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Windows ME on Acer Aspire 5502WXMi (ATI Mobility Radeon X700 problem)

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#1
pkkilleru

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Hello everyone,

 

This is my first post on this forum, even though I have been around here for a while, I want to share my problem in hope that somebody can help me sort it out.

 

I have a 14.1 inch WXGA Acer Aspire 5502WXMi laptop with the following main specs:

 

CPU: Mobile Intel Pentium M 760 2.0 GHz

MB: Intel Alviso 915PM + 82801FBM ICH6-M

GPU: ATI Mobility Radeon X700 (M26) 256 MB PCI-E

RAM: 2x512 MB DDR2

HDD: 80 GB IDE

 

I built this laptop because I wanted the smallest possible laptop that supports Windows 98/ME natively and has a discrete video card, there are some old games that i really love and i thought it would be neat to play them again. 

 

Initially i wanted to build this laptop with an nVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 from a Toshiba M65, physically the video card is compatible, but since the Acer Insyde BIOS supports only ATI cards, it did not agree with it and did not POST, so I had to go with the ATI Mobility Radeon X700, even though it's performance is lower and it seems to be the party breaker.

 

I installed Windows ME on it and it went through without any major problems apart from a hardware conflict (Motherboard Resources) probably from ACPI, which doesn't bother me.

I have all the drivers working except the one for the video card, which is making me pull my hair in frustration.

 

I downloaded the ATI Catalyst 6-2_wme_dd_cp_30314.exe and I edited the inf to support my video card hardware ID, amazingly the card installs just fine, Direct 3D acceleration works flawlessly but right after the driver installs and the laptop reboots, the screen looks unintelligible and displays artifacts as if the resolution is not supported, and so i plugged in an external monitor to change the resolution. The external monitor works just fine but the laptop LCD it's as if the video card does not recognize it, even if i edit the driver inf and input the native 1280x800 resolution before i install it.

 

At this point i'm out of ideas and i was hoping that somebody here can help me mod this driver in such a way that it supports and detects my laptop LCD properly.

 

Here is the modification i did to the driver inf, i removed the unnecessary lines that not represent my video card just to keep it simple but there are aspects of it that i do not understand, i highlighted the modifications i did in red:

 

Spoiler

 

 

I hope somebody can help me, or else i will be forced to use this laptop with an external monitor, which denies the whole purpose of it being a laptop

If you need further information, please ask and i shall answer you to the best of my knowledge.

 

Thank you in advance




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#2
pkkilleru

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I installed Windows XP, and apart from the fact that the card is working flawlessly on it, there are 4 monitors being detected in device manage, one plug and play monitor and 3 default monitors. When i look in ATI Control Panel under Displays, indeed there are 4 monitors listed there (Monitor, TV, FPD and Panel which is the laptop panel). The laptop panel is the only one active and obviously the other three are not connected.

Now, in WIndows ME, after installing the modded driver and ATI Control Panel, only two monitors show in device manager, the one installed with the standard VGA graphics adapter that installed with Windows ME and only one Default Monitor that was installed when the driver was installed. Also in Windows ME, if i open ATI Control Panel and go to Displays, only 3 devices show there (Monitor, TV and FPD), there is no Panel like in XP, my suspicion is that there is a registry problem which can be fixed by modding the INF of the Windows ME driver, but i can never be 100% sure.



#3
pkkilleru

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The old driver is the standard pci graphics adapter that windows loads at a fresh install, i tried catalyst 5.2, 5.9 and 6.2 (4.14.01.9150, 4.15.1.9163, 4.15.1.9165) each with a fresh install both windows 98 and windows ME with the same result, for some reason the laptop display is not being detected properly either by the inf/registry settings or by the driver itself. I will try to compare the inf for XP with the one for 98/ME but at a glance they look very dissimilar.... Strangely enough, there are a few early XP drivers such as 6.14.10.6422 that let me load the inf in the manual driver installation in windows ME (windows 98 gives me the incompatibility message) and actually go through with it, at least the driver says it's installing (the driver files copy) but when the system restarts all i get is 640x480x4bit, which means the driver files could not initialize obviously.......... Heck i even tried to replace a few files in the XP driver with the ones from 98/ME, and the behavior is the same as if i loaded the 98/ME drivers as explained before, which leads me to believe the fault lies in the driver files themselves, not in the inf, since i used the inf for XP. I really want to make this work... icon9.gif



#4
jaclaz

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Try VBEMP:

http://www.bearwindo...t.pro/vbe9x.htm

http://www.msfn.org/...3d-aceleration/

or the SciTech driver.

https://web.archive....ree_titles.html

 

 

jaclaz



#5
CamTron

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You can try editing the registry to add the correct timings like this guy did with his widescreen monitor: http://toastytech.com/guis/miscb.html

 

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's impossible to get hardware acceleration with VBEMP 9x or SciTech. I'd use that as a last resort.


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Keyboard failure...
Strike the f1 key to continue, f2 to run the setup utility.

#6
pkkilleru

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Well, frustration and desperation got me into flashing an acer bios from a very similar laptop, the acer travelmate 4150, it has absolutely the same specs except for the video card which is nvidia instead of ati. i guess you see where i'm going with this, i was hoping that by flashing the bios from the travelmate 4150 to the aspire 5500, it would support nvidia cards instead of ati cards, i was wrong, my laptop is now a paperweight, i am waiting on a USB floppy disk drive and some floppies to attempt a bios recovery........ oh well..... acer really makes it hard, don't they.....

 

the platform of my acer aspire 5500 is called EFL50 and the one for the acer travelmate 4150 is called EDL00, clearly they both use an insyde bios and they have the same specs, i wish i knew how to copy the code from the vbios in the EDL00 to the EFL50 so that it would boot with the nvidia card that i have, then i could install it on windows 98/ME .... 

 

One thing is for sure, once i get the floppy disk drive and the floppies, i shall have a means to recover from a bad BIOS flash, and that's when the real experimenting will start until i shall have a breakthrough, if the ati drivers don't help me, i will get rid if the ati card all together. Shame on them for not supporting their products properly, and i'm not talking about windows 98/ME (may they rest in peace), i'm talking about a whole history of buggy drivers and lack of support. I mean look at nvidia, they always had new versions of drivers available, they would fix bugs instantly.

 

But enough rambling, shame on you ATI !!!


Edited by pkkilleru, 05 August 2014 - 12:38 PM.


#7
pkkilleru

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I had some trouble with Windows 98 compatibility, the installation hangs at the last 10 minutes, but eventually it goes through with a lot of waiting and restarts, maybe going into safe mode a few times, the Windows ME installation doesn't hang at all, then there is the native USB external media compatibility. I know Windows 98 is way better but for this laptop it's just a headache, eventually when all the problems with drivers and all would have been sorted out, i shall definitely consider it.
As for 9x compatibility in NT, i'm sure most of the games/programs would work with a few exceptions (Pro Rally 2001, a game that i really miss), and when i said epicness i meant the whole project, but i admit, it's quite a headache lol.

Travelmate 4150 has the same chipset 915PM if it has a discrete video card, which it does, if you look at the bios, and use buidrom.bat in a 32 bit environment, several 512 kb roms will be created among which there is one called 43M.ROM, which stands for the nvidia geforce go 6600 chipset (NV43M). By the same analogy, if you look at the aspire 5500 2.10 (the last msdos version i could find) bios and use the same buidrom.bat, several roms will be created among which there will be one called M26P.ROM, which stands for the ati mobility radeon X700 chipset (M26).

The only difference of EDL00 compared to the EFL50 is the video platform and of course the checksum. I have looked into tools to help me unpack the roms but it seems they are old and proprietary, like some dell ones, so i hit another brick wall... i shall resort to hex editing and a lot more soft bricks ahead. I might have gotten myself into more than i bargained for, but it's the challenge (question) that drives us

 

Oh by the way, when i flashed the EDL00 2.5 bios from the Travelmate 4150 to the Aspire 5500, the flashing process went through without problems, the flash utility detected everything as if the platform was EDL00.... But then, the black screen of death ..... Bummer


Edited by pkkilleru, 05 August 2014 - 12:59 PM.


#8
DougB

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I (and other folks here) have experienced conflicts between ACPI and video drivers on Win98.  (I don't know about with WinME -- did they manage to fix that issue?)  

So it might be worth a try to re-install the O/S with ACPI disabled:

  setup /p i

This might, however, produce some standby issues on some systems, but at least you get your video drivers in.  (Fair tradeoff, at least to my mind.)  

This has always worked for me (and has worked for others on this list as well) when video drivers crashed during installation.  So now i just routinely use this switch when installing my Win98SE.  

(And if it is an ACPI/video-driver conflict, i don't think the video manufacturer matters -- i've experienced the conflict with NVidia cards as well as with Intel m/b-chipset video.)  

- Doug B.


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#9
pkkilleru

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I (and other folks here) have experienced conflicts between ACPI and video drivers on Win98.  (I don't know about with WinME -- did they manage to fix that issue?)  

So it might be worth a try to re-install the O/S with ACPI disabled:

  setup /p i

This might, however, produce some standby issues on some systems, but at least you get your video drivers in.  (Fair tradeoff, at least to my mind.)  

This has always worked for me (and has worked for others on this list as well) when video drivers crashed during installation.  So now i just routinely use this switch when installing my Win98SE.  

(And if it is an ACPI/video-driver conflict, i don't think the video manufacturer matters -- i've experienced the conflict with NVidia cards as well as with Intel m/b-chipset video.)  

- Doug B.

 

Yes, i have tried with ACPI off, and like you say, the installation of both 98 and ME goes without hitches, but the video driver behaves the same, it installs perfectly, 2D/3D acceleration works great, but the laptop screen behaves like an old CRT monitor that doesn't support any resolution (the image is either unintelligible and looks like artifacts or it's partly intelligible but looks cropped to the left with two compressed vertical lines in the middle). On the other hand, if I use an external monitor, everything is perfect, I guess the driver itself does not detect the laptop panel or there are some registry issues involved that can be corrected.



#10
Drugwash

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Dunno if it can be of any help but do try 'Quick switcher' from the repository in my signature. See if it correctly detects the display, set up three hotkeys with different resolutions (also check the resolutions list, see if you can get some different vertical refresh rates) and use the hotkeys one at a time, see what happens. Keep the external monitor on for feedback, there should be a brief OSD message at top-left on each resolution change.

 

Can't tell much about the registry, I'm having difficulties myself finding all the necessary data for Quick Switcher.


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#11
pkkilleru

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Dunno if it can be of any help but do try 'Quick switcher' from the repository in my signature. See if it correctly detects the display, set up three hotkeys with different resolutions (also check the resolutions list, see if you can get some different vertical refresh rates) and use the hotkeys one at a time, see what happens. Keep the external monitor on for feedback, there should be a brief OSD message at top-left on each resolution change.

 

Can't tell much about the registry, I'm having difficulties myself finding all the necessary data for Quick Switcher.

 

Thank you very much, will do, but first, i am waiting for a USB floppy disk drive to recover my bad BIOS flash  :whistle:



#12
Drugwash

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Good luck with that! ;)

If the floppy unit won't get recognized, your only chance would be a hot swap and reflash the BIOS on a similar/compatible board, only when the chips have same capacity and only if they're not soldered directly on board.

 

For details on BIOS modding/flashing try looking through all the sections here. But be careful, there be dragons! ;)



#13
pkkilleru

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Good luck with that! ;)

If the floppy unit won't get recognized, your only chance would be a hot swap and reflash the BIOS on a similar/compatible board, only when the chips have same capacity and only if they're not soldered directly on board.

 

For details on BIOS modding/flashing try looking through all the sections here. But be careful, there be dragons! ;)

 

Aye, there be dragons there, but i've done it before, although this one is not a simple 8-lead SOIC SPI Serial EEPROM, it's a 32-lead PLCC soldered onto the motherboard, which has hair thin lines  :o

Anyway, the crisis rescue disk will work, being an old laptop, the crisis doesn't support a CD or USB flash drive, but it does support a USB floppy drive, and i already tried the FN+ESC method, it takes me into crisis mode but it's not reading either the USB flash drive or the CD, i'm sure it will read the floppy disk though, or else i'm screwed, i really want to experiment some more  :w00t:



#14
Drugwash

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You're on thin ice, mate. May the Force be with you! :D



#15
pkkilleru

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Well, today the USB floppy disk finally came and i was able to use crisdisk (FN+Esc) to revive my acer aspire 5500. Since i had the mans to recover from a bad flash, i started experimenting again with the EDL00 (Acer TravelMate 4150) bios and still had no success. Finally after many tries and failures, video card swapping (ATI and Nvidia) frustration and some more time lost, i was just looking at the files that came with the TravelMate 4150 bios v2.50 and like i mentioned in a previous post, there is a file called buidrom.bat that uses the file flas***.exe to extract the bios rom and repack it in a few different files to match different platform configurations. As it turns out, for this particular bios version, the bat file created four rom files NV43.ROM, NV43DOCK.ROM, NV44MV.ROM and NV44MVDOCK.ROM, obviously each one matching the kind of laptop and vga card you have, geforce go 6600 no docking station or with docking station and geforce go 6200 no docking station or with docking station.

 

Anyway, i said to myself, hey if the flash doesn't work with NV43.ROM, let me try the NV43DOCK.ROM, so that's what i did, loaded and renamed the NV43DOCK.ROM to BIOS.ROM to the floppy disk along with bflas***.bin as required by crisdisk, and initiated the rescue flashing process, waited for it to finish and shut down the platform, then to my surprise and disbelief, the platform booted, i looked next to it and there was the ATI x700 card sitting there disconnected, i cried out loud in joy YEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH, i did it! it works!, in your face Acer!

 

Then went into the bios and there it is, the proof is attached to this post :D:D:D

 

Now i can finally have my windows 98/ME platform fully compatible with Nvidia drivers!!!!!!!!! Yupee, i'm a happy camper

Attached Files



#16
pkkilleru

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UGH! :( I thought i was out of the woods but it seems like bad luck follows me....

 

Both Windows 98 and WIndows ME can't manage the new nVidia card well enough, either if i install them with ACPI on or off, there is a conflict (Code 12) where the video card cannot find enough free resources to run properly "This device cannot find any free Input/Output Range (I/O) resources to use (Code 12)".

 

I tried to install Windows XP to see if the new EDL00 BIOS is the problem, but Windows XP runs just fine..........

 

I tried to disable the COM and Infrared ports along with the LPT port in bios, i also disconnected the wlan and bluetooth modules, there is nothing else i can disable in the bios or remove from the system.......

 

What is the solution??? :(


Edited by pkkilleru, 20 August 2014 - 06:52 AM.


#17
Drugwash

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If the videocard has more than 256MB (or was it 128MB?) of RAM, you're toast!

Additionally there may be some other subtle incompatibility in BIOS that Win9x/ME can't handle through the driver.

 

Few years ago I had found a site (and forgot the link in the mean time) which provided lots of nVidia video BIOS packages and some flashing applications but I have no idea if your particular videocard's BIOS can be flashed, which are the proper tools, where to find a BIOS file and whether it could be modified to report less memory than the actual value, if that turned out to be the issue.



#18
pkkilleru

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If the videocard has more than 256MB (or was it 128MB?) of RAM, you're toast!

Additionally there may be some other subtle incompatibility in BIOS that Win9x/ME can't handle through the driver.

 

Few years ago I had found a site (and forgot the link in the mean time) which provided lots of nVidia video BIOS packages and some flashing applications but I have no idea if your particular videocard's BIOS can be flashed, which are the proper tools, where to find a BIOS file and whether it could be modified to report less memory than the actual value, if that turned out to be the issue.

 

The ATI Mobility Radeon card that i have (working on the EFL50 Aspire 5500 BIOS only) has 256MB and there were no hardware conflicts, apart from the driver which did not recognize the laptop LCD panel properly but otherwise worked just fine on an external monitor, i even played some games for testing

The nVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 card that i have (working on the EDL00 TravelMate 4150 BIOS only) has 128MB and it gives Code 12 hardware conflict in Windows 98 and ME, the driver loads just fine but the hardware does not initiate because of the conflict, even before i load the driver...

 

As for the video bios, it is included in the system bios, hence the flashing i did from another platform that includes the nvidia bios in the system bios, it cannot be flashed externally, nor does the video card have any eeprom on it


Edited by pkkilleru, 20 August 2014 - 09:50 AM.


#19
farfigs11

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In my Dell laptops, I only had success with ATI Radeon mobility 7500 after installing Rloew's memory patch with the move (\M) option



#20
pkkilleru

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In my Dell laptops, I only had success with ATI Radeon mobility 7500 after installing Rloew's memory patch with the move (\M) option

I removed one stick and i am running only on 512MB, i reinstalled windows 98 with and without ACPI, the Code 12 conflict is still there unfortunately frown.gif



#21
MiKl

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Hi Pkkilleru, just a wild guess but did you tested different values for aperture size in the BIOS ?? Good luck, MiKl



#22
pkkilleru

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Hi Pkkilleru, just a wild guess but did you tested different values for aperture size in the BIOS ?? Good luck, MiKl

And how am i supposed to do that? The bios is very limited, this is a laptop



#23
pkkilleru

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Interestingly enough, and i don't know what it means, in either windows 98 or windows ME, in device manager if i go to the video card resources it says "no conflicts", then if i go to computer in device manager and right click properties and then look for the listed resources that the video card is supposed to be taking, they are not listed there, all other devices that are taking up any resources are listed there except for the video card.
 
If this is a bios issue, then why is it not happening in windows xp, why does the video card work just fine in windows xp? Could it be that the video bios cannot work correctly with windows 9x?
 
I am so disappointed, i really wanted this system to work with windows 9x... :(


#24
pkkilleru

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i will study this code 12 issue as best i can and will try to find a solution to it, but if nothing works, i will attempt a hardware solution which has a pretty good chance of not working, i will buy a PLCC 32 pin socket for the SST 29VF040 eeprom chip and a SST 29VF080 eeprom to replace the old one, flash it with the current working bios and the attempt to flash it with the Toshiba M60/65 Phoenix bios, the hardware platform is the same, but he Toshiba bios is 1MB versus the Acer one which is 512KB, the Toshiba bios accommodates both ati and nvidia video bioses, hence the increased size.

 

If i am successful (i strongly doubt it) then maybe the Phoenix bios has a better compatibility with windows 9x and managing memory ranges and other resources....

 

Wish me luck lol



#25
pkkilleru

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I replaced the soldered to the motherboard PLCC32 eeprom with a socket so i can hot swap the chip and program a blank one using the motherboard itself, but the system just shuts down instantly once i mess with the good chip in the socket.....

 

back in the day i used to do this all the time with DIP32 eeproms and it worked just fine, it seems that modern computers have a fail safe that prevent such procedures......

 

here is to another failure and back to no options left.... i wish i had a parallel flash programmer






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