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Author Topic: SPI headers and missing BIOS info  (Read 31472 times)

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wesmoTopic starter

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SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« on: 22-November-08, 23:13:55 »

Hi,

I have an MSI K9n Neo V3. I'm currently investigating using coreboot to deliver a linux payload on the motherboard and I was wondering if it was possible to get:

1 - information on the SPI pins (JSP11)
2 - information on the devices MSI use to boot the motherboard when a bad bios is encountered
3 - information about why all the DMI data is not populated in the defualt bios (see http://pastebin.com/m6e870698)
4 - I realised i missed the next generation of MSI products thread - is it possible to ask MSI marketing for a moherboard targeted specifically at the linux/open source community built with:
  A) a large (128Mbit or 256Mbit) socketed bios flashrom preinstalled with coreboot (with a superio that does not limit flashrom size)
  B) components with full linux support i.e. every feature of every component used on the motehrboard is implemented in linux
  C) serial connection
  D) The design should be developed with feeedback from the coreboot and the Linux Driver Project communities
  5) Alternatively, if such a motherboard is not an option, is it possible to request for some interaction of the coreboot and LDP communities

thanks in advance,

wesmo
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Jack

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Re: SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« Reply #1 on: 23-November-08, 06:24:13 »

Hi,

Quote
1 - information on the SPI pins (JSP11)

Here you go:



Quote
2 - information on the devices MSI use to boot the motherboard when a bad bios is encountered

The BIOS-Recovery Routine is basically part of the standard AMI BIOS Boot Block and supports internal floppy drives only.  It is not hardware based and therefore not MSI specific.  If the bootblock is missing or corrupt, the Recovery Routine has no chance to work. You can find more information here:

http://www.msicomputer.com/support/BIOS_AMI_Recovery.asp
http://www.ami.com/support/doc/AMIBIOS8_Checkpoint_and_Beep_Code_List_PUB.pdf [see checkpoint D6 (Bootblock) and Recovery Checkpoint E0-FF]
http://www.ami.com/support/doc/AMIBIOS8_Keystrokes_PUB.pdf

Quote
3 - information about why all the DMI data is not populated in the defualt bios (see http://pastebin.com/m6e870698)

Sorry, can't really answer this as I simply don't know.  You may have to point that questions to MSI directly. (here for example: http://ocss.msi.com.tw/ )

Quote
4 - I realised i missed the next generation of MSI products thread - is it possible to ask MSI marketing for a moherboard targeted specifically at the linux/open source community built with:
  A) a large (128Mbit or 256Mbit) socketed bios flashrom preinstalled with coreboot (with a superio that does not limit flashrom size)
  B) components with full linux support i.e. every feature of every component used on the motehrboard is implemented in linux
  C) serial connection
  D) The design should be developed with feeedback from the coreboot and the Linux Driver Project communities
  5) Alternatively, if such a motherboard is not an option, is it possible to request for some interaction of the coreboot and LDP communities

The questionaire is over and closed and all answers were already submitted to MSI.  However, if you read through the original thread, you will find that coreboot, open source and more in-depth linux support were requested by many users already.
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wesmoTopic starter

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Re: SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« Reply #2 on: 23-November-08, 08:10:47 »

Thankyou for you're reply - is the JSP1 pin definition the same for all current MSI motherboards?

To clarify, by "devices used by MSI" I meant the external tools (that plug into JSPI1) used to flash a borked bios.
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wesmoTopic starter

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Re: SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« Reply #3 on: 23-November-08, 12:18:54 »

additionally, is it possible to get a clarification on the function of pin 5 SPI_CSO_F#
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Re: SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« Reply #4 on: 23-November-08, 13:19:47 »

Quote
is the JSP1 pin definition the same for all current MSI motherboards?

Yes.

Quote
by "devices used by MSI" I meant the external tools (that plug into JSPI1) used to flash a borked bios.

Okay, I see.  The programming device(s) that MSI uses to reprogram BIOS Chips directly are not available for purchase (at least as far as I know). They are specifically designed circuit boards for MSI internal use only.  To my knowledge, one of the current programming devices is called MSI TL399.  A picture of it can be found here (it is a translated page, scroll down and look for the following picture in the 4th posting of the thread):

http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.chinafix.com.cn%2Fbbs%2Fthread-4511-1-1.html&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sl=zh-CN&tl=en



Please note that this is not a standard programming adapter, but also a simulation card.  If BIOS of the target board can be programmed onto an oncard SPI FlashROM and then the card can be connected to the board to override the (defective) BIOS onboard and make it "boot" the on-card BIOS instead.

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

Now, as an end-user you can more or less forget to get your hand on such a device.  However, as the circuit between JSPI1 pin header and BIOS Chip (SOIC 8-Pin SPI FlashROM) is based on the highly standardized Serial Peripheral Interface Bus, this does not really matter anyway.  Any standard SPI FlashROM Programmer should be able to do the same job here (of course, good ones are rather expensive).  The main problem is not so much protocoll that has to be used to communicate with the actual BIOS Chip but rather the fact that in-circuit programming is always a procedure that will need to compensate outside interferences and signal loss to underlying board circuits that are more or less unique to the specific board & environment.

The easiest and most successful way therefore is to simply solder out the BIOS Chip and connect to an SPI programmer directly and then solder it back in (or replace the old chip with a new one). (I know a BIOS Service Company here in Germany that fixes a corrupt BIOS by essentially soldering out the chip, connecting it to a standard SPI Programming device, then reprogram the Chip with a healthy BIOS File and solder it back onto the board.  If the chip is defective they will replace it with a new chip of the same standard).

Quote
additionally, is it possible to get a clarification on the function of pin 5 SPI_CSO_F#

As I said, SPI Programming Signals are highly standardised, even if the Pinouts of SPI Headers (such as JSPI1) are not.  Look here for notation conventions of SPI related signal lines:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_Peripheral_Interface_Bus

Quote
The SPI bus specifies four logic signals.

SCLK — Serial Clock (output from master)
MOSI/SIMO — Master Output, Slave Input (output from master)
MISO/SOMI — Master Input, Slave Output (output from slave)
SS — Slave Select (active low; output from master)

Alternative naming conventions are also widely used:

SCK, CLK — Serial Clock (output from master)
SDI, DI, SI — Serial Data In
SDO, DO, SO — Serial Data Out
nCS, CS, nSS, STE — Chip Select, Slave Transmit Enable (active low; output from master)

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

I have build myself a small low-cost Parallel Port -> JSPI1 Programming adapter to be able to program the BIOS Chip of my MSI P45 Platinum.  The software application that I used for programming is basically one of the hobby projects of a Czech Programmer.  This programming application was not designed for MSI boards and in-circuit programming at all, but as I happily found out myself, it can be used for such purposes as well.  I am not in the mood to go into more detail regarding this procedure (that will take some time), but I am sure you will be able figure it out yourself if you want to.  These are the relevant sites:

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

[Note that damage to the board or BIOS Chip because of a voltage overshoot produced by an external 3.3V power source is always a possible risk here. If parts of the board or the chip blow up, this will not be covered by any kind of warranty.  The same thing is true with any other method of in-circuit programming that requires you to hook up an external power source.]



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wesmoTopic starter

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Re: SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« Reply #5 on: 24-November-08, 09:40:36 »

Wow!! - BIG Thank you for such a useful response, I'm quite shocked by the level of detail provided :D

many many many thanks.

regards,

wesmo
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trentgbs

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Re: SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« Reply #6 on: 22-December-08, 08:34:53 »

Thank-you for the pinout and information. I managed to find myself needing to use this spi port the other day and this definitely saved me some time.

For anyone else reading this, I wanted to add that the 2mm pitch on the pins can be tough to connect to. I ended up scavenging a connector for a 2.5in hard drive from an old laptop caddy. Not perfect, but beats using individual wires.
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Jack

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Re: SPI headers and missing BIOS info
« Reply #7 on: 23-December-08, 08:04:51 »

 :biggthumbsup: :hat tip:
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