F.A.Q


File:		BiosFAQ.PDF
Title:		Voodoo Bios Flashing FAQ
By:		StANTo
Revision:	05/01/02 18:11pm
Version:	1.5
Credits:	AMDFreak, thanks for involving me with V3Info
		Siris, for without him there would've been no V3Info
		(And I also used his txt files to build this document)
		Seraphic, for making the 'Recovery Disk'
Contact:	Vixk_98 ( at )yahoo.com			(E-Mail ('Me' Page))
Links:		Http://www.V3Info.co.uk			(Visit Old Site)
		Http://www.VoodooSource.net		(Visit Old Site)

About:

I decided to produce this FAQ for bios flashing after always surfing the internet and finding people either slating it, trying to state 'Facts' that weren't true or just repeating themselves. So after being the webmaster of V3Info, I've decided to compile this FAQ to hopefully answer any questions anyone has about flashing their voodoo's bios.

End Comment:

Thatís all for the moment, if thereís anything else you wish to know just drop me a line via my e-mail address. I have some new things I could add such as editing the ram frequency in the bios. If you want to see such features just tell me :)



Contents: 1. Why Should I Flash My Bios? (i) Will I Damage My card? (ii) What're the Advantages of Flashing My card? 2. What's this DramINIT0 Thing About / Why's There A Modified Bios Version? 3. Are These Bios's Genuine? or Are They Just Some Hacker's Joke? (i) If These Bios's Are Genuine, Then Why Didn't 3dfx Release Them? 4. Where Can I Get These Bios Files? 5. How Do I Flash My Bios? 6. How Do I Create A Boot Disk? 7. How Do I Flash My Mac Voodoo To PC? / How to Flash A 'Dead' Voodoo Card 8. How Do I Flash My PC Voodoo To Mac? 9. How do I Tell If My Voodoo Is AGP or PCI? And How Do I Tell If It Uses SG or SDRam?
1. Why Should I Flash My Bios? (Top) (i) Will I Damage My Card? (Top)

There's been much controversy over this issue. Many have said 'don't do it, you'll damage your card'. The only times someone has damaged their card, is by either a freak of nature (power cut) or by stopping the flash process part way through. Any other situation, such as flashing the card with the wrong bios, has been recoverable, and even then, this has only happened because of user error. So the chances of damage to the card, or an unrecoverable situation, are remote. But I would be a fool not to caution someone, it's always best to have a second video card as a backup in case the worst may happen. Such as a PCI card if your Voodoo's AGP, or vice versa. Even if you have two PCI cards, the flashing application should be able to differentiate between a Voodoo PCI and another PCI video card.


(ii) What're the advantages of flashing my card? (Top)

Unfortunately, there's no sure way of determining any improvements, disadvantages, or otherwise of flashing your voodoo card. However, many are prepared to flash and as of such, have experienced improvements, although many have experienced no difference. The changes in bios revision for the voodoo 3 range havenít produced much of an outcry as to improvements, aside from the comment that some have found an increase in FPS. The voodoo 5 range of BIOSís however, have produced various experiences. Statements have ranged from:


	- Now being able to use 'Guard band Clipping' with the
	  1.15 bios
	- Aggressive DramInit0 timings from any bios above 1.11
	- Improved performance on AMD CPU's with the 1.15 to
	  1.18 BIOSís
	- Improved FPS stability (for example, while the max fps may
	  be 80fps, the minimum's now 45fps instead of 30fps)
	- Greater hardware compliance / stability

Benchmarks have been done on Voodoo 5 systems to try and test if there's any fps increase, however the only benchmarks I have to go on are tests in Unreal Tournament with Glide, and with each bios 1.15, 1.16(?) and 1.18, there was only 1fps difference. Obviously more extensive and varied testing is required if the point is to be proven that there's any speed increase with the bios updates, or any other form of testable improvements aside from just looking at it and saying 'Ooo, this seems much smoother'. :)


2. What's This DramINIT0 Thing About /
       Why's There A Modified Bios of That Bios Version? (Top)

This situation was first raised when 3dfx went down. Powercolor produced a V3 3000 clone, which had a greater bios revision than the highest that was on the V3Info site. Siris noticed that a main change to the bios was the DramINIT0 was different for a greater aggressive ram timing. To assist people in case they had problems with the Powercolor bios, Siris modified the DramINIT0 in the Powercolor bios to match that of the previous V3 3000 cards produced by 3dfx.
The same type of situation appeared when it was noticed the V5 BIOSís, version 1.15 and above, had a different DramINIT0 to BIOSís revision 1.11 or earlier (this doesn't mean that it was produced by Powercolor) and so Siris created modified versions of these BIOSís as well to match the previous versions.
Changing the DramINIT0 to the previous versions meant that the GPU could be overclocked further; I think with the DramINIT0 set to the new value, overclocking is restricted, but the ram is accessed more aggressively. :)


3. Are These Bios's For Real?
	Or Are They Just Some Hacker's Joke? (Top)

I can only vouch for the Bios's that were hosted at V3Info, which were then hosted at VoodooSource.net. These Bios's are in fact genuine. And come from actual 3dfx Voodoo Cards, dumped by their owners. On the V3Info site, any modifications to the bios's were stated and the original was always available. The only other change to the bios's, was the replacement of the unique identification serial. This was replaced with the V3Info site URL, this was to prevent any issues with 3dfx / nVidia and to protect the identity of the card it came from so it wasn't duplicated.


(i) If These Bios's Are Genuine,
	Then Why Didn't 3dfx Release Them? (Top)

To be honest, no-one knows why 3dfx didn't release the bios's to be downloaded on the 3dfx website. It's known that some bios's were actually available on 3dfx's ftp site, but no longer are they there. Some say the bios's were only released on the cards because of the different ram types the cards have, however this is not the case, there are many cards that are exactly the same, but hold different bios revisions.

A reasonable theory as to why 3dfx didn't release the bios's to the public to flash their cards is because they didn't want to provide support for it, think about it, a huge company like 3dfx being bugged every day by the newbies on how to flash and by people that damaged their card by flashing. It'd cost them more than keeping it quiet.


4. Where Can I Get These Bios Files? (Top)

Until V3Info get back on their feet and find a new host to standalone, VoodooSource.net had all of the files necessary to flash your voodoo. This included the official 3dfx flasher and bios files. Until then this site hosts all of the bios's available.

There are some other sites that contain the bios files, however most have just leeched or stolen them from V3Info, something the V3Info team aren't very happy about.


5. How Do I Flash My Bios? (Top)

For this, I would recommend booting with an operating system which supports DOS. This would mean you would get a command prompt, these operating systems would be Windows 9x and Windows ME (believe it or not it has DOS in there). You can either choose to flash the Voodoo card from your hard disk, or from a 'Boot Disk'. A 'Boot Disk', if you didn't know, would bw in this case, a 1.44mb 3.5" floppy disk which can boot into DOS from system start up.

On either the disk, or a directory on your hard drive, you will require the 3dfx flashing utility (including dos4gw.exe) and the bios rom which you wish to flash to the card. Once you have booted into DOS, by means of the DOS menu (Windows 9x, press F8 as soon as you see the 'loading Windows 9x' text and selected 'Boot To Command Prompt') or by means of a Boot Disk (Windows ME users will have to use this method since DOS access is basically prohibited) you go to the directory which contains the flash utility and the bios rom, for example:

If you booted from a Boot Disk, and you were updating a V3 2k SD-RAM bios to version 2.15.06 you would follow this procedure:

1. Select 'Minimal Command Prompt' or something related to that, unless the boot disk goes straight to the dos prompt
2. Check that the prompt is stating 'A:\>' or 'B:\>' depending on which disk drive you booted from
3. If the files are not in the main directory of the disk, type 'cd directoryname' so the DOS prompt then becomes 'A:\DirectoryName\>'
4. When in the correct directory, type 'Flash romfile.rom' in this example, it would be 'Flash 2k06sg.rom' and then hit carriage return, or enter.

If you booted from the hard disk, and you were updating a V3 2k SD-RAM bios to version 2.15.06 you would follow this procedure:

1. Select 'Minimal Command Prompt' or just 'Command Prompt'. The benefit of Minimal is it doesn't execute the config.sys or autoexec.bat really and so just loads up what's necessary to get to the command prompt.

2. Check that the prompt is stating 'C:\>'

3. If the files are not in the main directory of the drive, then type 'cd DirectoryName' so the DOS prompt then becomes 'C:\DirectoryName\>' If the files are on a different hdd or hdd partition, then just type 'D:' or 'E:' depending on the letter for that drive.

4. When in the correct directory, type 'Flash romfile.rom' in this example, it would be 'Flash 2k06sg.rom' and then hit carriage return, or enter.

This is the same for all 3dfx Voodoo Cards (to my knowledge anyway :)
After stepping through the procedure and it's definately completed (as you should definately NOT do this while it's flashing to the card) you can then restart the system with the reset switch or switch off the computer system, preferably leave it off for about 20 to 30 seconds, and then turn the system back on.

Should you wish to re-flash the card, you should re-name the file 'save.rom' which will be in the same directory as the flash utility, this is a direct backup of the original bios rom which was on your Voodoo card, and if you re-flashed without renaming this file, it would be overwritten with the current contents of the Voodoo card.


6. How Do I Create A Boot Disk? (Top)

There's several methods of creating a boot disk which will take you to true dos. And there's many reasons why you'd want to create a boot disk, such as the fact that Window ME's dos is hidden and you can't get access to it without a 'Safe Recovery Disk'.

To create a boot disk, you can go to www.bootdisk.com and follow what they have there, in Windows XP/2k? you can select to format the disk as an MSDos bootdisk when formatting from My Computer or Explorer, or, you can follow this procedure if you have Windows 9x / ME:

1. Format a 1.44mb Disk, ensuring it has no errors on it
	2. From within windows:
		a.	Double-click 'My Computer'
		b.	Double-click 'Control Panel'
		c.	Double-click 'Add/Remove Programs'
		d.	Click 'Startup Disk'
		e.	Click 'Create Disk' and follow
			the on-screen prompts

Now you have your boot disk, there's always the possibility that windows has decided to fill it full of rubbish. So, to clean this mess up, just do the following:

		f.	Close all open windows and dialogues
		g.	Double-click 'My Computer'
		h.	Ensure the disk is still inserted and
			double-click the drive which it's in (A: or B:)
		i.	The following files are required on the disk:
				dos4gw.exe
				flash.exe
				The bios Rom File
				io.sys
				msdos.sys
				command.com

Depending on which operating system the boot disk may be from, you may be required to leave the following files on the disk:

				autoexec.bat
				config.sys
				mode.com
				keyb.com
				country.sys
				display.sys
				himem.sys

But those additional files only tend to be if you want to boot to 'command prompt' instead of 'minimal command prompt'


7. How Do I Flash My Mac Voodoo To PC? /
	How to Flash A 'Dead' Voodoo Card? (Top)

For this, it would be best to use the text file by Siris:

There are two ways:

A: Use the Recovery disk
B: Use a Second Video Card


A: Recovery Disk

Making the disk

1) Extract the Recovery disk files and the BIOS file
   you want to Flash into a temporary directory on your harddrive.

2) Place a formatted disk in the A: drive, then run the
   makedisk.exe program in the temp. directory.

Using the Disk *** READ CAREFULLY ***

1) Boot the computer using the floppy created.

2) The computer will do the standard boot sequence for about 30
   seconds or so until all the LED's stop flashing and you know
   your computer is waiting, Now you need to press .

3) Your computer should show it's working for about another
   30-45 seconds then it will *RESET*, When it powers off
   you need to **EJECT THE DISK**!!!

If all went well your card should be working.

B: Second Video Card

NOTE: Windows NT-ME users must dual boot to a Windows 95/98
      command prompt or boot to DOS to flash a Voodoo card.

ALSO NOTE: The biggest mistake reported is the screen comes up
blank and the computer Beeps a few times, This is because the
Display Initilization is set to the dead Voodoo either AGP-PCI!

To correct this go into your MB BIOS and change the Display Init.
To opposite of what the Dead Voodoo is either AGP-PCI.

1) Put the second card into the computer.

2) Extract the FLASH files and the BIOS file you want to FLASH
   to a floppy or a temporary directory.

3) Reboot the system to DOS. If Windows 95/98 is being used,
   reboot and press F8 when "Starting Windows..." appears and
   choose "Command Prompt Only"

4) At the DOS prompt, switch to the floppy or the temporary
   directory that the files were extracted to.

5) At that prompt type FLASH followed by the BIOS ROM filename.

EXAMPLE: If you use a floppy and the BIOS ROM file you want
         to flash is named "55k115p.rom", you would type:

A:\>flash 55k115p.rom 

6) After the BIOS has been flashed, power off remove the
   second card and reboot the system.

Repeat until it takes!

8. How Do I Flash My PC Voodoo To Mac? (Top)

I'm unsure on this, but to my knowledge you cannot do this in a PC. It has to be done in a Mac system, with the Mac bios rom and flasher, which is available on some sites across the web, until I find which specific sites, I'm afraid I'll have to point you to www.Google.com - I'm sure you'll find it there :)



9. How do I Tell If My Voodoo Is AGP or PCI?
       And How Do I Tell If It Uses SG or SDRam? (Top)

The following diagrams should assist in analysing your Voodoo card:

Voodoo 3 SDRam Layout & AGP/PCI Comparison Voodoo 3 SGRam Layout