Xserve Upgraded Graphics Problem (Radeon HD 6870)

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by tylamb19, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. tylamb19 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    #1
    Hello all,

    I have a 2008 Xserve that I am using as a HTPC. (I know what you're thinking right now, but please don't say that the Xserve wasn't designed for this, isn't supposed to do this, etc. It just works best for me in my scenario.)

    I replaced the Xserve's puny x1300 with a Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB and updated the Xserve to Mavericks (I don't like Yosemite quite yet) following jamall's first guide in this thread (Note: I did not cut a hole for my pci-e extension in the top case, I just put it out the back) and now I get a "flickering." I guess that's the best way to describe it. The issue happens extremely often and will not stop. I linked a video in Google Drive of the issue here. I would have attached it, but filesize restrictions prevented me from doing so.....

    The plot thickens more; however. The flickering does not occur when using my old 17" Viewsonic monitor over DVI.

    The video card is connected with an HDMI cable to an A/V receiver (I've tried about 10 different cables here) with a TiVo and BluRay player plugged in through HDMI as well. The output from the receiver goes over HDMI to the theater's projector which is wired about 50-60ft through the wall, so no getting that one out. When using the TiVo or BluRay, the flickering does not happen which leads me to believe that something is wrong with my card!

    Can anyone confirm that my video card is going to crap out soon or shed some light on the real issue at play here?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Velin, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014

    Velin macrumors 65816

    Velin

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Location:
    Hearst Castle
    #2
    I've seen an identical problem on 2008 Mac Pros, and they too had Radeons (can't remember which card but we swapped out the OEM Nvidia cards). Your video looked exactly like the screens from our Pros in the office. Something else I recall: it did this on the machines with three displays: two monitors, and an LCD projector, all driven on one card. So there are parallels.

    I can't recall how we addressed it. We may have updated the video card drivers. But I do recall the issue went away with an updated Mavericks, along with dropping to one monitor and one video projector.

    I have never seen it flicker in Yosemite, again with one Apple monitor and one projector.

    What I would do is, test the card with just a monitor. And I think you are onto something if it doesn't flicker over DVI with a monitor. Hook up the one monitor, then add peripherals, and see if you can replicate the issue. If you can replicate it, a reasonable candidate is a port/driver issue.

    Again, I've seen this exact issue, in a same-year machine, under similar circumstances, with the same card manufacturer, driving multiple displays -- so that is telling me (i) ports and (ii) multiple display devices are prime variables in the flicker equation. I don't think it's your Xserve's mobo, I don't think it's your cables, and I don't think it is OSX or whatever server variant you are running on the machine.
     
  3. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    #3
    Still down....

    Thank you so much for your reply, Velin!

    I tried putting a single monitor on the card and that had no flickering. When I plugged in the projector on its own, the issue returned, no matter if the HDMI cable was connected to a DVI-HDMI converter on the same port that didn't cause flicker before or out into another input on the receiver. The issue seems to persist no matter what I do! I will give Yosemite a go later today and see if that fixes the issue.

    Thanks!
     
  4. tylamb19, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014

    tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    #4
    Fixed.... Kind Of.

    I seem to have (temporarily) fixed the problem by plugging in the HDMI cable from the graphics card into the HDMI-AUX jack on the front of the receiver. This led me to believe that the port on the back of the receiver was bad, but when I plugged in the HDMI cable to a different rear port, I was greeted with the same flashing and glitching. Strange...

    Unfortunately, leaving the HDMI in the Aux port is not a permanent solution for me, as all of my A/V equipment is in a server rack, and the rack's door cannot close with the cable plugged in. Hopefully I can get this worked out soon.

    Thanks!

    Edit: Forgot to add that Yosemite did nothing to help, the flicker is still there when plugged into the rear ports.
     
  5. Velin macrumors 65816

    Velin

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Location:
    Hearst Castle
    #5
    As I suspected, and you probably confirmed, it's probably a card software/driver issue. If that is the case, a driver fix is highly unlikely, because they are few for Macs. Windows gets the updates because gamers.

    Probably worth keeping Yosemite, it's a robust enough release with 10.10.1. But the initial release had problems.
     
  6. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 27, 2014
    #6
    Well, thanks for the help anyway. Looks like I'm out a graphics card!
     
  7. jamall macrumors regular

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    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #7
    It seems to be a problem with the card's output refresh rate not syncing with the receiver's input, but why it would be different on the front ports doesn't really make sense. The only thing I'd suggest you try is using the indispensable SwitchResX to adjust your video output frequency. With all the slightly different video standards concurrently in use and the mixed results that consumer appliances have identifying and displaying them correctly, you may find that a few Hz makes all the difference.
     
  8. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 27, 2014
    #8
    Thanks, jamall.

    I'll be sure to give it a try! I will post back with results later.
     
  9. jamall macrumors regular

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    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #9
    I just watched your video for the first time - I originally came across your post on my phone in an area with very patchy coverage - and had assumed that there was flickering at at constant rate. That looks more like either a power issue or possibly some kind of electrical interference.

    How are you providing additional power to the video card? If it's an older power supply it may not be outputting a nice even current through the connection you're using, so try a few different connectors. Using an adapter that converts two Molex plugs to a single PCIe plug also spreads the load a bit.

    Unless you bought the PCIe extension ribbons that come wrapped in insulation, they can be quite succeptible to interference. As with all modern electronics, the Xserve's case acts as a Faraday cage, and the path from the PCIe slots to the rear of the machine doesn't pass by any high-voltage components, but if the extension ribbon is hanging out the back and there are power cables or speaker wires nearby you could potentially end up with what you're seeing. The expensive duct tape that professional air-conditioning guys use that looks like it's woven from shiny aluminium will shield any protruding PCIe ribbon from interference, but it's electrically conductive itself so should be applied with extreme discretion.
     
  10. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    #10
    jamall,

    I have a brand new, right out of the box 500W EVGA 80+ Certified PSU going over its built in dual PCI-e molex connectors, so I don't think power is the problem here. I do, however, have that power supply pretty darn close to where the cable is first exiting from the Xserve's back right PCI-e slot because I have all of my server stuff packed away in an Xrack (6U) that goes under my normal home theater rack.

    I had to change out a few ducts in my house last year, so I actually have some of that tape you are talking about. I'll give shielding a try and see how it goes.

    (While I've got the tape out, I might as well hook up the Xserve to my central heat as well :D)

    SwitchResX just threw my projector into fits at anything other than (or at least close to) 30 or 60hz.

    Will post back with results in a while.
     
  11. jamall macrumors regular

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    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #11
    Re: xserve connected to central heating

    I try and avoid sending 12 hour long encoding batches to my setup between November and April here in Australia, but quite enjoy the comfort of the muffled scream and associated warmth that my cabinet full of dual quad core Xeon workhorses produces when winter starts to bite and it's running at 100% for extended periods!
     
  12. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    #12
    Ughhh....

    Well, the shielding didn't work. I put a layer of sticky aluminum tape around the PCI-e cable, but it didn't stop the flicker. The flicker still doesn't happen on the front aux port,however. This is strange....
     
  13. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 27, 2014
    #13
    A little bit of an update...

    I just received a brand new Radeon R7 250E GPU that is a single-slot, fits in the Xserve and has enough clearance for cooling :)D)! I thought that getting it would be the end of my flicker problems, but it is not! The same issue happens and the same thing fixes it (plug the HDMI into the front aux port on the receiver). Any suggestions?
     
  14. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 27, 2014
    #14
    It's been a while since I replied, but I would like to share what I ended up doing if it could help anyone out there...

    I bought a new NVidia GTX 670 2GB, returned the R7 250E, and sold the 6870. I hooked up the GTX in the same way that I did with the 6870. A PCIe shielded extender comes out the back of the server and into the GPU. The GTX works awesome now! (no flicker):D.

    I was told that it was an EDID communications problem between the projector and the receiver. Anyway, it's fixed.

    Thanks to all who helped! My Xserve is motoring along again!
     
  15. Fox8419 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 14, 2015
    #15
    Hey Guys

    I have been trying to replicate what you have all be talking about here, I have a 2008 Xserve, and have purchased a R7 250 1gb DDR5 card which I have installed with Yosemite and Mavericks (different partitions).

    I am having BIG problems, I have been able to boot in to both OS BUT all I get on the HDMI out on the R7 250 is digital "snow" on screen and am unable to see anything. It's detecting the card in profile as 7xxx, and I am able to view the desktop on the original gpu board on a display port to hdmi adapter although it's very laggy. (I haven't taken this original gpu board out, but when I do and the R7 250 is installed on its own I get the same result).

    When I have tried installing hackintosh kext for the R7 250 or add the ID of the card in to the kext, - it results in "no kext loaded" on restart in profile and no output from the card of course.

    Anyone able to help me, I can't think of what I could do next :/

    Thanks
    Fox
     
  16. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    #16
    That sounds like an issue with:
    1. Your card
    OR
    2: The driver itself in Yosemite and/or Mavericks

    Have you tried with a different card? If you can, try with an nVidia card as that's what solved it for me.

    I was told the flicker was an issue with the card's negotiation of EDID or the driver for the card didn't support EDID.

    Anyway, the second I switched to the GTX 670, the projector worked fine and I'm now driving two displays, (well, three if you count the headless accelerator) and they both work great. One is an Epson projector hooked up to a Yamaha RX-A1040 receiver, and the other is a Samsung 65" Flatscreen LED TV hooked up to a Yamaha RX-V567 receiver.
     
  17. Fox8419 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 14, 2015
    #17
    Thanks for the reply!

    I have tested in W7, works fine and I have done a few reinstalls of OSX but the same problem occurs. The reason I purchased the R7 250 is purely so it would fit in the single slot won't the case closed. Is you GTX 670 dual bay? I can't find a "slim" version?

    Fox
     
  18. tylamb19 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 27, 2014
    #18
    They don't make a single slot... I have the dual slot version and ran a PCIe extender out the back to connect the card. I'll add a pic once I can get one. I got the R7 for that reason as well, but it doesn't seem to want to work.
     

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