AsRock, Aptio, AMI BIOS update crap

There haven’t been some updates for quite a while. But that’s not because I abandoned this site, but rather because I fried my mainboard when a BIOS update failed.

Of course I have been up- and downgrading my BIOS a lot which always is kind of risky – even more when you are using patched firmwares / BIOS’es. ‘Funny’ thing is it all went wrong with the BIOS Instant Flash feature and with a non-patched BIOS. And here is what happened:

I had all my flash files prepared on my MicroSD card. But it turned out named SD card had some corrupted sectors (I wasn’t aware of this when doing my BIOS flash unfortunately!)
So I did a regular BIOS update with the BIOS Instant Flash feature and it all (seemingly) went ok. When asked for a restart at the end, I confirmed – thus sending the motherboard into oblivion.

So learn from it: the BIOS Instant Flash feature doesn’t do any checking on read errors or corrupt sectors on your media. Also it doesn’t do any hashing (crc, md5, etc) to ensure a correct reading of data and flashing consequently ! So before flashing you should make damn sure your media is free of any errors and your files are ok (unfortunately AsRock also doesn’t provide a SHA-1 checksum of their downloads)

Meanwhile I got my motherboard replaced and already downgraded the BIOS, not before checking my USB stick is without any errors – what can take some time on a 32GB stick.

By the way AMI seems also to have problems with their website and https certificate, so theoretically also their webpage could be corrupted ๐Ÿ˜‰



UEFI Patch & ASRock E3C226D2I

To get OSX booting on the ASRock E3C226D2I you can either patch the OSX Kernel (Power Management Patch) or you can patch the BIOS err… UEFI Firmware. I have chosen the latter and it works straight forward. Specifically what this Firmware Patch does is to prevent locking MSR 0xE2 and therefore make the system compatible with native OS X power management, wich nowadays is integrated in the Kernel.

The tools is available on GitHub and the Firmware is available here.

This is how you patch your firmware:

Xeon:~ userone$./UEFIPatch 226D2IL2.10 
patch: replaced 10 bytes at offset E82h 75080FBAE80F89442430 -> EB080FBAE80F89442430
Image patched
Xeon:~ userone$

And you will get a file: 226D2IL2.10.patched, which you shall flash to your machine using the Instant Flash function during boot or in the BIOS.

Unfortunately after, you have to add clover again. So go into the UEFI Shell.

Shell> fs0:EFI\CLOVER\CLOVERX64.efi

And go the relevant menu to add the clover entries. Thats it folks !

Graphic Card Woes

As recently mentioned ASRock was smart enough to not implement IGP passthrough on the E3C226D2I. Bummer ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So I had to find a super slim graphic card which shall fit to my setup. The NVidia NVS 295 was the one I choose in the end. But also then I had to do quite some tweaking. If you look at the picture below you will see that there is not a whole lot of space between the motherboard (bottom of the picture) and the PSU (top of the picture), and exactly between this space the NVidia NVS 295 was planned to sit.


The first thing I actually had to do is to cut a hole into the backplane of my chassis, as the chassis itself was not supposed to support any PCI extension card ๐Ÿ˜ .

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Then I had to cut the metal bracket of the PCI card itself for fitting:

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And the whole setup together:

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My 2nd build

For my latest machine, I had one of those QNAP or Synology NAS systems in mind when planning the whole thing. Of course I want to run OS X on it, while being more powerful, energy efficient and with as little noise as possible (it will sit next to my TV in the living room – in a cupboard though) and with ECC RAMs to ensure data integrity (I just want them !! ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

This whole requirements however turned out to be much more difficult to fulfill then I thought it would. For ECC you need – besides the RAM modules of course – a Xeon CPU and (thank you Intel…… NOT !) a board with the correct chipset (c224, c226 in the haswell world) – none of those “gaming” chipsets (H, P, Q, Z, X…) support ECC – still I think this function is rather blocked.

Well then on the other hand, there are not a lot of server boards out there which feature a mini-ITX form factor. Turns out exactly 2!!! as of writing, one of which I ordered, the other one is the ASRock E3C224D2I. Now ASRock on their side also didn’t made my life too easy as they blocked / didn’t implement IGP passthrough even though its part of the chipset c226 (interesting post here, which I unfortunately only found after I ordered it…) while the Xeon 1268L comes with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . Consequently I had to find a graphic card, which I wanted to passive-cooled to reduce noise (Problem No. 1 nowadays) and is of low-profile (Problem No. 2 nowdays). Nowadays only giga-texel-8GB super-graphic cards are made by AMD/ATI or NVidia.

Now I use the following components (Prices in US$ from Newegg or Amazon):

Overall price: $977.90 – not too bad ๐Ÿ™‚

And some pictures:

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