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VGA BIOS Testing without flashing

Discussion in 'Graphics Cards' started by dolf, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. dolf New Member

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    Due to the increased number of BAD BIOS flashings I decide to writhe this thread which presents to the community one small but very usefull utility RamBios ver 1.5 which can save time, troubles and in some cases money to the modders.

    The program allows to test practically every BIOS (not only ATI) without necessity of flashing.

    Advantages:
    - No risk to "kill" your card by flashing unknown BIOS
    - Prolongs the life of the EPROM chip which has limited number of flash cycles
    - "Bad" BIOS can be unloaded by simple restarting

    Ram BIOS utility Ver 1.5 explained:

    RAMBIOS [keys] [InputFilename]

    KEYS: /?[???] - This message
    /i[nit] - Initialize loaded BIOS
    /r[om] - Load BIOS from installed board
    /bu[sdev] - Define Bus/Dev for installed board
    /bm - Busmaster PCI
    /d[isable] - Disable RAM BIOS (board will be reinitialized)
    /u[ninstall] - Unload BIOS & Reinit board

    Note: keywords can be placed on any position inside the command line.

    What is necessary to have before to start:

    1. Boot disk (floppy) with unpacked RamBios on it
    2. BIOS image of the tested BIOS

    It is very important to mention that the new BIOS will only work if it has Device ID same as the adapter has. (Use RaBit to change the Device ID of the new BIOS to be equal with the adapter's present device ID and use that new BIOS as test one.)

    How to test the new BIOS:
    1. Boot from the floppy
    2. Type the following command line: rambios /i newbios.bin press "enter"

    If you still see something on your screen after loading of the tested BIOS it means that it works. With other words it is now not dangerous to flash with that BIOS. But it doesn't mean that the BIOS will work correctly.

    If you get black screen after loading the BIOS is not proper for that card and you should just restart and try another one.

    If you have problems with freezing of the system in DOS mode it is necessary to download and unpack on to the boot disk another utility DOS4fix which fixes a bug in DOS4GW. It is necessary to start DOS4fix prior to start Rambios (under DOS).

    Download links:

    http://www.overclockers.ru/softnews/17270.shtml
    http://radeon2.ru/downloads/bios.shtml
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2006
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  2. W1zzard

    W1zzard Administrator Staff Member

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    i'm not sure if this really works as intended .. modern video cards go through a lot of initialization at bootup, which might not happen if the card is already initialized

    but it is definitely worth a try if you are unsure if a bios will work for you
     
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  3. dolf New Member

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    I have tried it personally and it works with my 9800XT and X800XT. I have even tried X850XT BIOS on my X800XT (both AGP) using Rambios and something very interesting happened. After the BIOS loading the fan stops (the same like on some modded X850PRO's). Further I have tried X850PRO BIOS and the fan was OK. At that time I decide to flash my X800XT with X850PRO BIOS. Guess what happen after the flashing - everything was OK. Of course my X800XT does't become X850PRO because of the device ID. First two digits are probably setted on hardware level and just the last two are overwrited after flashing. Even that this risky flash was usefull (at minimum for me) because it proves the working capacity of the Rambios. My X800XT works great with X850PRO BIOS flashed with modified flashrom!!!

    The role of that program is just to load the BIOS not from the board's EPROM but from external source (floppy, CD, DVD). It works in DOS mode but if somebody can include the execution at start up probably it can be even more useful.

    W1zzard you can try it without any worry with arbitrary BIOS (close to your X850XT PE, for example X800XT or completely different) :) .

    I know this program more than a year (and I am using it all the time) but why I haven't post this earlier :confused: .
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2006
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  4. dolf New Member

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    Again and again people on the forum prefer first to flash and only then to read and desperately to look somebody to help after the bad flash. Use that "guide" and that wonderful program to test your BIOS before to flash!!!

    After flashing of AGP BIOS on PCIX card and vice versa your card couldn't be recognized at all :twitch: . It is not dead but the only solution in most cases is unsoldering of the EEPROM and re-programming it on external programmer. This operation requires special equipment, time, money and ......

    Using RamBios the above situation could be prevented!!!
     
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  5. infrared

    infrared Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow, that looks pretty cool!

    How does it test the card after loading the bios from an external source? Does it do any load tests?

    Thanks for posting, i think this will be very useful! But i agree with w1zzard that it might not work on the x1k cards. Could be worth a try though if anyone's willing to test it for us. LOL, hint! :p

    Thanks dolf
     
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  6. dolf New Member

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    I have no idea about X1x00 series but for the X8x0 I can guarantee that works perfect. This program is from the era of 9800 series and maybe even early but works fine with X8x0's. How it works I can give you only the my explanation. It loads the BIOS instructions using not the board's EEPROM but the external source.
    I presume that it will also work with X1x00 series but somebody with such card should try it.

    For me the usefulnes of the program is when I can see something on the screen after loading of the "unknown" (possibly dangerous) BIOS. If the BIOS fails just restart (or blind unload) is needed to return to the "original" state and to prepare the nex test BIOS.

    Guys, try the program it isn't bite :D .
     
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  7. Solaris17

    Solaris17 Creator Solaris Utility DVD

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    woah wait a min you said that flashing will make an eprom unusuable they only have a certain number of flashes?
     
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  8. dolf New Member

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    Yes that's right - certain number of flashes (but depending of the type that certain could be 1000 - 10000)
     
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  9. Solaris17

    Solaris17 Creator Solaris Utility DVD

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    ok so its not low like...5?
     
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