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An in-depth guide on how to upgrade the boot block of HP Z420, Z620, Z820 workstations to accept Ivy Bridge (v2) Xeon E5s. Featuring undocumented motherboard headers, flashing BIOS chips, hex editing, and obscure Intel tools!

Follow up to Need help modding bios .bin file. Never done this before

For the daring there is a one-shot software method where you reprogram the boot block of your running workstation*, for the cautious or daring who made a mistake there is an almost foolproof hardware method.

Why? Dirt cheap 8 or 12 core workstations with 128GB+RAM and 10+ SATA ports!

*2020-06: this method may not work - it seems you can do everything EXCEPT write the boot block, possibly a PCH hardware security feature. You can still do a full dump from software which is a very safe way of getting a backup.


omg I love you. This is beautiful

glad you like it :slight_smile:

Do you still have plans to upgrade your Z420?

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Is this to skip a gen in the 1155 sockets?

I don’t keep track of names, I know part numbers.

This is to allow HP’s C602 chipset Socket 2011 workstations that shipped with Sandy Bridge CPUs and firmware to use Ivy Bridge CPUs. Is that you mean by skipping a gen?

100%, but school has been kicking my ass, even over the break (got homework over the “break”…) so I haven’t worked on my home server yet. It’s been powered off for months :frowning:

ouch - that’s a lot of work. Feel free to reply and tag me when you eventually get enough time.

Quick update on ME firmware. Disable AMT in the BIOS or by the header and you can ignore the ME firmware version. Just upgrade your bios to an appropriate version (eg v3.85) and flash your boot block with the 2013 version.

I got my v2 test CPU (an astoundingly slow E5 2603 v2, 4 cores @ 1.8GHz. It’s about as fast as a dual core laptop i5) working with 2013 boot block and AMT disabled. Worked for getting into BIOS, using FreeDOS, using linux desktop and server.

I did also upgrade to ME v8 firmware by replacing the ME region in a dump of my BIOS with the ME v8 region of the v3.85 BIOS update file. It shows up correctly in the BIOS. I didn’t get it working with the v2 CPU, but I think that was down to trying to initialize the upgraded ME with the v2 CPU, when I should have been using the v1 CPU then swapping in the v2 CPU after.

So, for all considering a Z420/Z620/Z820 v1 for the purposes of upgrading it to use v2 CPUs (all…15? of you), and worried about needing to upgrade the ME firmware - you needn’t bother. Enjoy the wonderful AMT-disabling motherboard header HP has provided.

i have a z420 v1 and am trying to make it v2 cpu compatibles the sw/easy way but idk where to start if anybody can help me i would appreciated. i purchased a 1603 v1 cpu just for this purpose, thank you.

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