own Vita, as it is very likely that the NAND encryption key is specific to each console. One wouldn’t be able to downgrade to someone else’s firmware. What this means though is that today, someone with cheap hardware and the required skills could dump their Vita 3.01 NAND, upgrade to Sony’s next firmware to get all the benefit of the PSN, and boot from firmware 3.01 again whenever they feel like running Total_Noob’s Custom Firmware again.

Here again, I am making this sound a bit better than it really is. Katsu did not prove it was possible to write anything back to the NAND, just that he is booting the firmware from an external reader, which according to him takes 10 minutes. Not something very practical for now.

Nevertheless, this is pretty exciting, and could be the first (second?) step in some cool Vita hardware hacks. Let’s see how this develops!

Source: katsu on /talk

  1. Mr Genius’s avatar

    Wow Amazing !!! im the first to say keep up good work i think vita it’s time…

    Reply

    1. gazza’s avatar

      Wow lets crack the Vita !!!
      Then what, put the 10 or so good games on it woweeee!!

      Reply

  2. tunganhdo’s avatar

    I feel so happy because we now see some progress in Vita hack. But I feel so sad that there are no new Vita games coming out.

    Reply

    1. UE’s avatar

      Please change that statement to “no new games you want coming out” or “I haven’t heard of any new games coming out”

      because there are games coming that have been announced, some of which look quite cool.

      Reply

      1. Smoker1’s avatar

        While some people would like the Games Sony is coming out with, there are some people who look at those Games and think they are boring, uninteresting or even stupid. Mostly what Sony is doing is Re-releasing Games from the PSX and PSP.
        Example, the only Street Fighter Games are SF vs Tekken and those that were on the PSP and PSX. Where is the Street Fighter IV? What about bringing CAP vs SNK 2, or Marvel VS Capcom 2? Would like to see God of War 1, 2, or even if possible 3 on it. 1 and 2 is being planned on the Vita, but they can not say when. Hell they could even take Hyperballoid HD or Magic Ball/Magic Orbz to the Vita. Or even Chicken Invaders.

        Reply

        1. telgarDrakore’s avatar

          Please keep such stupid comments to yourself. Toukiden, Y’s, Terraria, Terraway, Sonic All Stars Racing. Tons of good games have either just came out recently or are coming out in a few weeks. Just because you dont like anything thats coming out means shit, almost every genre has had at least one good game come out last year and better is coming this year.

          Reply

          1. JiachengWeng’s avatar

            And Borderland 2!!!!!

          2. AAA Gamer’s avatar

            Where’s the GTA III remake? The only close GTA game that we have on the Vita is Retro City Rampage. I was interested in Dragonball z: Battle of Z, but that game is like another version of Dragonball Z: Budokai. It has no characters and the fighting style sucks.

        2. BinaryMonkee’s avatar

          I agree I thought I was the only one who thought that Vita games suck Ass I like the product but the games Suck. Japanese games in general don’t appeal to me at all in general. They’re made for 3 year olds.

          Reply

    2. sdfsf’s avatar

      hey, PS3 is already hacked for some years but games still coming out

      Reply

    3. gunblade’s avatar

      Waiting for Japanese games to make it to the us took to long vita got boring. Was going get nasne from play Asia but idk now as most time one wants to have fun playing a video game.

      Reply

  3. capcomlegend’s avatar

    nice :)

    Reply

  4. Kazuya101’s avatar

    Perhaps there was some motivation from acid_snakes 10 days of hacking article??? :P

    Reply

  5. Sarge127’s avatar

    What did i say? Number and Possibility control!! :D

    Reply

  6. Oguri’s avatar

    I’m all for hacking the vita as long as piracy of vita games start popping up :p

    Reply

    1. Oguri’s avatar

      **As long as piracy of vita games does not start to pop up

      Reply

      1. Smoker1’s avatar

        You know that will never NOT happen. Look at all the Consoles that were discussed here on Wololo and see what the end results were. The only intention was to bring Linux or Homebrew to the Systems, but the Ultimate Result was Piracy.

        Reply

        1. jake’s avatar

          Piracy is inevitable with hacking. It will ALWAYS be the result. How? Theoritcally let’s say the vita is hacked to play unlicensed games and use a USB to move homebrew from your pc to the vita.
          You can download the official games (although not licensed to you) on the PSN (ppl have already released some links to games but since no hack it’s useless for now).
          After downloading it you would then plug in your vita drag it and voala!
          You can’t stop it :(

          Reply

  7. X-eye’s avatar

    It is exciting wololo it’s also sad. I’ve posted about this before, that the problems of our little gaming world is part of the larger problems of the world in general. So until the bigger problems are solved hacking and piracy is going to continue and maybe escalate. And you can justify it anyway you like so you can sleep at night the fact is hacking for homebrew Always Leads To Piracy.

    Reply

    1. AAA Gamer’s avatar

      Lol, what will they pirate? “Frobisher says”?! All the Vita games suck except for Killzone Mercenary. Know why? They put in a lot of work for Killzone: Mercenary and maxed out the Vitas capabilities.

      Reply

  8. Edzo’s avatar

    Always nice to see a glimpse of hope

    Reply

  9. salvador34’s avatar

    still watching and reading when the story of PsVita goes into climax ……

    Reply

  10. shapeshifter0100’s avatar

    This is a very interesting find
    Its similar to ps3,nandroid backups, ios shsh blobs (for A4- devices) and booting a pc bios from a flash drive
    If the vita scene gets as awesome as ps2 and psp ill definitely get one ASAP
    The consoles scenes after ps2 weren’t as easy and awesome imho ,the ps4 and xb1 also dissappoint …..hopefully the vita will revive the old glory consoles once had , before they got overshadowed by PCs

    Reply

  11. perfig’s avatar

    Interesting news! got my vita last week and im on ofw 2.1X. should i update to last ofw?

    Reply

    1. TheGreenRacist’s avatar

      Yeah, why not! You can always dump your NAND on a flashcard and downgrade your firmware to the old version. AND IT ONLY TAKES 10 MINUTES! Praise Jesus!

      Reply

      1. Bullshiters’s avatar

        And you forgot to mention how easy it was to attach an SD card reader to the PSVita’s mobo

        Reply

    2. trunk208’s avatar

      I rather not if you want to make it go for kernel exploit etc etc it to play homebrew, back up games etc. Then I prefer you to get the exploit.

      Reply

  12. daggdroppen’s avatar

    Wow! I love to read about progress about opening the VITA =)

    Many thanx from Sweden =)

    Reply

  13. Aeroth’s avatar

    WOWW!! You rock guys, soon your 10 days of hacking will be extended to 11 days with vita \o/ Keep up the good work xD

    Reply

  14. mike’s avatar

    is it possible to know the proceed about the boot of the vita, like katsu did, when the vita start, it will read the mem for the rom which already set by sony, if we can make the simily stuff instead the officially rom, properly we can do some downgrade or etc.

    Reply

  15. titegtnodI’s avatar

    This is fantastic news :). I’m really glad I donated lol ^-^.

    Reply

  16. fresno’s avatar

    A real electronic streap-tease.

    Reply

  17. L2SSnake’s avatar

    This is exciting time for ps vita community, this is truly peace of art

    Reply

  18. dominosmd’s avatar

    I Hope this don’t lead to the vita getting a firmware upgrade i have been buying alot of games from the store now that we can get back on it SONY please don’t upgrade unless it’s gunna hurt the VITA side im sure I’m not the only one buying mad vita games right now

    Reply

  19. SSJ-Vita’s avatar

    Awesome stuff, thanks and keep up the great work! Yeah no pirated vita games, only interested in homebrew and a better browser, or like android.

    Reply

    1. jake’s avatar

      Personally I just want to backup my games to my ms because:
      I prefer digital rather than physical BUT:
      PSN is 500x more expensive than retail eg (no joke im serious) Fifa Football at Warehouse (a shop in NZ) was $19.98 while PSN was still $98.99 or something like that (close to $100 tho)

      Reply

      1. Sky Yuki’s avatar

        Heyyyy and you know what
        After you brought physical for a while
        It’s broke and you have to buy a new one yay
        Not really
        It’s just i want to back it up but i can’t because of piracy :P
        The loading speed is really different from retail and second hand disc
        And then i just broke one (UMVC3) because of unknown problem

        Reply

  20. jake’s avatar

    Anyone getting the feeling of the PSPs’ “Time Machine” app by DAX(?) where if you had a pandora batt with your psp you could eg. Hold X while turning on for Version 5.00 or Hold L for 3.71 or hold [] for 6.60 pro b-10 or leave for 6.60ME1.8?
    that was cool

    Reply

  21. Sky Yuki’s avatar

    Hmmm i’m not sure if the hacking goes fast
    Or the time just go fast

    Reply

  22. PSVH’s avatar

    Vita hack would be a good thing… :)…

    but it becomes certainly a hardware hack $$$ ;(

    A “powerfull portable” “gaming” device 4 homebrew with a nice screen
    and “real” buttons would be nice

    but why we all so Happy about scene progress?

    Developers should think about it to offer A “REAL” GAMING FLATRATE and by real i mean real all games off a Platform!!!

    The question is only how much it may cost or schould cost???

    Reply

  23. Plastic’s avatar

    Undiluted Platinum 2 anyone?

    Reply

  24. Bob’s avatar

    I think that PSVITA would be better if they just stick to VHBL.

    Reply

  25. 110706’s avatar

    Is this guy Katsu the same Katsukitty guy with the recording mod for Vita?

    Reply

  26. Haseeb Ali’s avatar

    Please tell me one thing, please please please tell me that is this hacking for playing pirated PS vita games on PS vita?

    Reply

  27. capcomlegend’s avatar

    wtf did I just watch? …im spanish and couldnt even fathom what I just say on that link haha im dying lol CHICO!

    Reply

  28. fatman01923’s avatar

    Its in Portuguese man! But I don’t understand it either.

    Reply

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