NCCH

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The following text tries to document the structure of the NCCH container format.

Overview

There are two known NCCH container specialisations used on the 3DS, "executable" and "non-executable", officially known as CXI and CFA respectively.

CXI

The CXI (CTR Executable Image) specialisation of NCCH containers, contains executable code, which runs on a single ARM11 core. It can communicate through SVC calls with the other ARM11 core running the 'system' program code. For reasons of clarity, the ARM11 cores will sometimes be called the 'appcore' and 'syscore' respectively.

The CXI format is structured in the following order:

  • first a NCCH header,
  • followed by an extended header,
  • followed by a plain binary region,
  • followed by an embedded executable filesystem (ExeFS) - (contains ARM11 code, Home menu icn/bnr and logo),
  • and finally followed by a read-only filesystem (RomFS) - (Used for external file storage).

The extended header contains additional information regarding access control. The plain binary region is an area specifically stored in plaintext, mostly containing SDK library strings for identification.

CFA

The CFA (CTR File Archive), specialisation of NCCH containers, are not executable, but are used in conjunction with CXI files. For instance the DLP Child Container and the Home Menu App Manual. (There is a system update NCCH which follows this format, but is used by the 3DS rather than the Application NCCH, and only works when embedded in the CCI format because the nVer is kept in the header of retail CCI files instead of the application NCCH)

CFA files are structured in the following order:

  • first a NCCH header,
  • followed by a read-only filesystem (RomFS)

Non-Executable NCCH file examples(Includes Decrypted RomFS):

DLPChildContainer Manual

NCCH Specs

The extended header, the ExeFS and the RomFS are encrypted using 128-bit AES CTR.

By default encrypted regions are compressed with an LZ77 variant, then encrypted. The spec allows for both unencrypted and uncompressed regions to exist. System titles expect a fixed system key.

NCCH Header

OFFSET SIZE DESCRIPTION
0x000 0x100 RSA-2048 signature of the NCCH header, using SHA-256.
0x100 4 Magic ID, always 'NCCH'
0x104 4 Content size, in media units (1 media unit = 0x200 bytes)
0x108 8 Partition ID
0x110 2 Maker code
0x112 2 Version
0x114 4 Reserved
0x118 8 Program ID
0x120 1 Temp flag
0x121 0x2F Reserved
0x150 0x10 Product code
0x160 0x20 Extended header hash
0x180 4 Extended header size
0x184 4 Reserved
0x188 8 Flags: byte[5]-byte[7] indicate content type ( system update, application, manual, ... ) size of media unit ( 512*2^byte[6] ) and encryption.
0x190 4 Plain region offset, in media units
0x194 4 Plain region size, in media units
0x198 8 Reserved
0x1A0 4 ExeFS offset, in media units
0x1A4 4 ExeFS size, in media units
0x1A8 4 ExeFS hash region size, in media units
0x1AC 4 Reserved
0x1B0 4 RomFS offset, in media units
0x1B4 4 RomFS size, in media units
0x1B8 4 RomFS hash region size, in media units
0x1BC 4 Reserved
0x1C0 0x20 ExeFS superblock hash, over the cleartext ExeFS
0x1E0 0x20 RomFS superblock hash

NCCH header example for Lego Starwars III

Signature:              720FF8F83F2A1E998322A026D1434165
                        ED19642ABC1CB2722135AA202BEAD60A
                        80BCD21C768C597B8268FEF2C64EA710
                        4C9BA5E12CFFBD1D0C619F4EF7B42CA7
                        DD8482CB4EB26720AD66CDA57ABCBCFB
                        D63268A6E2896A59B3B744E39E45B88A
                        ABB4C0980ACC6210818DCE6DAC838A10
                        95D0F66B352474D4B3DA4B333F49912D
                        29AF7EA58BC8C890B18C70B7D540A9FB
                        EBE24A5312055617D3353B28C3EB1D17
                        61021BEFF6AD22C384835B40BD44DFAD
                        981F6350F9458B17BCB5F768C92ABC93
                        2BCE9888855A8998F4CDE40C9543514A
                        C57B84EB75A680E7C742632614620D1D
                        A253284DF3DC01091EB3800C36FD62EE
                        BA15340F1FD498FAB67C0302E9CDA397
Magic:                  NCCH
Content size:           0x1cfef400
Partition id:           0004000000038c00
Maker code:             3436 ("46")
Version:                0002
Program id:             0004000000038c00
Temp flag:              00
Product code:           CTR-P-ALGP
Extended header hash:   0C27E3C1DE7B2AE2D3114F32A4EEBF46
                        9AFD0CF352C11D4984C2A9F1D2144C63
Extended header size:   00000400
Flags:                  0000030100000000
Plain region offset:    0x00004a00
Plain region size:      0x00000200
ExeFS offset:           0x00004c00
ExeFS size:             0x00143800
ExeFS hash region size: 0x00000200
RomFS offset:           0x00148400
RomFS size:             0x1ceab000
RomFS hash region size: 0x00000200
ExeFS Superblock Hash:  130C042615F647C4C63225EA9E67F8A2
                        7B15246B88FBC7A927257B84977B787B
RomFS Superblock Hash:  A65BEE1060BB6A6821BBCEC600035B7E
                        64FB6EACA7F0960CFB1F5A37087728F7
Note: Offsets and sizes in media units have been converted to byte sizes.

Plain region example for Lego Starwars III

0004a00: 5b 53 44 4b 2b 4e 49 4e 54 45 4e 44 4f 3a 43 54  [SDK+NINTENDO:CT    [SDK+NINTENDO:CTR_SDK-0_14_23_200_none]
0004a10: 52 5f 53 44 4b 2d 30 5f 31 34 5f 32 33 5f 32 30  R_SDK-0_14_23_20
0004a20: 30 5f 6e 6f 6e 65 5d 00 5b 53 44 4b 2b 4e 49 4e  0_none].[SDK+NIN    [SDK+NINTENDO:Firmware-02_27]
0004a30: 54 45 4e 44 4f 3a 46 69 72 6d 77 61 72 65 2d 30  TENDO:Firmware-0
0004a40: 32 5f 32 37 5d 00 5b 53 44 4b 2b 4d 6f 62 69 63  2_27].[SDK+Mobic    [SDK+Mobiclip:Deblocker_1_0_2]
0004a50: 6c 69 70 3a 44 65 62 6c 6f 63 6b 65 72 5f 31 5f  lip:Deblocker_1_
0004a60: 30 5f 32 5d 00 5b 53 44 4b 2b 4d 6f 62 69 63 6c  0_2].[SDK+Mobicl    [SDK+Mobiclip:ImaAdpcmDec_1_0_0]
0004a70: 69 70 3a 49 6d 61 41 64 70 63 6d 44 65 63 5f 31  ip:ImaAdpcmDec_1
0004a80: 5f 30 5f 30 5d 00 5b 53 44 4b 2b 4d 6f 62 69 63  _0_0].[SDK+Mobic    [SDK+Mobiclip:MobiclipDec_1_0_1]
0004a90: 6c 69 70 3a 4d 6f 62 69 63 6c 69 70 44 65 63 5f  lip:MobiclipDec_
0004aa0: 31 5f 30 5f 31 5d 00 5b 53 44 4b 2b 4d 6f 62 69  1_0_1].[SDK+Mobi    [SDK+Mobiclip:MoflexDemuxer_1_0_2]
0004ab0: 63 6c 69 70 3a 4d 6f 66 6c 65 78 44 65 6d 75 78  clip:MoflexDemux
0004ac0: 65 72 5f 31 5f 30 5f 32 5d 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  er_1_0_2].......
0004ad0: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  ................
0004ae0: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  ................

A tool for parsing this format is available here

Example dependency list from the extended header

00850 41 50 54 3A 55 00 00 00 24 68 69 6F 46 49 4F 00 APT:U...$hioFIO.
00860 24 68 6F 73 74 69 6F 30 24 68 6F 73 74 69 6F 31 $hostio0$hostio1
00870 61 63 3A 75 00 00 00 00 62 6F 73 73 3A 55 00 00 ac:u....boss:U..
00880 63 61 6D 3A 75 00 00 00 63 65 63 64 3A 75 00 00 cam:u...cecd:u..
00890 63 66 67 3A 75 00 00 00 64 6C 70 3A 46 4B 43 4C cfg:u...dlp:FKCL
008A0 64 6C 70 3A 53 52 56 52 64 73 70 3A 3A 44 53 50 dlp:SRVRdsp::DSP
008B0 66 72 64 3A 75 00 00 00 66 73 3A 55 53 45 52 00 frd:u...fs:USER.
008C0 67 73 70 3A 3A 47 70 75 68 69 64 3A 55 53 45 52 gsp::Gpuhid:USER
008D0 68 74 74 70 3A 43 00 00 6D 69 63 3A 75 00 00 00 http:C..mic:u...
008E0 6E 64 6D 3A 75 00 00 00 6E 65 77 73 3A 75 00 00 ndm:u...news:u..
008F0 6E 77 6D 3A 3A 55 44 53 70 74 6D 3A 75 00 00 00 nwm::UDSptm:u...
00900 70 78 69 3A 64 65 76 00 73 6F 63 3A 55 00 00 00 pxi:dev.soc:U...
00910 73 73 6C 3A 43 00 00 00 79 32 72 3A 75 00 00 00 ssl:C...y2r:u...
00920 69 72 3A 55 53 45 52 00 6C 64 72 3A 72 6F 00 00 ir:USER.ldr:ro..
00930 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
00940 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
00950 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
00960 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
... ...
009D0 FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF                 
009E0 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
009F0 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 02 . ............. 

Extended Header

NOTE: AFTER DECRYPTION

OFFSET SIZE DESCRIPTION
0x399 1 Memory type (00 = Base, 01 = Application, 02 = System)