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Hacking Gaming Card into Workstation Card

After reading a recent article about the OpenGL optimizations of workstation card drivers, I became interested in getting some more OpenGL performance out of my GTX 690, by hacking it into two Quadro K5000's.

I know this has been done before as a hardware hack, causing the card to identify itself as Quadro K5000's so that the appropriate drivers could be installed, and I always understood the same could be accomplished by flashing the BIOS. I started to look into this, but I wanted to ask from the experts before I went and messed something up.

So, is this even possible? If so, how would I go about it?
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  1. As far as I understood things, for a long while now, NO there is no simple 'software hack' to turn a normal off the shelf cheaper GTX card into a high end Workstation graphics card. I seen some 'insistance' that it is just a 'driver's difference' but when I looked into it, I keep coming back that the design specifically (as you mentioned hardware) IS different. The way I seen this argument would be to ask "is there some BIOS Driver change so I can make my GTX 690 into a R9 295, it just software that makes them different".

    A Workstation Card is made differently, and you need to spend the higher price because they are made differently (and a different purpose, they SUCK at gaming for example). There is no 'SOFT'-Hack to turn a cheap gamer's card into a workstation card
  2. Tom Tancredi said:
    As far as I understood things, for a long while now, NO there is no simple 'software hack' to turn a normal off the shelf cheaper GTX card into a high end Workstation graphics card. I seen some 'insistance' that it is just a 'driver's difference' but when I looked into it, I keep coming back that the design specifically (as you mentioned hardware) IS different. The way I seen this argument would be to ask "is there some BIOS Driver change so I can make my GTX 690 into a R9 295, it just software that makes them different".

    A Workstation Card is made differently, and you need to spend the higher price because they are made differently (and a different purpose, they SUCK at gaming for example). There is no 'SOFT'-Hack to turn a cheap gamer's card into a workstation card


    I know that there are some board differences between GeForce and Quadro, and that they identify themselves by different device ID's, although they do use the same GPUs, and I read that you could hardware hack one of the cores of the 690 into appearing as a K5000, so that you could proceed to install the appropriate drivers; supposedly that actually worked, at least with linux quadro drivers.

    I've also heard of changing the way a card appears to the host machine by flashing its BIOS, such as making a 680 appear as a 770. It seemed to me, then, that all one would have to do was modify the BIOS on a 690 core to cause it to report itself as a K5000, and go from there.

    After posting the initial question, I started looking into BIOS editing. Flashing with a K5000 BIOS won't work, because the K5000 uses a different ROM size.

    The other option I see would be to create modified BIOS's for each 690 core with modified IDs so that they appear as K5000's, but are in fact just 690 BIOS's. I don't see why you couldn't do this, although I also don't know how.

    If a device ID reporting change is all that's needed, wouldn't this work?
  3. Best answer
    No it isn't just a simple 'ohh it has different numbers' as a way to make a 690 suddenly change to a K5000.

    First off BIOS is 01 coding direct hardware calls to specific components, memory addressing methodologies, etc. physically built onto the card itself in the factory, so NO it isn't just "different ROM size".

    Second, as mentioned, the layout and design of the card is different for how things work on the processing of the data bits, and how they are actually 'addressed'. For example look at how the Haswell CPU breaks down a bit of code into different 'micro' workloads then not only has to split those properly but as well reconstitute the micro portions now 'processed' back into the bit to pass the commands to the rest of the hardware to perform. But the Haswell instruction set is DIFFERENT then all previous iCores, so the same thing on how a Workstation Card and it's GPU may 'appear' as the same but in reality much different and different coding / optimizations are done.

    By the way, rewording things to still reach the same conclusion (trick hardware identification so use different drivers = changing Gamer's Card into Workstation Card) won't work. There isn't just one 'code number', driver ID, whatever that makes these cards different, even you admitted that for LINUX (and Windows is a whole another ballpark because that LINUX hack allows the hacker to recode / grep /etc. in LINUX to support the 'hardware hack') was again changing the hardware, you keep trying to do a 'soft' route (no actual soldering, changing components, etc.).


    I think the only way you will realize this is if you stop looking at the BIOS/other hacks and just sit back for a moment and go to the Whitepaper / design specs of each card and go over the schematic design (they would talk about those in a REVIEW article about the card) and look at them yourself. Once you see how things aren't just "oh change a number here, use a different driver there" you may get the idea better on what I am trying to say ?
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