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Resolved Mac Pro 5,1 (Mid 2010) with weird firmware/hardware issue

tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
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Would this be the correct way to attempt flashing?
  • Desolder the EEPROM chip
  • Download the MacProEFIUpdate.dmg firmware
  • Extract the MacProEFIUpdate.pkg file from the .dmg
  • Extract the MP_xxx_LOCKED.fd file from the .pkg, the .fd is inside the "/Payload/Payload~/./System/Library/Core/Services/Firmware Updates/MacProEFIUpdate_xxx/" folder
  • Program the extracted MP_xxx_LOCKED.fd to the EEPROM chip
  • Solder the EEPROM chip back to the motherboard
After that write the Mac Pro serial number back to the EEPROM chip using a third party software in Mac OS.
This will make a bootable Mac Pro, if it's a corrupted BootROM, but you won't access iCloud/iMessage/FaceTime. Dump the original content of the SPI flash.

Btw, use 144.0.0.0.0 from 10.14.6 full installer and install a brand new SPI flash memory.

What to do if during the upgrade process your Mac Pro bricked:

If during the upgrade process you bricked the BootROM, you have three options:

  1. Buy a replacement backplane on eBay and replace the backplane yourself, cheapest option if you can't solder SMD. Remember that you need a 2009 backplane if you have an early-2009 Mac Pro. If you have a mid-2010 or mid-2012 you can use either 2010 or 2012 backplanes. Don't mix early-2009 backplanes with mid-2010/mid-2012 CPU trays, or vice-versa - either scenario is a SMC firmware version mismatch and all your fans will run at maximum RPM, full time and without any software control.
  2. Buy a Mac Pro MATT card and use it as a replacement SPI flash, this is not recommended since all MATT cards are clones and won't work for iCloud/iMessage/FaceTime. A replacement backplane is usually cheaper.
  3. Desolder, reprogram and solder back the SPI flash, chip U8700 on the backplane. It's not possible to read or write to the SPI flash memory while it's soldered on the MP5,1 backplane. A cheap SPI flash programmer like ch341a will work for read/write the BootROM after the SPI flash memory is desoldered from the backplane. Start reading here, read all my posts from there. I strongly recommend that you replace your original SPI flash memory for one brand new, don't solder it back to the backplane, it will fail soon since SPI flash memories have limited lifetime (manufacture rated for just 100.000 erase/write cycles) when used as NVRAM for a Mac Pro. Again, most bricks are caused by the failure of the SPI flash, it's a US$ 2 component easily available, MXIC MX25L3206E, just replace it!

    Mojave has the generic MP51.fd firmware image inside the full installer, it's enough for boot your Mac Pro again but not for iCloud/iMessage/FaceTime login.

    Code:
    Install\ macOS\ Mojave/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/Firmware/MP51.fd

For MP4,1 to MP5,1 firmware flashing, see this thread below:

 
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fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
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Alright, will report back after my attempt.

EDIT: de-soldering went well, waiting for my programmer, it should arrive within the next few days
 
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fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
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My programmer arrived and I managed to dump the .bin file from the old chip. What would be my next step if I want to create a fully working (including iCloud etc) machine? Flashing the generic BootROM would lead to iCloud being unusable.
 

tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,390
8,925
My programmer arrived and I managed to dump the .bin file from the old chip. What would be my next step if I want to create a fully working (including iCloud etc) machine? Flashing the generic BootROM would lead to iCloud being unusable.
First step is to check if the backplane is working flashing back the generic BootROM to the board. No sense to make a reconstruction to a defective board.

Use a brand new SPI flash memory.
 
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fliegenklatsche

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Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
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But I don't, since takes 45 min to one hour of my time validate and reconstruct a BootROM.

Flash the generic one. Test the backplane. You can always use ROMTool and flash a reconstructed after the board is working.
Well Thank for the offer but I never wanted you to do the work for me, I'd like to do it myself. There is a lot of Information available regarding soldering and de-soldering these chips, no need to create a post. I was trying to learn the software side of things (reading/writing flash, reconstructing BootROM). I just need to learn about the validating and reconstructing part but can't find any Information, hence the post.

Just to be correct, I can solder the chip with the generic and afterwards flash the reconstructed without de-soldering and soldering again?
 

tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,390
8,925
Well Thank for the offer but I never wanted you to do the work for me, I'd like to do it myself. There is a lot of Information available regarding soldering and de-soldering these chips, no need to create a post. I was trying to learn the software side of things (reading/writing flash, reconstructing BootROM). I just need to learn about the validating and reconstructing part but can't find any Information, hence the post.
BootROM reconstruction of a failed BootROM is specialised work with lot's of firmware internal working knowledge needed, anyway you are welcome to try yourself.

Just to be correct, I can solder the chip with the generic and afterwards flash the reconstructed without de-soldering and soldering again?

Yes.
 
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fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
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1e.PNG

no chance of writing MP51.fd file
 

fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
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MX25L320 is a whole family of very different Macronix 32Mbit flash memories, with very distinct programming algorithms. The write algorithm needs to be the correct one for the flash you have.
It chooses SPI settings automatically. Which is the correct write algorithm and how do I choose that?

Maybe it doesn't work because it accepts only .bin files for writing and the firmware is .fd?
 
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tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
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It chooses SPI settings automatically. Which is the correct write algorithm and how do I choose that?
The datasheet for your SPI flash memory have the detailed write algorithm. You should ask the support of your programmer how to use it.

No one ever used a Flashcat before, I can't help with that. People usually buy the inexpensive ch341a or the TL866II+, both work fine.
Maybe it doesn't work because it accepts only .bin files for writing and the firmware is .fd?
.fd is a standard non encapsulated binary image, you can rename it .bin or .ROM, don't matter at all.
 

fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
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The datasheet for your SPI flash memory have the detailed write algorithm. You should ask the support of your programmer how to use it.

No one ever used a Flashcat before, I can't help with that. People usually buy the inexpensive ch341a or the TL866II+, both work fine.

.fd is a standard non encapsulated binary image, you can rename it .bin or .ROM, don't matter at all.
I ordered the chip you recommended (MX25L3206E) and refering to its manual the automatic settings are correct. If I'm missing something, just let me know. You should be able to spot mistakes right away, right?

1.PNG


renaming it to .bin doesn't make the flash write work either
 

tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,390
8,925
I ordered the chip you recommended (MX25L3206E) and refering to it's manual the automatic settings are correct. If I'm missing something, just let me know. You should be able to spot mistakes right away, right?

View attachment 969978

renaming it to .bin doesn't make the flash write work either
I have zero info about how to use your programmer, you should ask help directly with the support.

The data sheet have all the timmings and configuration settings needed, from experience, I normally try to use very conservative settings.
 

fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
31
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I have zero info about how to use your programmer, you should ask help directly with the support.

The data sheet have all the timmings and configuration settings needed, from experience, I normally try to use very conservative settings.
I just told you I checked the MXIC manual and the settings are the same. How is the programmers manufacturer able to help with that????
 

tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,390
8,925
I just told you I checked the MXIC manual and the settings are the same. How is the programmers manufacturer able to help with that????
I was really trying to help you here, but I can't help you with your programmer settings.

You are on your own now.
 

fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
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I was really trying to help you here, but I can't help you with your programmer settings.

You are on your own now.
For the third time: Settings of the programmer = settings in MXIC chips datasheet (just put them manually to verify)

I even included a screenshot so you could verify. What else would you need? As you recommended the chip, you should know its datasheet and be able to tell if I made a mistake
 
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fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
31
0
writing.PNG


as you can see writing the .bin file I created from the corrupted chip works great with the EXACT SAME SETTINGS

EDIT: I accidentally flashed a .bin file I created from the new empty chip. That's why it appeared to be working, because it didn't have to write anything to the chip.
 
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tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,390
8,925
For the third time: Settings of the programmer = settings in MXIC chips datasheet (just put them manually to verify)

I even included a screenshot so you could verify. What else would you need? As you recommended the chip, you should know its datasheet and be able to tell if I made a mistake
View attachment 970032

as you can see writing the .bin file I created from the corrupted chip works great with the EXACT SAME SETTINGS
Hey, you bought a programmer that no one on this forum ever used to program a Mac Pro SPI flash, it's up to you to check this, not me, and I'm in no obligation whatsoever to help you in any way but I genuinely tried to help you here.

MXIC25L3206E is the SPI flash memory of the mid-2012 backplanes from factory and the only one of the Macronix 32Mbit SPI line and the only one of the three SPI flash memory models used by Apple during the MP4,1/MP5,1 production run that still can be found brand new from a reputable source today.

It's the correct chip to be used and your problems are not related to the SPI flash model. Maybe your replacement SPI flash is defective or your programmer is not working correctly for some reason, anyway, it's up to you investigate what's going on.
 
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fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
31
0
Hey, you bought a programmer that no one on this forum ever used to program a Mac Pro SPI flash, it's up to you to check this, not me, and I'm in no obligation whatsoever to help you in any way but I genuinely tried to help you here.

MXIC25L3206E is the SPI flash memory of the mid-2012 backplanes from factory and the only one of the Macronix 32Mbit SPI line and the only one of the three SPI flash memory models used by Apple during the MP4,1/MP5,1 production run that still can be found brand new from a reputable source today.

It's the correct chip to be used and your problems are not related to the SPI flash model. Maybe your replacement SPI flash is defective or your programmer is not working correctly for some reason, anyway, it's up to you investigate what's going on.
I see this is pointless.
 
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fliegenklatsche

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 6, 2020
31
0
Had a little talk with the FlashCat guys and they are awesome. The software actually detects the model of the chip and automatically uses the correct settings. No need to setup anything.

The chip was faulty, got a replacement and flashing worked flawless. Mac is now playing chime sound at startup. I ordered a HD5770 with Bootscreen, will report back when it arrived.
 
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