Reprogram BIOS on bricked board through JSPI1 port

claykin

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Bad flash means RMA, but with MSI having such onerous RMA policies, that usually means being without your board for up to 2 weeks.  That and you're stuck paying to ship it to them.  For those in a hurry, that means $20-40 to overnight it and then waiting and waiting....

How about reprogramming the BIOS using the JSPI1 port?  Its been confirmed that this port is how MSI reprograms bricked boards.  So, has anyone done it?  There's plenty of SPI programmers on the market and I think one may do the job just fine.  Its $30.  This obviously is not for the average consumer, but based on my reading it shouldn't be difficult to reprogram the BIOS using this tool.

http://code.google.com/p/the-bus-pirate/

Anyone try using the SPI port to reprogram?  Please share you experiences.
 

Jack the Newbie

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How about reprogramming the BIOS using the JSPI1 port?
So, has anyone done it?
Yes, I have done it a couple of times on my P45 Platinum Board.  Although, I did not use a pre-built programmer but made one myself (all it takes is a few wires, a couple of resistors, a second system with a parallel port and a few caps). 

This is a quote of an older (internal) posting of mine that contains some information:

After a couple of long evenings/nights of testing and experimenting I finally succeeded in building a working connection between the Parallel Port of my 975X Platinum PUE and the BIOS Chip of my P45 Platinum by using the board's JSPI1 Pin Header (which is essentially a direct SPI programming interface to the 8 pin SOIC-Chip soldered to the board.)  :biggthumbsup:

Not long ago I had bad flash which resulted in a corrupt BIOS on the P45 board.  I was certainly a moron BIOS flasher that day, as I was to lazy to remove the overclock and ultimately I had to pay for that with a dead board.  As I have enough other boards here to replace it temporarely and also because I did not feel like sending the board to MSI Support or another BIOS Recovery Service place, I started investigating to find ways out of this misery that would not require me to solder out & replace the chip or buy an expensive SPI Programming device. 

After some research, I found the following two czech sites...

http://www.fccps.cz/download/adv/frr/spi/msi_spi.html
http://rayer.ic.cz/elektro/spipgm.htm

...which gave me some hope as they included not only a little SPI Programming Applications written for Linux, DOS and Windows but also a few schematics and instructions on how to build a little cable that allows communication between Parallel Ports & SPI FlashROMs:




.
.
.

That definately looked promising and so I decided to build such a thing for myself. Of course, the first couple of attempts utterly failed and whatever I tried, I was unable to establish communication with the BIOS Chip. 

However, then, a few resistors, one decoupling capacitor and a couple of furious threats to destroy the board with a big hammer later, I managed to construct this:



...and guess what, just before I was ready to give up, I suddenly established a stable connection to the chip:



I was able to download the data that was on the chip (after the bad flash) and send it to Svet who found out, that it was a strange mixture between BIOS v1.3 and vP.0D (I tried to flash from BIOS v1.3 to P.0D when the system crashed). 

After that, I erased the BIOS chip, programmed BIOS v1.4 directly to the chip and downloaded the data from the BIOS Chip again to compare it with the original BIOS File.  It matched.  :biggthumbsup:

I just programmed the latest EFI Release for the P45 Platinum and then put it back to use and it booted right up without any problems.  The experiment was certainly successful after all. 

Many thanks, by the way, to Svet for "listening" to a bunch of failure reports and every step of my try & error attempts on skype.  :emot-tip-wink:

I just thought, I should share the result of the experiment with you here.

----------------------------------------

Last thoughts (for now):

The interface is easy to build as it just takes an empty parallel plug, a few cables, resistors and maybe a capacitor, but troubleshooting to find out why it is not working is very hard (especially if you do this without any experience in building such interfaces).

Currently, I am unable to do the same thing with my X48 Platinum or my P45 Diamond, using the same cabling.  I will keep testing of course as I find the time, but if the procedure can be reproduced on all kinds of MSI Boards, this would be nice, I think.
More information can be found here:

https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=133578.0
https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=121790.0
https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=129989.0

---------------------

This obviously is not for the average consumer, but based on my reading it shouldn't be difficult to reprogram the BIOS using this tool.
When it comes to in-system/in-circuit programming there is always a high possibility of power leaks to the board's sub-circuits and signal noise which cannot always be compensated by the programmer.  Give it a try.  You may need to add a cap or two to clean the signals, but yes, try it.

One important note:  You cannot use the BIOS Files as they are provided by MSI for that kind of procedure.  The BIOS Chip only has a capacity of 2MB (and the BIOS Files are 4MB (50% of it are Intel ME stuff)).  Svet has made a tool that will allow you to split off the unneccary part to have the bare System BIOS Image for programming.
 

claykin

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Jack t.n.

Wow.  Sweet post.  Thats a good start.  Rather than spend time building a custom cable with passives, I think this $30 programmer with its support is worthwhile.  What do ya think?  Wanna try one with me?  I'll buy one if you do.  ;D

If I was successful, that would surely give me a higher level of confidence that I can revive a bricked board myself.  I'm gun shy now after this bad flash experience.

 

Jack the Newbie

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What do ya think?
I think that the 30$ thing looks promising in terms of the basic hardware design.  However, I am not sure if there is dedicated software available that would allow you to simply hook up the device and start programming a BIOS File to the chip.  You might want to open a thread in their support forum and describe the scenario you are going to use that thing in.

Wanna try one with me?
Are you paying for mine?  :lol_anim:  ;)

 

claykin

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Jack t.N. said:
I think that the 30$ thing looks promising in terms of the basic hardware design.  However, I am not sure if there is dedicated software available that would allow you to simply hook up the device and start programming a BIOS File to the chip.  You might want to open a thread in their support forum and describe the scenario you are going to use that thing in.
I will do that.  Good idea.  What software did you to use comm with the SPI bus connection for your hand made solution?

Any idea which flash memory device and size MSI uses?

Are you paying for mine?   :lol_anim:  ;)
Should I be buying one for you or SVET?  :think:


 

Jack the Newbie

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What software did you to use comm with the SPI bus connection for your hand made solution?
I used this little program: http://rayer.ic.cz/programm/spipgm.zip

However, it is designed for parallel port/LPT <-> SPI Flash Rom communication only (and you would need a custom-build cable for that).  So, it won't work for the device you have in mind.

Any idea which flash memory device and size MSI uses?
The size of the chip depends on the board (whatever size is needed for the BIOS).  The chip brand can differ between different exemplars of the same mainboard model but most commonly, I think, MSI uses Macronix Chips.  The P55-GD80 should have a 16Mbit (2MByte) chip.  You can simply pull of the little sticker that is on the BIOS chip (the sticker tells you the factory BIOS Version) and check the markings on the chip to find out the exact brand and name/model.

Any idea which flash memory device and size MSI uses?
Svet already has an SPI Programmer.  All I have is a bunch of cables, resistors and capacitors.  [but I love them]  ;D
 

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claykin

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Mike said:
Claykin, do realize, that SVET and Jack are in Europe.
I thought so.  $30 includes worldwide shipping from the vendor.  I believe they are in Taiwan.
 

claykin

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Jack t.N. said:
Svet already has an SPI Programmer.  All I have is a bunch of cables, resistors and capacitors.  [but I love them]  ;D
Maybe SVET will share with us which SPI programmer he has?

I hope its not one of the $300 gang programmers....  I only need single device programming.  This would be my spare tire in the event I get a flat. 
 

Svet

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claykin said:
Maybe SVET will share with us which SPI programmer he has?

I hope its not one of the $300 gang programmers....  I only need single device programming.  This would be my spare tire in the event I get a flat. 
It's more than price listed above, its engineering version for BIOS developers[will miss details to avoid advertisement, if you want details you can PM me]

 

jujdred

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Dang!  Sweetness. 

Although I didn't brick my mobo while updating, for whatever reason the Flash goes fine up all the way until Verification @ 64% where it hangs for a few clicks at address #297400 whatever that means.  It will then fail all other attempts, then supposedly fail the backup, then I do manual AMI flash backup.

Situation is strange though because my Bios is reading as if I succeeded in the upgrade, however my problem lies in the booting of my system resets all CMOS settings with a CMOS Checksum error and I have to force default or go in and set them again, which is pointless cuz they reset again anyway.

Anyway heard of this?  Any way to clear the CMOS checksum error so I can atleast test this for stability to proceed?
 

claykin

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Per MSI's recommendation

1)  set BIOS to fail safe defaults (then reboot)
2)  unplug all USB devices other than thumb drive used for flash
3)  Remove PCIe/PCI cards except for video
4)  make sure OC Genie is disabled
5)  remove all DIMMS except DIMM1 (or DIMM0 depending on board)

Do all of this before BIOS flash.  Its also a good idea to completely power down the system before BIOS flash to make sure anything unusual is flushed.  That means power down, remove power cord, press power button several times until capacitors are discharged.

Reboot then flash using MSI approved method or forum flash tool.  No MFlash or Live Update flashing!!!!!!!!

Let us know if this works better for you.

Oh, you should have created a new thread for your post.  ;D
 

jujdred

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claykin said:
Per MSI's recommendation

1)  set BIOS to fail safe defaults (then reboot)
2)  unplug all USB devices other than thumb drive used for flash
3)  Remove PCIe/PCI cards except for video
4)  make sure OC Genie is disabled
5)  remove all DIMMS except DIMM1 (or DIMM0 depending on board)

Do all of this before BIOS flash.  Its also a good idea to completely power down the system before BIOS flash to make sure anything unusual is flushed.  That means power down, remove power cord, press power button several times until capacitors are discharged.

Reboot then flash using MSI approved method or forum flash tool.  No MFlash or Live Update flashing!!!!!!!!

Let us know if this works better for you.

Oh, you should have created a new thread for your post.   ;D
Created new thread.  Going to try your suggestions. 
 

jujdred

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Henry said:
Have you tried 'clear CMOS' yet?
Yes.  I've done everything detailed in the forum instuctions to the T every attempt.  My system is basically Bare Bones stock naked baby when I try to Flash, and it works fine all the way up to the Verification process where it just 'stops' at 64%, skips a few times on the numbers, then message telling me of failure.  End of Flash attempt. 
 

doveman

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I don't have any PCs with LPT ports anymore but I've got a USB NAND programmer I built to flash my Xboxb360 and wondered if I could use that (with some adaptations)?

It's built to DarkstarTM's design around a PIC18F2550 as shown here http://www.se7ensins.com/forums/threads/how-to-install-usb-xbox-360-nand-flasher.144771/

I actually used a nicely crimped 10-wire plug and cable (with only 7 wires connected) not the one shown on that page but that won't fit on JSP11 so I'd have to knock up a suitable alternative cable.

I must have built a programmer like this http://www.finitesite.com/d3jsys/ to flash the PIC at some point but I'm not sure I've still got it. Actually, I probably just knocked up a temporary circuit on some breadboard. Anyway, if the PIC would need to be reprogrammed to flash my motherboard I'm sure I can find an old PC with an LPT port I could use for that.

If it's just not going to work, I'll have to see if I can find someone with a laptop with an LPT port.

EDIT: My cable looks something like this http://proto-pic.co.uk/2x5-pin-idc-ribbon-cable/ although I wired it myself with multi-coloured wire. The problem is it's not the right pitch (probably 2.54mm), so even if I got a 2mm connector for the JSP11 end like this http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10-Pcs-2mm-Pitch-2x5-Pin-10-Pin-IDC-FC-Female-Header-Socket-Connector-/170938739610?_trksid=p3284.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUCI%252BIA%252BUA%252BIEW%252BFICS%252BUFI%26otn%3D21%26pmod%3D170938739983%26ps%3D54 the cable I have wouldn't fit it, so I'd also have to replace the socket on the other end and get 2mm cable to go between them. Obviously I don't really want to do that, so I'd have to think of something else, perhaps making another lead with the spare connectors and cable I already have and leaving one end bare and finding some way to wedge the wires onto the JSP11 pins.

Actually I suppose if I got that 2mm connector and some 2mm cable to crimp into it, I could just splice/solder the necessary wires onto the 2.54mm cable coming from the flasher.
 
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