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SDUSB - The modern way to play Wii U games from SD - at full speed

 
 
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Why?

Even though the Wii U has a built in SD slot, it doesn't support using it as a storage expansion to store Wii U games (unlike it's predecessor). USB pen drives are notoriously unreliable and hard drives are bulky and require extra power or a Y cable, using up multiple ports. Today big reliable SD cards have become cheap. Since a SD is needed anyway for homebrew, it would be nice to use that too as storage for games.
There have been solutions in the past like Loadiine, but this had various problems, the biggest of them performance and is not longer supported by current homebrew environments (Aroma).

SDUSB

SDUSB solves these problems. It uses a second partition on the SD card, which will be formatted to the Wii Us native file system and therefore run at full speed. The partition will show up as a USB device and can therefore be managed using the built in Data Management in the system settings. SaveMii, WUP Installers etc. all work with this, like it is a USB storage device. Also HAI (VC Wii Titles) work with SDUSB.
SDUSB does all that by patching IOSU (the OS that runs on the ARM processor). It is implemented as a stroopwafel plugin.

Prerequisites

You need two things:
  1. a way to launch minute
  2. a reliable SD card
For 1. the recommended way is to setup ISFShax, for that we have a guide here: How to set up ISFShax
If you don't want to commit to installing ISFShax yet you can skip the "Installing ISFShax" step in the ISFShax setup guide and instead run it manually through the chosen exploit on every reboot.
Instead if ISFShax you can also use defuse, in case you have that already.

For 2. It is highly recommended that you use an Endurance branded SD card from a reputable brand. Since your save games will also be saved there, you rather want to spend $5 more then to lose all your save games because your cheapo sd card died. Also be aware of fakes, even on Amazon you can get fake SD cards...
The speed of the SD card isn't too important, as the Wii U is limited to 25MB/s (same as the internal memory) anyway. Every somewhat recent SD card should be able to get that speed. Choose Reliability > Access Time > Throughput.

Setup

Partitioning the SD card

On Windows you need to use a third party tool like Minitool Partition Wizard or Easeus, on Linux you can use gparted.
You need to have two primary partitions on the card:
  1. FAT32 - (in gparted set lba flag). This is what the PC will see and all your homebrew goes (you should already have this)
  2. NTFS - This partition will be the "USB", you use to store the Wii U games on (don't assign a drive letter)
Shrink the existing FAT32 partition to make room and then create the primary NTFS partition after it. It's recommended to align the Partitions on 64MiB boundaries and use a multiple of 64MiB for the size. NTFS won't be the file system the Wii U will be using, it is just there to tell SDUSB which partition to use (it will pick the first NTFS one). The Wii U will later format it with it's own file system.

Installing the Plugin

Get the latest wafel_sd_usb.ipx from here: https://github.com/jan-hofmeier/wafel_sd_usb/releases and place it in your ios_plugins folder. That is either
wiiu/ios_plugins
on the SD card or
/sys/hax/ios_plugins
on the slc. For slc you have to rename it to something shorter like
sdusb.ipx


Using SD USB

If you now boot boot back up, the Partition shows up as a USB device, which needs to be formatted and can then be used as usual. After formatting the SDUSB, you can also connect an existing USB storage and copy stuff over.
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Nintendo Wii U information

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Chad Waliser
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