Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 3:06 pm Post subject: [Tutorial] How to unlock ThinkPad supervisor password
Last update: Mar 2014
(Please see the latest updates with the chip pictures & locations here)
Because so many of you need this I decided to publish here the whole story.
As you may know, IBM ThinkPad uses a small eeprom (ATMEL 24RF08) to store different OEM issues like serial number, UUID, etc. The supervisor password (SVP) is stored also into this litle chip. So, anybody should figure that he needs to read the eeprom in order to find the password string. The first problem is that 24RF08 is not an ordinary eeprom. The second is that the password is written in a special scan code.
To read this properly you need a software (and an interface) specially designed for this eeprom.
The software is R24RF08 (eeprom reader) and IBMpass (password decoder).
Below is detailed the password recovery procedure. Both R24RF08 and IBMpass are needed. Also for TPs using TCPA security chip to encrypt the passwords, the eeprom writer W24RF08 is needed to complete the unlock procedure.
IBMpass works for absolutely all TP models. The following ThinkPad models are based on 24RF08 eeprom and must be accessed only with 24RF08 programming tools mentioned above:
T43/T43p, R52, T60/T60p, R60, X60/s, Z60t/m/p and Z61 series don't use 24RF08, but more advanced security chips like PC8394T-VJG or secure storage chips PC8394 Tools are needed to unlock the new models.
SL300, SL400 and SL500 have the SVP stored in BIOS flash. The new Lenovo 580 and similar ones based on EFI/Insyde BIOS also use a serial flash. SPEG programmer is the right solution in this case.
Other ThinkPad models such as 380XD, 600 or 760/765 use 24C01 or 93C46 eeproms, that are the most ordinary and can be read with anything you want. The method is the same like for the models based on 24RF08, only the software to dump the eeprom is different.
[New:] For 24C01, you can use R24C01, a software made specially to read such eeproms in Thinkpads and included now in the R24RF08 kit. It is based on the library used to build 24RF08 software and can be used in the same manner.
2. Locating the eeprom. Soldering.
No need to unsolder the 24RF08 eeprom, just solder 3 wires to SDA, SCL and GND pins of the eeprom. There are two eeprom layouts (see interface schematics described bellow), corresponding to the 8 pin or 14 pin eeproms. Locate the eeprom first according to your model (E.g. T20-23 and T30 have the eeprom underneath and can be accessed by removing the RAM modules cover, no need to dismantle the laptop.) and solder the wires using a soldering iron with a fine tip. Also, you can use 0.15 - 0.20 mm enamel coated wires or similar small diameter insulated wires. These wires will be connected later to the interface.
Tip: You can use clips to connect the wires or you can solder on the PCB traces leading to the eeprom pins. GND wire can be attached to laptop GND elsewhere in most of the cases.
Once again, be careful and double, triple check the soldering if necessary till you are positively sure you have done the right job.
3. Choose and build the interface.
Since version 2.0, R24RF08 and W24RF08 are compatible with a wide range of eeprom programmers. By default, both programs set the COM port signals to use direct logic level to accessI2C bus. We provide here 2 schematics that are relevant for direct logic signals and for inverse logic signals (simple-i2cprog.pdf and driven-i2cprog.pdf). Also, depending of the interface you build, you can invert the logics for SDA-In, SDA-Out, and SCL COM port signals by some command line parameters described later in this document.
a) The file simple-i2cprog.pdf contains the schematic diagram of a simple interface (known as SIPROG) based on 2 zeners and 2 resistors. This is a classic, easy to build circuit and works with soldered or unsoldered eeproms. The purpose of the 2 zeners is to convert RS232 levels (+/- 5~10V) to TTL ones, needed by the eeprom. It uses direct logic signals to I2C eeprom and is powered by the COM port. However, this interface works with in-system eeproms but is dependant on COM port current and eeprom bus impedance. R24RF08 works natively with this circuit, no need to change the lines signals with command line parameters. This circuit works pretty well with almost all Thinkpads series.
b) The second interface is described in driven-i2cprog.pdf. The circuit uses MAX 232 as a RS232 to TTL driver and its main purpose is to work with soldered eeproms. The advantage of MAX232 is the TTL outputs that are more reliable and more powerful when work with soldered, in-system eeproms (dependency free from the COM port current). Due of the internal inverters of MAX232 the interface responds to an inverse signal logic level. R24RF08 needs /x, /d, /i switches to be specified in the
What this switches mean:
/x - invert serial clock, also known as SCL;
/d - invert serial data output, also known as SDA-Out;
/i - invert serial data input, also known as SDA-In.
All those can be used in any combination to meet the interface specification.
Note. The two schematic diagrams, simple-i2cprog.pdf and driven-i2cprog.pdf are included with R24RF08/W24RF08 kits.
4. How is it working:
Prepare your technician PC by connecting the interface to the COM1 port (donít connect the wires to eeprom yet). Turn on the ThinkPad and press F1 to enter BIOS Setup. When you are prompted for the password and thereís no other activity like HDD access or so, connect the wires (GND first!, SDA, SCL) to the corresponding wires from the interface (attached before to COM1) and execute R24RF08:
-for SI-PROG interface (as described in 3.a above):
r24rf08.exe <filename>. where filename.ext is the file where eeprom content will be stored.
Example: r24rf08 mytp.bin
-for MAX232 driven I2C interface (as described in 3.b above):
r24rf08.exe <filename> /x /d /i. where /x /d /i are command line parameters (switches) for this kind of interface.
Example: r24rf08 mytp2.bin /x /d /i
Use exactly the instructed switches to avoid possible damages to your eeprom data!
The file should be created in the same folder. Finally, disconnect the wires (GND last!) and turn off the ThinkPad by pressing on/off switch.
5. Reveal the password.
Now, you have the .bin file but you need to dump in scancode to retrieve the password. IBMpass Lite is a free tool that i wrote specially for this job. Just open the eeprom dump you'e created before and search for 0x330, 0x340 lines. The password is located on 0x338 (and 0x340 depending on model) in scancode (AA button must be "ON"). For 24C01 eeproms the password is located at 0x38, 0x40. If the password won't work for the very first time then your eeprom may use newer IBM encryptions. In this case switch to alternate scancodes to find it.
For some old models like 570 or 770Z you need to execute the eeprom patcher first. This will reset the read protection on the password offset. To do that just execute patcher.exe before the reading operation, without rebooting the laptop:
patcher.exe , then imediately
-for Driven-I2C (Max232) you must insert the switches:
patcher.exe /x /d /i, then imediately
r24rf08.exe <filename> /x /d /i
W24RF08, the writer version, has included the complete APP reset operation you donít need to use patcher.
Also there are a new encrypting algos used with some new security chips that are very secured. The password is not in scancode and in some cases not even in the eeprom. To unlock the machine, the dumps would suffer some changes and the eeprom will be re-programmed by using W24RF08. This operation works for all IBM TCG/TCPA secured laptops w/o exceptions. We can provide full support for unlocking TCPA locked machines, contact us at email@example.com
More details on PC8394 Tools (R60, T60, X60, Z60, Z61, T43, R52 models) can be found here.
Remember, use 3 wires from the interface and 3 wires from eeprom! Connect them after your ThinkPad is powered and disconnect them right after you read the content, before you switch off the laptop.
Last edited by victor on Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:00 pm; edited 66 times in total
I have tried to read the eeprom from my 600e TP but get an error:
24RF08 eeprom reader v1.2c - Win32 Console Version
Copyright (C) Victor Voinea, ALLservice 2004-2005, www.allservice.ro
Initializing timer...4908 OK!
ERROR: Eeprom not available!
Hit <Enter> to exit...
I used the simple seriali2c programmer hardware and also the more komplex keymaker hardware. Both do not work with your software.
However -- the keymaker hardware works fine with the keymaker software -
so the connection to the eeprom is OK.
My software is not compatible with other circuits yet, but the next 2.0 versions that will be launched this week will have support for a wide range of serial interfaces including this one.
(Moderator Note: Updated version 2.0 launched already. July 8 2005)
I will try to resume here the most common possibilities or usual mistakes that can be done:
1. When you start the laptop the interface must be disconnected. You can connect after F1 is pressed, don't forget that.
2. If you are prompted with "eeprom not found" then:
a) It is a problem with the wires. Check them again (SDA,SCL and GND) even that seems to be OK, you never know...
If you disconnect the circuit and run the program you would be prompted with "circuit not found" but doesn't mean necessary that your circuit is healthy, not at all.....
b) An usual mistake is to confuse the COM1 pin array enumeration and/or orientation. Note that the
schematic diagram shows the port from the front end. Check again carefully:
pin 4 -DTR, pin 5 -GND, pin 7 -RTS, pin 8 -CTS. All gnds must be fit togheter (COM1 + diode anodes + eeprom GND)
c) Your serial port is too weak. The circuit is powered by the port itself. Check with other PC.
Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2005 6:18 am Post subject: confused
i have an IBM thinkpad A21e , i'm trying to recover the supervisor password, i understand all that is posted on this forum but i can't find the simple-i2cprog.pdf file to download or a schematic o build the eeprom reader.
can you help me out with a link?
Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2005 5:04 am Post subject: Worked!
Nvm i smashed the complicated circuit and i did the simple one, worked perfect, I used IBMpass 1.1 and the simple circuit
Couldn't figure it out how to use IbmPass 2.0 but IbmPass 1.1 woked great.
Thank you for all this information! It helped a lot and i made some money out of it too as i work in a computer store and the verified owner forgot the admin pass. It was the first time i tried this method and i took the project home, worked like 3 hours on it.
Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 7:05 pm Post subject: A quick thankyou
This may not be in line with this topic or thread but i just wanted to say thankyou for all the information you havemade avalible here on your site .
I have a t22 board with a the locked supervisor password and at22 that will not charge or startup from the battery and a t21 that has a CR1 175 error .
As with most people here I have searched and searched the web for information on how to ulock and clear errors on other wise good working systems and until now I have only found sites where people charge between $40 and over $100 to do the same things as the information you provide here and more than likey obtained there knolledge here as well .
Thankyou to all the moderators and others who help with out expectation
I will be watching this forum and hopefully there will come a time where I too can assist someone in need..
Firstly, I want to thankyou for an excellent job and for providing this service free of cost.
I have a friend's T20, it all started by doing him a favor by trying to recovery the lost sup. pwd. But I have tried for 2 days now and there has been no success, I have tried both the driven as well as the simple circuit.
The only difference in the driven circuit is that I am using a MAX232N as the Max232A was not available, I have tried connecting the circuit to 2 PCs but still no success.
I am getting the folowing errors depending on the switches
ERROR: Eeprom not available!
ERROR: Circuit not found or bus error!
I have checked the wires and the connectors on the breadboard over and over again and they seem fine, I have no idea what I am doing wrong.
On the first PC I would get a message that it is copying the eeprom but the 1kb file would have 00 everywhere (empty).
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