time for a sticky: Xserve upgrade guide

mav2287

macrumors newbie
Jul 10, 2015
10
8
I'm not sure if this is the right spot...
Documenting my xserve upgrade process
Goal is 6-8 relatively quick mac VMs for iOS builds and automated UI testing at minimal cost

Dual CPU Xserve 3,1 -> found on shelf
96GB (16GB*6) RAM -> $100
3 x 960GB SATA SSD -> $200 ea
DELL LSI MegaRAID 9280-4i4e raid card -> $13
G5 drive backplane -> $12
SAS trays (to eliminate the SATA2 limitation) -> $40

Temporarily using SATA trays for power only and just plugged the SATA data cables directly into the drives from the MegaRAID breakout cable.

Custom power wiring from 14pin power distro board to 12pin G5 backplane

G5 drive backplane pinout:
1 - GND, 2 - GND, 3 - GND, 4 - GND, 5 - GND, 6 - UNKNOWN
7 - +12, 8 - +12, 9 - +5, 10 - +3.3, 11 +3.3, 12 - UNKNOWN

intel power board pinout:
1 - GND, 2 - +5 unswitched, 3 - GND, 4 - +12, 5 - +12, 6 - +12, 7 - GND
8 - GND, 9 - +5, 10 - +5, 11 - GND, 12 - +3.3, 13 - +3.3, 14 - GND

I left pins 6 and 12 on the G5 board disconnected, and pins 2, 3, 4, and 9 disconnected on the intel end. cable needs to be about 20 inches long, give or take.
I still haven't figured out how best to route the cable or how to modify the hold-down bolts.

If this holds up, I'll upgrade the CPUs and flash the bios in the fall...
Currently running ESXi 6.5
Do you have a write up or at very least pictures? I am very curious to see the custom raid setup.
 
Comment

P1ratz

macrumors member
Jul 14, 2019
51
8
I'm not sure if this is the right spot...
Documenting my xserve upgrade process
Goal is 6-8 relatively quick mac VMs for iOS builds and automated UI testing at minimal cost

Dual CPU Xserve 3,1 -> found on shelf
96GB (16GB*6) RAM -> $100
3 x 960GB SATA SSD -> $200 ea
DELL LSI MegaRAID 9280-4i4e raid card -> $13
G5 drive backplane -> $12
SAS trays (to eliminate the SATA2 limitation) -> $40

Temporarily using SATA trays for power only and just plugged the SATA data cables directly into the drives from the MegaRAID breakout cable.

Custom power wiring from 14pin power distro board to 12pin G5 backplane

G5 drive backplane pinout:
1 - GND, 2 - GND, 3 - GND, 4 - GND, 5 - GND, 6 - UNKNOWN
7 - +12, 8 - +12, 9 - +5, 10 - +3.3, 11 +3.3, 12 - UNKNOWN

intel power board pinout:
1 - GND, 2 - +5 unswitched, 3 - GND, 4 - +12, 5 - +12, 6 - +12, 7 - GND
8 - GND, 9 - +5, 10 - +5, 11 - GND, 12 - +3.3, 13 - +3.3, 14 - GND

I left pins 6 and 12 on the G5 board disconnected, and pins 2, 3, 4, and 9 disconnected on the intel end. cable needs to be about 20 inches long, give or take.
I still haven't figured out how best to route the cable or how to modify the hold-down bolts.

If this holds up, I'll upgrade the CPUs and flash the bios in the fall...
Currently running ESXi 6.5
Are you currently running multiple mac vms on your machine through ESXi? And if so how does it preform?
 
Comment

natjonesart

macrumors member
Jan 22, 2017
57
20
Canada
I have been running OC on my Mac Pro for a while and just picked up an Xserve 3,1 a few days ago to tinker with now that my Mac Pro is pretty maxed out. It seems like there is a lot of potential in the Xserve but not a lot of talk going on. My Xserve is still stock running ElCapitan. I am just starting to learn and explore.

Did you flash your Xserve to 5,1?

As for Open Core on the Xserve I was curious if anyone had attempted to use the New Mac Pro ID's etc and managed to have all twelve ram slots working with Westmere Processors.
 
Comment

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502a
May 14, 2008
668
294
Did you flash your Xserve to 5,1?

As for Open Core on the Xserve I was curious if anyone had attempted to use the New Mac Pro ID's etc and managed to have all twelve ram slots working with Westmere Processors.
Mine is not cross flashed. But I do have a modded BootROM.
im Sure a customized smbios setting via OpenCore will work. I don’t think it would be to use the MacPro 7,1 ID though.
 
Comment

natjonesart

macrumors member
Jan 22, 2017
57
20
Canada
Experimenting- I flashed my Xserve3,1 to Mac Pro5,1 successfully last night and installed 2 delidded X5675's I had left over from my cMP. Now running 2x3.06 cpus with 64gb(8x8) 1333 ECC ram. I seem to have lost access to the SATA carrier/HDD. Do we know if SAS carriers are recognized, or do you lose access to the hot swap bays completely?

Edit- Seems that the loss of SATA carriers is a known issue. Hope to have some SAS carriers headed my way soon to try out.
 
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