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Using a AMD RX580 with a Thinkpad Edge 15 over ExpressPort

Edge / E-Series
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FelixBardner
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2024 11:47 pm
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Using a AMD RX580 with a Thinkpad Edge 15 over ExpressPort

#1 Post by FelixBardner » Tue Jul 09, 2024 12:47 am

I bought this thing refurbished on Ebay a few months ago, looking for something around as powerful as a raspberry pi, but with an x86 processor and attached battery, keyboard, and screen. It has an intel i5 and an ssd, whether it's running windows 10 or XFCE Debian 12 it's nice and snappy. Very happy with my purchase! New to the thinkpad space, I didn't even realize it was over a decade old until a month after I got it- when I tried to run blender, and was told it didn't support openGL 3.3. I've since grown attached to it, and I want to see how far I can take this thing- leading to now.

My only computational gripe is being unable to run blender versions past 2.7, I use the grease pencil to make simple animations a lot- so I sought some way to bring modern openGL support to it.

To this end, I bought an AMD RX 580, a small ITX power supply, and an ExpressCard to PCIe adapter. For the money, I know I could've just bought a better laptop, but I'm determined to give this machine power it never thought possible. I connected everything to the computer, and- it refused to do anything. No post, no beeps, no nothing. I dug around in BIOS, and couldn't find any settings related to graphics whatsoever. Nothing greyed out, it was just absent. After some time experimenting around, I figured out I had to turn the card and adapter on, turn the laptop on, and then plug the ExpressCard cable into the laptop right after it posts. After a day of trial and error (the PCIe to ExpressCard adapter's instructions were in chineese and of no help), I finally managed to get the card to show up in lspci, but xrandr still doesn't and the only program I've managed to make run at ludicrous speed with DRI_PRIME=1 is glxgears- not the most impressive demo. Still, the fact I managed to get any software at all to (seemingly) successfully run on the GPU is encouraging! Given that the motherboard outright refuses to post with it plugged in, I'm going to have to figure out how to get Debian to be okay with hotswapping it in- current attempts at xorg configs, driver installations, and generic linux command-fu have not been very fruitful.

The output of "sudo dmesg | grep amdgpu" seems to point... somewhere,

Code: Select all

[  607.485431] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: enabling device (0000 -> 0003)
[  607.994137] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: Fetched VBIOS from ROM BAR
[  607.994142] amdgpu: ATOM BIOS: xxx-xxx-xxx
[  607.994183] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: Trusted Memory Zone (TMZ) feature not supported
[  607.994187] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: PCIE atomic ops is not supported
[  608.476206] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware amdgpu/polaris10_mc.bin
[  608.476231] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: VRAM: 8192M 0x000000F400000000 - 0x000000F5FFFFFFFF (8192M used)
[  608.476239] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: GART: 256M 0x000000FF00000000 - 0x000000FF0FFFFFFF
[  608.476260] [drm:amdgpu_bo_init [amdgpu]] *ERROR* Unable to set WC memtype for the aperture base
[  608.476567] [drm:amdgpu_device_init.cold [amdgpu]] *ERROR* sw_init of IP block <gmc_v8_0> failed -22
[  608.476812] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: amdgpu_device_ip_init failed
[  608.476814] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: Fatal error during GPU init
[  608.476818] amdgpu 0000:05:00.0: amdgpu: amdgpu: finishing device.
[  608.476935] amdgpu: probe of 0000:05:00.0 failed with error -22
... but I'm not sure where exactly. Googling this has lead to very limited success.

This has been my most daring hardware adventure yet, I do hope I can get it working. Any ideas for where to go from here? Has anybody tried something similar to this?
Doing things not because they're easy, but because I thought they'd be funny and now I'm stuck god please why did I think this was a good idea

FelixBardner
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2024 11:47 pm
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Using a AMD RX580 with a Thinkpad Edge 15 over ExpressPort

#2 Post by FelixBardner » Thu Jul 11, 2024 1:00 am

I've continued poking around, for the life of me I can't seem to figure out this error- but it may be because of something else I've discovered. Apparently, the BIOS of this laptop may have a hardware whitelist- this would explain why it refuses to boot with a graphics card plugged in, but handles a wifi card with no issues. Apparently on other laptops, BIOS will print a message to the screen informing the user of their crimes, whereas I just get a blank screen and have to imagine the motherboard giving me a smug expression, mouthing "figure it out idiot"- I am unsure whether the absence of such a message indicates that is not actually what is happening, but the theory neatly explains observed behavior so I will roll with it for now.

With the Unicorn status this laptop has, it looks an awful lot like I'm going to have to figure out how to mod my BIOS, not just swap it with somebody else's pre-modded version. Matter of fact, given the age of the bios I'm not even sure I can trust the wiki on what bits on the CMOS I need to set- actual reverse engineering may be necessary on my part, unless anybody here knows anything.

Of course, with my luck, I'd spend an unhealthy amount of time figuring all this out, implement it successfully, get the laptop booting with the GPU plugged in, and then- observe that just like before, it shows up on the bus but refuses to actually initialize properly, because my hack of inserting it after POST but before BOOT was enough to make it a non-issue. ANY information on this subject is appreciated immensely.

Here's hoping I don't need to write a linux kernel patch to get this working.
Doing things not because they're easy, but because I thought they'd be funny and now I'm stuck god please why did I think this was a good idea

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