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Understanding The Dreamcast GD-ROM Layout

March 23rd, 2022 by Multimedia Mike

I’m finally completing something I set out to comprehend over a decade ago. I wanted to understand how data is actually laid out on a Sega Dreamcast GD-ROM drive. I’m trying to remember why I even still care. There was something about how I wanted to make sure the contents of a set of Dreamcast demo discs was archived for study.


Lot of 9 volumes of the Official Sega Dreamcast Magazine

I eventually figured it out. Read on, if you are interested in the technical details. Or, if you would like to examine the fruits of this effort, check out the Dreamcast demo discs that I took apart and uploaded to the Internet Archive.

If you care to read some geeky technical details of some of the artifacts on these sampler discs, check out this followup post on Dreamcast Finds.

Motivation
Why do I still care about this? Well, see the original charter of this blog above. It’s mostly about studying multimedia formats, as well as the general operation of games and their non-multimedia data formats. It’s also something that has nagged at me ever since I extracted a bunch of Dreamcast discs years ago and tried to understand why the tracks were arranged the way they were, and how I could systematically split the files out of the filesystem. This turns out not to be as easy as it might sound, even if you can get past the obstacle of getting at the raw data.
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