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CPU support request for MSI PR211 notebook (Turion X2 Ultra -> Turion II Ultra)
#1
Hi Forum!

I am new here and found this forum via a google search. It is a great idea to extend the lifespan or overclocking possibilities of mainboards/notebooks via BIOS modding. Keep up your work!

Here is my request:
A few years ago I have purchased a MSI PR211 notebook. This has a Turion X2 Ultra ZM80 processor in it (socket S1G2). I am very satisfied with the device (size, display resolution, optical drive, ...) and wanted to modernize it a bit. I have bought a memory extension and read through google and wikipedia for CPU upgrade options.

I discovered that there are no mechanical or electrical differences to socket S1G3 and that there are the newer Turion II Ultra processors which have more performance. So I googled for successful upgrades of a Turion X2 to a Turion II processor. While I did not read a perfect match for my case, many opinions where that it should work if the BIOS supports it.

So I gave it a try and bought a Turion II Ultra M600 processor. Unfortunately, it didn't work and the screen stayed blank.

So, my question is if you can mod the original BIOS to support the M600. The original BIOS can be found at:
http://download1.msi.com/files/downloads...24_30h.zip

The chipset according to CPU-Z is an AMD M780G (HD3200) with SB700.

The notebooks I found with Turion II Ultra (M6x0) processors all have at least a M785G with a HD4200 graphics, so I cannot provide a donor BIOS. I hope you can help me nevertheless. If you need more information, tell me how to obtain it and I will provide it. If it is not possible to support the Turion II processor, please leave a note in this thread.

I have attached some screenshots (CPU-Z main screen, CPU-Z mainboard screen and a picture of BIOS screen "System Information") for your information!

Thanks in advance!

Best regards, Crusader

P.S.: I hope I could express myself well enough, because I am not a native speaker.


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#2
i think you should maybe provide a moded bios from a S1g2 lappy preferably with same chipset and ami bios as yours or any S1g3 lappy that supports your target cpu since i think no s1g2 lappy uses the same chipset as the s1g3 lappies (correct me if im wrong )so someone more knowledgable can backport the microcodes for you (not me bricked mine in an attempt to do so )
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#3
I did some research and found out the following (this is problably "old news" for the experts here, but I am no BIOS specialist, so this account is also a kind of diary and summary for everyone that is interested and also for myself):

At first, I have found a notebook from MSI with an AMI BIOS that supports Athlon II CPUs, the MSI CR610. The press release for this device explicitely states Tigris platform. I am pretty sure that this notebook will also support Turion II CPUs, as they are technically identical to the Athlon II CPUs (despite the lower HT clock for the Athlon II processors).

Also a notebook with the name MSI CR610X (which was not available later and is not stated on MSI homepage, so I think this was a preliminary product for showcases) was presented publicly running with a Turion II M640 processor (see: http://www.planet3dnow.de/cgi-bin/newspu...1250751408 – german news, but video is in english), so I assume they have not patched out CPU support in the final product.

I used MMTOOL 3.19 to analyze both BIOSs, that from the PR211 and from the CR610.

There are CPU patches in both of them. At first, I tried to insert the CPU patches from the CR610 BIOS into the PR211 BIOS. This worked, I flashed the BIOS successfully, the computer also runs with the old processor after flashing. But the new processor doesn't work.

So, my assumption is that these small patches are just to support new processors of the same family, but not of new families the BIOS doesn't know of. They will very likely also provide workarounds for hardware bugs.

After a bit of searching, I came across a piece of software called AGESA. This is a loader for AMD processors, integrated into every BIOS. It is responsible for initializing the processor with correct clock speeds, voltages, ... As AMD made it an open source project a while ago, the source code is freely available at http://review.coreboot.org/gitweb?p=core...orcode/amd . I found out from the source code, that the small CPU patches in the BIOS are only loaded, if they fulfil some conditions, of which one is the CPU family.

So, I tried to find out something of the different AGESA versions in the BIOSs. The original BIOS has AGESA version 4.2.9.0, the CR610 BIOS has AGESA version 4.6.0.1. This seems to be a big difference, but I don't know what new features the new version supports.

The strange thing is: I read that the AGESA starts with the "AMD!GESA" string, but this isn't the start of the AMI ROM module where the AGESA is located. Instead, there is something before. In case of the original BIOS, this extra is 1632 bytes long, but for the new BIOS this is 9682 bytes. I am no disassembler genius, so I don't know if this just loads the AGESA or if there is some data in it. Both blocks seem to start with the same header with just minor differences of about 256 bytes length.

I used MMTOOL to transfer the new AGESA to the PR211 BIOS. This didn't change size for the complete BIOS, but relocated many blocks inside the BIOS to new positions.

So, my questions for the experts are:
  • Does anybody know a changelog for the AGESA? The wiki page http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Generic...chitecture (german) is not very helpful, as it seems to use completely other version numbers.
  • Is there any way to get textual information out of the AGESA? There must be strings describing the processor, but they are not human readable.
  • Will a newer AGESA always support older CPUs? Or is support dropped, maybe because of size constraints? I suppose the former to ease software maintenance, but one cannot know for sure.
  • Can I somehow verify that the PR211 will boot up with the new AGESA and the old processor successfully without flashing it? Are there any checks I can do to ensure integrity of the BIOS? Because many modules are mixed up and at other addresses after inserting the new AGESA.
  • In case I do it and something goes wrong, will MSI support be able to recover the original BIOS on my laptop or is it dead forever then (with the costs on my side, of course)? I suppose there must be a maintenance interface like JTAG in case the BIOS looses a bit and therefore cannot start – this could probably be repaired.

Sorry for the WOT, but maybe anybody has some input on my questions.

I have attached some screenshots from MMTOOL (the CPU patch page before and after the simple mod as well as the differences in the mod table before and after inserting the new AGESA into the original BIOS) and the two AGESA blocks from the BIOSs.

Best Regards, Crusader


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.rom   AGESA-4.2.9.0.ROM (Size: 24.13 KB / Downloads: 1)
.rom   AGESA-4.6.0.1.ROM (Size: 35.02 KB / Downloads: 3)
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