ATI BIOS flashing: All you need to know!

Willamette_sucks

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Hey guys, as I've said before, I'm a member of the EOCF boards. Got some info over there on flashing the BIOS on my 9800 Pro to an XT BIOS. I did the flash (using a cd, as I don't have a floppy drive) and it was successful. I tried 2 BIOSes, both worked (although not all will work, it's card specific). I tried a BBA 128mb samsung e-die BIOS, and the GigaCube one. I'm not sure if there's any benefit with one over the other. The main reason it's card specific is different memory types, or different board designs from various manufacturers. Some are interchangable, such as the ATI/gigacube BIOS, and possibly the Sapphire BIOS (made for the same memory type).

Before you flash, make sure your card can run stable at STOCK XT speeds, which are 412/365. If you know you can do this, then a flash may be a good idea for you! The XT BIOS improves performance AT THE SAME SPEEDS compared to the Pro BIOS (r350 at least, not sure about r360), although I'm not sure if it's accross the board, or only in certain areas (dx9/ps2.0) or apps. (I saw a big increase in 3dmark 03). I saw about a 500 point increase in my 3dmark 03 score with the XT BIOS. Using the 4.3s I broke 7k (7032) compared to about 6500 (4.3s) with the Pro BIOS. These were both run at 460/380 on my card.

If you have an older 9800 Pro (like me) that was produced before they started making the r360(xt) core, you will get some ARTIFACTING in the 2nd and 3rd game test of 3dmark 03. This is due to some minor differences in the core. This is NORMAL and WILL NOT hurt your card. In fact the anomalies are kind of interesting:) I have seen no sign of any other misrenderings in ANY other programs or games except 3dmark 03. (Although I havn't tried everything in the world!) Many newer 9800 Pros (and non-pros) have an r360(xt) core. The only way to know what core you have is to look at it, or flash your BIOS and see if you get any artifacts in game tests 2 and 3 of 3dmark 03.

I believe the XT BIOS increases the memory voltage, and may or may not increase the core voltage. Some people claim to get higher overclocks after flashing. I did not experience this. (I have good aftermarket cooling and have always been able to run 460/380).

Here is a link to where you can download the various 9800 XT BIOSes. <A HREF="http://my.tbaytel.net/panthor/bioses.htm" target="_new"> 9800 XT BIOSes </A>

Here's a link to a thread at EOCF that talks about flashing, if you're interested. This post covers all you need to know though. <A HREF="http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showthread.php?t=92880" target="_new"> EOCF thread</A>.

If you have a floppy drive, make an msdos startup disk (right click A: in my comp, select format, create startup disk). Then place the neccessary files (flashrom, dos4gw (the top 2 attatchments on the EOCF post), and the BIOS file you want to use onto the floppy. Reboot (first boot device = floppy), type "flashrom -s 0 original.bin" to save your current BIOS onto the floppy (it will be called original.bin). Backing up your current BIOS is optional, but recommended.
Then to do the flash, type "flashrom -p 0 [name of BIOS file]". To see the exact name of the BIOS file you have put on the floppy, type "dir". This will show you everything on the floppy, including the BIOS. File names are different in DOS, if you're smart, you'll know what it's called without having to type that ;) When typing the name of the BIOS in dos, you must include the ".bin" suffix.
Reboot, and youre done! The flash takes seconds. You may need to reinstall your ATI drivers.

You can download FLASHROM (the utility needed to flash your ATI card's BIOS) and dos4gw (the other program you need) off my personal webspace <A HREF="http://members.cox.net/theocking/9800pro%20to%209800xt%20bios%20flash%201.zip" target="_new">HERE</A> and <A HREF="http://members.cox.net/theocking/9800pro%20to%209800xt%20bios%20flash%202.zip" target="_new">HERE</A>.

If you do not have a floppy drive, you can use a CD, like I did. Using this method you cannot backup your current BIOS though. This wasn't a problem for me and probably won't be for you, unless you use the WRONG BIOS, or a corrupted one.

To make a dosboot cd with the neccessary files on it is a somewhat lengthy process and I lost the link I had on how to do it. Basically you just need 2 files, then put the flashrom and dos4gw and bios file in a certain directory, then compile it into an cd image file to burn.

However I compiled and saved the exact image file (.iso) you need, which can be downloaded off my personal webspace for your convenience! This image file contains ALL of the BIOS files listed on that site, AS WELL AS an original 9800 Pro BIOS incase you need to flash back. This is the easiest way to do it.
Before I compiled the image I renamed all the BIOS files to 8 characters (or less) to make them easily distinguishable in a DOS environment. If you have any question as to which BIOS is right for your card, ask me (email or pm).

My BIOS naming scheme is as follows:
BBA = Made by ATI
Sap = Sapphire
Byte = Gigabyte
Club = Club 3d
Cube = GigaCube
Elsa = Elsa
Herc = Hercules
HIS = HIS
PC = Power Color

Following one of the above names, is the amount of memory (128 or 256) the BIOS is meant for.

Following that number, there will be one of three letters:
S = samsung ram
H = hynix ram
I = infineon ram

Some BIOS names contain other information, such as AIW, or "E". The E stands for e-die. Don't ask me what this is. The "bba128sE" works with made by ati 9800 pros (as does the GigaCube BIOS). Also for some manufacturers there is more than one BIOS, and one is suffixed with a "2". Both should work, as there are probably minor differences in them.

You can download this 3mb image file off of my cox personal webspace <A HREF="http://members.cox.net/theocking/bcd.iso" target="_new">HERE</A>.
If by chance I go over my max bandwidth limit, email me and Ill email you the image file, or files you need to put on a floppy.


Anyways I'm very happy with the flash, I see no problems in any games/benchmarkes except 3dmark03 which has rendering anomalies in game tests 2 and 3 (and maybe the feature tests, i didn't try them). You may very well get an overclock boost, and you will get a mild performance boost even at the same speeds!

This flash works for 9800 Pro AND 9800 non-pro cards, as long as it can handle the speeds. The 9800 Pro BIOS in my image file is for an r350 core, so if you have an r350 core (older) 9800 non-pro, you can flash to this if you so choose, and you will get no anomalies in any 3dmark 03 tests. If you have an r360 core 9800 Pro/non-pro you can still flash back to this file without a problem. The stock speeds are 380(ish)/340(ish).

One thing I'm not sure of, is whether currently produced r360 core 9800 Pro's get a performance boost with the XT BIOS, running the same speeds. Either way you still get a voltage boost as far as I know.

The BIOS flashing process for ALL ATI cards is exactly the same, if you have a non-9800 model and want to flash, just use a different BIOS file!

Good luck if you try it!


Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Willamette_Sucks on 03/30/04 12:26 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

Willamette_sucks

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BTW, I think this post/thread may just be worthy of becoming a sticky! *Crosses his fingers hoping to get a sticky!*


Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Willamette_Sucks on 03/30/04 11:17 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

Willamette_sucks

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I think it might be a good idea to make a graphics card FAQ, in which you could put the vertex/pixel shaders explained, catalyst comparison, MY post, possibly the buyers guide, and other junk. THAT OR GIVE ME A STICKY!


Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Willamette_Sucks on 03/30/04 10:15 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

etp777

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Thanks for this post. Have my Sapphire 9800 Pro sitting at 412/365 righ tnow no problem, though I'm going to test it a bit longer to make sure. As these cards seem to have the R360 core anyways, don't think I'll have any problems with this upgrade, and then will have saved myself about $200. Thanks for this.
 

Willamette_sucks

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No problem! Like the post? Vote for it to become a "sticky" so it stays on top in the forum! (There's no real voting system in place for this, unless i made a poll, so just say "I vote for this to become a sticky!")

Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?
 

ChipDeath

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eh? I always thought the <i>only</i> difference between the PRO and XT (as far as 3d performance was concerned) was it was clocked slightly higher. if there are no architectural differences between the two cores I don't see how flashing the BIOS will do anything for me that simply running the card a little overclocked would do.

Could someone enlighten me as to what (if any) actual performance or quality differences there are?

Or are there certain driver features that only get activated if the drivers detect an XT instead of a PRO card (which affect performance or quality)? That I could understand I guess.

[EDIT]
Ah I see, possible Voltage increases would make some sense (perhaps I really should've read the whole post before I posted this :smile: ).. still don't see how it could improve performance at the same speeds without sacrificing IQ or something :eek:
[/EDIT]

---
Epox 8RDA+ rev1.1 w/ Custom NB HS
XP1700+ @205x11 (~2.26Ghz), 1.575Vcore
2x256Mb Corsair PC3200LL 2-2-2-4
Sapphire 9800Pro 420/744<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by ChipDeath on 03/30/04 04:22 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

etp777

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I don't make any claims on what differences the bios may enable(though that is fully possible), but the XTs are running the R360 core, which while not having any more features, is rearranged to aid cooling, or so ATI informed Toms in their initial review of the XT. That being said, some 9800 Pros now, or at least some of the Sapphires, are coming with the R360 cores, and jsut "Pros" because of what the Bios says and what they are clocked at. Mine is running at XT speeds jsut fine(albeit with 128MB, not 256)
 

ChipDeath

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Yeah, there's someone around here with a 9800Pro which works @ 460Mhz core & above which would suggest a R360. I get minor artifacts at anything over 420Mhz on mine though, which to me suggests I've only got a 350 :frown: .

I might give it a try then... I might get some better cooling first though.

---
Epox 8RDA+ rev1.1 w/ Custom NB HS
XP1700+ @205x11 (~2.26Ghz), 1.575Vcore
2x256Mb Corsair PC3200LL 2-2-2-4
Sapphire 9800Pro 420/744
 

etp777

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I've been very happy with my Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer. Don't know that I bleieve their numbers on improvement, but defintiely quieter, and cools better than stock, at least stock HSF on my Sapphire.

And of course while you're changing out the cooler, can find out for sure which core you ahve(unless you're like me, and didn't know there was more than one possibility, so didn't relaly pay attention :) )
 

ChipDeath

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And of course while you're changing out the cooler, can find out for sure which core you have
Sadly, I think my main motivation for sticking some better cooling on is actually this... I want to know which core I have, but I can't really justify taking it to bits unless I have a nice new cooler for it! :lol:

---
Epox 8RDA+ rev1.1 w/ Custom NB HS
XP1700+ @205x11 (~2.26Ghz), 1.575Vcore
2x256Mb Corsair PC3200LL 2-2-2-4
Sapphire 9800Pro 420/744
 

Willamette_sucks

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I can do 460mhz on my core, and I KNOW I have an r350 as I ordered my 9800 Pro within weeks of their release, before the r360 was in production.

How you say, can a BIOS flash increase performance while running at the same speeds? Well like I said, I'm not sure if increases r360 core 9800 pros performance @ the same speeds, but it does definately increase r350 core 9800 pros @ the same speeds.
Due to slight differences in the r360 core, things are rendered slightly differently (more efficiently, no loss in IQ). When you flash your 9800 pro to an XT BIOS, your card renders them in the SAME manner, however, because your core is slightly different, you will see rendering anomalies in certain situations (the only situations I've found so far are game test 2 and 3 in 3dmark 03). Ask ATI why this happens, as I don't really know the architecture/rendering process well enough to tell you. Due to the nature of the rendering errors (what they look like), my GUESS as to the difference between r350/r360 rendering has to do with the z-buffer/z-occlusion, and seems to be related to shadowing. However I can't back this up. Flash your card and take a look for yourself! (if you have an r350 core)

Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Willamette_Sucks on 03/30/04 12:15 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

andyb

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Thanks for the post i have a 9800pro Herc 128mb and i was woundering if any one here has used "ATi tool" becuase when i was using it and went into the settings it said my card chip type was R350, is this accurate? does any one know if the only way to find out what chip type your card is by taking the HS off?

My system:
AMD 2800xp+
1gig ram
ABIT NF7 rev. 2.0 NF2 mobo
WD 120gig 8mb cache
Hercules 9800pro
Coolmaster praetorian case
400 watt FSP sparkle PSU
 

Willamette_sucks

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***BUMP***

Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?
 

pauldh

Illustrious
I'm with you. My saphire seems to get the mild snow at 425MHz, so i'm thinking mine is the R350 also. I'm also tempted to change the cooling just to see the core. :redface:


ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 512MB Corsair TwinX PC3200LL, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
 

pauldh

Illustrious
Yeah, stock XT speeds are do-able for me. Thx for the post, I'll look into it some more. I'm a bit of a wimp to screw with my best video card though.

ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 512MB Corsair TwinX PC3200LL, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
 

coolsquirtle

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too much stickys...i say put them all together!! a project i should do when i'm bored bored....

and it seems flameless here... that's not right!

ATi SUCK!!! nVidia 5900 can be flashed to a 5950 too!! and it owns XT!!!!

muhahahhahahahahahahahhah

let the war begin.....heh....heh....heh.....

RIP Block Heater....HELLO P4~~~~~
120% nVidia Fanboy
never tried to go crazy when it comes to o/cing.
THGC's resident Asian and Graphics Forum's resident nVboy :D
 

coolsquirtle

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get me a hammer, corrosive acid, and your dad's credit card

oh ya...I'm charging u 25cents!


RIP Block Heater....HELLO P4~~~~~
120% nVidia Fanboy
never tried to go crazy when it comes to o/cing.
THGC's resident Asian and Graphics Forum's resident nVboy :D
 

Willamette_sucks

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LOL! You and your crazy nVidiocy! I do agree that a single FAQ sticky could cover just about everything.

This thread (or at least the first post) deserves to be a sticky or be in a sticky! Damnit!

Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Willamette_Sucks on 03/31/04 11:04 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

markgun

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How you say, can a BIOS flash increase performance while running at the same speeds?
Could it also be beause the XT BIOS is running the memory at tighter timings?

<b>Qui habet aures audiendi audiat</b>
 
Like I said in the other thread, I think this would be more of a 'Overclocking 3D chips' forum sticky, but that's just my op-onion. A whole modding FaQ there would be great as would an Overclocking FaQ.

The Catalyst Thread is updated far too often and too completely to be folded into another thread (which would simply make it even more unwieldly [it's getting damn long NOW!]), also with it being an open sticky it allows little snipets of news about new features, issues and such.

I'm fine with this being a sticky, even thouugh I think it should elsewhere.

There should be a more comprehensive Graphics Card Faq, but it's really a very big endevour, and those who SHOULD write it/contribute to it (IMO), don't have anywhere near enough time.


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil:
 

GeneticWeapon

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I dont think I would want to do this if I had a 9800Pro, I would simply overclock my card and be more then happy. And the fact that doing this will cause your card to artifact isnt cool, artifacting is most deffinately detrimental to the long-term life of your card.
Put up a link to your 3DMark03 score WS.

<A HREF="http://rmitz.org/AYB3.swf" target="_new">All your base are belong to us.</A>
<A HREF="http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k3=2216718" target="_new"><b>3DMark03</b></A>
 

Willamette_sucks

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It's possible, however I doubt it, because if the timings WERE tightened, i doubt you could get as high of a memory overclock, but some people claim even higher memory overclocks.

Grape, now that you mention it, I agree. This would make a good sticky in the overclocking boards. Would you please mention that idea to Freddi or whomever would take care of such a thing?

<A HREF="http://members.cox.net/theocking/OMG7k!!.bmp.jpg" target="_new">3DMark03</A>

Gen... I remember your comment LAST time when I posted a link to a picture of my 6600 score and you called "BS" and said anyone could do that with photoshop. Possible? Yes. Difficult? To make it look that good, somewhat. Within my skill level? No. To be honest I didn't think to upload my score to madonion as I have never done this in the past (nor did I save the project). I'll rerun 3dmark 03 and upload it when my mobile 2400 comes in and we turn our AC on! I'll also run with a better 3dmark 03 performing catalyst set! I expect at least 7200:)

I guarantee you though, I broke 7k:)

Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Willamette_Sucks on 03/31/04 06:44 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

etp777

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My concern, is now that I've confirmed I dont' have the new core, like I hoped, is that if this is guaranteed to cause artifcating in 3mark03, I worry that while I may not see it now, some future game will try to use same thing,a nd will get same artifacting.
 

Willamette_sucks

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Well I'm not sure exactly WHAT about 3dmark 03 is making it artifact, however I can guarantee you no game will ever be coded like 3dmark 03 (crappy/unoptimized).

Also you can always flash back if that does happen.

I do not believe this artifacting in 3dmark 03 will hurt the core in any way, as its just a misrendering, like a bug that may be present in some game. Playing a game with a bug dosn't hurt your graphics card.

Me: are you saying I can't provide?
Me: cause I know I can provide.
Me: oh and I can provide money too;)
Rachel:): why do we need money when we can just stay in our room and have sex all day?