Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fixing the NVIDIA Boot Agent on EVGA 680i SLI

I've been playing around recently with trying to make my computer diskless. The key component of this is a network boot rom. Unfortunately, the copy of NVIDIA Boot Manager thats part of my BIOS is broken. I contacted EVGA about the issue, and they declared it a defective board. After trying various BIOS versions to no avail, I thought I may have to give up. That is, until I learned about BIOS modding.

First, for safety reasons, I bought a backup BIOS chip. Without a working BIOS, your computer wont start. I've never had a problem flashing my BIOS. Every article I've ever read has plenty of warnings, but as long as the flash completes, you're good to go. Unless, of course, if the image you're flashing is the wrong one or corrupted. I got mine off ebay, pre-flashed, for about $10 shipped from "biosdepot". Everything worked without a hitch.

The first thing required to BIOS modding is CBROM, the tool that Phoenix gives to motherboard manufacturers. I found a copy here. The second thing required is a donor BIOS. Because my motherboard is a NVIDIA 680i SLI, I figured that the 780i SLI would be a good candidate. I downloaded the latest EVGA 780i BIOS, and extracted NVPXES.NIC.

CBROM198 NF78P10.bin /pci Extract

Then I injected it into the latest 680i BIOS.

CBROM198 NF68_P33.bin /pci NVPXES.NIC

And flashed it in the NIVIDIA Control Pannel. This is much easier then doing it from a boot floppy. Plus, you can flash it, dump it, and verify that the dumped copy matches the flashed copy. Fotunately everything worked for me without a hitch, and now I can network boot. Now, I just need a network boot image. I'm going to give iPXE a try.