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Z420 BIOS mod

Started by SuB, July 22, 2016, 06:09:51 am

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SuB

Hello everyone! I'm from Ukraine, but I'm hungarian actually... nevermind, long story short: sorry if I say something wrong in English :)

I bought a Z420 before I knew that there is a limitation by boot block, so I have the old one. In the future I want to upgrade my CPU to an 1620v2 but for this I have to change the mobo or flash the SPI flash. I've the hardware (SPI programmer) so want to do it in that way.

If anyone want to share their BIOS dump from a new Z420 please post here, if I right remember the MAC addresses arent there in the SPI flash, or is it?

Thank you in advance!

Best regards, 

mtothaj

For the time being to upgrade the Z420 to the newer 2013 boot block you will have to use an external SPI programmer.
Basically, update to the latest bios version using the official HP method (as of now v3.91) , read your bios chip contents with the programmer and replace the bootblock section (FF0000-FFFFFF) with that from the latest bios on the HP website, since the boot block does not get updated during normal flashing using the HP tool, and then flash the modified bios back to the chip.

IMHO, the safest way to approach this is to i) socket the bios chip (SOK-SPI-16W socket, best to use a mobile phone / computer repair place for the desoldering / soldering) ii) buy 1 or 2 new W25q128BVFG chips iii) read contents of the original bios with e.g. a CH341A programmer, replace boot block contents (FF0000-FFFFFF) with that from newer bios revision and write that onto one of your new bios chips.

Total cost of parts = 15 - 20 USD + desoldering / soldering unless you can do this yourself. Still works out a lot cheaper than a new board and you can always put your old bios chip in if anything goes wrong while flashing one of your new chips.

mtothaj

PS for your information this is the programmer I am using:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/USB-Programmer-CH341A-Series-Burner-Chip-24-EEPROM-BIOS-Writer-25-SPI-Flash-NEW-/191674211030?hash=item2ca0ac5ad6:g:p8wAAOSw3ydVkT51

With regard to the software you want to use version 1.18. This one correctly identifies / reads / programs the W25Q128BV bios chip which is in the Z420.
The link for the drivers download is available in the description of this YT video (which I also recommend watching): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NYe21nFSDI

If you have AMT enabled it is also worth upgrading the Management Engine firmware to the newest version 8.xxxx since the latest bios editions contain some annoying check where even if you have the 2013 boot block date but the older version 7.xxxxx ME firmware the system will fail to boot. An alternative approach to avoid dealing with this is to just download the latest bios from HP, open it in hex editor and in line offset 00001000 put in your mac address (00 - 05). This will give you latest bios, ME firmware and  bootblock, and the bios will have your MAC address hardcoded.

If you require more info let me know.

micpas

Hi all,
my Z420 workstation has latest BIOS J61 v03.91 and Windows 10 Professional 64-bit.
Boot Block Date is 12/28/2011.

I was able to update its ME Firmware Version from 7.1.21.1134 to v7.1.86.1221 (sp71010) from HP website.
However, now I cannot update ME Firmware Version from 7.1.86.1221 to latest download v8.1.65.1568 (sp72520) from HP website.

The command:
FWUpdLcl64.exe -f 81651568.bin -generic
results in:

Error 8727: Firmware update tool failed to get the firmware parameters.

Just the same, if I try update to ME Firmware v8.1.52.1496 from UEFI shell,
the command:
fs0:\efi\boot\FWUpdLcl.efi -f 81651568.bin
results in:

Error 8727: Firmware update tool failed to get the firmware parameters.

I'm sure I am doing something wrong.
Is there any way to succeed to upgrade ME from v7.1 to v8.1?

Thank you very much in advance for any support, feedback or advice.
Cheers, Michele

mtothaj

Quote from: micpas on April 10, 2017, 02:25:48 pm
Hi all,
my Z420 workstation has latest BIOS J61 v03.91 and Windows 10 Professional 64-bit.
Boot Block Date is 12/28/2011.

I was able to update its ME Firmware Version from 7.1.21.1134 to v7.1.86.1221 (sp71010) from HP website.
However, now I cannot update ME Firmware Version from 7.1.86.1221 to latest download v8.1.65.1568 (sp72520) from HP website.

The command:
FWUpdLcl64.exe -f 81651568.bin -generic
results in:

Error 8727: Firmware update tool failed to get the firmware parameters.

Just the same, if I try update to ME Firmware v8.1.52.1496 from UEFI shell,
the command:
fs0:\efi\boot\FWUpdLcl.efi -f 81651568.bin
results in:

Error 8727: Firmware update tool failed to get the firmware parameters.

I'm sure I am doing something wrong.
Is there any way to succeed to upgrade ME from v7.1 to v8.1?

Thank you very much in advance for any support, feedback or advice.
Cheers, Michele


Have you tried flashing with the jumper in place on the ME/ AMT override header?

Location of jumper: http://h20628.www2.hp.com/km-ext/kmcsdirect/emr_na-c03424977-1.pdf - page 19

Just to ask what do you need the v.8 ME firmware for? My understanding is that unless you are remotely managing multiple machines, for the standard user AMT does not add any value and can be disabled. AFAIK it is standard that the v1 2011 machines come with v.7 and the v2 2013 come with v8.

Also bear in mind that since bios update v 3.88 the following 'feature' has been added:

- Adds a mechanism to detect unsupported combinations of processor and Management Engine firmware. In such cases, system will display an error message and fail to boot. 


Basically if you have a v2 machine with a v2 processor and v7 ME firmware the system will not boot. Its is hence entirely possible that the same situation could occur if you try to pair a v1 processor and v8 ME firmware.

Helgaiden

I posted a thread regarding modding the Z420/Z620 BIOS over on bios-mods.com, but to bypass the "press f1 to boot" issue. I hate to thread hijack but just wanted to throw it out there since this is on topic of modding that BIOS, do y'all think thats possible or doable? Thanks.

mtothaj

Quote from: Helgaiden on April 19, 2017, 02:37:35 pm
I posted a thread regarding modding the Z420/Z620 BIOS over on bios-mods.com, but to bypass the "press f1 to boot" issue. I hate to thread hijack but just wanted to throw it out there since this is on topic of modding that BIOS, do y'all think thats possible or doable? Thanks.


What is the reason you are getting the F1 prompts? If it is unplugged cables, you should be able to ground out the connections.

As for the bios it might be possible to unlock more bios menus / settings. I have looked at the Z420 bios by opening it with UEFI tool and extracting the IFR of the setup module - it seems to contain two sets of menus: HP menus and standard AMI menus. It might be possible to unlock the latter - there are various descriptions / guides on how to do this on bios modding forums. The challenge however would be flashing the contents back - mostl likely would have to be done from within the bios or if all else fails using an external programmer.
I have since sold my Z420 so unable to do any testing myself.

Helgaiden

Quote from: mtothaj on April 25, 2017, 06:15:18 am
Quote from: Helgaiden on April 19, 2017, 02:37:35 pm
I posted a thread regarding modding the Z420/Z620 BIOS over on bios-mods.com, but to bypass the "press f1 to boot" issue. I hate to thread hijack but just wanted to throw it out there since this is on topic of modding that BIOS, do y'all think thats possible or doable? Thanks.


What is the reason you are getting the F1 prompts? If it is unplugged cables, you should be able to ground out the connections.

As for the bios it might be possible to unlock more bios menus / settings. I have looked at the Z420 bios by opening it with UEFI tool and extracting the IFR of the setup module - it seems to contain two sets of menus: HP menus and standard AMI menus. It might be possible to unlock the latter - there are various descriptions / guides on how to do this on bios modding forums. The challenge however would be flashing the contents back - mostl likely would have to be done from within the bios or if all else fails using an external programmer.
I have since sold my Z420 so unable to do any testing myself.


I wish it was that simple. The F1 prompts are because i have the Z620 motherboard in a standard case, and thus nothing is plugged into the rear fan header or the memory fan header. The rear fan header is 6 pin and if i plug a fan into the top 3 pins, one of the fan errors on bootup goes away but plugging another fan into the remaining 3 pins doesn't do anything, so it isn't exactly two 3 pin headers side by side. Some research on this showed that someone tried grounding the sense pin there, but the error didn't go away so im not sure what to make of that. The memory fan 6 pin connector on the mobo? That one i have no clue. I cant find a pinout, so i dont know which is the sense pin to try to bypass the error with.

As far as the BIOS modding stuff goes, yes as far as im aware the big issue is the encryption when trying to flash a modded BIOS back on. Thats a very interesting development in that it has the standard AMI menus hidden, but i've found 0 resources on modding this BIOS online. My thread on bios-mods.com has zero responses as well. Something tells me it isnt so easy to mod this BIOS. If you think you can pull that off, i could be swayed to send you my board to figure it out with.

mtothaj

May 05, 2017, 11:14:17 pm #8 Last Edit: May 06, 2017, 08:01:09 am by mtothaj
Quote from: Helgaiden on May 03, 2017, 04:12:17 pm
Quote from: mtothaj on April 25, 2017, 06:15:18 am
Quote from: Helgaiden on April 19, 2017, 02:37:35 pm
I posted a thread regarding modding the Z420/Z620 BIOS over on bios-mods.com, but to bypass the "press f1 to boot" issue. I hate to thread hijack but just wanted to throw it out there since this is on topic of modding that BIOS, do y'all think thats possible or doable? Thanks.


What is the reason you are getting the F1 prompts? If it is unplugged cables, you should be able to ground out the connections.

As for the bios it might be possible to unlock more bios menus / settings. I have looked at the Z420 bios by opening it with UEFI tool and extracting the IFR of the setup module - it seems to contain two sets of menus: HP menus and standard AMI menus. It might be possible to unlock the latter - there are various descriptions / guides on how to do this on bios modding forums. The challenge however would be flashing the contents back - mostl likely would have to be done from within the bios or if all else fails using an external programmer.
I have since sold my Z420 so unable to do any testing myself.


I wish it was that simple. The F1 prompts are because i have the Z620 motherboard in a standard case, and thus nothing is plugged into the rear fan header or the memory fan header. The rear fan header is 6 pin and if i plug a fan into the top 3 pins, one of the fan errors on bootup goes away but plugging another fan into the remaining 3 pins doesn't do anything, so it isn't exactly two 3 pin headers side by side. Some research on this showed that someone tried grounding the sense pin there, but the error didn't go away so im not sure what to make of that. The memory fan 6 pin connector on the mobo? That one i have no clue. I cant find a pinout, so i dont know which is the sense pin to try to bypass the error with.

As far as the BIOS modding stuff goes, yes as far as im aware the big issue is the encryption when trying to flash a modded BIOS back on. Thats a very interesting development in that it has the standard AMI menus hidden, but i've found 0 resources on modding this BIOS online. My thread on bios-mods.com has zero responses as well. Something tells me it isnt so easy to mod this BIOS. If you think you can pull that off, i could be swayed to send you my board to figure it out with.


Extracting the setup module from within the Z420 / Z620 bios shows we have the following menus available:


                                   Form Sets
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Offset:      Title:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
0xA5A6B      Main (0xA)
0xA8E6A      Advanced (0x20)
0xAC476      Chipset (0x22)
0xAD55D      Boot (0x24)
0xAE5B8      Security (0x3F)
0xAF329      Save & Exit (0x53)
0xAFB64      File (0x6F)
0xB03AA      Storage (0x85)
0xB1E1A      Security (0x3F)
0xB4CDC      Power (0xAE)
0xB570B      Advanced (0x20)

So there are 2 sets of menus - first 6 items are the locked AMI menus and the next 5 items is the standard HP menu. These are turned of using ""Suppress If:" There are some good guides available on how to unlock these hidden menus however not HP specific and I don't have the links available since I migrated to a new board.
As for flashing modified bioses to an extent it is possible from within the actual bios by just using the rom file. If something does not go to plan boot block recovery is always an option.

PS. What is the config of your Z620?

Helgaiden

Quote from: mtothaj on May 05, 2017, 11:14:17 pm
Quote from: Helgaiden on May 03, 2017, 04:12:17 pm
Quote from: mtothaj on April 25, 2017, 06:15:18 am
Quote from: Helgaiden on April 19, 2017, 02:37:35 pm
I posted a thread regarding modding the Z420/Z620 BIOS over on bios-mods.com, but to bypass the "press f1 to boot" issue. I hate to thread hijack but just wanted to throw it out there since this is on topic of modding that BIOS, do y'all think thats possible or doable? Thanks.


What is the reason you are getting the F1 prompts? If it is unplugged cables, you should be able to ground out the connections.

As for the bios it might be possible to unlock more bios menus / settings. I have looked at the Z420 bios by opening it with UEFI tool and extracting the IFR of the setup module - it seems to contain two sets of menus: HP menus and standard AMI menus. It might be possible to unlock the latter - there are various descriptions / guides on how to do this on bios modding forums. The challenge however would be flashing the contents back - mostl likely would have to be done from within the bios or if all else fails using an external programmer.
I have since sold my Z420 so unable to do any testing myself.


I wish it was that simple. The F1 prompts are because i have the Z620 motherboard in a standard case, and thus nothing is plugged into the rear fan header or the memory fan header. The rear fan header is 6 pin and if i plug a fan into the top 3 pins, one of the fan errors on bootup goes away but plugging another fan into the remaining 3 pins doesn't do anything, so it isn't exactly two 3 pin headers side by side. Some research on this showed that someone tried grounding the sense pin there, but the error didn't go away so im not sure what to make of that. The memory fan 6 pin connector on the mobo? That one i have no clue. I cant find a pinout, so i dont know which is the sense pin to try to bypass the error with.

As far as the BIOS modding stuff goes, yes as far as im aware the big issue is the encryption when trying to flash a modded BIOS back on. Thats a very interesting development in that it has the standard AMI menus hidden, but i've found 0 resources on modding this BIOS online. My thread on bios-mods.com has zero responses as well. Something tells me it isnt so easy to mod this BIOS. If you think you can pull that off, i could be swayed to send you my board to figure it out with.


Extracting the setup module from within the Z420 / Z620 bios shows we have the following menus available:


                                   Form Sets
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Offset:      Title:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
0xA5A6B      Main (0xA)
0xA8E6A      Advanced (0x20)
0xAC476      Chipset (0x22)
0xAD55D      Boot (0x24)
0xAE5B8      Security (0x3F)
0xAF329      Save & Exit (0x53)
0xAFB64      File (0x6F)
0xB03AA      Storage (0x85)
0xB1E1A      Security (0x3F)
0xB4CDC      Power (0xAE)
0xB570B      Advanced (0x20)

So there are 2 sets of menus - first 6 items are the locked AMI menus and the next 5 items is the standard HP menu. These are turned of using ""Suppress If:" There are some good guides available on how to unlock these hidden menus however not HP specific and I don't have the links available since I migrated to a new board.
As for flashing modified bioses to an extent it is possible from within the actual bios by just using the rom file. If something does not go to plan boot block recovery is always an option.

PS. What is the config of your Z620?


Ah, interesting info. What do you mean by asking the config of the Z620? Currently the mobo isn't sitting in anything, but the original plan was to use it with a single E5-1620 or 1650 (probably the 1650) as a secondary workstation in a standard ATX case.

mtothaj

Quote from: Helgaiden on May 10, 2017, 04:31:59 pm
Ah, interesting info. What do you mean by asking the config of the Z620? Currently the mobo isn't sitting in anything, but the original plan was to use it with a single E5-1620 or 1650 (probably the 1650) as a secondary workstation in a standard ATX case.


If you got a 2013 bootblock machine or can modify your bios to go from 2011 to 2013 bootblock also have a look at the E5-1650 v2. While both the E5-1650 v1 and E5-1650 v2 have unlocked multipliers, in the case of the HP Z420 I found that with the E5-1650 v2 it was possible to change core ratio multiplier in Intel XTU.
In effect, I had a rock stable system running 4.0Ghz on all 6 cores. It was possible to push the CPU even further however with this type of software overclock one has very limited tweaking options, and that was the reason why I switched to a Asus P9X79 PRO board - currently running 4.4Ghz on all 6 cores at 1.3V
Obviously whether you decide / need to overclock is entierely up to you, just giving the heads up that this is possible.