Evolution of BMW Diagnostic Equipment

You must have noticed that the serving equipment of BMW has changed a lot over the last decade, including the diagnostic tools, scanners, auto software, diagnostic system,diagnostic connectors and also the complexity of setup and use AD900 Key Programmer.

Early toolsEvolution of BMW Diagnostic Equipment bmw-gt1-mobile-usb-external-hdd-version-dis-v56-sss-v3221-300x300

The Group Tester One (GT1) was introduced in the 1990′s. There were a few versions, like DIS Plus (stationary setup), however the GT1 is the most common and is what will be referenced here. The GT1 is a portable device which contained a rechargeable battery. It has a touch screen display for easy use. It contained software for Diagnosing and also had software called TIS (Technical Information Display) which is the Service & Repair Information. Early versions of Diagnostics also contained software called Coding, Programming & Individualization (CIP). So from the same tool, you could diagnose the problem, look up how to replace the component and then perform the needed initializations for the new part. Two interfaces were used: EDIC (yellow interface) and the OPS (orange interface). Later versions of the OPS were called OPPS, since they carried additional diagnostics for the Byteflite system and they were also yellow, but much bigger than the EDIC. Authentic GT1s are on the portable touch screen unit. There are many “cloned” units out there, adapted to work on a PC. Either genuine or cloned, the interfaces work the same and connect via an Ethernet port.

Later versions of the GT1 software removed CIP, and moved it to a separate computer (for storage), but still accessible from the GT1. This new software was called Progman (short for Program Manager). This new software contained all of the CIP functions and added new features like multiple car programming and dual channel programming for each car (DIAGBUS and MOST bus simultaneously).

Third Generation equipmentbmw_icom_bmw_latest_diagnostic_tool-300x224

Fast forward to about 2008 when the Third Generation (3G) of equipment was released: ISIS. The contents of ISIS are so large, that dedicated servers are installed at the dealership. An online version is available VAS 5054A to the aftermarket for a fee, called OSS. It can be found at BMW’s tech website. With the introduction of ISIS comes a new interface, called ICOM. Previous interfaces (EDIC & OPS) won’t work with ISIS. ISIS consists of a few parts, since it completely replaced GT1 & Progman. The main part of ISIS that is used in the shop is called “ISTA”, which can be further broken down into two parts: ISTA/D for Diagnosing vehicles and ISTA/P for Coding, Programming & Individualization.



GT1s can be found just about anywhere, including Launch X431 Scan eBay for very cheap. BMW realized that the tool was easily cloned and sold worldwide. Many levels of security have been put into the creation of ISIS to prevent this, in both resident servers and online versions. This makes it much harder for non-dealer shops to work on the newer cars. One would think that since the GT1 was discontinued in 2009, you could just keep using that for several more years until the newer system became more available, however, BMW stayed one step ahead! Whenever a car is programmed with the new ISTA/P, it upgrades the software beyond the level of what Program can recognize. That means, once a car has been updated with ISTA/P, you can NEVER use Progman on it again, rendering the “cloned” versions useless on that particular car. Also, when a new module is installed, the software that is pre-installed on that module is also newer than what Program can recognize, which can stop the entire programming process, forcing the car to be programmed by ISTA/P.

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