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PS Vita release: ARK eCFW for the UNO exploit
Posted on Monday, January 14, 2013 @ 01:32:45 GMT

psvita [source: wololo.net ] The PRO team (the people behind the PRO Custom Firmware, probably the most popular piece of software of the PSP scene these days) are back with a huge release: a PSP CFW for the Vita, running on the recently revealed UNO exploit. Codename: ARK If you’ve been using the UNO exploit, ARK is basically an alternative to Total_Noob’s CEF. At the core, ARK is a port of Pro CFW to the PS Vita, and seems to bring features that might be lacking in CEF.

In particular, the Readme emphasizes the following:

Features

* PSX game support (soundless so far, our sound plugin is too glitchy for public use at the moment)
* ISO/CSO game support
* NoDRM Engine for decrypted dlc playback
* MS-SpeedBoost (most noticable on games like soul calibur)
* Stargate Game Patches (fixes several anti-cfw games)
* Customizable Main Menu
* Plugin support
* Recovery support
* ISO-cache support (speed up ISO gaming)

Some of you might remember a leak of some of Coldbird’s work a few months ago, which led him to leave the scene. ARK is the project that was leaked back then (although the leak was encrypted, and therefore not usable), and that the Pro team decided to release today. I assume the decision was taken a while ago, but porting the existing work to the new firmware 2.02 might have taken some time.

Although I haven’t tried this specific build, I was lucky enough to try early builds of the ARK project a few months ago, and overall I was impressed. Coldbird left the scene while he was in the middle of bringing sound support to PS1 games, so it is unclear if the sound plugin for PS1 will ever see the light of day, but independently of that, I am pretty sure ARK brings a nice new option to those of you looking for alternatives to CEF.

Credits for the ARK project are the following (from the readme):

* Dark_Alex for the initial M33 CFW who guided us mentally through several CFW generations by giving good examples on how to patch Sony OFW.
* VirtuousFlame: For the ISO Loading Code, Custom PSX EBOOT Support, PSPCipher and most of the CFW related code.
* Coldbird: For Proshell, and all his CFW related code & Vita redesign of PROCFW.
* Yosh: For the initial sceWlanGetEtherAddr leaked kxploit, yMenu, other kxploit related things and various pieces of code.
* thecobra & frostegater: For precisions about this kxploit.
* neur0n for his syscall execution in kernel mode, several bug fixes and other CFW related code.
* ardi for his umd4homebrew to enable UMD in homebrews.
* Zer01ne for the initial Uno exploit discovery.
* All our testers.
* And last but not least – Sony for making wonderful, however very locked down, portable gaming handhelds.

Download, install & use

You can download the files here. You’ll notice that one of the download links is “ad sponsored” (linkbucks). We offer alternate links, but the revenue from these ads go to the Pro team and help fund things such as the server for Prometheus online. Alternatively, the pro team has a donation link for those who want to show their support.

In order to install, just unzip the savedata matching your region to your CMA folder, and install the savedata using CMA, like you would install any other PSP savedata to your vita (more details in the readme). If you’re on Windows, we recommend to use OpenCMA when you copy files to and from your vita.

To run ARK, once you’ve installed the Savedata to your Vita, just run UNO, and press “X” when asked to do so by the game, this should load the eCFW menu.

Coldbird’s FTP for Vita is also a recommended tool to install once you’re all set, to make copying backups and homebrews easier.

As I said, I haven’t tested this build yet, so give the files a try, and post your comments here. In particular, I’m sure we’d all like to know how it compares to CEF :)

Important note: This release requires that you are running on a PS Vita with firmware 2.02 or lower. It also requires you to have a legit copy of the PSP game UNO installed on your Vita. UNO has been removed from the PSN by Sony a few days ago, so if you missed the exploit announcement and don’t have the game on your Vita, you’re out of luck, this release will not help you in that case.

----

Clearing some confusion about ARK: PSX games

One of the biggest questions that users have surrounding ARK is compatibility with PSX games. In this post I’ll explain why psx doesn’t work natively on the vita, and how ARK managed to make it work.

First of all, we must know why PSX games won’t work natively, unlike ISOs or Homebrews. This due to the fact that the PSP used it’s second processor, the Media Engine, to emulate PSX sound, effectively taking some load off the processor and keeping a decent framerate. The problem we are facing on the Vita is the lack of Media Engine, the Vita does not emulate the Media Engine.

So when a PSX game tries to run, it calls the Media Engine functions, but Media Engine doesn’t exists, so the functions don’t either, causing a crash. But, if PSX games crash because of no sound, how are able to make it work? the answer lies in hacking.
In ARK, Coldbird managed to hack POPS to make it accept custom sound plugins (if you have ever used an emulator, you’ll know what a plugin is). For this version of ARK, Coldbird simply injected a dummy sound plugin, meaning there will be no sound, but the game won’t crash cause the dummy plugin will return a generic ok signal, even if it has done absolutely nothing.

Ok so the first step is done, we are able to get PSX games running without crashes, but there is no sound, and we can’t make sound working cause there is no ME, which means to get sound working a plugin must be coded and it must be ran by the CPU. The only open source sound plugin that came to Coldbird’s mind was PEOPS, so he got to work on it. Did he get any sound at all coming out of PSX games?

I’ll let this video answer the question:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIgkU7hKU8c

So lets sum this up:
- PSX compatibility in ARK should be very good, close to PSp compatibility, but without any sound.
- A port of PEOPS was being worked on (and made awesome progress), but it stopped because Coldbird left.
I hope this solves your confusion about PSX games in ARK (and the vita in general).

 
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