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Old 07-04-05, 08:16 AM   #1
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Default The Quadro Effect revisited; Hardmod.

I've had to sit on this mod for the last few months, waiting for official OpenGL 2.0 linux forceware drivers, which was the target OS for this mod.

Some of you might know, that for a while now there have been ways to convert 6800 based cards to quadros. There are two routes; a leaked dell engineering bios, and rivatuner's NVstrap driver for windows.

Both have drawbacks and limitations.

Firstly the dell01 bios, which is a very early 6800 bios revision, and as such newer drivers have problems with it, especially in Direct3D operation. From my experience this bios is highly unstable for anything other than OpenGL operation. A hex byte comparison to the latest official Quadro FX4000 bios from nvidia shows hundreds of differences, the two bios are more different than they are similar.

Rivatuner's NVstrap method is a far better approach. It's based on information found in the dell01 bios, which was also the key to unit/pipeline unlocking on the 6800NU. To be precise, professional capabilities of the card and the unit masks are actually handled by the same register in the gpu. There are some limitations though. Until just recently, only windows 32-bit was supported, as it requires a system driver. for the same reason, system standby is unsupported. also if you wish to quadrofy (heh) SLI cards, NVstrap only supports the primary card. But the biggest problem, which prompted the developement of this mod, was no operating system independence, therefore no linux support.

Originally the idea was to unlock the production revision bioses for the Quadro FX4000 to run on 6800 cards. This turned out to be trivially easy after some investigation, altering only a single byte out of 60Kbyte in the hex code to make the production FX4000 bios run with full functionality on 6800s. Well 2 bytes in you include the bios checksum. I've attached the FX4000 bios to the post, already patched, for anyone wishing to just use that on their 6800. The single byte edited is simply to program the register responsible for enabling professional capabilities, that same register used for unit unmasking.

I say trivially easy, i don't know any assembly language, and never work with hex normally. My programming knowledge goes no further than some C/CPP hacking, and my bios modding only as far as unlocking some mainboard bios features. Once you find out about endian issues, locating registers and their assigned values within NV bioses becomes possible and quite easy to do.

Back to the topic, although the patched FX4000 bios makes any 6800 appear as a fully working FX4000, it also has one or two drawbacks. There's no tv-out support in the official quadro bios. Also by using the bios, your card is set to use generic timings and other card specific settings, instead of the manufacturers intended ones. I personally use my tv-out for dvd's on my tv, i needed that functionality.

So, with some further investigation and a hint from a well respected developer, the idea of converting existing 6800 bioses to fully working quadro mode became a reality. In fact this only took editing another 16 bytes, namely two registers used in some boolean assembly operation within the bios initialisation. These two registers appear to control the programmed PCI device ID.

Originally i was just editing hex manually to apply this patch, but that's a bit awkward for most people, so i've converted the patch to Rivatuner .rts script format, making it a simple 3 clicks to apply it. That's attached file hardquadro6800.zip. Readme included.

It's been tested on AGP 6800NU/GT/Ultra in xp 32/64 bit, and linux. Also tested partially for PCI-E parts in xp 32/64 bit. PCI-E parts will only partially work; professional capabilities are unlocked, however the HSI bridge chip overrides any programmed Device ID back to the 6800 ID.

Here's the full readme:
-hardquadro6800 bios patch-

This patch converts 6800 based graphics cards to Quadro FX-4000 at the hardware level via the bios. It operates on the card's original 6800 bios, retaining any card specific settings such as memory timings, and tv-out support.


Extract the contents of this zip to your rivatuner root folder, e.g. "C:\Program Files\RivaTuner v2.0 RC 15.4\". Then browse to PatchScripts\NVIDIA\hardquadro6800 and run the patch on your bios file. Flash the modified bios to your card.


AGP cards

Full quadro functionality, performance, and hardware ID, with one exception; dual-link DVI support, which physically requires a third TMDS transmitter on the PCB. The card will appear and function as a real Quadro FX4000 to all software, drivers, and operating systems.

PCI-E cards

Full quadro performance, but also no dual-link DVI support. Furthermore, as no truly native PCI-E 6800 cards exist, the Device ID will remain 6800, due to the hardwired ID in the AGP->PCI-E bridge chip found on PCI-E 6800 parts. The graphics core is set to a quadro Id, but as the bridge sits between the core and the pci-e bus, the system will always only see the brdige chip's ID. This can pose a serious problem.

Testing has shown, at least in windows 32/64 bit, that the driver -will- recognise the Quadro functionality of the card, providing you manually install the driver through the device manager. However any third party software that verifies PCI Device ID is actually quadro (004E) will not accept the card as quadro, although there are some reports of maxtreme for 3dsmax working fine. To gain access to workstation profiles in the NVIDIA driver you may have to manually copy wxapps.xml from the driver install files to your system32 folder.

Lastly, linux operation has not been tested yet for PCI-E parts with this patch. There is no option to choose manually which card you have for the driver within linux, so it's entirely possible the linux driver will see the brdige chip's 6800 PCI Device ID and decide to function only in 6800 mode.
So who needs this patch? Well anyone who wants a fully operational quadro with use of ACPI suspend states, or within linux, or with SLI cards. e.g. 3D design students, or 3D hobbyists. I wouldn't recommend this patch for production environments, it might save a few quid, but there's an obvious driver related reason not to use it instead of real quadros, which i won't point out. If you use XSI or Maya in linux this is the only way to get quadro functionality and performance levels, that was my personal reason to use this method, colour indexed overlays greatly improve some maya tools performance. I also make use of S3 suspend within windows occasionally.

If you only use windows 32/64 bit, and don't use suspend modes, you do not NEED this patch. I highly recommend using rivatuner's NVstrap tool instead, it will do the same job without needing to flash your card. It's an excellent program, the best graphics card utility around certainly, and well worth supporting.

Specviewperf for linux results:

Debian 'Sid' AMD64 / / Forceware 71.74

Run All Summary
3dsmax-03 Weighted Geometric Mean = 33.29
catia-01 Weighted Geometric Mean = 21.49
ensight-01 Weighted Geometric Mean = 21.07
light-07 Weighted Geometric Mean = 27.31
maya-01 Weighted Geometric Mean = 51.43
proe-03 Weighted Geometric Mean = 41.98
sw-01 Weighted Geometric Mean = 24.20
ugs-04 Weighted Geometric Mean = 38.19

I'd left texture sharpening and gamma-correction for AA lines enabled. I believe they fall somewhere between the results for the FX4000 and 4400. I'm happy with them for sure.
Windows specviewperf results are slightly higher in places, slightly lower in others. 3ds max 7.5 performance with the NV maxtreme driver installed is many times higher than with a normal 6800 using the opengl or d3d max driver. Depending on your clocks speeds, performance is the same or greater than retail FX4000 boards in 3ds max and specviewperf.

Lastly gaming performance. I do like to play games still when i close maya/3dsmax, mostly FPS and some driving games. Although the forceware panel only shows workstation profiles and options, you can use Nhancer to create and maintain gaming profiles, as well as expose tril+aniso+mip optimisation controls. Performance in games is within 1-5% of the same card running as a 6800GT. D3D performance particularly is unchanged, however opengl is marginally slower, eg. doom3, you lose about 5% of your fps. I suspect this is due to the opengl driver being geared toward precision rather than optimised speed.

Image quality is certainly excellent in games. Something gamers might appreciate is that when patched to FX4000 mode, NV40 cards have the ability to use gamma-corrected full-screen AA. I haven't fully tested this, only in doom3 which is opengl, and it works nicely. However whether or not gamma-corrected AA is a D3D function too, i'll have to test sometime.

Speaking of testing, if anyone with a PCI-E part wants to try linux functionality of the patch, thanks.

I think that covers everything. I decided to post this here and link to it from DCC forums, because this forum contains the information to flash the bios and for other misc questions people will have.

disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for damage caused by this patch to any hardware. It has been thoroughly tested and no problems have appeared (even bad flashes has been recovered), however it's always possible. Also if you're a lawyer, really I only found this patch, hehe, and i'd like to see you try to prove otherwise.
Attached Files
File Type: zip hardquadro6800.zip (2.6 KB, 1393 views)
File Type: zip NVIDIA.QFX4000.256MB.Rev.02+ProCaps.zip (41.7 KB, 1322 views)
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Last edited by myshkinbob; 07-04-05 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 06-05-06, 06:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Quadro Effect revisited; Hardmod.

You are change your 6800gt for a 7800gs. Now you can't obtain the beneficts of quadro features. Worth it?
Thank you.
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Old 12-30-08, 12:45 AM   #3
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Default Re: The Quadro Effect revisited; Hardmod.

Hey, I want to study Animation in college and I really want to be a game designer and make characters and games to life: D so like is 3D Max a good program and what programming language do I need? And what programs do u need like 3D Max and what programming?
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Old 12-30-08, 12:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Quadro Effect revisited; Hardmod.

Hey, I want to study Animation in college and I really want to be a game designer and make characters and games to life: D so like is 3D Max a good program and what programming language do I need? And what programs do u need like 3D Max and what programming?
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Old 12-30-08, 02:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Quadro Effect revisited; Hardmod.

Oh WOW thread necromancy strikes again!!!!

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