So, How Does Flashing a GPU BIOS Actually 'Brick' the Card?

boddole

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Jan 14, 2022
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I can guess on some 'basic' reasons:

Power Outage / System Crash - Enter incomplete and or corrupt values in memory addresses such that the card can't figure out what to do anymore.

Using a Different Card / Maker BIOS - Different order of memory addresses and or different sizes of memory addresses causing nonsense data and or overflowing and corrupting other memory addresses.

Setting some base value so high the card shuts down for protection and or constantly crashes.



  1. But beyond that. I don't know. Curious to hear your thoughts / info.



Other Bits:

2) Have you ever 'bricked' a card by starting with that card's own default BIOS and modifying values from that (with non 'totally crazy' values)?

3) What seems to cause the biggest / most frequent issues with your past attempts?

4) What is preventing some cards from ever being re-flashed again?
 

toast0

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thats usually the worst case ontario.
I think Ontario, Iowa is probably the worst case ontario.

I don't think I've flashed a GPU yet, but I've bricked a motherboard flashing the BIOS with a weird date set (i think that's why it failed, but I don't really know). It erased the bios, but didn't write the new data and then I was screwed. Later, I happened upon a same model motherboard and screwed it up another way (open case on the floor, spilled water, killed some stuff) and was able to pull the bios chip and put it in the other one; two stupid things canceled out. These days BIOS chips don't tend to be socketed, but sometimes you can often use a clip and flash them when they're still on the board.
 

Ducrider748

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I have flashed a few gpu's but with known good bios files. Always go slow and make sure I don't do anything wrong. Most common reason for bricking them is to not follow the procedure right. NVflash is easy to use as long as you follow the correct procedure.
 

3dprophet

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If your card has dual bios with a bios switch you can boot on the good BIOS, flip the switch to the corrupted bios while the PC is running and flash the corrupted bios.

Apparently the BIOS is only read on startup.
 

GiGaBiTe

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These days BIOS chips don't tend to be socketed, but sometimes you can often use a clip and flash them when they're still on the board.

In many cases the clip flashing method won't work because the motherboard drags down the SPI bus and the programmer can't communicate with the flash chip. I've had to remove more SPI ROM chips than not because of that problem.

Another problem exists on more recent UEFI BIOS ROMs where the data on the ROM is more than the BIOS image used for flashing. So if the ROM gets corrupted, you can't actually just program an image you download from the motherboard manufacturers' website, it won't work. I ran into this problem on an ASUS B550M board with a clobbered BIOS, had to RMA the board because there was no way to get the other data that was also stored in the ROM along with the BIOS image.

Apparently the BIOS is only read on startup.

Incorrect. Both the classic PC BIOS and UEFI have important functions and services used while the PC is running. Examples include RTC functions, disk access, option ROMs, CPU microcode, video services, etc.

Operating systems used to be heavily reliant on BIOS functions to work, disk and video calls being some of the most important. DOS would use INT13h calls for disk access and INT10h for video calls. Modern operating systems have drivers for most of these things now, but UEFI still has many services that are used by ring 0 code and drivers.
 

spine

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Here's my complete Brick list:

1. Actually was my friend, tried to flash his Abit mobo in Windows 95 :rolleyes: Luckily he had me as a friend, who also had the same mobo, so I took my bios, put into his mobo, booted, then whilst still on, took mine out and put his in, flashed it back, job done! First and only hot flash I've done.
2. Flashed a Pioneer DVD drive to make it go from 5x speed to 6x speed. It lasted 3 months. :D
3. Very recent, flashed my MSI z490 whilst I had a dodgy sata cable in my 4x raid array. The flash seemed to go fine, but the mobo just never booted up after the flash completed. I bought a new bios chip online, but then realised they're no longer socketed! I gave it my best (piss poor) effort at soldering it in, and I swear it posted like once, but then just died. So just bought the same mobo again.

Never had a GPU flash go bad though. Not once, and I've been playing around with setting crazy memory timings in the past. Those days are long gone. :oldman:
 

Digital Viper-X-

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How you brick it? Well , a bios contains a few things, one vital thing is something like a low-level driver that allows your computer to communicate with the videocards hardware, I'm assuming if something there goes bad, that it would brick a card. Also, there are things in there like the cards setup, such as voltage, clocks, etc. I would guess you would not be able to access the card if that were to be corrupted either.
 

prtzlboy

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I think Ontario, Iowa is probably the worst case ontario.

I don't think I've flashed a GPU yet, but I've bricked a motherboard flashing the BIOS with a weird date set (i think that's why it failed, but I don't really know). It erased the bios, but didn't write the new data and then I was screwed. Later, I happened upon a same model motherboard and screwed it up another way (open case on the floor, spilled water, killed some stuff) and was able to pull the bios chip and put it in the other one; two stupid things canceled out. These days BIOS chips don't tend to be socketed, but sometimes you can often use a clip and flash them when they're still on the board.

I have to say I'm not sure what the joke is, re Ontario, Iowa, but it's funny you mention that. I used to live there... Technically Ames now, but lived in an apartment there during college.
 

pendragon1

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I have to say I'm not sure what the joke is, re Ontario, Iowa, but it's funny you mention that. I used to live there... Technically Ames now, but lived in an apartment there during college.
its a rickyism, from trailer park boys. worst case scenario = worst case ontario or atodaso = i told you so
 
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toast0

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its a rickyism, from trailer park boys. worst case scenario = worst case ontario or atodaso = i told you so
Oh, I thought it was a weird typo and looked at the list of Ontarios and picked one to poke. Ontario, Peru is probably cool, right?
 

MooCow

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Always backup your original video card BIOS before flashing with something modified. If things don't work out, there is a chance you can still flash the card back to the original BIOS and try again later with a different modified BIOS version.
With that being said, I have flashed many video cards and haven't run into serious issues. Also, all of them were water cooled. You can successfully flash a card, but end up permanently bricking it from inadequate cooling. There was one exception from this rule however with an XFX ATi 5870 video card I used to use 10 years ago. It came with a defective BIOS from the factory. The clock speeds would oscillate from 180MHz to 300MHz back and forth a hundred times a second every time you moved the mouse. The power saving feature was broke as fuck, and you basically had to void the warranty to make the card downclock properly. Fuck XFX.
 
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blackmomba

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Bricked a Dell laptop by trying to flash a BIOS update after having booted into FreeDOS. The update process ran out of memory and crashed about 1/3 of the way, real downer
 
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