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The Chip With The Lifetime Information On It

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by RusRus, May 28, 2013.

  1. RusRus

    RusRus New Member

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    Has anyone successfully removed and installed the chip on another Tivo DVR?
     
  2. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Older TiVo yes, with the newer TiVos I don't think so.
     
  3. replaytv

    replaytv gun talk ignore list

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    I haven't done it but remembered people successfully doing it on this website. Don't remember where I saw mention of it though.
     
  4. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Can't be done on the Series 4 and maybe the Series 3 also, it has been reported done on the Series 2 and Series 1. There was a reason that a Series 4 TSN chip can't be switched, but I don't remember what that was.
     
  5. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    I think on the S4 it's built right into the main chipset, unlike older units which had a separate chip.
     
  6. dianebrat

    dianebrat drastically off narrative TCF Club

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    The magic phrase you want to search on is "crypto chip" and it's been done up to the OLED S3, it can not be done for a TivoHD or newer.

    You can search in the Series3 forum and find plenty of posts on this subject
     
  7. RusRus

    RusRus New Member

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    Thanks for the input. I appreciate it.
     
  8. magnus

    magnus Tivo User

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    Check the other forum for this they probably have more info on how/if it can be done.
     
  9. RusRus

    RusRus New Member

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    What "other forum" would that be??
     
  10. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

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    Cox Cable...
    It's been done for the TiVo HD on the other forum that it's not allowed to name or link to on here.

    A lot of money, and about year of effort, went into attempting it on the Series 4 (all Premieres) platform. It's due to the TSN being burned into to PROM, and a boot-sequence comparison that checks that everything matches up.

    Prior to this security step-up, a guy burned modded PROMS in bulk. To do it now, each one would need an individualized burn. The old PROMs were also easy to socket. The new ones are extremely difficult.
     
  11. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    I'm not certain you are talking about what the OP is talking about.

    The TiVo Service Number is to what TiVo, Inc., attaches the account status in its databases. When the TiVo phones home (even if by internet), it reports its TSN to the mothership and is told what its account status is.

    It's also what the TiVo attaches to the shows it records (that's the "encryption") that means you can't move a drive from one TiVo to another of the same model and still watch the show.

    Beginning with the original Series 1 and up through the first of the Series 3s, the TCD648250, the TSN is recorded in an integrated circuit known as a "crypto chip", a separate integrated circuit which could be replaced/moved by someone with the right equipment and experience with Surface Mount Devices. It's nerve-wracking, but do-able by home-gamers.

    I saved 2TB worth of recordings on an S2 DT that way.

    Beginning with the Series 3 HD and HD XL (TCD652160 and TCD658000), the entire "crypto chip" has been incorporated in a larger integrated circuit (along with a bunch of other TiVo-specific circuitry) which, if I'm not mistaken, uses the Ball Grid Array method of connecting to the circuit board, which is a very large number of of very small balls of solder on the bottom of the chip which are melted simultaneously to connect it to a bunch of teeny little copper pads on the motherboard. This requires specialized equipment just to do during assembly of the motherboard, and makes replacement of the motherboard with a new one the most practical repair method by far.

    In recent years a number of laptop computers have had CPUs mounted that way, and when the connection failed it put them Beyond Economical Repair.

    What you are talking about, the Programmable Read-Only Memory, does not contain the TSN, and handles some of the TiVo's other "security" features that one gets around with a PROM with modified code.

    I've never changed out one of those and don't know how that's handled on later models.

    If one were to Google "omikron prom day", one would find links to "the other forum" which may not be mentioned here (literally, this forum's software turns the URL for it into *'s), and to what forum member omikron has to say on the PROM issue.
     
  12. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    I've done it on a dual tuner Series 2, the TCD649080.

    The chip does not, itself, have the account status on it, it has the TiVo Service Number which is unique to each TiVo.

    Tivo, Inc, maintains a database that lets each TiVo know what its account status is when it "phones home" and reports itself to be TSN "whatever".

    Which model or models of TiVo do you have and what exactly do you have in mind?
     
  13. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

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    On part 1, you may be right.

    On part 2, you're wrong on one thing. The Premiere PROM DOES contain the TSN of each Premiere. It's the first model that ever has. That it does, however, doesn't necessarily mean that's the one-and-only roadblock there. That roadblock could be irrelevant, unrelated, or just one part of what the OP wanted to ask about.

    On part 3, you show that you could do some further research, and then may have a better understanding overall. My memory could use a refresher, as well, since it's been years since I quit monitoring the Premiere PROM project, which, at the time, seemed over.

    On part 4, the base reason their never became a "PROM day" for Premiere PROMs, was because the non-TSN'd PROMS could be done in bulk copy. For a Premiere, each one would need a customized flash, to include the TSN. I'm sure there are other reasons it was a no-go.

    The primary reason people PROM'd their TiVos was to get around Multi-room transfer restrictions. There were/are other reasons people would want to.

    So, I am admitting I don't know everything, nor am I sure what the OP was talking about with certainty.

    I do have two PROM'd TiVo HDs (NOT the OLED S3 units), which I did myself. They're now just spare-parts units, since there was some reason the PROM mod was no longer something I needed, and I had a one-time only opportunity, long ago, to transfer the LT subs to newer units. Also, there was an issue where you either had to PROM all your S3/HD units, or else the others wouldn't play well with them.

    You and I go back a way, in case you've forgotten. We didn't get into heated debates, and had worked together to help ourselves and many others here. I'd like to keep it that way. :)
     
  14. RusRus

    RusRus New Member

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    My original post was to determine if my present THD went South could I use a back-up THD to maintain my lifetime service feature. I guess not.
     
  15. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    I bow to your superior knowledge.

    But not terribly deeply. :D

    Seriously though, I hadn't put all that much effort into keeping track of S4 hacking efforts, as I don't see myself ever getting one, so thanks for setting me straight.

    Maybe if the eventual S5 isn't released as a beta test disguised as a retail offering the way the S4 was I'll consider one of them if our present main TV dies and we have to get something HD.
     
  16. alansh

    alansh New Member

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    There's no replacement PROMs for the Premier because the CPU itself contains a boot ROM which validates the main ROM before passing control to it. The ball-grid array CPU, as mentioned above, is essentially impossible to remove.

    The Series1 and most of the Series2s also had software exploits that could modify the image without failing the integrity checks. If anyone found exploits for the S3 or later, they've kept quiet about it. So the S3 and HD are the only ones that really benefit from a custom PROM.
     
  17. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

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    Good to see you're still around, and haven't lost your tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. :D
     
  18. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

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    Yeah, I recall something along the lines of even there being more security, checks, which could still render a PROM-only mod from working, beyond *maybe* keeping LT service on a completely fried board, if even that, and so on... The expenses and expertise needed with the PROM experiment were extreme, compared to how to HD had the solder pads already on the board, making it easy to unsolder that very small, very few pin count, PROM, and install a socket for the replacement, unlike the new flash chip in the Premiere.

    I think, if it was an iPhone, or more mainstream product, it would still be a "build in more security, and we will still hack it tomorrow" scenario, somehow. But, this was one guy, working with donations, a basement "lab" with equipment that really wasn't meant for the task, and he still pulled off a successful de-solder, socket installation, and a socketed the removed PROM, all without frying anything (except some minor cosmetic damage to the socket). Too bad...
     
  19. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I have no current knowledge of any Tivo newer than the original S3, but I don't think the account status is embedded on any chip. I believe someone stated that only the Tivo service number is embedded on the Tivo, which is also my understanding. The account status is accessed and verified when the Tivo calls the mothership. If the account is current and in good standing, this info is passed along to the Tivo and stored on the hard drive and is displayed on the appropriate status screen. All Tivo features are thereby enabled. If the status indicates an inactive (i.e., not yet activated) or closed account, this will be shown in the account status. You can still download software updates and guide data, but you just won't be able to use any of the DVR functions.
     
  20. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Your correct and this is also true for any model of the Series 4. The newer models Series 3 and up also have a timer such that after about 30 days of not calling home the TiVo will not operate even if you have lifetime, I know this is true for some models of the Series 2 also as I have a Humax DVD TiVo with Lifetime that not used, I have it call in every 5 or 6 months and the TiVo will not work as a lifetime TiVo before the call home is completed. I once tried this at the 30 day mark and it would not work until the call home.
     

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