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Old Feb 15, 2011, 01:56 AM   #1
Abraham B
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Xserve Processor Upgrades

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have had many Xserves through the years and have, from time to time, wondered about processor upgrades in them. I believe I recall reading about someone successfully doing so with a G5 based Xserve but it seems I cannot find any answers about upgrading Intel based systems.

I have three Nehalem Xserves. One single socket 2.26GHz, One dual socket 2.26GHz, and one dual socket 2.93GHz model. For my single socket unit is it possible to:

A. Replace the current CPU with a W5590?

B. Replace the current MoBo/CPU with an Apple replacement dual socket MoBo and thereafter add two W5590?

The W5590 uses the same socket type as the CPUs Apple shipped with the Xserves, the LGA 1366, so there shouldn't be any issues there. Leading me to the final question - Does Apple implement something in the BIOS or a chip on the motherboards preventing the 2009 Xserves from booting with anything other than the three authorized chips Apple used? Perhaps even going so far as only allowing a single socket model to boot with only the 2.26GHz Nehalem? (Instead of replacing with the 2.66 or 2.93 model used in the dual systems)

I know those are a lot of questions. I'm just hoping someone might have done some experimenting.

Sincerely,

Abe
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Old Feb 18, 2011, 11:08 AM   #2
logandzwon
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A) You can try a new CPU, it shouldn't anything. No idea if the firmware will be able to recognize the CPU though.

B) Same answer. Also, one working out does not mean the other will or wont.

Apple wouldn't make it incompatible, but they might not have made it compatible either....
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Old Feb 22, 2011, 10:47 AM   #3
Waragainstsleep
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OS X should be happy with any x86 chip that fits in the socket.

There are tons of hackintoshes around with "Unknown Intel" CPU. And AMD for that matter.

If you have it, I'd certainly give it a try. And post a guide somewhere too. If you can persuade someone to sell you the mobo for a dual socket Xserve that should also work. Apple themselves will generally want to exchange it for an identical faulty one but an AASP can buy one for you though you'll pay dearly for it. A used or refurbished one from a specialist parts dealer should also be fine.

Hard drives, RAM modules and CPUs are the only parts of the 2009 Xserve with different Apple part numbers so swapping out the mobo should be fine.
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Old Mar 1, 2011, 07:40 AM   #4
logandzwon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
OS X should be happy with any x86 chip that fits in the socket.

There are tons of hackintoshes around with "Unknown Intel" CPU. And AMD for that matter.

If you have it, I'd certainly give it a try. And post a guide somewhere too. If you can persuade someone to sell you the mobo for a dual socket Xserve that should also work. Apple themselves will generally want to exchange it for an identical faulty one but an AASP can buy one for you though you'll pay dearly for it. A used or refurbished one from a specialist parts dealer should also be fine.

Hard drives, RAM modules and CPUs are the only parts of the 2009 Xserve with different Apple part numbers so swapping out the mobo should be fine.
The question isn't really if the OS will support it, it is if the motherboard will. There is a little more to it then just the chip fitting in the slot. Although, I agree, try it out.
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Old Mar 2, 2011, 06:54 AM   #5
Transporteur
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Given that the motherboard is basically exactly the same as in the Mac Pro, CPU upgrades shouldn't be a problem.

Just make sure you buy CPUs with a D0 stepping.
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Old Mar 8, 2011, 10:41 PM   #6
Abraham B
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Update on Xserve Processor Upgrades

Thank you to everyone who added their thoughts and advice. Realizing that the Westmere line uses the same socket I have determined to try my hand at those. Better yet, I will be attempting, to the best of my knowledge, the first 12 core Xserve. I will be going as big as I can get with a pair of six-core X5690.

My two concerns:

The X5690 draws 139W - whereas the original Nehalem chip draws 95W. Will the board supply this difference in wattage?

Will the Westmere chip produce too much heat for the design of the Xserve?

I would very much appreciate some further insight on my project as I plan to order the chips this week. I am an information security consultant and my expertise is predominantly software as well as hardware relating to networking and security. Any little exceptions that I might be overlooking in my assumptions? Please bring them to my attention.

Thanks again,

Abe
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Old Mar 8, 2011, 11:40 PM   #7
Ace134blue
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Several probelms with this.

1st. The mobo does not support all CPU steppings, so it is likely one with a different stepping will not work with the current board. It will work as long as it is the same stepping.
2nd. You cant buy a single socket Xserve and plan on to upgrade to a dual socket with 2 CPUs. The PSU does not supply a 8pin power( only single socket version) for the CPU which is required for 2 CPUs. You will NEED to buy the dual socket one first that comes with the 8Pin power supply.
3rd. The W5590 is 130watt, which i am sure would be fine with the single socket 4pin power but it might increase heat considerably. The W5690 will NOT work with this. Apples Xserve's mobos do not support them Plus its a different stepping. Just because they use same socket does not mean that it will work.
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 12:16 AM   #8
Abraham B
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Thank you for your insight. It was just the thing I was looking for. I never once thought that any processor would work in any system with similar socket - which probably lead to the inquiry in the first place.

Luckily, you handled yourself gracefully and didn't appear to be a typical internet *****.

Thanks.
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Old Jul 15, 2013, 04:00 PM   #9
JimBo Ha
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I am looking to do a similar upgrade to a single socket 2009 xserve currently running a 2.26Ghz (an E5520 I believe). Obviously I'm looking to get as much out of it as I can so it looks like my options are:

1. upgrade just the processor to a W5590
2. replace logic board with apple's dual socket version, replace power distribution board to support new mobo, and buy processors

I am relatively new to processor upgrades but when I went to Intel's site to peruse processors the W5590 said nothing about a max cpu configuration while the X5570 (2.93GHz model that xserve shipped with) listed max cpu configuration as 2. I'm hoping someone can clarify if the W5590 would in fact work in the dual socket. If not can someone suggest some specific processors for the dual socket configuration?
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Old Jul 15, 2013, 10:14 PM   #10
ratsg
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I wish I had a helpful comment for you, but I don't.

I would ask, please post the outcome of your upgrade experiment, successful or not.
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Old Oct 28, 2013, 02:44 PM   #11
ratsg
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Abraham B.

Just going through some old threads, and was wondering if/how your processor upgrade went?
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Old Sep 22, 2014, 11:50 AM   #12
Mattak
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I know this is an old thread but I'm looking to do something similar at the moment.

Apple used to sell an Xserve service parts kit which should have the logic board required to upgrade to 2 processors. There only seems to be one type of power distribution board. Does this mean that the current one should work for two processors?

Is this all correct?

Did anyone manage to successfully do an upgrade?
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