For the first time since 2013, Nvidia's GPU BIOS lock has been bypassed, enabling enthusiasts to modify their graphics card BIOS. This breakthrough is attributed to two new tools: OMGVflash by Veii and NVflashk by Kefinator, which were developed independently of each other.
These tools allow users to flash almost any video BIOS onto almost any Nvidia GeForce graphics card, bypassing Nvidia's stringent BIOS signature checks and vendor/device checks. TechPowerUp editor and author of GPU analysis tool GPU-Z, W1zzard, has provided insights on the underlying vBIOS internals, drawing from his extensive experience and work with the TechPowerUp GPU BIOS Database.
Nvidia had previously introduced BIOS signature checks and an on-die security processor named “Falcon” on all its GPUs, starting with the GeForce 900-series “Maxwell.” These measures were put in place to prevent GPUs from booting with unauthorized or modded firmware. However, the new tools have effectively overcome these barriers.
Potential Applications and Benefits
The tools reintroduce the golden era of video BIOS modding, reminiscent of utilities like NiBiTor. Users can now potentially flash the BIOS of a premium factory-overclocked graphics card onto a standard model. For cards up to the RTX 20-series “Turing,” BIOS modding allows users to adjust power limits, voltages, cooling performance, and fan-curves. For instance, newer versions of the GeForce RTX 4090 can be restored to a voltage of 1.1 V, compared to the recent 1.07 V models. This can lead to enhanced performance settings and increased boost frequency residency.
Words of Caution
While the tools offer exciting possibilities, they come with inherent risks. Modifying the vBIOS can void the graphics card's warranty. Moreover, improper use can render the GPU inoperable. As such, users are advised to exercise caution, understand the implications, and ensure they back up their original BIOS before making any modifications. Both tools have been inspected and are free of viruses or trojans.