Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

X-Serve GPUs, anyone still care?

LightBulbFun

macrumors 68020
Nov 17, 2013
2,364
2,345
London UK
funny you should post today as I just got an Xserve3,1 :)

nice spot on the SATA port footprint ill have to look for it on my machine :) (FYI the FX 580 and GT 120 are both G96 based cards im guessing the extra VRAM is whats helping with the UI)

I know this is a bit late to the party considring MVC has been banned but I did get windows running on my Xserve :D

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...blems-discussion.2151773/page-2#post-26846825
 
Comment

reukiodo

macrumors 6502
Nov 22, 2013
298
138
Earth
I did get windows running on my Xserve :D

Could you provide any details how you got Windows booting natively on the Xserve? I didn't get an Xserve to run Windows, but I have a feeling that MS will still have newer Windows running well on this Xserve long after Mac OS can't be hacked to run on it anymore.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LightBulbFun
Comment

XserveJunkie

macrumors member
Sep 19, 2017
30
2
I have two Xserve 3,1 here. I have upgraded one of them with a pair of W5590 CPUs (quad 3.33 GHz). I have the CPUs for the other one, I just need to de-lid and install them... it's in the queue of projects. I also added an internal SATA connector. No, not using the SSD header at the front, and not using the optical drive bay either. It's a real SATA connector attached to the ICH (southbridge) chip on the MB. If you look closely at the board near the ICH chip you will see an unpopulated footprint that looks suspicisously like a through-hole SATA connector. Well, it is! All you need is to solder a connector in there and install four coupling capacitors on the data lines (they are the size of a grain of sand, so easier said than done, but doable!). I use this port to boot from a normal SATA3 SSD.

I installed an old PC Nvidia Quadro FX580 (I think... it's been about a year) 512 MB card. It is far and away better than the original card, and makes the machine truly usable. No Metal, but full, fast desktop acceleration. I removed the fan since the heatsink fins lined up the right way for the case airflow to take care of busniess. I'd like to install a basic Metal-enabled card with EFI so that I can get boot screen (the FX580 comes to life only after boot up). No gaming on this machine, I just want a fast desktop. 4k might be nice - I'll upgrade my monitor sometime I suppose. Any suggestions?

Obviously, let me know if you want info on the SATA port.

VERY INTERESTED. Please provide pics and diagrams. In light of this i'll be bringing my 3,1 back from the my closet. thanks
 
Comment

LightBulbFun

macrumors 68020
Nov 17, 2013
2,364
2,345
London UK
I believe @aaronb1 is referring to this foot print :) (see the black arrow) also worth noting is the BMC JTAG and Serial port foot prints :)

Image from iOS (13).jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: XserveJunkie
Comment

XserveJunkie

macrumors member
Sep 19, 2017
30
2
Could you provide any details how you got Windows booting natively on the Xserve? I didn't get an Xserve to run Windows, but I have a feeling that MS will still have newer Windows running well on this Xserve long after Mac OS can't be hacked to run on it anymore.

Windows will never work on 3,1 unless there's ESXi-an emulator. I read that the EFI in Xserve 3,1 is missing a portion of code to boot windows natively and isn't like that of the cheese grid Mac Pros or any Mac Pros of the same era.

EDIT:
If true, I stand corrected
https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...blems-discussion.2151773/page-2#post-26846825
 
Last edited:
Comment

reukiodo

macrumors 6502
Nov 22, 2013
298
138
Earth
If you look closely at the board near the ICH chip you will see an unpopulated footprint that looks suspicisously like a through-hole SATA connector. Well, it is! All you need is to solder a connector in there and install four coupling capacitors on the data lines (they are the size of a grain of sand, so easier said than done, but doable!).

Is THIS the kind of SATA connector that you used? What (and where) are the coupling capacitors? I guess you soldered from the back of the board? Where did you mount your SSD? Where did you get the power from? Photos would really really help.
 
Comment

aaronb1

macrumors newbie
Jan 24, 2018
8
15
Canada
Is THIS the kind of SATA connector that you used? What (and where) are the coupling capacitors? I guess you soldered from the back of the board? Where did you mount your SSD? Where did you get the power from? Photos would really really help.

CB170 to CB173, near the SATA connector, are the caps that need to be installed. You can clearly see the signal traces from the pins of the SATA connector going to the footprints for those. For my mod, the old dead PC motherboard which "donated" a SATA connector for transplant also donated the required capacitors. The seven signal and ground pins on that connector lined up, but the two mounting tabs (which should go into the slots at either end) didn't line up and required a little surgery. Since then I came upon a few NOS connectors which fit perfectly. I have yet to do the mod on my second XServe. The connector you linked looks like it will work.

Note that I used a temperature controlled hot air rework gun to desolder the donor SATA connector, and professional grade soldering tools (Metcal soldering station with a needle tip STTC-145) to solder the components. The capacitors are especially tricky. I did the work under a microscope, and used plenty of liquid flux to help make clean connections without solder bridges or other defects. This should not be attempted with a radio shack fire-stick, even if you hold your tongue out at just the right angle. :cool:

I haven't yet mounted the SSD anywhere, but I'll probably just stick it down with some double sided tape or self adhesive Velcro tape. An SSD only needs +5V and ground (not 12 V), so that can be stolen from the power source for the nearby USB connectors.
 
Last edited:
Comment

aaronb1

macrumors newbie
Jan 24, 2018
8
15
Canada
Amazing find. So you just happened to be looking at the mainboard and spotted the SATA footprint by accident? Xserve 3,1 is aging like fine wine. I'll be putting windows and installing a big hdd:D
One does not happen to be looking at a Xserve mainboard; one deliberately gazes at the marvel of engineering and workmanship that it represents.

But, yes, basically I happened to spot it and it looked familiar enough to investigate.
 
Comment

XserveJunkie

macrumors member
Sep 19, 2017
30
2
One does not happen to be looking at a Xserve mainboard; one deliberately gazes at the marvel of engineering and workmanship that it represents.

But, yes, basically I happened to spot it and it looked familiar enough to investigate.


Someone has been trying to tell me that weaponized autism will one day save the world, but I don’t believe him. I now have second thoughts Kidding. Guess I no longer need my old SATA adapter for modding then. Props
 
Comment

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502a
May 14, 2008
750
322
So has anyone considered using MXM WX 4150 to replace GT 120?

It should support metal and claims to also be a 50w TDP card.
With the new OpenCore stuff giving 3rd party boot screens and GOP ROM cards having 3rd party boot screens via refit on the MP3,1 this may be a viable modern solution for a "decent modern GPU".

There are a handful of MXM cards that I believe should be usable in the XS3,1 based on spec but i know of nobody that is testing / trying them outside of some doing swaps with iMac MXM GPUs that don't have metal support.
 
Comment

XserveJunkie

macrumors member
Sep 19, 2017
30
2
So has anyone considered using MXM WX 4150 to replace GT 120?

It should support metal and claims to also be a 50w TDP card.
With the new OpenCore stuff giving 3rd party boot screens and GOP ROM cards having 3rd party boot screens via refit on the MP3,1 this may be a viable modern solution for a "decent modern GPU".

There are a handful of MXM cards that I believe should be usable in the XS3,1 based on spec but i know of nobody that is testing / trying them outside of some doing swaps with iMac MXM GPUs that don't have metal support.

Can't confirm this, but I remember reading somewhere that Apple whitelisted a number of cards XServe3,1 only supports. I can't seem to find the source to that information now. so it seems not all cards will work, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Graphics card with Metal support: that's another issue because look at this thread on what had to be done on the MacPro4,1/5,1 to support a Metal capable GPU. Requires both firmware and boot-rom update. You can get away with flashing a MP5,1 firmware onto the XServe3,1, as it's been done, but what about the boot-rom?

 
Comment

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502a
May 14, 2008
750
322
Can't confirm this, but I remember reading somewhere that Apple whitelisted a number of cards XServe3,1 only supports. I can't seem to find the source to that information now. so it seems not all cards will work, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Graphics card with Metal support: that's another issue because look at this thread on what had to be done on the MacPro4,1/5,1 to support a Metal capable GPU. Requires both firmware and boot-rom update. You can get away with flashing a MP5,1 firmware onto the XServe3,1, as it's been done, but what about the boot-rom?

This is the first I’ve heard of a whitelist.

In theory flashing it to 5,1 should wipe any whitelist for the MXM cards.

Note the firmware is the same thing as the BootROM.
 
Comment

XserveJunkie

macrumors member
Sep 19, 2017
30
2
This is the first I’ve heard of a whitelist.

In theory flashing it to 5,1 should wipe any whitelist for the MXM cards.

Note the firmware is the same thing as the BootROM.

Some PC manufacturers do that.

You can try flashing the EFI, but if that’s what’s youre saying then why are both the boot-rom and firmware versioning numbers of different formats on that thread?
 
Comment

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502a
May 14, 2008
750
322
Some PC manufacturers do that.

You can try flashing the EFI, but if that’s what’s youre saying then why are both the boot-rom and firmware versioning numbers of different formats on that thread?

I’m aware PC manufacturers do whitelist but typically they stick to wireless devices due to what they claim to be regulatory requirements. admittedly this is the first MXM GPU equipped machine that I’ve owned So I’ve not kept up on the historical behavior.

The versioning format of the numbers changed from hex values to decimal to match the rest of the Mac lineup with the bootrom updates that came out for Mojave.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.