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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sony PSP UMD, the “Universal” Media Disc

UMD, or Universal Media Disc, is the official distributed media format for the PSP. You can
use Memory Stick Duo media (and standard Memory Sticks as well, which is discussed in the
next chapter); however, most PSP games utilize UMD discs, which for the time being cannot
be copied (although it is possible to “dump” their contents to the Memory Stick using certain
utilities this book does not discuss).
UMDs are optical discs that can hold up to 1.8GB of any type of data, just like a DVD or CD.
The “official” UMD formats are UMD Game, UMD Music, and UMD Video. In addition to
game distribution houses, Sony has licensed a number of movie studios (such as Universal,
Paramount, and New Line Home Cinema) to release UMD Video titles. Sony has also discussed
submitting the format for standardization, but this seems unlikely for the near future, as
control over the recorders would become an issue due to piracy.

Piracy is likely the reason for the proprietary UMD format, plus the fact that it appears to be
based on the HiMD MiniDisc media format, a product Sony failed to bring to successful
mass-market penetration many years ago. Hackers have already figured out a way to dump the
data from a UMD to a CD or DVD, but Sony attempted to stop this type of copyright
infringement in firmware update 1.51.
Here are the specifications for the UMD media format (source:Wikipedia, http://
 ECMA (an international standards body) standard number ECMA-365: Data
Interchange on 60 mm Read-Only ODC (optical disc cartridge). More information on
the standard can be found at
 Capacity: 1.8 GB (UMD)
 Dimensions: Approx. 65 mm (W) × 64 mm (D) × 4.2 mm (H)
 Diameter: 60 mm
 Maximum capacity: 1.80GB (single-sided, dual layer)
 Laser wavelength: 660 nm (red laser)
 Encryption: AES 128-bit (decryption of which is built into the PSP’s hardware)
 Conforms to ISO-9660 file format, the same as CDs and DVDs.
 A good site to discuss the UMD format is UMD Talk, http://www.umdtalk