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Graphics Softmodding, howto.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Highland3r, 24 Jul 2005.

  1. Highland3r

    Highland3r Minimodder

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    Since many people are buying cards to softmod, and there may well be many threads asking how, here's the bit tech guide.
    This will cover the modding of cards like the 6800LE, and simple hacks like the 9800SE -> pro, and 9500 -> pro and 9700..

    Firstly, the 9500 and 9800 etc mods.
    What you need
    A card which will (or should) softmod.
    For 9500's, cards with and "L" shaped memory configuration will mod. 9800SE's with a 9800pro PCB, AND/OR Power connectors on the left hand side of the PCB (either molex or floppy) will mod.
    For a complete list, see here
    ATI tool or rivatuner (to check pipes enabled)
    Catalyst driver of your choice
    Hacked driver file. - here
    Scroll to the bottom of this page for a link to older catalyst versions. The list dates back to version 2.5.

    Performing the mod
    Once you've identified your card should mod, perform some quick overclocking with ATI tool. Just get a rough idea of how far the card will go, and get some 3dmark tests run for comparison. Also, note down the pipe configuration.
    There are a number of methods which can be used to softmod these cards. The easiest is downloading and installing a hacked driver set. This comes pre-modded, and after installation and reboot, the pipes are enabled. Its as simple as that. From then on, your card will be recognised as a fully fledged 9700 or 9800pro. The name string for the card may also be updated. (I use method #2, if someone confirms this, I'll update the guide)

    The second method however is a little more complex.
    Firstly, choose the modded file appropriate to the catalyst version you are running. (here
    Navigate to C:\Program Files\ATI\SUPPORT\<your catalyst version here>\Driver\2KXP_INF\B_20640 and cut the ati2mtag.sys file, pasting into the previous folder (2KXP_INF) this will allow you to remove the softmod if required. Now extract the modified ati2mtag.sys file into the B_20640 folder.
    Now, open device manager and locate the Display adapters tab, right click on either primary or secondary and choose Update Driver
    Choose Install from a list or specific location, then Don't search I will choose a the driver to install .

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Finally choose Have Disk and navigate to C:\Program Files\ATI\SUPPORT\<your catalyst version here>\Driver\2KXP_INF. Choose either of the 2 inf files shown.
    Finally select 9500/9800 from the list produced, and click ok. This will re-install the graphics drivers, including the modified ati2mag file.
    Once complete reboot the pc.
    Thats the mod done.
    This may seem long winded, however I prefer this method as its much easier to reverse. If, on boot artifacts appear on screen simply boot to safe mode, swap the original ati2mtag.sys file into B_20640, delete the modded file, and re-run the steps as per above.
    If the first method was used however, you need to un-install the drivers to remove the mod.

    Once the mod has been completed, and no artifacts shown on boot, check Rivatuner or ATI tool again, and this should confirm the modded configuration.
    Run some 3d tests to ensure the extra pipelines are not deffective, and try overclocking again. NOTE Overclocking WILL be reduced, you may also find with the 9800 mod, extra cooling is required.
    Again if artifacts are found, its best to remove the softmod to prevent card damage.
    If the mod was sucessful however, sit back and enjoy!
     
    Last edited: 24 Jul 2005
  2. Highland3r

    Highland3r Minimodder

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    Now onto the mods similar to the 6800LE, this includes 6200's which will mod to 6600 and the 6800NU which mods to Ultra

    What you need
    A 6800LE or a 128 bit, 128mb (or more) 6200, not using turbocache, 6800NU. Or any other NVidia based card which will mod.
    Rivatuner

    Performing the mod

    Load up rivatuner, note down the pipe configuration, this is shown in the top pane, under the graphics card name.
    For 6800LE users, this should be 8*4. For 6200, 4*1.
    Click the drop down tab next to the pipe information, and choose Low level system settings as shown in the image below. (note this image was taken from an already softmodded 6800LE, hence showing 16*6 enabled)

    [​IMG]

    From here, navigate to the NVstrap driver tab. Click the install button.

    [​IMG]

    The greyed out boxes should then be enabled on this menu.
    Tick the Allow enabling hardware masked units and Unlock Professional capabilities and click Customize

    [​IMG]

    You will then be presented with a tab showing the currently enabled units, and the hardware masked units.
    Basically, add a tick next to ALL of the masked units to unlock all the pipes and vertex shaders.
    Once you have selected the required piplines, or shaders, restart when prompted.
    HOWEVER some of the units may not enable sucessfully. It would be wise to enable the units 1 at a time and test after each. If artifacting occurs, disable that unit.
    Also note, that pixel shaders are activated in blocks of 4, so in the case of the 6200, only 1 option will be available. For the 6800LE, 2 blocks can be activated.
    Below shows all the units enabled for a 6800LE. Note the hardware masked tag, denoting units disabled by default.

    [​IMG]

    Once the PC reboots, check again in rivatuner, it should show the pipelines and shader enabled. Before you test with 3d running, there are a few more options which need to be checked.
    Browse to the Power User - available at rivatuners loading screen
    Choose the Rivatuner <version>\Nvidia\Overclocking option, and add a 1 next to:
    • DisableInternalClockTest
    • EnableLowPower3DControl
    • EnablePerfLevelForcing
    • UseAlternateStartupDaemon

    [​IMG]

    Now your good to go.
    Make sure you run some 3d testing to ensure the activated pipelines and shaders function correctly. You may find certain games run fine where others don't.
    The mods will be active until you either disable them, remove rivatuner or re-install windows

    (Many thanks to Persivore for the screengrabs, for ref, his card is an Aopen model, and unlocks to 16*6)

    Update A little tip found when unlocking a recent LE, disable the default enabled pipes, and enable the masked units. Reboot, then enable the default pipes. Helps the stability of the card, and for those of you who have cards which won't fully unlock, it *may* help you.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2005
  3. Highland3r

    Highland3r Minimodder

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    Note: this is a guide for X800Pro VIVO AGP cards only – while it is possible to flash PCI-E Pro VIVO cards and non-VIVO Pro cards I don’t have enough experience with the procedure to write a guide.

    The X800 Pro GPU on AGP is identical to the X800XT and X800XTPE GPU, except that on the Pro and Pro VIVO cards 4 of the rendering pipelines have been disabled with a BIOS flash. On the standard Pro cards this is reinforced with a laser cut between one of the bridges on the GPU, however when ATI brought out the X800Pro VIVO, they used what was basically just an X800XTPE (the only other card with VIVO hardware on the PCB), downclocked and flashed. Most supplies of this part should not have any laser cuts on the GPU, and should have 1.6ns memory (the standard for Pro cards is 2.0ns which won't clock as far).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So, how do you take your X800Pro VIVO and turn it into a fully-fledged X800XTPE? Firstly, check that your card is like the one pictured above - no laser cuts on the GPU and 1.6ns memory. This is important if the flash is going to work and if the card is going to be able to run at XTPE clocks. There is still a danger that some of the pipelines that have been disabled are damaged, but this chance is reduced on the Pro VIVOs that are basically just relabeled XTPEs.

    Secondly, before you start the flashing process it’s a good idea to try to overclock the card first, so that you know what kind of clocks you should be expecting after. Use a program like ATI Tray or ATI Tool which both have auto-overclocking features and are pretty userfriendly. Work out what your maximum core and memory clocks are - you’ll need at least 520/560 (base X800XTPE clocks) to do the flash fully. If your card doesn’t make that (you might need a bit extra on the core as the extra pipes can retard overclockability by 20MHz or so) you’ll have to flash to a BIOS that’s clocked lower once the pipes are unlocked.

    To flash your X800Pro VIVO’s BIOS, you will need the following things:

    1) A method of booting into DOS;
    2) A flashing utility;
    3) A BIOS to flash to.

    To boot to DOS you will need either a bootable floppy (get an image from www.bootdisk.com) or a bootable CD (I recommend UBCD, and a place to run the flash utility and store the BIOS files – this can be another (or the same) floppy, or a FAT32 partition on a hard drive that can be read from DOS.

    The flashing utility you should use is atiflash v3 which won’t preserve the parts of the BIOS you need to change (if you use an older version the –newbios switch won’t work and the flash will not unlock pipes, just change everything else).

    To get a BIOS, go here and download an appropriate X800XTPE BIOS for your card. It is usually possible to flash a BIOS from another manufacturer to your card, but you may as well keep it the same :) If your card isn’t going to make the 520/560 clocks of an XTPE, download the “ATI X800 Pro VIVO 16P (AGP) 256 MB” BIOS which is a standard ATI Pro VIVO BIOS that has been modified to unlock all 16 pipes but preserve the standard clocks of 475/450.

    Once you’ve booted into DOS and are in a directory with atiflash.exe and whatever BIOS file you want to flash to, here are instructions on the flash itself.

    First, back up the BIOS on your card – this is essential if you ever might want to return the card to its default state, or just in case the flash goes wrong or the extra pipelines are damaged.

    atiflash -s 0 original.bin

    This will create a file called original.bin with a dump of your card’s BIOS in it for later use.

    Then it’s time to flash the new BIOS. If you’ve downloaded a BIOS from the page above, in DOS it will probably appear as SAPPHI~1.bin, rather than the full filename, so be aware of this if you’re putting more than one BIOS in the same folder – it might be worthwhile to rename them in Windows to identifiable 8.3-format names.

    atiflash -p 0 bios.bin -f -newbios

    Replace bios.bin with the name of the BIOS you want to flash, the -f switch forces the flash and the -newbios switch makes sure it flashes the card to the right number of pipes in the BIOS. Once this is complete you can restart your computer and get back into Windows to make sure the flash has been successful.

    In Windows, you can confirm that your card is now working at 16 pipes with either ATI Tool or ATI Tray – here’s where to find both:

    [​IMG]

    If you see that, then the flash has worked! Run some 3D applications (3Dmark, some games) to make sure there are no artifacts – if the card seems to be just overheating (snow or blocks/stripes of colour) then you might need to clock it down a bit, but if you get checkerboarding then it’s more likely that one or more of the pipes is damaged, and you’ll have to flash back to your original. Another plus with the flash to XTPE is that you should now have temperature monitoring that is on the VIVO PCB but isn’t enabled on many Pro VIVO cards – if you’re getting more than 85°C load with the stock cooler then you should probably look at getting better cooling.

    If you need to flash back, get back into DOS and use this line:

    atiflash -p 0 original.bin -f -newbios

    This should flash your card back to the backup you made earlier, and return your card back to stock.

    Hope this helps, direct any questions to me ;)

    -- Kameleon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 24 Jul 2005
  4. Leeum

    Leeum What's a Dremel?

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    Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB > XT BIOS Flash Guide

    Preperation ::

    First of all, you have to identify whether the card is moddable. The 9800 Pro is released with several different types of memory, core and PCB, which one you get is a gamble.

    First of all you must check the type of memory your card has by looking at the chips. They will say either Samsung or Hynix 2.8ns, when flashing it’s important to get the correct modded BIOS for your memory.

    Next task is to identify what core the card is carrying. The 9800 XT uses the R360 core which utilises more advanced pixel shaders and runs 8.4% in core speed and 7.4% in memory speed faster than the 9800 Pro’s R350. Many 9800 Pro’s were released with R360 cores, only these can be flashed. If your card is R350 based, bad luck. R350's are known to overclock better than R360's but there's no way it will flash to XT.

    There are 2 ways of checking your core. You can remove the stock cooler and look at the core itself, it is distinguished by the writing R350 or R360. This is done by using pliers to nip the pins of the stock cooler together on the underside of the card.
    Alternatively, you can use ATiTool.

    First of all you need to download ATITool from here and use it to dump the BIOS image written to the card:

    [​IMG]

    1. Open ATITool and click the settings button.

    [​IMG]

    2. Click the Misc. heading and then the Dump BIOS button, a confirmation message will display.

    [​IMG]

    3. Browse to the ATITool directory and find the bios.bin file.

    [​IMG]

    4. Open the file with a text editor such as Notepad and on the second line, your core and memory type will be shown.

    Cooling & Stability ::

    Before you go ahead with any BIOS flashing, you need to make sure your card is going to cope with 9800 XT speeds. Use a utility such as ATiTool and run your card at 412 MHz core and 365 MHz memory, then run a benchmark such as 3DMark03 and make sure there are no artifacts. DO NOT use ATiTool's artifact checking facility due to inconsistency.
    If there are no artifacts then your cooling solution should be adequate and you can proceed with the flash process. However, I personally recommend an Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer and a set of RAM sinks.

    [​IMG]

    Even with RAM sinks, I find the memory blistering hot after gaming.

    Flashing ::

    Before going ahead with this process, please note this voids any sort of manufacturers warranty and neither I or Bit-Tech can be held liable for any damage caused.

    First of all you need a BIOS for your card. Triple check it's the right one for the type of RAM the card uses eg. Hynix, Samsung etc. A database of BIOS images can be found here. The BIOS I used was the "GeCube Radeon 9800 XT
    (With OVERDRIVE)"
    Now you need a tool to flash your BIOS, I prefer to use ATiFlash.
    Insert a floppy disc and format the disc making sure the "MS-DOS boot up disc" box is ticked. Once that is complete, copy the BIOS image and the ATiFlash utility to the disc. Rename the BIOS image to something like "9800XT.bin" so it's easier in DOS and you're not typing a massive file name.

    You're now ready to flash, restart the computer and set it to boot from the floppy disc. Then type this first command to save the current BIOS the card is using to the floppy disc incase you need to re-flash back to 9800 Pro: "atiflash -s 0 backup.bin" Once that's complete you're ready to flash the XT BIOS onto the card, if you have any errors up to this point, do not continue. Retry the process with another floppy disc.

    Type this next command to flash the new BIOS to the card: "atiflash -f -p 0 9800XT.bin" If you've called your BIOS anything different replace the filename 9800XT.bin to whatever you called it. If all goes well you should be shown a screen saying the flash process is complete. Remove the floppy disc and reboot the computer, when it boots into Windows you should have a crazy small resolution and the balloon (XP) saying it has detected a new display device. Install the latest ATi Catalysts and you’re good to go.

    [​IMG]

    Flash Went Wrong? ::

    If the flash goes wrong or you’ve gone through the flash process and the computer has a garbled display, try not to worry. If the card displays simply repeat the flash process but change the command to “atiflash -f -p 0 backup.bin”. Backup.bin being the cards original BIOS.

    If your display shows nothing at all, you need a PCI graphics card to use while the dead card is in the AGP slot. When you reflash make sure you flash "backup.bin" to the card, this flashes the original BIOS back onto the card and hopefully fixes your problem.

    ”Overdrive & Temperature Monitoring” ::

    If your newly flashed card does not have “Overdrive” or temperature monitoring, it is because the PCB does not have the National Semiconductor LM63. Some 9800 Pro’s with the R360 core use an identical PCB to the XT, these will have the LM63 and with the correct BIOS can use the “Overdrive” and temperature monitoring features.

    ATiTool now has a facility to check whether your card has the LM63 chip.

    Settings > Miscellaneous > Show Log File

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 18 Mar 2006
  5. malcolmx9

    malcolmx9 What's a Dremel?

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    thx :) , this really helps.
    but u know if it is possible to open pipes in PINE XFX 6800LE?
     
  6. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    yes you can malcolm :)
     
  7. malcolmx9

    malcolmx9 What's a Dremel?

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    bigz u tried or know some1 who did? can u plz bring me a link to a post or OCDB?
    thx btw :)
     
  8. Highland3r

    Highland3r Minimodder

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    ALL the LE's appear to mod. Would be worth making a new thread for this rather than clogging up this one tbh :)
     
  9. yatesy

    yatesy What's a Dremel?

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    Great thread, was just about to ask on these forums for this how to..!!

    Keep up the good work.
     
  10. Kameleon

    Kameleon is watching you...

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    I've added my X800 flash guide, I think that's it for softmodding at least for now - hopefully there will be plenty more cards that we can get free performance out of in the future :D
     
  11. chemo

    chemo True Jungle Brother

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    just tried it on a inno3d 6800nu, only managed to get the 6th vertex shader going. better than stock though i suppose :) cheers guys.
     
  12. yatesy

    yatesy What's a Dremel?

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    HI

    Received my Leadtek 6800LE today, followed the guide and hey presto.!!!

    Cheers all
     
  13. fullfat

    fullfat What's a Dremel?

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    congrats
    :)
     
  14. atanum141

    atanum141 I fapped to your post!

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    ive got a question about the 9800pro/XT flashing...
    ive recieved my new 9800pro an its got a R360 core...with sammy ram....but looking thru leeum's instructions about flashing....ATItool is telling me ive got a R350 core???

    but ive seen with my own eyes ive got a R360!

    is this even possible?
     
  15. Kameleon

    Kameleon is watching you...

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    ATITool will report R350 if your BIOS is a Pro, R360 if you've got an XT BIOS on the card, no matter what the chip actually is. Only way to tell is by looking at the core, as I understand it - a BIOS dump will only tell you what the BIOS on the card thinks the core is.
     
  16. tank_rider

    tank_rider What's a Dremel?

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    Thanks for the excellent guide lads, this helped me with both my 9500->9700 PRO and 6800LE softmodding.
     
  17. coolmiester

    coolmiester Coolermaster Legend

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    Always nice to see someone rolling their sleeves up and getting their hands dirty.

    Great guide Highland3r :thumb:


    seems like a bit of Arctic Sliver overdose on the X800 :worried:
     
  18. Leeum

    Leeum What's a Dremel?

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    Kammy hit the nail on the head, ATiTool reports R350 until you flash. Your card will flash but you'll need a BIOS for samsung memory :)
     
  19. atanum141

    atanum141 I fapped to your post!

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    yeah..im well ahead on that one.....i did read ur howto and ive allready got the proper new bios from adrian rojackpot's site...as indicated by urself...all i need to do is sort out the floppy disk and finially flash it. :clap:
     
  20. quadmodz

    quadmodz What's a Dremel?

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    On my Sapphire Ati Radeon 9600 Atlantis. How I can change it to ULTRA or XT? And what driver I will use? I use an Omega Driver but the only thing is to over clock the speed. :(
    Thanks!
     
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