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A7N8X-E Deluxe as an alternative for socket 462


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On 10/23/2019 at 4:30 PM, Tzk said:

My Nanoflasher works (even on Win10 64bit!). As a first step i moved some items in bios around... Clock+Timings control now resides in a new "OC menu" tab on my A7N8X bios. :D

This makes bios flashing/recovery so much easier... Just pop the bios chip, insert in flasher, plug flasher to usb, flash and put chip back into board. You can't test various bios files any faster...

Can you share the nanoflasher model you are using?

I have several A7N8X i would like to practice a bit :)

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59 minutes ago, sammurai said:

Can you share the nanoflasher model you are using?

Sure!

I use this model from South Korea: https://www.ebay.de/itm/NANO-USB-Programmer-for-PC-M-B-BIOS-repairing-with-Economic-shipping/271313593344

And i bought additinal 4mbit bios chips from china: https://www.ebay.de/itm/5-PCS-PM49FL004T-33JCE-PLCC32-PM49FL004-Flash-Memory/121360397788

Note that some a7n8x got 2mbit (256kb) chips and some got 4mbit (512kb) chips. My A7N8X Deluxe v2.0 uses 4mbit, afaik the -E Deluxe too. But A7N8X v1.x and -X should use 2mbit chips. Also note that the flasher works fine with win10 64bit, but it will set your system to "testmode" because the driver isn't digitally signed.

And last but not least, if you intend to test a lot of bios versions, buy a plcc32 chip extractor. It'll make your life so much easier :D

image.png.8ce4192f4103da5ee8c7a4cab194f659.png

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I've tried my current best NF7-S and can't pass 267MHz no matter what. Optimal Vdd is 2.08V. Lower and it crashes while loading windows at 267, anything significantly higher - BSOD.

Hooked up an external Vdimm source (removed the Vdimm MOSFET) and it helped to drop required Vdimm (like 0.2V less or more), but didn't help with max FSB.

Played with ROMSIPs again and tried using the one from NF4, but it is slower. It has the last value higher, e.g. 18 -> 1D, 20 -> 25 and this made superpi 1M much slower, while it didn't help with FSB.

I can also change drive strengths and slew rates registers. Abit bios has drv strength at 3 (33) and slew rates at 10 (AA). 4/6 or 4/7 seems to work better, but haven't tested a lot of combinations. Can't change Data Scavenged Rate and SuperBypass, plus they are set differently on my board - perhaps just on of the bits is the relevant setting and not the whole register.

 

Probably can get a better score, but wanted to pass that 267MHz limit I have. Will test one "new" AN7 next.

This is a Sempron 2200+ (Thoroughbred) with bridge mods.

image_id_2255574.jpeg

Edited by I.nfraR.ed
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5 hours ago, I.nfraR.ed said:

I can also change drive strengths and slew rates registers. Abit bios has drv strength at 3 (33) and slew rates at 10 (AA). 4/6 or 4/7 seems to work better, but haven't tested a lot of combinations.

What do you mean by changing registers? In bios or after OS boot? I can't remember if AN7 or NF7 allowed for DS and slewrate adjustment in bios... At least Asus doesn't which is hat got me into hacking the bios :D I got two NF7 but the better one (250MHz+) just randomly freezes after a few minutes, even when just in bios...

I also wondered where these settings are stored in the bios... Could it be that they're saved inside the romsips? Haven't tested different romsips myself to verify this up to now. But i notices a difference between official 1007 and my EBED bios on A7N8X Dlx.

Regarding the DS and slewrate setting: I remember that TCCDs liked rather weak DS and Winbond maxed out when you gave them everything you had on NF4 boards. Not sure about slewrate.

Edited by Tzk
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5 minutes ago, Tzk said:

What do you mean by changing registers? In bios or after OS boot? I can't remember if AN7 or NF7 allowed for DS and slewrate adjustment in bios... At least Asus doesn't which is hat got me into hacking the bios :D I got two NF7 but the better one (250MHz+) just randomly freezes after a few minutes, even when just in bios...

I also wondered where these settings are stored in the bios... Could it be that they're saved inside the romsips? Haven't tested different romsips myself to verify this up to now. But i notices a difference between official 1007 and my EBED bios on A7N8X Dlx.

It seems default timings come from BPL, so probably drive strengths and slew rates too. Abit doesn't have them in the bios, I'm using wpcredit in Windows.

BTW, what do you use to edit the layout, modbin? It's the tool I've managed to make work in the past.

Edited by I.nfraR.ed
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WPCRedit works on drive strength and slewrate? nice. I've only read about Tictac having issues with freezes and (up to now) didn't bother to try for myself. You set all 6 settings one after another for DS and slewrate?

---

Yes, i use modbin6 2.01.02 for menu editing and cbrom 1.98 for bios module adding/removing. However you'll need to tinker with hexeditors when you want to have new selectable options on bios items, you can't do that through modbin. I found a great PDF with posts by polygon originally made on rebels haven forums (sadly whole forums doesn't exist anymore) about the structure and editing of Award bioses. It even explains how you'd add new items, but only for bioses which got an item.bin module. Sadly the a7n8x bioses are too old and store the item.bin content directly inside the system module mixed with code. I tried to add new options but every try (and i tried like a dozen times) left me with a bricked bios.

Here's how a single item looks like in system.bin (marked in blue). If i just insert another item between the blue mark and the "press enter" the bios won't boot. Thus i suspect that the code makred in pink does something and any addition above it is either causing problems or i need to add something somewhere else.

ssdsdsssss.JPG.46851c52716b6caab2ea98673d3b4ceb.JPG

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Nice modding, guys. I recently have been lucky enough finding a LanParty Ultra B. Since I don't want to use a soldering iron for hardmodding a such rare and hard to find board these days, I was wondering if one of you maybe archived this BIOS: DFI_Lan_Party_Ultra_B_Discovery_0.3_ED_E4_EB_23.11.04. Don't even know if it has ever been released to public.

Edited by Thorn
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3 hours ago, Thorn said:

Nice modding, guys. I recently have been lucky enough finding a LanParty Ultra B. Since I don't want to use a soldering iron for hardmodding a such rare and hard to find board these days, I was wondering if one of you maybe archived this BIOS: DFI_Lan_Party_Ultra_B_Discovery_0.3_ED_E4_EB_23.11.04. Don't even know if it has ever been released to public.

;)

MerlinDisco0.3.zip

Edited by Mr.Scott
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Is there any difference between the Disco 0.3 Mr.Scott linked and the version you're looking for besides the EB and EBED difference? Or in other words: Would a modded EB bios with EBED romsips work for you?

This is the difference between EB and EBED. One table is Cpu Interface on, the other is Cpu Interface off. Every yellow mark is for one cpu multi setting. So depending on your desired multi you may literally see no difference between these two bios versions.  The settings are stored like this for the different cpu multis:

11.0 11.5
12.0 12.5
5.0 5.5
6.0 6.5
7.0 7.5
8.0 8.5
9.0 9.5
10.0 10.5

So we can conclude that the following multi settings are different between EB and EBED (from top to bottom):

11x - 11.5x - 12x - 12.5x - 6x - 8x - 10x  and 10.5x

image.thumb.png.c6417c3ff329ae571f359d6d00e89225.png

Edited by Tzk
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Based on the dates, it should be the same bios with a slightly different tables, which won't give you much difference, if any at all.

I've never found working links for other Merlin bioses for DFI Ultra B. The linked bios is the only one from Merlin I have in my collection.

Edited by I.nfraR.ed
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Don't know if there is any difference apart from the filename. No changelog has ever been posted. I'm just curious since it has the magical letters EBED in the filename. So I wouldn't mind giving it a try and see for myself. But first I need to get hold of that particular version.

This is where I got the info from that it might exists: https://forums.overclockersclub.com/topic/84291-dfi-lanparty-ultra-b-bios-romsip-mod-by-merlin/?page=2

Edited by Thorn
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As always:

!!!! THIS BIOS IS UNTESTED, MAKE SURE YOU CAN RECOVER YOUR BOARD IN CASE THIS BIOS IS FAULTY !!!

There you go, EB ED romsips integrated into the bios mr.scott uploaded above. Make sure you can hotflash or otherwise recover the bios just in case i messed up ;)

 

EDIT: I removed the EBED test bios. I accidentally included the system module from Merlins Discovery 0.1 bios instead of 0.3. See later posts for updated files.

Updated files here:

 

Edited by Tzk
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I have found that awardeco (a.k.a. AwardDeco) linux package can list and extract BIOS modules, but there's no tool to compress them back.

However, cbrom appears to be working under wine. Haven't flashed a modded bios this way, since I'm at work, but will test once back home.

If that works, then I would be able to use my main linux PC :)

I know AwardBiosEditor works under wine, but never tested cbrom before.

Can someone link me the proper cbrom and modbin versions?

@Tzk Did you manage to add memtest module? There's an EOM rom (spectrum.exe) and I wonder if we can do something with it.

Edited by I.nfraR.ed
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PN sent for Cbrom and modbin. You can extract modules with cbrom, i use AWDbedit though.

No, i couldn't add a working Memtest module but didn't investigate further. I noticed that Biostar (P965) and DFI (NF4 Ultra-D) split Memtest in two parts: memsetup.rom and memtest.rom. These two parts together look like the usual memtest bootable binary. I also noticed that they use 55AAh in said binary (that's the PCI option rom identifier). Maybe memsetup.rom must set the something before memtest is booted. I've tried to just replace awdflash.exe with memtest.exe, but that (obviously) didn't work. I haven't tried to replace a pci option rom with memtest yet (for ex. PXE boot). That's the next step i might try. But before that i'll try to hook/hack into the existing option rom to make my bios mods functional.

Here's the start of a bootable memtest file. The content of the red box is in memsetup.bin in the DFI and Biostar bios. The green box isn't used in bios-memtest. blue is the pci option rom identifier (55AAh). The actual memtest program starts way below this, indicated by the zeros at the bottom, that is in memtest.bin on DFI and biostar.

I'm not sure what spectrum.exe on DFI NF2 bios does. Just wondered why it's there.

image.thumb.png.a107c816ca2d0192a2302f070e7aad6b.png

Edited by Tzk
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1 hour ago, Tzk said:

PN sent for Cbrom and modbin. You can extract modules with cbrom, i use AWDbedit though.

No, i couldn't add a working Memtest module but didn't investigate further. I noticed that Biostar (P965) and DFI (NF4 Ultra-D) split Memtest in two parts: memsetup.rom and memtest.rom. These two parts together look like the usual memtest bootable binary. I also noticed that they use 55AAh in said binary (that's the PCI option rom identifier). Maybe memsetup.rom must set the something before memtest is booted. I've tried to just replace awdflash.exe with memtest.exe, but that (obviously) didn't work. I haven't tried to replace a pci option rom with memtest yet (for ex. PXE boot). That's the next step i might try. But before that i'll try to hook/hack into the existing option rom to make my bios mods functional.

Here's the start of a bootable memtest file. The content of the red box is in memsetup.bin in the DFI and Biostar bios. The green box isn't used in bios-memtest. blue is the pci option rom identifier (55AAh). The actual memtest program starts way below this, indicated by the zeros at the bottom, that is in memtest.bin on DFI and biostar.

I'm not sure what spectrum.exe on DFI NF2 bios does. Just wondered why it's there.

 

I'm going to experiment with that spectrum.exe. If that is invoked based on the spread spectrum options in bios and there are no other complications by replacing it with a DOS memtest.exe, then it might work. The other possibility is as you say replace one of the option ROM, e.g. NIC with memtest, like I did with the plop boot manager - it works well on NF7-S and I can boot from USB and install Windows from that flash drive. I can turn it on/off from bios with enable/disabled of the "LAN Boot Option ROM" menu item. Couldn't make Acronis boot up from the same flash drive, because there's some collision with the PLOP boot manager, but I might try different options when compressing it. e.g. hook to INT19 instead of INT18.

Maybe look into some of the tictac bioses. I remember seeing a changelog which mentioned additional tweaks injected into the SATA RAID option rom.

Perhaps that would be the easiest one for your project. Will let you know If I find which bios (I believe it was for NF7-S) has these extra tweaks. I'm unaware of what exactly he have changed, but we can compare.

 

PS: That spectrum.exe is just 13KB, while memtest is 150+, so that might be a problem. At least cbrom doesn't complain.

Edit: Modbin works under wine + dosbox :)

image.png.b09dd079e339e4cfef2dee93f250e8f4.png

Edited by I.nfraR.ed
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2 hours ago, I.nfraR.ed said:

Maybe look into some of the tictac bioses. I remember seeing a changelog which mentioned additional tweaks injected into the SATA RAID option rom.

That is exactly where i got my information from. Tictac, Polygon and some other guys wrote a lot of guides on rebels haven forums about this. Tictac hacked option roms to load Uref values on NF4 boards, also including added items in award bios, hacking option roms to load custom code etc. I uploaded a PDF to the bierbude server, just in case you haven't got it yet: http://bierbude.spdns.org:2302/USER UPLOADS/Tzk/

Option roms seem to have a far jump or call at the beginning, thus the easiest way is to manipulate that to a custom jump, insert custom code and do the original jump/call at the end of the custom code. This way you don't have to mess with the bios too much and you can insert a lot of code, as long as there's sufficient space inside the option rom :D This is explained at page 115 of the PDF.

---

I noticed that memtest uses the 55AA option rom header but couldn't figure out how i'd insert the vendor and device ID into it to make it load upon boot. That's why i stopped investigating. At least for now. But if you can make plop work, you probably also can make memtest work.

 

Edited by Tzk
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10 hours ago, Tzk said:

As always:

!!!! THIS BIOS IS UNTESTED, MAKE SURE YOU CAN RECOVER YOUR BOARD IN CASE THIS BIOS IS FAULTY !!!

There you go, EB ED romsips integrated into the bios mr.scott uploaded above. Make sure you can hotflash or otherwise recover the bios just in case i messed up ;)

merlin-disco03-ebed.zip 279.72 kB · 3 downloads

Thanks. I'd like to check this out also. :)

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Guest Wasmachineman_NL
On 11/2/2019 at 10:25 AM, Tzk said:

Sure!

I use this model from South Korea: https://www.ebay.de/itm/NANO-USB-Programmer-for-PC-M-B-BIOS-repairing-with-Economic-shipping/271313593344

And i bought additinal 4mbit bios chips from china: https://www.ebay.de/itm/5-PCS-PM49FL004T-33JCE-PLCC32-PM49FL004-Flash-Memory/121360397788

Note that some a7n8x got 2mbit (256kb) chips and some got 4mbit (512kb) chips. My A7N8X Deluxe v2.0 uses 4mbit, afaik the -E Deluxe too. But A7N8X v1.x and -X should use 2mbit chips. Also note that the flasher works fine with win10 64bit, but it will set your system to "testmode" because the driver isn't digitally signed.

And last but not least, if you intend to test a lot of bios versions, buy a plcc32 chip extractor. It'll make your life so much easier :D

image.png.8ce4192f4103da5ee8c7a4cab194f659.png

Thanks, ordered the nanoflasher.

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