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Dell R820 - Add Xeon E7-x800 CPU Microcode Support
The goal: Add Xeon E5 and E7 series, revisions v3 and v4, CPU microcode to the Dell R820 BIOS
There’s a Reddit discussing the preliminary possibility of using E7 series processors that I stubbled across that got me thinking about it:
I saw that DeathBringer was able to mod a couple BIOSs for R810 and R910 (Thanks for that, BTW!)
So, hopefully its possible for the Rx20 series too.
I understand that there may be enough differences between processors in the E5 and E7 series and across the v1 - v4 revisions that microcode alone won’t work due to incompatibility of the chipset. Furthermore, some processors may attempt voltages or draw watts that can’t be supplied by the motherboard(s), so this is all an experiment. But, it sure looks very possible from what I’ve researched. If this does work for some newer v3 and v4 CPUs, some advantages could be the obvious things like more cores available, faster single thread performance, lower wattage per GFlop, better power management in general, and maybe, faster ram speeds (perhaps with additional BIOS hacks).
I’ve attached a CSV with a list of candidates for compatibility from Intel’s Ark. All processors listed in the doc are the same socket FCLGA2011 family and support DDR3 RAM. Some only support up to dual CPU configurations, which for those reading in the future, be mindful if trying in a 4-way configured machine.
The Dell R820 already supports Xeon E5-4600 v1 and v2. The latest BIOS 2.7.0 can be downloaded from:
My thought/hope is that microcodes can be harvested from other Dell BIOSs. Here are 3 machines, the CPUs they support, the BIOS version, and a link to their BIOS:
Dell R730, Xeon E5-2600 v3 and v4, v2.13.0:
Dell R830, Xeon E5-4600 v4, v1.16.0:
Dell R930, Xeon E7-4800/8800 v3 and v4, v2.11.0:
Also, there may be a lot of interest in the community to have modded R720 and R920 BIOSs with these same features, too.

Attached Files
.zip (Size: 2.69 KB / Downloads: 0)
Post a screenshot of Mainboard tab of CPU-Z.
(03-28-2023, 12:22 AM)DeathBringer Wrote: Post a screenshot of Mainboard tab of CPU-Z.

Hi!  Thanks for looking into this!

BTW, I noticed that I somehow linked to an old BIOS file for the R820 in my first post, I updated the link.

I'm running Ubuntu on the R820 at the moment so, I used CPU-X, I hope it has the info you need.  If not, I can install windows and get what you need.

Your motherboard is based on X79 chipset.
It supports Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge only.
(03-28-2023, 04:03 AM)DeathBringer Wrote: Your motherboard is based on X79 chipset.
It supports Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge only.

Ahh yes, there are significant socket differences from Ivy to Haswell.  You are right, thanks for pointing it out.  So, v3 and v4 Xeons are out.

I haven't researched past v3 processors but, it seems there are 3-ish or more sockets:

"Socket 2011"    = 2011-R   = Xeon E5-1600/2600/4600 series v2 = "Ivy Bridge-EP"
"Socket 2011-1" = 2011-R2 = Xeon E7-2800/4800/8800 series v2 = "Ivy Bridge-EX" = Xeon E7 Stepping "D1"
                                        = Xeon E7-4800/8800 series v3          = "Haswell-EX"
"Socket 2011-3" = 2011-R3 = Xeon E5-1600/2600/4600 series v3 = "Haswell-EP"

"2011" = Who knows = "2011" is a year not pin count = a generic reference that's often used as specific = mass confusion

I have to say, this has been infuriating AF to get a grasp on this socket.  Intel uses an inconsistent mash of at least 3 different descriptions for the same socket, or sometimes just officially ignores there are differences.  And knowledge out there on the web is just as spotty or misinforming or worse, depending on where you read.  With the poor and inconsistent descriptions from Intel, "2011" not actually being the pin count for all the sockets but rather a reference to a year, and the fact that some times v2 and v3 series overlap sockets and sometimes they don't, has caused a lot of confusion and misinformation, i.e.:  In some docs (not all), Intel draws a hard line between x600 and x800 v2 using 2011 and 2011-1 sockets (respectively) then, mixes v2 and v3 with 2011-1 and 2011-3 sockets then, Intel's Ark (the place you go for specific specs, thus, the place people reference for specific specs) lumps all the sockets as one socket, like shown in the CSV in post #1. There's probably a lot longer list i just don't have time to rant about.  Intel really dropped the ball with syncing vision management, marketing, and engineering together.

*steps off soapbox*

The R820 can be configured as 2- way or 4-way and, if running as 2-way, there are some great E5-2600 v2 CPUs for cheap that have better performance than easily obtainable/cheap E5-4600 v2 CPUs.  Ok then, the question still remains - what about microcode compatibility with E5-2600 v2 CPUs?
E5-2600 v2 and E5-4600 v2 use the same microcode.
(03-28-2023, 10:30 AM)DeathBringer Wrote: E5-2600 v2 and E5-4600 v2 use the same microcode.

Excellent!  That is information I haven't found anywhere else.  Knowing this, I will execute a purchase for a pair of E5-26xx v2.

I'll report back with a success/failure story in a couple weeks.

Thanks for your help and guidance.

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