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Home > Zoom Player > Firmware

Firmware Patches

Firmware Explained:
Most drives manufactured after January 1st 2000, and some drives prior to that are installed with something called RPC2.

When a drive is RPC2, it means that it stores the Region code physically within the drive. This means that nothing you do on the software level will be of any help (including using DVD Genie or formatting your hard drive).

The only means of bypassing this Regional Protection Scheme is by using a firmware (or Drive-BIOS) patch. A firmware patch is a special piece of software written for a specific DVD Drive model. It will only work on that specific model.

The original role of the firmware patch was to fix minor flaws in the drive logic (a piece of programmable software within the drive, also referred to as a "Firmware"). This logic also controls the Region Checks, so some inventive programmers have modified these firmware patches to remove the portion of logic that does the Regional checks, thus making the drive region-free (RPC1 stands for region free).

However, since a firmware patch is specific to one drive model, it's impossible to make a global fix for all drives on the hardware level. This limitation requires programmers to modify each firmware patch that comes out for various drives. And here lies the problem. Modifying a firmware is not a simple task- it requires a high level of knowledge about the hardware and some advanced programming skills. To top this off, there are quite a few DVD Drive models out there, and not as many programmers with the skill that can access these drives. So in reality, not all drives have firmware patches that can make the drive region free.

So some foresight is required when buying a new DVD Drive. You should check if someone already released a patched firmware for the model you wish to buy.

Important Technical Information:
RPC1 = Drives/Patches that are Region-Free (no checks in hardware).
RPC2 = Drives/Patches that are Region-Locked (checks the region-code in hardware).

Checking your drive's RPC state:
Not all drives are region locked, especially older drives. Drives that come as RPC1 (see above) from the factory do not need any firmware patch. But please note that almost every new drive today comes as RPC2 (see above).

The following procedure is the method used to check if your drive is RPC1 (region free). You should also use it after applying a firmware patch in order to test if the patch is successful.

The first thing you need to do is download a small utility called Drive Info, this utility queries the drive's hardware to see if it is RPC2 (region locked). To download Drive Info, click here.

Before running Drive Info, make sure you have a region-specific DVD disc in the drive. After running drive info you should be prompted with a small screen to select which drive to test (if you have more than one DVD or CD drive installed). Select your DVD Drive from the list, once selected (or if it was selected from the start), Drive Info should inform you of the current state of the drive.

RPC1 (Region Free)
RPC2 (Region Locked)

As you can see, the drive on the left is indicated as RPC1 (Region Free), while the drive on the right is indicated as RPC2 (Region Locked). You can see that the RPC2 drive does allow for up to 4 changes. You can also see that it is currently set to Region 1, which means it won't play other regions unless a DVD Player software will change it's region (which deducts a number of change counter). Once all 4 changes are made, the drive will lock on the final region set.

If Drive Info reports an ASPI error, it means a Windows DLL is missing and the check can't be performed. To fix this problem, read this entry from the "Frequently Asked Question".

After correctly applying an RPC1 patch, your drive should appear like the left image, if it does not, it means that drive was not patched correctly.

Downloading Firmware Patches:
The best page to find the most updated firmwares (both RPC1 and RPC2) is "The Firmware Page". You can access it by going here, or if it doesn't work, try this link.

You should also be able to get good results by using Google to search for "The Firmware Page", or specific firmwares.