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This page documents the format of NCSD.


There are two known specialisations of the NCSD container format. The CTR Cart Image (CCI) format and the CTR System Update (CSU). CCI is the format of retail game ROM dumps. CSU is used with developer system updates and tools

NCSD images start with a NCSD header, followed by up to a maximum of 8 NCCH partitions.

For CCI/CSU images, the partitions are reserved as follows:

NCCH Index Reserved Use
0 Executable Content (CXI)
1 E-Manual (CFA)
2 Download Play Child container (CFA)
7 Update Data (CFA)

The format of partitions can be determined from the partition FS flags (normally these are zero for CCI/CSU NCSD Images).

NCSD header

Offset Size Description
0x000 0x100 RSA-2048 SHA-256 signature of the NCSD header
0x100 4 Magic Number 'NCSD'
0x104 4 Size of the NCSD image, in media units (1 media unit = 0x200 bytes)
0x108 8 Media ID
0x110 8 Partitions FS type
0x118 8 Partitions crypt type
0x120 0x40=(4+4)*8 Offset & Length partition table
0x160 0x20 Exheader SHA-256 hash
0x180 0x4 Additional header size
0x184 0x4 Sector zero offset
0x188 8 Partition Flags (See Below)
0x190 0x40=8*8 Partition ID table
0x1D0 0x30 Reserved

Partition Flags

Byte Index Description
0 Backup Write Wait Time (The time to wait to write save to backup after the card is recognized (0-255 seconds)).NATIVE_FIRM loads this flag from the gamecard NCSD header starting with 6.0.0-11.
3 Media Card Device (1 = NOR Flash, 2 = None, 3 = BT) (SDK 3.X+)
4 Media Platform Index (1 = CTR)
5 Media Type Index (0 = Inner Device, 1 = Card1, 2 = Card2, 3 = Extended Device)
6 Media Unit Size i.e. u32 MediaUnitSize = 0x200*2^flags[6];
7 Media Card Device (1 = NOR Flash, 2 = None, 3 = BT) (Only SDK 2.X)

Partition Flags (In Terms of Save Crypto Determination)

Byte Index Description
1 Starting with 6.0.0-11 NATIVE_FIRM will use this flag to determine the gamecard savegame keyY method, when flag[3] is set. 0 = 2.0.0-2 hashed keyY, 1 = new keyY method implemented with 6.0.0-11.
3 Support for this flag was implemented in NATIVE_FIRM with 2.0.0-2. When this flag is set the hashed gamecard savegame keyY method is used, this likely still uses the repeating-CTR however. With 6.0.0-11 the system will determine the gamecard savegame keyY method via flag[1], instead of just using the hashed keyY via this flag.
7 This flag enables using the hashed gamecard savegame keyY method, support for this flag was implemented in NATIVE_FIRM with 2.2.0-4. All games with the NCSD image finalized since 2.2.0-4(and contains 2.2.0-4+ in the system update partition) have this flag set, this flag also enables using new CTR method as well.

Card Info Header

0x200 4 Writable Address In Media Units (For 'On-Chip' Savedata)
0x204 4 Card Info Bitmask
0x208 0xDF8 Reserved1
0x1000 8 Media ID (same as first NCCH partitionId)
0x1008 8 Reserved2
0x1010 0x30 Initial Data
0x1040 0xC0 Reserved
0x1100 0x100 Copy of first NCCH header (excluding RSA signature)

Development Card Info Header Extension

0x1200 0x200 CardDeviceReserved1
0x1400 0x10 TitleKey
0x1410 0xF0 CardDeviceReserved2


ctrtool - (CMD)(Windows/Linux) Parsing NCSD files

3DSExplorer - (GUI)(Windows Only) Parsing NCSD files