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    Default Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    ***NOTE: If you have a 9600M GT or similar card, that works with the Microsoft standard VGA driver, but produces a lockup/BSOD/black screen as soon as you install recent Nvidia drivers, read this. This is a known bug in Nvidia drivers, and a workaround is available in the form of a VBIOS patch. This is not a problem with the BIOSes in this thread.

    Greetings!

    I think I found the reason behind GeForce 9600M GT's reluctance to work with Acer Aspire 5920G/6920G/8920G laptops. Apparently it all boils down to a corrupt MXM structure in the BIOS.

    The 6920G and 8920G share the same BIOS EDIT: They actually use different BIOSes, despite containing the same motherboard (though the MXM structure is the same in both), and indeed, their symptoms are also the same: no display on the internal LCD during POST. However, connecting an external display to the HDMI port allows POST messages to show up on that screen.

    So, I looked into the MXM structure embedded in the 6920G's BIOS (armed with the recently leaked specification for the MXM structure), and found the following:
    The output device structure for the HDMI port of the 6/8920G is 0x00F9F78A2120, which parses to:
    Device type: TMDS (DVI or HDMI)
    DDC port: DDC-B (MXM pins 230 & 232)
    Connector: HDMI Type A socket
    Connector location: External
    Link type: Single-link DVI/HDMI connected to TMDS link A
    HDMI audio source: No audio
    Digital signal drive strength: Normal
    Digital reserved field 1 (2 bits, should always be 11): 01 (incorrect, violates the MXM spec!)
    Output select GPIO: None
    DDC select GPIO: None
    Device detection GPIO: #0, active low (logic low on GPIO pin 0 indicates a display plugged into the HDMI port)
    System hot plug notification: Disabled

    The culprit is apparently Device detection GPIO (marked in red), which is presumably always low/0 on this machine, indicating a device plugged in! Because the boot display order is VGA first, then HDMI, finally internal display; connecting a display to HDMI (or fooling the MXM VGA into thinking one is connected, as it is happening now) suppresses POST display on the internal LCD, and directs it to the HDMI port. When Windows finally boots up, it recognizes the internal display and makes it primary (Windows always considers the internal display primary by default, regardless of the MXM structure), so display in Windows is normal.

    So, the MXM VGA basically thinks that an HDMI display is plugged in all the time, and proceeds to make that imaginary display primary.

    The 5920G (and its little brother, the 4720G) fares even worse: it flat out refuses to POST with a 9600M GT plugged in! Again, a quick look at the MXM structure (hidden in BIOSCOD02.ROM inside the BIOS image) reveals that something is amiss, even more so than with the 6/8920G:
    -The checksum of the MXM structure is wrong.
    -On this notebook, the boot display preference order is different: internal first, then analog VGA, then HDMI, and finally TV-Out. So, the problem is not the same as with the 6920G. However:
    -The internal display's output device struct claims that the internal display can also produce sound through a SPDIF connection, and that the link between the internal panel and the computer is long-distance, requiring extra signal power. A field identified as "reserved, set to all ones" is set to all zeros.
    -According to their respective output device structs in the MXM structure, the VGA, HDMI and TV outputs are all internal connectors.
    -The VGA output has a "TV format" field set to NTSC-M, despite not being a TV output. The Digital Connection field is set to "Reserved for future uses, do not use" instead of "Not applicable".
    -The HDMI link again has the reserved field zeroed out.
    -The TV out is identified as an HDTV YPbPr component output, but the TV format is "legacy 525-line NTSC-M" (should be "480i" for an HD connector). And again, Digital connection is "Reserved for future uses". But here comes the real bummer:
    -All outputs (including the internal display!) mark GPIO#0 for device detection, interpreting logic 0 as Connected, and 1 as Disconnected. This is wrong in many ways, e.g. one GPIO line can only be used by one display; the internal display has no device detection (it is always plugged in); the board has no GPIO expander, so GPIO#0 doesn't even exist, and is always read as 0; and finally the HDMI output also marks this GPIO as its Output selection GPIO - which is impossible, as a GPIO can't be in more than one mode at the same time.
    -The MXM connector claims to be MXM-HE, capable of delivering 3.2W to regular and 12W to HE cards. I the reality, the connector is MXM-II, so it doesn't support HE cards at all; and I'm pretty sure it can handle more than 3.2W when dealing with regular Type II cards. (I've modded this one to 32W.)
    -The final two fields are a vendor-specific field for PCI\VEN_0401 (a nonexistent vendor), and a weird 4-byte field that appears to be completely random junk. Disassembling BIOSCOD02.ROM in IDA revealed that this field is not really junk - it is the beginning of the x86 machine code that responds to MXM interrupts. Apparently when the BIOS was built, the end of the already-wrong MXM structure got overwritten with BIOS code!

    I've made an attempt to fix these errors, but I have no Acer 5/6/8920G to test them, so the following modded BIOSes are untested Update: 6920G+9600M GT confirmed working by lizzarddos, 5920G confirmed by multiple users to help 9500M GS, 9600M GS and Quadro cards, 5920G + 9600M GT confirmed by u6b36ef, 9920G personally tested by me, so there is no reason why the 4720G would not work.

    (BIOSes last updated 2011-05-29.)
    Aspire 4720(Z)G (Phoenix): request download ticket | ifile.it
    Aspire 5520G (Phoenix, with unlocked menus): http://ifile.it/bi2qtc6/IC50133_MXM.WPH
    Aspire 5720(Z)G, 7720(Z)G (InsydeH2O, with unlocked menus and integrated EFI shell, probably fixes external display issues, updated 2011-11-24): http://ifile.it/3wlxm6j/icl50_1.45_black_edition_40.fd
    Aspire 5920G (Phoenix, with unlocked menus, updated 2011-11-06): http://ifile.it/noxplab/5920G_MXM_V3.WPH
    Aspire 6920G (Phoenix, with unlocked menus): request download ticket | ifile.it
    Aspire 8920G (Phoenix, with unlocked menus): request download ticket | ifile.it
    NEW! Aspire 9920G (Phoenix, with unlocked menus, updated 2011-11-06, use with driver v275.33 and these VBIOSes): http://ifile.it/ej0c3oi/CV120_MXM_V2.WPH
    Extensa 5620G, Travelmate 5720G (Phoenix, with unlocked menus, experimental): request download ticket | ifile.it Link fixed 2012-03-28
    iFile.it folder containing all current BIOSes: BIOS Mods | ifile.it This folder contains newer BIOSes than the ones above, and one of them (5920G) has produced a bad flash. Consider these to be beta BIOSes until further notice!
    Please test them and report any results here!

    Note: The 5520G, 7520G and 9920G are affected, too - however, the BIOSes on these machines don't contain an MXM structure at all, so unless someone figures out how to add an interrupt handler for INT 15h, EAX=0x5F80 to BIOSCOD02.ROM, they cannot be patched. (Note: Even if someone finds the interrupt handler for INT 15h, EAX=0xE820 - memory map, that would be of great help.) 5520G and 9920G are available now. The 5520G BIOS may also work on the 7520G, but this is untested.

    The Aspire 5720G (ICL50) BIOS is NOT required for 9600M GT upgrades - it primarily fixes issues with ATI cards refusing to drive external displays. It is also usable on Aspire 5315, 5320, 5715(Z)(G), 5720(Z)(G), 7320, 7720(Z)(G) and eMachines E510 machines, including IGP ones, to unlock extra tweaking menus. It does not, however, enable upgrading IGP ICL50s to MXM cards - that is still physically impossible.

    Thanks,
    .NetRolller 3D

    EDIT by downloads on January 25th 2014:
    .NetRolller 3D kindly re-uploaded these BIOSes here:
    https://mega.co.nz/#F!iJ5FwAoR!PqYOcbC_r9dciJ5sut6AfA
    Last edited by .NetRolller 3D; 5th November 2012 at 04:08 AM. Reason: Add note about the PCIE power saving bug.

  2. #2
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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    Holy smokes, .NetRoller3D, that might just be the ticket!
    I'll put this topic in the top post of the Acer MXM thread so it gets more eyes.
    Sorry if I'm not around too often - life seems to have gotten in the way of NBR.
    Acer Aspire 6920G Lv. 3.1
    Core 2 Duo T8300 (1.000V) - GeForce 9500M GS (635/1270/475)- 640GB WD Scorpio Blue
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    3DMark06 = 4685 (1280x768) | 3852 at stock

    Proud Member of the NBR Acer Support Crew - My Crowning Post of Awesome

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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    Finally a possible fix! Unfortunately, I've burned my 9600m gt due to extreme overclock. But don't fret, I've just received a replacement today! Gonna try it out tonight.

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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    @lizzarddos: Eagerly awaiting the results.

    @TehSuigi: Thanks! BTW, you got my nickname wrong in the MXM cards topic... Also, "[Note: The 9600M GT is NOT compatible with the 5920G]" is still there after the 5920G's list (though it may worth keeping it there until my fix is tested on the 5920G).

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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    Just a small favor though, could you do the tweak on this modded bios v1.16 for acer 6920G?

    Aspire 6920G BIOS_1.16 MOD.rar

    P.S. The modded bios is from the Bios mod Request Thread in case you're wondering. Acer Laptop with Phoenix BIOS: BIOS MOD Request

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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    @lizzarddos: Here we go: request download ticket | ifile.it

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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    Important note to those who downloaded the BIOSes before 13:00 UTC, 2011/05/06: Please re-download your BIOS, my previous uploads were incorrect, and did not contain the rebuilt MXM structures. This has been corrected in the re-uploaded BIOSes.
    (Also, the 6920G BIOS now unlocks additional Setup menus, courtesy of lizzarddos.)

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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    Ok I've swap in my replacement 9600M GT and flashed the modded bios and

    :::drumrolls:::

    It freakin' works!!! Thanks so much NET roller this is the best thing that happened ever since I upgraded. Mystery of the black screen solved FINALLY! Can't thank you enough for this amazing discovery. WOW

    To anyone hesitating to try, this is guranteed to work on an Acer 6920G with 9600M GT upgrade!

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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    Thanks for the confirmation.

    And remember, none of this would have been possible by the people behind the borec.cz website, who have been kind enough to upload the MXM 2.1 specification, normally only available to MXM-SIG members.

    In case any of you borec.cz staff are reading this topic, whoever you are - THANKS!

  10. #10
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    Default re: Acer MXM BIOS Mods and discussion (was: x920G vs. 9600M GT)

    @.NetRolller_3D: Sorry about the mix-up; will correct with the next update (not at my PC right now)
    @lizzarddos: Screenshots please! This is Acer MXM history we're making here!!

    Now I'm tempted to do the same; maybe to celebrate the end of my 6920G's warranty?
    Sorry if I'm not around too often - life seems to have gotten in the way of NBR.
    Acer Aspire 6920G Lv. 3.1
    Core 2 Duo T8300 (1.000V) - GeForce 9500M GS (635/1270/475)- 640GB WD Scorpio Blue
    16" 16:9 WXGA LCD - 4GB DDR2-667 - Panasonic UJ-120 - Windows 7 Professional x64

    3DMark06 = 4685 (1280x768) | 3852 at stock

    Proud Member of the NBR Acer Support Crew - My Crowning Post of Awesome

 

 
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