[LinuxBIOS] MSI MB support

Fredrik Tolf fredrik at dolda2000.com
Sun Dec 4 01:34:28 CET 2005

On Sat, 2005-12-03 at 13:06 -0600, Richard Smith wrote:
>   > there any point in trying to just get the chipset specs from VIA (it's a
> > KT600 NB and a VT8237 SB), or are there things that need to be done
> > specifically for the motherboard so that the chipset specs are useless
> It depends on what MSI did with the board.   Most northbridges have
> GPIO on them.  If MSI did something funky with the SM bus it could be
> hard to figure out how to turn on the RAM.
> But not impossible.  In most cases the motherboard is simply close
> copy of the reference design from the chipset mfg.  So if you can get
> a copy of the chipset docs and perhaps the reference design from via
> then you would at least have a place to get started.  Most of that
> involves an NDA though.  So then you would need permission to release
> the code based on the NDA material.

That's good to know. At least I know that there's a possibility,
providing that VIA decides to play nice.

> > by themselves, apart from the flash memory (which isn't supported
> > either)?
> You mean that it doesn't have the ability to program the flash on
> board?  Because from a read viewpoint there is no difference.  Any
> flash part that meets the same timing and pinout as the part that's
> already on the board will work.  You just need a programmer to change
> things.

Well, it would be kind of nice to not have to fork out money on a
programmer if I can do it from the host system, though. Maybe I can use
MSI's firmware programmer with a LinuxBIOS image?

> > I'm more than willing to do the porting work myself, but I'd like to
> > know where I could start, and if it's at all possible without the MB
> > specs.
> With chipset docs only yes its possible.  But the level of effort may
> be really large.  The docs are going to get you most of the way there
> but there's probably going to be things that aren't documented and you
> will probably have to boot under the COTS bios and look at how the
> registers are set.
> In the extreme case you would need to run the COTS bios under an
> emulator to watch the mem read/writes and IOs.  Look at your chipset
> docs and then modify the emulator to appear to be fake hardware and
> study how to twiddle the registers depending on what values your fake
> hardware provided.  You can't disassemble the COTS bios and figure it
> out for legal reasons.

Are you sure? I can't remember signing a license for the BIOS code, in
which case I should be allowed to read and study it.

> If you can't get the chipset docs though its really not worth it. 
> Find a MB that has docs available.

If it turns out that I'd have to pay for a flash programmer, that just
might be a better option. On the one hand, I don't want to give up on
this just MSI is being evil, but then on the other hand, it isn't nice
to be using products from such a company, so that just might be the
tipping over the edge.

Thank you very much for the info!

Fredrik Tolf

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