Hacking RADEON 9500   
 

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Hacking RADEON 9500 to become a RADEON 9700

 

Guys from Overclockers.RU made some experiments with 128 MB card RADEON 9500 from Sapphire, as a result they converted it in... RADEON 9700 card!

Card on ATI RADEON 9500 have 128-bit or 256-bit bus, depending on a quantity of video memory. Since these boards are done on PCB from RADEON 9700, it equipped 64-bit half-sized versions, which have exactly half of chips, from RADEON 9700, i.e., 128 bits. Then the 128-megabaytnye boards, which have 8 chips of memory, installed exactly as on RADEON 9700, have the "valuable" 256-bit bus of memory.

For alteration it was required

 


 


 

  1. To solder one of the resistors, located on the base layer of chip RADEON 9500 of position (2-3) to position (1-2) or to install analogous, with the resistance 6,8 kOm
  2. flash a hack BIOS for Hercules RADEON 9700 downloaded from warp11
  3. try to overclock: in this case board equipped 3,6 ns memory from Infineon; therefore overclocking of memory is not strong, only to 300 MHz, but chip - from 275 to 370 MHz

The results obtained upon the acceleration illustrate the following graphs (in the testing they participated: 1 - board Sapphire RADEON 9500 128MB without overclocking, 2 – overclocked card, 3 – overclocked card with new BIOS, 4 - RADEON 9700. Test system: Intel P4 2800 MHz, ASUS P4S8X (SiS 648), 512 Mb. DDR SDRAM PC2700, Windows XP, DirectX 9, Chatalyst 3.0. Setups quality in Quake3 Arena - maximum, in UT2003 - Testure detail: highest, World detail: highest, Charachter detail: highest, Physics detail: normal, Character Of shadows: on, Dynamic Lighting: on, Detail Textures: on, Projectors: on, Decals: on, Coronas: on, Decal Stay: normal, Foliage: on, Trilinear Filtering: on).

 


 


 

Result: the altered and overclocked RADEON 9500 card outdistanced RADEON 9700! All details about this experiments are placed here.
 

 

 

More details about remaking RADEON 9500, 9500 Pro, 9700 and 9700 Pro

It’s not a secret that the yesterday’s information from Today Overclockers.ru described all R300-based variants to orient you in their diversity.

  1. RADEON 9700 Pro: RADEON 9700 PRO feature only 128Mb memory, ATI reference design and 256-bit bus. All 8 pipelines are operable, GPU/memory clock is 325/620MHz. Nothing to remake, only for overclocking.
  2. RADEON 9700: also feature only 128Mb; design differs slightly from RADEON 9700 Pro, though repeats it sometimes. RADEON 9700 feature 256-bit bus, all 8 pipelines work, leaving nothing to remake. RADEON 9700 have lower clocks - 275/540MHz. The o/c block can be removed by patching into the tweaked BIOS, enabling slightly lower o/c clocks than those of RADEON 9700 Pro.
  3. RADEON 9500 Pro: feature own design, 128-bit bus, and only 128Mb for now. The memory has two banks like in NVIDIA GeForce Ti4600 and no way you remake RADEON 9500 Pro into 256-bit solution. 8 operable pipelines – nothing to remake. RADEON 9500 Pro GPU/memory clock is 275/540MHz. Overclocking block can be disabled by tweaked BIOS as well.
  4. RADEON 9500 128MB: all known RADEON 9500 board have RADEON 9700 design. 128Mb RADEON 9500 feature 256-bit bus and the same 8 memory chips identical to RADEON 9700. The RADEON 9500 GPU itself is pared-down with only 4 pipelines left operable. The remake enables all 8 pipelines transforming the GPU into the complete RADEON 9700. The memory bus is left alone as it’s 256-bit already, but besides the re-soldering you will need to repatch RADEON 9500 BIOS for all 8 pipelines to work - RADEON 9700 BIOS fits nice.
  5. RADEON 9500 64MB: feature the same RADEON 9700 design, but twice fewer memory chips. 64Mb RADEON 9500 cards have 128-bit bus and no way you double it. These cards have RADEON 9500 chips and 4 working pipelines. It’s possible to physically enable all 8 pipelines but, you must also change BIOS to work with the enabled half. Pity, there’s no BIOS found suitable for this purpose. Theoretically, in case of success these boards can be turned into something like RADEON 9500 Pro: 8 pixel pipelines, 128-bit bus. But unlike RADEON 9500 Pro, such 64Mb solutions will not feature 2 memory banks. [Our video section editor, Andrew Vorobyev, said that in order to make a card like R9500Pro 64MB from R9500 64MB (you won't make R9700 because of the bus) one will need the R9700 BIOS changed for working with another bus and memory.]

 

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RADEON 9500 into RADEON 9700: Step By Step!

Posted 1/07/03 at 2:44 am by Rat

Well, itlooks as if nearly everybody has already read on our site (see this and this news stories) about the experiment carried out by our friends from the Russian Overclockers.ru site. We decided to repeat this experiment in our testlab. Now we would like to describe the modification procedure step by step:

  1. We took Sapphire RADEON 9500 graphics card equipped with 128MB graphics memory.

     



     

  2. We removed the cooler from the graphics chip and resoldered the resistor located on the chip wafer to a new place. The picture below shows the resistor in a new place already:

     

     

  3. Then we cleaned the graphics chip surface and the cooler footing from the remains of the standard thermal paste and put a new layer of fresh paste.

     

  4. We installed the cooler back onto the chip.

     

  5. We made a special boot-up DOS disk and saved there the files required for new BIOS reflashing: atiflash.exe, dos4gw.exe, atiflash.cfg (you can download these files here). Of course, we saved the new BIOS file there as well. We used the hacked BIOS for Hercules RADEON 9700 based graphics card: 97npherc.bin.

     

  6. Having installed the card into our system we booted-up from the disk.

     

  7. Just in case we saved the old BIOS file into the old.bin file with "atiflash -s 0 old.bin" command.

     

  8. We reflashed the new video BIOS with "atiflash -u 0 -f 97npherc.bin" command. When the program asked if we really wanted to reflash the new BIOS we answered “yes” :)

     

  9. Remove the floppy disk and restart your system.

So, RADEON 9500 128MB has been successfully turned into RADEON 9700! After the modifications the card worked as fast as RADEON 9700 and proved very stable throughout the entire test period. During overclocking the maximum frequencies we managed to achieve were: 390MHz for the chip and 620MHz (310MHz DDR) for the graphics memory.
 

 

 


Trying to Convert RADEON 9500 64MB into RADEON 9500 Pro 64MB

Posted 1/07/03 at 11:47 am by Rat

As is known, RADEON 9500 based graphics cards with 128MB graphics memory onboard following RADEON 9700 reference design can be converted into fully fledged RADEON 9700 128MB with the help of a soldering iron and BIOS reflashing. 64MB RADEON 9500 based graphics cards can also be modified this way, by enabling all 8 pipelines in them, but so far this hasn’t been done yet. There are no BIOS versions for these graphics cards yet, which do involve all 8 pipelines and work with 64MB of graphics memory. Our friends from Overclockers.ru and we haven’t yet managed to solve the problem completely, but we are on our way and would like to share the results achieved with you. We collected all possible BIOS versions, hex editors and other smart software and are trying really hard to prove cool software developers :) Although we do not yet have an absolutely correctly working BIOS version. Anyway, it is already possible to get an intermediate version of the modified graphics card. To do this you will have to resolder the resistor just the same way as we told you here (like in case of RADEON 9500 128MB). Then you will have to reflash the hacked BIOS for RADEON 9500 Pro. After you restart the system, you will see that half of the buttons and icons on your desktop have turned into black squares, and if you move the slider in the hardware acceleration panel in “Desktop properties” by two steps to the left, the squares will be not so numerous anymore. In 3D the card works just fine, but only with Catalyst 2.5 driver. With Catalyst 3.0 driver the card works beautifully in 2D, but completely unbearable in 3D. In case of RADEON 9500 128MB, which we converted into RADEON 9700, we face no trouble of the kind and it works just wonderfully with any drivers. Well, as we have already warned you this is an intermediate version still. Of course, the modified graphics card started working faster, and proved just perfect in games with Catalyst 2.5 driver. For our experiments we again took a card from Sapphire: RADEON 9500 64MB:

 

The modified graphics card managed to get overclocked up to 370MHz chip and 620Mhz graphics memory frequencies. We tested it before and after modifications in Quake3 Arena with maximum graphics quality settings and in Unreal Tournament 2003 with the following settings: Texture Detail: highest, World Detail: highest, Character Detail: highest, Physics Detail: normal, Character Shadows: on, Dynamic Lighting: on, Detail Textures: on, Projectors: on, Decals: on, Coronas: on, Decal Stay: normal, Foliage: on, Trilinear Filtering: on. The testbed was configured as follows:

  • Intel Pentium 4 2800MHz CPU;
  • ASUS P4S8X (SiS 648) mainboard;
  • 512MB CP2700 DDR SDRAM;
  • Windows XP;
  • DirectX 9;
  • Catalyst 2.5.

 



Well, what can we say? Even such a freak as RADEON 9500 64MB can be turned into a very nice card, just apply some effort to it. To be more exact, a soldering iron and a BIOS :) By the way, we hope that one day we will succeed with BIOS remake and then RADEON 9500 64MB graphics card will be easily turned into RADEON 9500 Pro 64MB :)


The Idea of getting a 300$ video card for 179$ is attractive to everyone, including me. There are chances in every thing we do, and this was reflected in this review.
Introduction

If I told you, for under 200$ I could find you a video card that would kick the crap out of pretty much any game out there and ask for more? Would you call BS on me? Well have I got something to show you. In the past 2 months since its release the ATI Radeon 9500 there has been a lot of controversy surrounding it. Can it be overclocked? What one should I get if I want to mod it into a 9700? …. What? Wait a sec. What was that?? Mod a 160$ card into a 300$ one? Ya right! Well our good friends at BulletPC are doing just that. These guys are doing an amazing job with taking a performance series card and making it perform like an Ultra-High End video card. There are a couple of things we will address in this review. One of course, is benches. You will want to see how this card compares to similar offerings from both Nvidia and ATI. Another will have to be the mod itself, there are quite a few factors that BulletPC has to deal with. I will show that the Modded Card has all 8 pipelines open, and that it can directly compete with the top of the line Radeon9700. So, on with the review, I hope you enjoy.


BulletPC.com

First off, I would like to send props to Richard for sending Burnoutpc.com this review sample. Second, I would like to state, that these guys are crazy. When you find out what they did to this videocard, you will be both shocked, and amazed. The precision and skill needed to perform this hardware mod is unbelievable, but these guys do it like pros.

"Bullet PC caters to individuals looking for the top of the line gear as well as full fledge systems from our Bullet Proof line."
Some vendors who promise good tech support to the end user, do not follow through. Bullet PC on the other hand, contacted me before I even had a chance to install the vid card with an issue that they foresaw happening. They included a text document outlining the procedures to follow and the new BIOS flash I needed.
Along with their Guarantee that the modded 9500 will come to your door working as it should, I have to give a hats off to Bullet PC for their 10/10 support. (See below for details)

Shipping

I really do like my shipping guy, he brings me cool stuff. I do not like it when my shipping guy leaves packages on my front door step with expensive Video cards in it. I assure you it will not happen again, but damn, what was he thinking? The package luckily arrived on time, and there was no damage to the package.


HeatSinks come stock

Specs
Now these specs will differ from the default ATI Radeon 9500 specs. These ones are right from Bulletpc.com's website.

Brandishing technology unmatched, the RADEON 9500 ATLANTIS will cloud your opponents' thoughts with fear."
- 64MB or 128MB DDR memory accelerates the latest 3D games
- Supports the new AGP 8X standard, providing a high-speed link between the graphics board and the rest of the PC (2.0 GB/sec)
- Provides full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 and the latest OpenGL® functionality
- Includes 8 copper BGA sinks on the memory chips
- Our results of modding one has obtained a 350MHz core and a 290MHz for memory. All results will vary on a per card basis.
- Modded Sapphire Atlantis enables 8 texture pipeline over the standard 4 pipeline texture rendering through resistor change
- This card has already been modded and flashed to allow overclocking
- Mod takes 2 to 3 days before card is released for shipping
- 30 day warranty guarantee that the card is not dead on arrival. Returns of this product must take place within 30 days of arrival and only if it is DOA otherwise no returns no exceptions
- Modded Sapphire card will show up as a 9500/9700 in the BIOS

Now the following are the specs of the basic Atlantis Radeon 9500 from Sapphire.

· 64MB or 128MB DDR memory accelerates the latest 3D games
· 128-bit DDR memory interface provides end users with fast graphics performance
· 4-pixel pipeline architecture cuts rendering time in half when compared to any competing product
· Supports the new AGP 8X standard, providing a high-speed link between the graphics board and the rest of the PC (2.0 GB/sec)
· Provides full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 and the latest OpenGL® functionality
· SMARTSHADER™ 2.0 technology allows users to experience complex, movie-quality effects in next-generation 3D games and applications
· SMOOTHVISION™ 2.0 technology enhances image quality by removing jagged edges and pinging out fine texture detail, without compromising performance
· 128-bit floating-point color precision allows for a greater range of colors and brightness
· ATI's latest FULLSTREAM™ technology removes blocky artifacts from streaming Internet video and provides sharper image quality
· Unique VIDEOSHADER™ engine uses programmable pixel shaders to accelerate video processing and provide better-looking visuals

OK, Enough with the stuff you seen on every site since December. Most of you know what the Smartshader does, or even the Smoothvision. There are a few things up top, that are not correct. The PCB that this specific model of R9500 uses has a 256Bit DDR bus (used to access all 128MB of memory) ALSO after the mod that Bullet PC did, all 8 pixel pipelines are unlocked. This makes the R9500 a R9700PRO! Holy freeking crap, that's saving like 150$! Lets use common sense here. R9700 for 350$ or Modded R9500 for 200$? You decide. To help, we are going to take a look at some benchmarks to see the differences between an Ocsystem Enhanced Ti4200 and The Bullet PC Modded R9500.


ID of the card in question


Version number of the PCB is important in deciding if the card will take the mod itself. Some revisions just can't handle it.


InFineon DDR rated at 3.3ns


Circled above is the placement of the mod in question. Look at the quality of work that is done here

Benchmarks

Note: Fresh installs of WinXP pro, Sp1, and all updated drivers.

Steve's System #1: BULLET PC's Modded 9500, Biostar P4TDH 845G , P4 2.4@ 2.52 (retail HSF), 768MB PC2100 DDR, Sb Audigy, WinXp SP1

Steve's System #2: Ocsystems Enhanced Ti4200 (300/285), Biostar P4TDH 845G , P4 2.4@ 2.52 (retail HSF), 768MB PC2100 DDR, Sb Audigy, WinXp SP1, Nvidia Dets 41.09

  • You can see the highly Overclocked Ti4200 is not doing to bad vs a modded 9500, In synthetic benches.

  • A real world test, UT2K3 shows a different story.

  • At this point, my Ti4200 stopped working for some reason, But you can see with pretty much everything jacked up, the Modded 9500 spanks it

 

  • The Ti4200 won't run this, at least in my P4 system, but here is the results for CodeCreatures.

Issues
Well here is where Hardware reviewer's nightmares come true. You install a product, and it does not work according to spec. When doing this mod to the 9500s you take a bit of a chance. Not all of them can handle the change. Sometimes, you get graphic defects, and sometimes you don't. I installed the 1st video card and upon boot, I got what is called "the checkerboard effect" all on my desktop. I figured, eh, drivers. So I reinstalled WinXp pro - To no avail. Here is a screen shot of a 3dmark bench:


  • Fill Rate test in 3dmark2k1se with the 1st card that I received.

I thought to myself, OK, this is bad. After a quick call to Richard at BulletPC, he was like, "Crap, let me replace that for you." So in a few days, UPS guy shows up, I install my shiny new Modded ATI9500, boot, and everything is perfect. PERFECT, 3dmark PERFECT I score a whopping 13800 3dmarks. I play a bit of JK2, PERFECT. Later that day, I hit my local EB, to grab Road to Rome (BF1942 Expansion). Upon starting to play the game this is what I saw:


DOH!

After extensive research on the Rage3d, and the [H] forums I figured I was screwed. I tried the card in my other machine, Athlon Xp1700+, and a K7S5A. I got the same results. I tried, different drivers, both ATI and modified ones, all useless. On BulletPCs website, they have a disclaimer:

"No card is shipped with checkerboard effect"

Now, this card, for most benchmarks works fine. Actually it benches wicked, If you compare the 3dmark scores to a full out 9700, you can tell that all 8 pipes are unlocked, and working although one is obviously broke. I am sure that this may be a case of dumb luck that I got 2 defective cards in a row. Actually to be sure of this, through Rage3d forums, I contacted a few people who said they bought BulletPC's Modified ATI 9500 modded. From what they tell me, they are extremely happy with their purchase.

  • Here you see the modded 9500 compared to an unmodded 9500

Notice the Fill Rate tests those will show if the pipes have been unlocked. I would be happy with this.

 

Since the time I received this modified card and the posting of this review there are a few things that have happened. One namely the availability of this card is in short supply. It is getting really hard to find this card. Two 3dmark2003 has been released to the general public. With that said, I decided to De-modify the modded ATI 9500 and put it back to a 9500non-pro. This was a real test on my soldering skills, the size of the bridge that had to be removed was VERY small and it was a very delicate task. Low and behold, I succeeded, the next few results are the card that I started (Modded Sapphire Radeon 9500) De-modified to a 9500 with the 9700 Bios. (Confused yet?)


Just to give you an idea, there is the resistor, removed.

 

 

This first test, will show the performance of the Sapphire 9500 in 3dMark 2003 - Yes I said 2003, If you missed the release get it here. The second is the tried and true 3dm2k1se. .

  • 3Dmark2K3, vs Mariens 9700 and a p4 2.53 that scores 4200, this is not too bad.

  • 3Dmark2k1se: I was getting this score at 1280x1024 with the card modded.

Well that is it for the benches, With all the issues that I had doing this review, I have to say, the tech support is awesome coming from Bulletpc. Its no wonder that their resellers rating is so good. The videocard, as a 9700 benches like it should. Unfortunately I was hit by the 60% failure rate that crippled both cards that I received. Thankfully BulletPC has decided to pull these cards from their product listing. There is a news release that outlines the details of this. You can read it here.


Lights, camera,


Action!

Conclusion

Well, this has been quite a mess hasn't it? This review was probably the most stressful one that I have done to date. I was pretty worried that I fried the first card, thank god for Rage3d forums for all the information that was available to help me in this. Most important factor here. We started off the review with a modded 9500 with 8 pipes unlocked and performing like its bigger brother, the R9700. We are ending with a 9500np. BulletPC will be selling the Sapphire 9500 with the black PCB with in-line memory, Not to mention the wicked price BulletPC has on the 9700np. When you get one of these, you really gotta flash the bios. I hear that you can flash the Non-Pro to a Pro fairly easily. Where do ya get the bios? They are pretty easy to find, If you need them I can point you in the right direction. Just jump into our forums, and ask for it. Registration is free so get in there. (We have a cool contest going on too.. )

Back on topic, as of right now, to get in the store, a 9500 with the L-shaped memory is like finding a buried treasure. Its gonna be rare, if not impossible. The fact that the cards were defective, are not even an issue anymore BulletPC does not sell them. (Anymore). As a 9500np, the card impressed me. The visual quality is very good, the actual architecture of the card honors ATI's work. Would I recommend the 9500np to my friends? To be honest, I would suggest to anyone, to spend the extra 75bucks and get the 9700np.

The Idea of getting a 300$ video card for 179$ is attractive to everyone, including me. There are chances in every thing we do, and this was reflected in this review. If I were to be objective in scoring the Modded9500 I would have to give it a 4/10. Why a 4? Well normally if the product is defective, 2 times, its a 0. But in this case we are able to recover from the issue, and make good on the situation. Not to mention the work that is put into this mod itself. Would I recommend buying one of these? I would have to say no, the chance on getting a defective card is too great no matter what means are taken to prevent it. As for a Sapphire9500np with a 9700Bios, I would give that card a 8/10. With a 2 point loss being that this card has defective pipes preventing us from modding it to a 9700pro and that a 9700np is only 75$ more. Lastly, as a vendor, BulletPC has been a pleasure to work with, and I would recommend them to anyone. Their honesty in the matter has be excellent, and their tech support that was provided to me and then endusers I spoke with, has been very good. (Score=10/10).

 

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  13 januar 2019
 

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