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Author Topic: Mojave and new Boot rom upgrades for an X-Serve  (Read 2837 times)
Rominator
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« on: June 09, 2018, 11:58:46 AM »

I was reading the thread(s) at MR about adding some missing Microcode and NVME to latest Mac Pro 5,1 boot room.

Someone had suggested adding the Westmere CPUs to the X-Serve 3,1 boot rom. It is basically a 2009 4,1 in many regards, down to having 1 or 2@ 2.26 Ghz 4 Cores as base.

I bought an X-Serve a couple years back to work on iMac MXM cards. I figured it was only Mac with MXM 3 A or B size card that could be swapped with 1 or 2 screws. I planned to bootcamp the X-Serve into Windows to flash, then back to OSX to test. X-Serve has a DP port wired through MXM card to back panel. And it used same crappy GT120 as an iMac.

Anyhow, I got the cheapest X-Serve I could get. It had apparently been in service on a submarine that sank. Water damage, things fixed with hammers, parts missing. I wanted cheap and I got it.

It's junk but it runs. Single 4 Core at a blistering 2.26 Ghz. I can watch my beard grow while it boots.

But the whole plan came to a grinding halt when I found out that Windows doesn't run natively on an X-Serve. And running in a VM doesn't let you touch the hardware the way I needed. (Flashing EEPROM on MXM card) Became a large, and potentially dangerous door stop.


I recently decided to finish this quest. So I got the cobwebs out of the X-Serve and fired it up.

Saw those Microcode threads and got excited. Decided I was going to have the first 6 Core X-Serve. Downloaded the various tools and modules.

Digging through the X-Serve boot rom I couldn't locate the 15 Microcode. So I used some thought and located the table that it contains. I would like to contribute the attached files, when used as h9828** thread at MR, it works. I swapped the Microcode on the X-Serve boot rom and was able to up the level from 25 to 28. So that worked.

But sadly, I could not get a W3690 to work. X-Serve is cursed with another similarity to 4,1. Even the single core X-Serve has a dreaded "lidless" CPU. At hand I had a W3690 and a W3520. I tried the 3690 several times, it just never lit the "blue lights of joy" when it attaches to EFI display and boot finally is visible. When I tried the W3520 it worked first boot. So, the Microcde doesn't bring magic all by itself.

Maybe I'll get a chisel out tomorrow and de-lid the Dxxxxxd 6-Core. But I did bend one pin in my ham handed efforts with 6 Core so I'll settle for my minor upgrade to 2.8 Ghz for now.

But hey, the Boot Rom thingie worked.

I'm going to try the NVME boot next. X-Serve never even got APFS so I may need help finding that and adding it.

Oh, and I installed Mojave. Runs just like on a 4,1/5,1. Smooth as butter as long as you don't need Finder.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: I was surprised to find that microcode didn't enable Westmere. But obviously this isn't defining piece of code. Otherwise, why do all 5,1s still work with 87 boot rom that lacks any and all Microcode? So by definition, the ability to run 6 Cores lies elsewhere in the rom. No new magic, but protection from bad guys should be important to any remaining X-Serves in Service.


* Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 1.54.23 AM.jpg (130 KB, 854x595 - viewed 147 times.)
* xserve old microcode.rom.zip (37.96 KB - downloaded 39 times.)

* Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 10.39.16 AM.jpg (97.39 KB, 1302x726 - viewed 103 times.)

* Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 10.38.46 AM.jpg (88.18 KB, 1270x700 - viewed 98 times.)
« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 07:11:22 PM by Rominator » Logged

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Rominator
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2018, 12:22:42 PM »

Crucial Detail, don't use h9827**'s "new microcode" file with my old one.

Follow his instructions, but use Dosdude's file from his post.

0087-ws30-nh28-MP51-microcode-block.bin

Is the same but I agree with Dosdude including what looks like a header, while h98 has left it off.

They should probably agree on a format and all stick to it. Right now using h98's file on Dosdude's fix or vice versa is an issue, they are different lengths due to missing header.

So replace my previous linked file with DOSDUDES file of the above name per h98's instructions using hex editor. Copy and paste twice, save, flash.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/gulftown-westmere-nehalem-microcode-update-guide.2122246/#post-26137406

Thanks to Dosdude and lightbulbfun and h982** for their pioneering effort in this.

Working on NVME now, will post screens with Mojave on X-Serve
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 01:12:10 PM by Rominator » Logged

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Rominator
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2018, 01:34:23 PM »

I used Dosdude's patcher app for High Sierra and installed High Sierra onto an old NVME drive I got when we hosted a driver. A Samsung 512 Mg .

I did the post install patcher applications and choose it as boot drive.

Didn't work.

So I took my Microcode updated X-Serve Boot rom and added the NVME DXE per Dosdude's tool. I then rebooted, and got into my BRAND NEW FRESH NVME INTSALL of High Sierra. Worked on next boot, it had already been selected, machine had defaulted to other drives since it couldn't
 "see" NVME before that boot.

Now it sees it just fine. Booted up smooth and fast. So in 1 day I confirmed both new microcode update and NVME via bootrom. These guys have done the Mac world a huge favor.

I did have one problem, my High Sierra installer and NVME drive were both PCIE, so I had to use an MXM GPU. The GT120 is weak knee'd and doesn't work in Mojave. So I slid in our new GTX660M. Boot screens and Metal Family 1.4. Nice little card. And another first, a "new" Nvidia MXM card, trying to think of any iMac models that might need such a card...

So, I confirm 28/30 Microcode and NVME fixes work in X-Serve 3,1 bootrom. Easy, simple, and fast. DOSDUDE has done some impressive and beneficial work. My junky old X-Serve feels a whole lot newer and more relevant all of a sudden.

Now to go through the pix from photo shoot today of eGPU 1080Ti for Pre-Sales that were supposed to start 5 hours ago.

Yikes !



* x.jpg (100.89 KB, 720x851 - viewed 148 times.)

* nvme.jpg (94.96 KB, 648x784 - viewed 130 times.)

* profile.jpg (54.16 KB, 644x415 - viewed 141 times.)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 01:46:37 PM by Rominator » Logged

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netkas
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2018, 06:38:03 PM »

/usr/standalone/i386/apfs.efi

on your 10.13 filesystem

but it's too big to be embeded into firmware

in new efis, apple has a module which loads apfs.efi from disk container, verifies signature and runs it
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netkas
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2018, 07:53:22 PM »

this is probably it: APFS Jump Start Driver
file with guid CFFB32F4-C2A8-48BB-A0EB-6C3CCA3FE847 in mbp114 firmware
9kb

but you would want to extract it from mp5,1 firmware for best compatibility

open mp's efi in uefitool, search for text apfs, here it is
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LightBulbFun
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2018, 09:48:05 PM »

very nice work Smiley

pretty cool to see you where able to update the microcode of your Xserve3,1

im not too surprised that it did not enable Westmere support sadly.

I recommend you check out my first Microcode thread here https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/updating-a-mac-pro-s-cpu-microcode.2114187/ for some more info on it all

we need to find where in the Macs EFI the CPU "support code" resides we should be able to "port" that over from the MP5,1 to enable Westmere CPUs on the Xserve3,1

also pretty cool you got NVMe booting working too Smiley someone should mod a MacPro3,1 then install 4 NVMe drives on a Squid card for shits and giggles  Grin

BTW if you really want to go off the Deep end you could try flashing the Xserve3,1 to a MacPro5,1... https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/going-off-the-firmware-deep-end.2121762/

also finally it should be possible to Boot windows on an Xserve3,1 I have a quick n dirty guide here: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/instal-actual-not-virtual-windows-on-x-serve.1974421/#post-22940424 sadly I only own an Xserve1,1 and on there windows is BSODing on something but as im booting Blind I cant tell what its crashing on (I even disconnected the SAS controller and it still BSODs on something...)

« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 09:49:43 PM by LightBulbFun » Logged
Rominator
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« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2018, 06:24:36 PM »

Yeah, the NVME is pretty easy now that others figured it out.

Nice of Apple to leave that supported machines boot plist the same so you can just use a 10.10 one in 10.14 and everything is easy breezy.

Tackled the 3,1 last night, but that will be another thread.

Next is APFS.

Anyone get this done yet?
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edgerider
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2018, 12:04:05 AM »

to all of you : thanks!
xserve are cheap wonderful machine!
and they love pcie expender!
I feel that there might also be some minor hardware diference in the northbrige chipset.
the mac-pro is x58 but are we sure xserve is the same, may be it is some c6xx somthing like the supermicro sever board, and then it might not support the x56xxx serie ...
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Rominator
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2018, 05:12:10 PM »

Well, I may have saved a bit too much money on my X-Serve. It looks almost as bad as the 27" iMac I found in the alley. (which someone had tossed out a 3rd floor Window)

Last week my X-Serve started this charming new thing where it boots normally, then the fans started going faster, faster, FASTER until they hit full speed. Even though it is a single CPU version, it has all the fans of a Dual CPU. From memory it looks like 8 fans. I can't be in the room with that racket so I did the only sensible thing. I jammed pencils in them to shut them up. And I quickly discovered it actually has fans on each side of the enclosure, so 16 fans total maybe? I needed longer pencils to stop them all.

I really wish I had bought a nice X-Serve. Not only does it have physical damage, it also is rusty inside. So, it fell down a flight of stairs into  flooded basement I think. Sometimes the PCIE slots show up, sometimes they vanish.

Anyhow, I ordered a new logic board for it, I think I got a Dual CPU one. If I have to listen to 16 fans anyway I may as well get the extra CPU. Hopefully the new logic board solves the "ALL FANS AT MAX" issue. If not it will be going out my 4th floor window for a nice bounce on the concrete before landing in the pool.

But, before I install the new logic board, I'm going to try lightbulbfun's idea. I'm going to flash it with Mac Pro 5,1 boot rom. Might enable 6 core CPUs. Might brick it. But as it currently completes with jet engines in the dB department, who cares?

Updates coming...
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tomtomgps
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2018, 09:29:23 PM »

Interesting, you can probably unbrick it by flashing back the original efi.
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2018, 11:39:12 PM »

Interesting, you can probably unbrick it by flashing back the original efi.

Not if it doesn't boot I can't.

I could probably use a clip on the EEPROM if it is SOIC-8 or just hot air it off.

But if new board (which just got here...!) doesn't have roaring fans then the first one is no good anyway. In iStat I think it says the fans are going at 16K RPMs.  They are loud enough when fans run normally, but 16 fans at 16K is unbearable
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2018, 04:21:14 AM »

14 VERY LOUD fans.

And I need more pencils.

Anyhow, I really boned myself. Got a Dual CPU X-Serve and I don't have 2 @ Xxxxx Nehalems for it. All I have are a bunch of W3520s and some X5690s.

Don't really want to buy a 2nd piddly 2.26 Ghz 4 Core.

What to do, what to do...

And what GPU is that?


* chunnel.jp2 (131.27 KB, 4032x3024 - viewed 555 times.)

* Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 7.34.22 PM.jp2 (65.55 KB, 760x523 - viewed 558 times.)
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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2018, 07:39:19 AM »

its this GPU https://devicehunt.com/view/type/pci/vendor/102B/device/0522

I noticed it says slot Airport,

did you flash the MacPro5,1 BootROM to your XS3,1?

Maybe the Xserve3,1 has some sort of GPU CPU SoC to do with lights out management and that SoCs built in GPU which is normally hidden is now being exposed due to the MP5,1 BR?
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Rominator
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2018, 12:27:28 AM »

Yes, that is exactly what I did.

Flashed my dying X-Serve with 5,1 boot rom.

I was amazed when it booted right back up. I had expected a brick.

I was even more amazed when I put the 5690 in and it STILL booted right up. RAM at 1,333 Mhz.

Was world's fastest X-Serve, for a few minutes. Since it was Dual CPU logic board arrival that made me bold enough to risk it, I tried to install it. I couldn't think of way to easily flash it for Westmere while I don't have matching Nehalem chips to boot it with.

So I heated up the Hot Air station and swapped chips. All was going swimmingly until I went to swap the boards. The backplane cable left it's connector in the logic board. It had corroded inside and the cable ripped right off.

The guy I bought the logic board from had kindly tossed in lots of extras. Even the cable right NEXT to this one. But I have a feeling that this particular cable gets ruined all the time. I could only find 1 on Ebay, for $90 !

If you time it right, you could get a whole other X-Serve for that. (not with shipping) My guess is this cable gets ripped frequently on these old heat soaked boards.As a real slap in the face, there is one for a 2008, very similar. For $2.

I may order it and see if it will stretch.

So, my personal 12 Core X-serve will be delayed, sadly. But I'm certain it will work. Amazingly, the Single CPU ran just fine on 5,1 rom. It appeared in System Profiler as a 2009 Mac Pro but had weird stuff like that extra GPU on Airport slot. But the gazillion pretty lights inside still fired up. I don[t have any SAS/SCSI SATA drives for the 3 sleds, no idea if they work.

Of the 6 RAM slots, a couple disappeared. This should be expected.

But we should have known. Apple was too lazy to engineer 2 separate systems when they could just do one and mash it down into a 1U.

USB drives and PCIE drives were working. No idea if cooling would work as expected as I had pencils jammed in most of the fans since they were at 10K anyway.

So, whenever I can find that stinking cable, I'll have a 12 Core X-Serve. You know a part is rare when you google the Apple part number and only 1 hit on first page is it. Rest is matching phone numbers for dentist in Thailand, etc.

Good news is this works. If the boot rom genii can find the modules that enable Westmere and move them into X-Serve rom, would be awesome. And it's certainly do-able. Another one of those things that would have been awesome, if we had figured it out 4 years ago.

With X-Serve prices cratering and most people not interested in a wind machine in their home, this is mostly an interesting exercise.

If anyone has X-Serve 2009 3,1 Backplane Cable taking up space in a drawer, PM me.


* backplane cable.jp2 (131.28 KB, 4032x3024 - viewed 527 times.)
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LightBulbFun
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2018, 07:06:41 AM »

Very Cool!  Grin

im curious if even though you lost some RAM slots if you populated all 12 would OS X still see the full amount?

also since you now have a MP5,1 BootROM you should be able to boot windows much easier now  Smiley
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