List of Wii drivechips

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An installed Wiikey, one of the most popular Wii modchips

Wii drivechips are electronic devices that modify or disable the built-in restrictions of the Nintendo Wii video game console. At present, all modchips operate by physically modifying the Wii’s DVD drive. As a result, they are often referred to as drive chips. Most modchips are capable of circumventing region coding and copy protection, which allows users to play games created in different regions, load burned discs, and use third-party homebrew software.

Software modding[edit]

While often associated with physically modifying the hardware of a device, modding can also be achieved with software. Released in early 2008, Datel’s Freeloader for the Wii was capable of circumventing region restrictions. Its release was met with scepticism in the modding community, as it was felt that the particular method it used was readily fixable by Nintendo and commercial use would result in a useless product and the loss of an important vulnerability in the Wii.[1] Indeed as of version 3.3 Nintendo has patched the flaw and blocked the use of freeloader.

On 25 October 2008, a Backup Launcher 0.3 beta was released by WiiGator which makes it possible for DVD-R disks burned from backup ISO files to be played on a soft-modded Wii. While most games are playable, some will not run due to compatibility issues. Disc read speed is limited to 3x (compared to 6x for normal games), which leads to many games having video playback stutters and slightly longer load times. These issues are usually minor and do not affect the actual gameplay. With the release of Neogamma by WiiPower (a modification of Backup Launcher), it has now become obsolete.

Solderless modding[edit]

The drivechip can be soldered onto a clip that replaces the wires that connect the disc drive to the drivechip, and connects onto the drive itself. These simplify the installation process and prevent inexperienced users from damaging the console board due to improper soldering. If the clip is removed too many times, it will no longer stay on the drive. Although it is frequently called solderless modding, this is technically incorrect since soldering will still be required. The number and location of solder points on the drive chip is "automatically" accounted for through the use of chip-clips, and such clips extend the range of future possible solutions.[2] Many vendors now presolder the chip to the clip, making it a true solderless kit.

The newer fourth generation of drivechips do not require soldering; they sit between the connection to the Wii and the disc drive. Such chips are advertised as "plug and play" and include the FlatMod, FlatMii, Wasabi DX, WiiKey Fusion, DriveKey, and the WODE Jukebox.

Drivechip issues[edit]

There have been reports of bricking (rendering the unit inoperable due to an incompatible firmware update) of a small number of Wii consoles after the installation of an update to System Menu 3.0,[3] released on 7 August 2007, in which Nintendo warned explicitly that modded consoles could be rendered inoperable after installation.[4]

Due to hardware revisions, older drivechips may not work on newer Wii systems. When Nintendo released the D2C drive chipset, it broke compatibility with every (at that time) Wii drivechip. The D2C drive chipset is now supported by numerous drivechips. In May 2008, Nintendo released a new batch of Wii systems with drive chipsets (D2C2) that look identical to D2C drives but require updated chips for support.[5] Near the end of 2008, a new drive chipset known as D2E started circulating which has about the same drivechip compatibility as D2C2 drive chipsets. Later, Nintendo covered part of the drive with epoxy to prevent drivechip installation. The epoxy can be removed, but doing so risks chipset damage.

A disc drive chipset called the D3 introduced a radical change, as the chip the drivechip clipped to was no longer on the PCB.[6] Drivechip manufacturers chose to use a dongle method to trick the drive to use its built-in DVD mode, which was meant for a potential DVD player on the Wii. This is the same method that software-modded Wiis use.

Following the D3, a newer chipset known as the D3-2, was released. It looks identical to a D3 chipset apart from the board serial number (generally serial numbers starting E or below are D3, F or above are D3-2[7]) but the DVD mode has been removed from the drive, frustrating attempts to load any discs not sanctioned by Nintendo. An alternative is to replace the D3-2 chipset with an older revision, or getting a D3-2 compatible drivechip which must load via USB or SD.

Nintendo's latest chipset is known as the D4. Originally referred to as the D3-mini it uses a smaller PCB, about half the size of its predecessors. Unlike earlier drives, on which the PCB could be easily swapped with one containing a different chipset (D3 -> D2B, for example), swapping the PCB also requires replacement of the laser mechanism due to a redesigned ribbon cable and the disc detection PCB on the top of the drive.[8]

Nintendo also continues to employ anti-piracy methods on their games. New Super Mario Bros Wii, for example, will not play out of the box because the game checks the burst cutting area for data not normally in a rip. The backup needs to be patched or modified first in order to work with certain drivechips. This modification was released the day after the game was released. There are also similar workarounds for software modifications.

List of drivechips[edit]

Note that all D3-compatible chips are "plug and play", limited to a 3x disc read speed, and most have issues with streaming GameCube audio. For any chip to work on a D3-2 or D4 drive, a source of external storage (i.e.- USB flash drive) is necessary.

Name Availability DMS/D2A Compatible D2B Compatible D2C Compatible D2C2 Compatible D2E Compatible D3 Compatible D3-2 / D4 Compatible Notes
Argon/InFeCtuS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No InFeCtuS chips are universal, can be flashed for other consoles.
Argon2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Chiip Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
CycloWiz No Yes No No No No No No
FlatMii Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes USB only Fix for New Super Mario Bros. Wii is proprietary, and only supported by the FlatMii team.
FlatMod Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Fix for New Super Mario Bros. Wii is proprietary, and only supported by the FlatMii team.
D2Sun Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
SunKey Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
SunDriver Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes IDE/CompactFlash or SATA interface Completely replaces the Wii's disc drive.
OpenWii No Yes Yes No No No No No
Wasabi DX Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Can act as a Wasabi Zero after a firmware update and reinstallation.
Wasabi V1 No Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Wasabi V2 No Yes Yes Yes Yes Needs an update No No
Wasabi V3 No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Wasabi Zero Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Identical to the Wasabi V3, but includes a JTAG port and the ability to go solderless.
Wi-ic No Yes Yes No No No No No Error 001, which is in games as old as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, is not automatically patched.
Wii-Boss No Yes Yes No No No No No
WiiD No Yes Yes No No No No No
WiiFree No Yes Yes No No No No No Open-source drivechip.
WiiJii No Yes Yes No No No No No
WiiKey Yes Yes Yes No No No No No "Quick solder" method will not work on D2B Wiis with a missing pad or cut legs.

The latest firmware fixed "Error 001", but brought back issues with GameCube audio streaming.

D2CKey No No No Yes No No No No
D2Pro Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
D2Lite Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Loading burned discs requires a special firmware. Units with a yellow sticker can be flashed with WiiKey 2 firmware.[9]
WiiKey 2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Appearance is identical to D2Lite. Early chips even had a white PCB.
DriveKey Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
WiiKey Fusion Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Via SD card Appearance is identical to DriveKey.
Wiinja No Yes Yes No No No No No
Wiip No Yes Yes No No No No No
Wiip2 No Yes Yes No No No No No
WiiRez No Yes Yes No No No No No
WODE Jukebox Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes With a USB hard drive
YAOSM No Yes Yes No No No No No Open-source drivechip.
Yowii No Yes Yes No No No No No Open-source drivechip.
SureFire No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Based on Flatmii, no external support needed, but only runs if wii menu is 4.0 or under (will not work on wii menu 3.3)

References[edit]