Xserve Processor Upgrades

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Abraham B, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2011
    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.


  2. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 9, 2007
    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....
  3. macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2003
    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.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 9, 2007
    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.
  5. macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    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.
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2011
    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,

  7. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2009
    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.
  8. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2011
    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 *****.

  9. macrumors newbie

    JimBo Ha

    Sep 19, 2012
    Davenport, CA
    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?
  10. macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2010
    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.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2010
    Abraham B.

    Just going through some old threads, and was wondering if/how your processor upgrade went?
  12. macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2014
    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?
  13. reukiodo, Apr 9, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2015

    macrumors newbie


    Nov 22, 2013

    Not exactly this upgrade, but...

    I have a :apple: 2006 Xserve which originally came with one standard 650W PSU and two Xeon 5130 (65W Woodcrest - pre-Nehalem) CPUs now upgraded to two Xeon X5365 (120W Clovertown - still pre-Nehalem) CPUs. The heat and power consumption has most definitely increased (though I can't seem to find my pre-upgrade temperature measurements). It has successfully computed 94 days of SETI@home tasks at 100% CPU utilization without any overheating or crashing. The CPU cores averaged ~60C though the hottest component was the northbridge, averaging ~80C. I think the 3-month burn more or less proves that the power supply and motherboard can sustain it. At some point I'll re-grease the northbridge to attempt to get that down to at least the CPU temperature levels.

    With the help of taimo's boot.efi, it runs nearly-unmodified :apple: OS X 10.9 without any graphics accelleration, but that doesn't matter to me because I use it as a server.

Share This Page