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Radeon Tweaking, Modding, and Overclocking Discuss Radeon tweaking, modding, and overclocking practices. Want to post your benchmarks scores? This is the place!

 
 
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 09:05 AM   #1
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MuFu
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Default Radeon 9700 non-Pro owners: 9700 Pro overclocking results with 7 different BIOS's

[waffle]

Late last Summer, it became clear that the memory clock limit of R300-based boards would likely be primarily dictated by stability of the memory interface itself. Because of the complexity of the 256-bit design, TL or internal logic issues would cap operating speeds at about 330-340MHz.

Around the time of the 9700 Pro launch, a few people speculated that the soon-to-be-released 9700NP could easily be overclocked to 9700 Pro speeds, despite having slower-rated RAM. It made sense - the clock limit of the memory interface would come into play before the RAM started to throw up errors (what with yields of 3.6ns BGA being so good these days - 350MHz+ is often attainable). They even went so far as to suggest that even if AIBs started to push 9700NP's without an external power connector (which really isn't needed until about 300MHz), you could probably solder on a unit from an old floppy drive yourself, flash the BIOS and be ready to roll in "9700 Pro mode". A tantalising prospect for any modder.

But the prediction turned out to be wrong - most 9700NP and 9500NP users reached (and continue to reach) much poorer memory overclocks than those with Radeon 9700 Pros. Memory ratings aside, it would seem that the only thing the 9700P and 9700NP reference boards don't have in common is their BIOS. An area for investigation, surely! This issue has been touched on so many times in various forums, but I've never seen anybody systematically produce a set of data using different BIOS's to try and give some insight into it (probably because it takes bloody ages!). Please excuse me if this has been done before. Here's the juice...

[/waffle]

I have a Connect3D Radeon 9700 Pro (BBA, 942 PCB v3.0). Using the ATiFlash utility, I flashed and tested 6 of warp11's modified BIOS's, as well as the original BIOS that came with my card. A maximum core/memory overclock was established using the first 3DMark2001SE benchmark (doesn't matter how well it shows up artifacts because we're interested in *relative* clock limits only) and I also ran the benchmark in its entirety just out of curiosity. Clean install/clean boot, Athlon 2200+, 512MB RAM, DX9, Cat 3.1's, default driver settings.

[BIOS name] - [default core/mem] - [[email protected]/275MHz] - [Max stable core/mem O/C]
[BIOS info]

97nptx.bin - 270.0/263.3MHz - 11923 - 351.0/303.8MHz
R300 Infineon DDR BIOS P/N 113-94216-102 - 2002/09/23 15:04 (NTSC)

97npHerc.bin - 276.8/270MHz - 11887 - 351.0/303.8MHz
R300 Hynix 9700 BIOS - P/N 113-94223-101 - 2002/10/24 15:01 (NTSC)

97npWarp.bin - 276.8/270MHz - 11935 - 351.0/303.8MHz
R300 Hynix 9700 BIOS - P/N 113-94223-101 - 2002/10/24 15:01 (PAL)

95np128.bin - 276.8/270MHz - 10198 - 351.0/310.5MHz
R300 4P Hynix Memory BIOS - P/N 113-94228-100 - 2002/10/28 16:24 (NTSC)

97npClub.bin - 276.8/270MHz - 11858 - 351.0/324.0MHz
Radeon9700 Infineon DDR BIOS B8480.002 - 2002/12/16 21:39 (PAL)

97npSap.bin - 276.8/270MHz - 11914 - 351.0/324.0MHz
R300 DDR 275/270 PAL BIOS P/N 133-PC0000-13 - 002/10/31 15:30 (NTSC)

My original BIOS - 324.0/310.5MHz - 11895 - 351.0/351.0MHz
R300 Samsung DDR BIOS P/N 113-94206-102 - 2002/10/17 13:33 (PAL)

All checked and double checked. As you can see, with the exception of the Hierarchial-Z disabled/4-pipe 9500NP config, all the cards produce scores +/-100 of each other. The big difference is in the memory clockspeed limits, with the 9700 Pro BIOS enabling the card to go far beyond the others.

In the past there have been examples of BIOS's that have limited memory overclocking by altering timing/latency settings (e.g. some 8500LE BIOS's). Setting these more aggressively will only have a negligible effect on performance (due to the nature of framebuffer reads/writes) yet produce errors at a lower clockspeed. That's probably what is happening here. ATi knew that the 9700NP's would have no problem reaching Pro speeds from an analog point of view, so there was some kind of marketing call that dictated they be "retarded" through BIOS settings.

I suggest people with 9700NP's flash their cards with the Pro BIOS and see if it allows them to overclock their memory further. 3.6ns memory should really be able to reach at least 325MHz with no problems. There have been reports of 9500NPs with 2.86ns memory that haven't been able to break the 300MHz memory mark - surely that's a clear example of the BIOS holding things back. Maybe one of you BIOS editing guys can get creative and produce an "overclocking" BIOS for each configuration by splicing code. It'd be nice to have a non-Pro binary that sets a conservative default clock (275/275MHz) but has similar overclocking characteristics to the 9700 Pro BIOS (I guess this can be done using RadEdit).

Starting to pick up on the same things that have come to light in TriC's 9500 Pro BIOS and warp11's 9700NP BIOS threads now. What isn't really clear to me from those threads is whether people with Hynix RAM are getting artifacts etc when using the Infineon DDR BIOS's. Is that the case?

Cheers,

MuFu.

Last edited by MuFu : Feb 20, 2004 at 12:12 PM.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 11:54 AM   #2
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Fascinating experiment, thanks for sharing.

I've only tried three, the original unlocked 9500 n-p bios on my 128-meg Sapphire, the 97npSap and the 97npClub.

My lowly 3.3 ns Infineon has been stable up to 297 with all of them. The Club bios, which has an Infineon tag, lets me stay longer at 303, but eventually it will go belly up at that setting -- even with ramsinks and a fan blowing across them.

I may try your pro suggestion when I get some playtime. Meanwhile I'd love to hear from anyone else who has tried a 9700 Pro bios on a modded 9500.

I've been reluctant to try because I assumed the memory timing would be more aggressive, and because my card works so well with what I've got now ;>)
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 11:54 AM   #3
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Very good stuff there, I never would have thought someone will do that, well, I was wrong . Thank U !

There is one more question though: Where the heck do we find the BIOS-es for the Pro versions ?
I personally have a 9700np card, but I don't know if it's an ATI one or Sapphire, It was bulk. It's on red PCB with a square heatsink with an ATI logo. Anyone ?
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 12:01 PM   #4
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The BBA and red Sapphiretech boards are identical, don't worry about it.

Here is my BIOS if you fancy trying it. It's PAL ~Edit - no, it's NTSC~, with a default clockspeed of 325/310MHz. Should be ok to get into Windows from where you can reclock.

I am quite curious to see what the results will be.

MuFu.

Last edited by MuFu : Feb 17, 2003 at 03:50 PM.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 01:48 PM   #5
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Thumbs up

Just flashed your bios and now running at 346/319 completed 3Dmark01 without a hitch(12857) seems to run ok will test it with some gaming before going any further.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 01:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rene B
Just flashed your bios and now running at 346/319...
Sounds encouraging! So you could reach 310MHz before, huh?

MuFu.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 02:05 PM   #7
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Have to find me a floppy here...
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 02:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by MuFu
Sounds encouraging! So you could reach 310MHz before, huh?

MuFu.
Yeah would start crapping out if I took it any higher than arround 310-315 before, gonna try and find max now
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 02:13 PM   #9
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Mufu spent alot of time on this guys, alot of effort and good round of thankyou's are in order
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 03:17 PM   #10
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Ok here are the final(for today atleast) results from me, my card is now running at 348,5/331,4 without any issues at all (made it to a 3DMarks01 score of 13063), I tried 336.3 but that resutled in some minor artifacts so I took it back down to 331.4 for some more testing tomorrow...

Quote:
Mufu spent alot of time on this guys, alot of effort and good round of thankyou's are in order
How true, thank you for your hard work MuFu, because of guys like you we all get the most out of our hard earned money a BIG salute from Denmark to you
You get my vote for member of the week that's for sure
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Last edited by Rene B : Feb 17, 2003 at 05:37 PM.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 03:32 PM   #11
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I have a Sapphire 9700np that has 2.8samsung ram, I can only get 310mhz on it, ill try your bios as soon as i can


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Old Feb 17, 2003, 03:39 PM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback.

Quote:
Originally posted by Rene B
Ok here are the final(for today atleast) results from me, my card is now running at 348,5/331,4 without any issues at all (made it to a 3DMarks01 score of 13066).
That's pretty cool. Doomtrooper just informed me that he has a 9700NP running with my BIOS now at 330MHz memory clock also (up from 303MHz with the standard one). He has 2.86ns RAM though, so the result isn't that significant.

What memory do you have, Rene B?

MuFu.

P.S. Turns out my BIOS is NTSC, not PAL! No idea why or how since I am in the UK. I'll post some 275/275MHz default, PAL and NTSC versions in a few minutes once I've tested them.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 04:34 PM   #13
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I got Hynix 3.6ns ram and a good airflow
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 05:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rene B
I got Hynix 3.6ns ram and a good airflow
Oh man, that's awesome - exactly the kind of result I wanted to see, cheers.

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Old Feb 17, 2003, 05:43 PM   #15
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Bios allowed me to increase mem speed from 310 to 317, not much, but an increase non the less.

Update: memory type acrifacting occurs about half way through the nature test.

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Old Feb 17, 2003, 05:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by huwwatkins
Update: memory type acrifacting occurs about half way through the nature test.
At 317MHz? What do you see?

Strange - I would have bet good money that you'd be able to push 330MHz with the Pro BIOS. :-\

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Old Feb 17, 2003, 06:05 PM   #17
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this bios actually gives me WORSE results, it artifacts on anythin over 320 core 305 memory, i was runnin warp's perfect at 330/307.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 06:06 PM   #18
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at 317 i see large tearing, sort of objects that appear that shoudn't. BUT the fact that it only started articating halfway through the demo would suggest that its a heat related problem.

Artifacting doesn't occur during the lobby demo on 3dmark 2001, only nature

It had been noted that there was an additional resistor on the back side of the card where the GPU is located, it seems that this is also another difference between the 9700np and 9700pro, although we don't know what it does see thread:http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthre...post1331708106
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Last edited by huwwatkins : Feb 17, 2003 at 06:10 PM.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 06:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by thagame24
this bios actually gives me WORSE results, it artifacts on anythin over 320 core 305 memory, i was runnin warp's perfect at 330/307.
Bizarre that the core overclock has been affected. What memory do you have?

MuFu.
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Old Feb 17, 2003, 06:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by huwwatkins
at 317 i see large tearing, sort of objects that appear that It had been noted that there was an additional resistor on the back side of the card where the GPU is located, it seems that this is also another difference between the 9700np and 9700pro, although we don't know what it does see thread:http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthre...post1331708106
Thanks, I'll check it out.

MuFu.
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