Swappable Daughterboards?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Genghis Khan, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    I know there's been a lot of talk about this, but nobody seems to have a definitive answer.

    Are the daughter boards in the new Mac Pro swappable?
    (I was tempted to ask if they were hot-swappable, but i think that's a bit too much at this stage...)
  2. seer macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2007
  3. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    still waiting for that hot-swappable one... Is the case the same? all ports identical, etc.
  4. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    We need someone with enough money to blow on two daughterboards, and we need to find out how to GET a second daughterboard.

    I'm confused... why WOULDN'T the computer keep working if you took out the processor and RAM while it was running? :p
  5. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    This should be relatively trivial to determine. All one has to do is pop the heat-sink off the chipset in a quad machine to determine if it has a 36D or 36S chipset (dual QPI or single QPI respectively). If the quad is using a dual QPI chipset, you should be able to swap the quad daughter card out for an octo and expect it to work. If the quad is using a single QPI chipset then you are out of luck.
  6. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    Yes, they are swappable.

    Same P/N for the backplane (the big board with the PCI-e slots and SATA connectors): 661-4996 in either case. Firmware is the same across the board.

    There are three things that differ between the Quad's and Octo's:

    1) Heatsinks
    The Quad uses P/N 076-1338.
    The Octo uses P/Ns 076-1329 (Primary proc) and 076-1330 (Secondary proc). These two heatsinks required for Octo operation are NOT interchangeable.

    2) The actual processor board
    Quad is P/N 661-4999
    Octo is P/N 661-4998

    3) Processors
    Quad has P/Ns 661-5096 (2.66ghz), 661-5097 (2.93ghz)
    Octo has P/Ns 661-4997 (2.26ghz), 661-5046 (2.66ghz), 661-5047 (2.93ghz)

    The metal support plate that everything bolts to is the same, P/N 076-1344. RAM is the same on either model.

    If you're going to "swap", more then likely, you'd need to somehow order a new pair of heatsinks (remember, the Octo heatsinks are proc specific), a new processor board, and new processors. The actual tech work isn't too difficult- the biggest problem is dealing with those @#$#ing LGA sockets. The Quad has the standard metal-locking "enclosure" around the LGA socket- you put the processor in and then close the socket retention top and use the lever to lock it all up- the Octo has none of these and relies explicitly on **PROPER** heatsink mounting to keep the processors good and tight in the LGA socket (so if you don't screw them down properly, you could fry the board).

  7. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Yeah and as the 2008 boards go for $700+ new and the heatsinks for $100 a piece I don't think this should be regarded as an "upgrade path". Cheaper just to sell and buy another used or refurbished machine unless you are getting processors dirt cheap or able to sell old components and buy used replacements or something.
  8. Macpropro80 macrumors 6502

    Jan 31, 2009
    Same reason a person would stop working if doctors did brain surgery while that person was running a marathon.

    If you take out the processor or ram while the computer is running, 1) it will probably damage the ram or processor. 2) it will probably cause the OS to crash. 3) your motherboard might get extremely damaged.
  9. gzfelix macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2007
    Charlottetown, PE
    I just notice that the processor tray (daughter board) has a different serial number and possibly different SMC than the system. You can look for them in System Profiler.
  10. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Thanks (excellent post)! Interesting... agreed on the uprgrade path being a more costly approach than just selling and buying refurbished down the road.
  11. noushy macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2008
    Detroit, MI
    Upgrade Path

    Once upon a time, Apple used to offer dealer installed upgrade paths when new machines came out. I upgraded a Quadra 800 to a PowerMac 8100 this way (about half the cost of a new system). Apple could offer an upgrade to an octo-core through the genius bar, or any authorized service with a core exchange or trade in on the old daughter board. This would ensure the option of newer processors as well as a path for someone to step into a 4core and later an 8core. Not sure if this will ever happen again, but would make people feel more secure about a 3, 4, or 5+ thousand dollar investment. Take this from someone who just ordered a 2.93 octo-core ;) I would feel much more comfortable knowing that from time to time I could upgrade without having to sell and replace my present computer.

  12. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Yeah, that would be nice and Apple could offer that with confidence within a processor generation to be sure. Again, the cost might be more than selling and buying a new system.
  13. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    > I just notice that the processor tray (daughter board) has a different serial number and possibly different SMC than the system.

    That may very well be true. There are two SMC's in the 2009 Mac Pro- a primary unit (probably on the processor board), and a secondary unit (on the backplane).

    As I've mentioned before- each heatsink unit has it's own fan and thermal sensor that interface with a ZIF connector on the processor board. The fact that there's only one heatsink on the Quad would lead me to believe that they're probably using a different SMC chip with fewer inputs, *OR* a different SMC firmware that doesn't attempt to read the missing inputs from the Octo model.

    Either way, I'm pretty sure there's no "firmware" on the backplane (save for the second SMC's Flash PROM) that would prevent a swap. I think that would be too much trouble for Apple to implement manufacturing wise- it's far simpler if they just pump out the same chassis and backplane for /all/ configurations, then pick a processor board depending on the model config.


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