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Needed equipment for hardware ROM flashing?

T430 and later, plus T530 and later series specific matters only
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mydreamlaptop
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 1:18 pm
Location: Kailua, Oahu, HI

Needed equipment for hardware ROM flashing?

#1 Post by mydreamlaptop » Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:07 am

I would like to get started with flashing BIOS firmware. Need something reliable, able to backup the original and flash it back in case of a bad flash.
Anyone with experience hardware flashing BIOS chips e.g. on the T430 that are soldered to the board?
I would also like to be able to flash other common chips too (e.g socketed chips used in desktop motherboards, video cards, etc).
The wiki talks about several brand names (pi?) but there are so many different models. What connections/interfaces are needed, features to look out for, etc?
Preferably NOT requiring Windows.

Thanks...

Kielbasa
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Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 12:17 pm
Location: Conroe, Republic of Texas

Re: Needed equipment for hardware ROM flashing?

#2 Post by Kielbasa » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:56 pm

The Raspberry Pi seems to be both popular and easy to use.

EDIT:

Additionally you'll need a Pomona SOIC8 clip and some short jumper leads - the shorter the better. For instance, the leads supplied with the Bus Pirate are waaaay too long and may not work reliably, if at all.

Flashrom is the software package which is generally used for flashing.

Flashing tips can be found on the coreboot site as well as YouTube and elsewhere. The Flashrom man page also has lots of interesting nuggets. This vid will give you an idea of how the process of externally flashing a .rom file works:

https://vimeo.com/177951809
Last edited by Kielbasa on Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dro
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Location: Yerevan, Armenia

Re: Needed equipment for hardware ROM flashing?

#3 Post by Dro » Sat Oct 21, 2017 4:04 am

You might find this relevant:
https://www.bios-mods.com/forum/Thread- ... kpad-T430s

Thanks to RealBlackStuff for pointing me to the link originally.

mydreamlaptop
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 1:18 pm
Location: Kailua, Oahu, HI

Re: Needed equipment for hardware ROM flashing?

#4 Post by mydreamlaptop » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:52 pm

I've ordered a Raspberry Pi Model B+ and a Chinese Soic8 clip. I guess we'll see if it works after both of them arrive.

jaspen-meyer
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Re: Needed equipment for hardware ROM flashing?

#5 Post by jaspen-meyer » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:33 am

mydreamlaptop wrote:
Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:52 pm
I would like to get started with flashing BIOS firmware. Need something reliable, able to backup the original and flash it back in case of a bad flash.
Here's a rough draft how-to written for the r400, but usable as a general introductory guide to hardware flashing a thinkpad:


The process is simple: transfer a single file from the raspberry pi to
the target chip. That's it.

The initial steps are aimed at getting our raspberry pi up and running.
After that, the rest of the process can be done directly on the
raspberry pi.

Without thinking too much about it, a rough draft, pragmatic,
step-by-step is:
1. get a raspberry pi model B version 3
2. get a microSD card
3. get a 16-pin SOIC clip (1.27mm spacing), it can be used for both 8-leg chips and 16-leg chips.
4. get 10 pieces of 10cm female-female 2.54mm jumper cables
5. get hdmi cable
5.5 get ethernet cable
5.75 if you use wifi, get an atheros wifi card. I use ar9280 from macbooks
6. get usb to (micro?) usb adapter (to power raspberry pi)
alternate - get power adapter for pi
7. download raspbian https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/
8. burn raspbian to the sd card. you'll need to figure out how to do
this on your OS. likely directions are available here
https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/
9. put sd card in raspberry pi
10. connect usb keyboard to raspberry pi
11. connect display to raspberry pi (use hdmi cable)
11.5 connect to internet (use ethernet cable)
12. start raspberry pi by connecting it to power source
13. default username is 'pi' and default password is 'raspberry'
14. once logged in, you want to become a root (admin) user. i think the
command is:
sudo -i

14. set up raspberry pi to talk over i2c, the protocol we'll use to send
our file from the pi to the r400 (I'll need to dig up my notes for the
exact commands and files which need editing)
15. install flashrom. this is a program which can talk i2c. easiest way
to install is with this command:
apt-get install flashrom

16. take r400 apart and remove the motherboard - following the r400
hardware maintaince manual, available here
https://thinkpads.com/support/hmm/thinkpad-hmm.html

17. connect wires to your raspberry pi and your soic clip
https://github.com/bibanon/Coreboot-Thi ... nkPad-X200
https://github.com/bibanon/Coreboot-Thi ... peberry-Pi

18. connect clip to chip (optionally, first inspect chip with magnifying
glass and figure out it's model number...can be handy in next step)
19. try reading data from the r400. note this step can fail for several
reasons, so expect failure. The simplest command to read from the chip,
and output the file to the pi (we are making a backup and also checking
the connection is working) is:
flashrom -r firstread.rom

If you get errors, read them and follow the instructions. Possibly it'll
want you to declare which flash chip you're using, if you're not sure
just pick one of the options they provide and try entering the, now
updated, command again:
flashrom -c "chipname flashrom suggested" -r firstread.rom

20. read again:
flashrom -c "chipname flashrom suggested" -r secondread.rom

21. read a third time:
flashrom -c "chipname flashrom suggested" -r thirdread.rom

22. confirm the files all have the same content:
for i in $(ls *rom);do sha256sum $i;done

23. write libreboot to r400:
flashrom -c "chipname flashrom suggested" -w t400_8mb_usqwerty_vesafb.rom

24. disconnect clip
25. reassemble r400, but with just 1 stick of ram inserted
26. start r400. if it starts insert the second stick of ram and hope for
the best.
T420 i7 3612QM seabios; T420 i7 3630QM; T400 Q9100 seabios; T61 P9600; T60 libreboot; x62; x60s libreboot, led; x24 xiphmont led

mydreamlaptop
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 1:18 pm
Location: Kailua, Oahu, HI

Re: Needed equipment for hardware ROM flashing?

#6 Post by mydreamlaptop » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:43 am

Thanks so much!
I've eventually gotten the laptop taken apart and read the BIOS chip into a rom file with the Raspberry Pi. The T430 needs to be almost completely disassembled to get at the motherboard. I am working on removing the Intel ME/Intel AMT. Corna's me_cleaner looks pretty self-explanatory so it shouldn't be too hard.

I would need help to remap some of the keys:
PrtSc key --> Menu key
ThinkVantage button --> PrtSc

But apparently this is controlled by the EC firmware which is on a different chip, and there is a patch available for putting in an older keyboard from a T420 but not for keeping the same keyboard. How should I go about editing the EC firmware?

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