ASUS P6T Deluxe Crossflash to ASUS P6T WS PRO

Despite the fact the Asus P6T Deluxe, the X58-based LGA1366 motherboard, has been around for a very long time now, it is still holding its value thanks to the cheap and overclockable six-core Xeon processors which can be had for as low as $85. The board carries the word “Deluxe” in its name which does not only sound cool, but makes you think of the board as a high-class product. Well, it is (when it comes to X58), however, it seems to be plagued with some really annoying problems when it comes to high CPU overclocks. Do not get me wrong here, the motherboard overclocks just fine as long as you do not do it via your processor’s turbo multiplier. If you happen to do so, the motherboard seems to be unable to keep a CPU locked in the turbo multiplier under high load and, thus, hurts your overclock. The reason behind this kind of behavior lies in BIOS as ASUS has set some turbo TDP setpoints which, if exceeded, trigger a CPU to drop out of turbo multiplier (also called throttling). Back in 2009, when the X58 platform was in its prime, ASUS was urged to rectify this issue and released the “special” BIOS (version 0006) for enthusiasts which added the “Hight TDP Turbo Mode”, however, it was a non-official BIOS release. The first 6-core 32nm Gulftown/Westmere processors came out in March 2010 and were not supported by the “special” BIOS, so the throttling problem began ailing the P6T Deluxe users once again. This time ASUS did nothing as regards the issue. A bit later it was noticed the ASUS P6T WS motherboard does have the official support for “High TDP Turbo Mode” and, to make matters even better, it shares almost identical component and VRM (Voltage Regulation Modules) layout to its P6T Deluxe counterpart.

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Picture 1. ASUS P6T Deluxe

What Is a So-Called Crossflashing?

Crossflashing is a process of flashing one motherboard with a different model motherboard’s BIOS in order to gain the latter’s BIOS features. Once again, both motherboards should have an identical VRM layout as well as hardware controller set. Not to mention, you will never be able to magically unlock, say, USB3.0 or SATA3 functionality by performing a crossflash on the motherboards which do lack the respective controllers.

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Picture 2. ASUS P6T Deluxe (left) and ASUS P6T WS PRO (right)

Are There Any Risks Involved?

This mod is known to work fine on the P6T Deluxe boards and I can confirm it myself, so if you follow my instructions closely, you will be OK. I recommend you use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) when flashing a BIOS if you have one at hand to rule out the possibility of power outage. If for some unearthly reason the flashing process fails and your motherboard refuses to POST, you are not so screwed as you may think. The P6T Deluxe can be cured from a bad BIOS flash by simply replacing or reprogramming the BIOS chip (pic. 3, highlighted in red). All the necessary tools for recovery can be bought cheap on Ebay.

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Picture 3

Note: a lot of folks  do seem to mistakenly think that this mod, apart from letting you lock in turbo multipliers under load, allows you to use the offset voltage, which is not true. The P6T WS Professional BIOS does not support the offset voltage!

The Crossflashing Steps

Please note the following steps not only do apply to the P6T Deluxe motherboard, but to P6T, P6T SE and P6T Deluxe V2 motherboards as well.

In order to get the “High TDP Turbo Mode” feature on your ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard, do the following:

Step 1. Create a bootable USB drive. If you are not aware how to do it, follow this tutorial.

Step 2. Download and extract the engineering version of Afudos. Once done, copy the extracted tool to your USB drive. The engineering version is a must in this case, as it will skip the BIOS validity check and let you flash your motherboard with pretty much any BIOS file.

Step 3. Next, you need to download the ASUS P6T WS PRO BIOS file, however, I also suggest you download the ASUS P6T Deluxe BIOS file just in case. The latest BIOS files for both motherboards can be found below.

ASUS P6T Deluxe (ver. 2209) original
ASUS P6T WS PRO (ver. 1205) original
ASUS P6T Deluxe (ver. 2209) with TRIM support in SSD RAID configurations (read more)
ASUS P6T WS PRO (ver. 1205) with TRIM support in SSD RAID configurations (read more)

Step 4. Boot from a USB drive. If you have done everything correctly, you should see Windows98 loading screen for a few seconds before it is replaced with the black screen and a blinking cursor for further input (pic. 4).

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Picture 4

Step 5. Enter the following command without quotes: “afudos /iBiosFileName.rom /pbnc /n”. Please note the first slash symbol “/” is succeeded by letter “i” and only then followed by the name of the BIOS file. Next, press Enter and wait until the flashing process is completed.

Step 6. Reboot your computer. It is also advisable to clear the CMOS and redo your BIOS settings afterwards. Now it is about the right time to check if the new TDP feature is present, which definitely is! (pic. 5)

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Picture 5

The Test

A CPU I will use for testing the newly flashed BIOS is the Intel Xeon X5670 2.93GHz, featuring the maximum turbo multiplier of 24x across all six cores. The processor is overclocked to 4.2GHz and this operating speed is achieved by pushing the BLCK frequency to 175MHz and locking in turbo multiplier, which is 24x, thus 175×24=4200MHz. If we were still on the original ASUS P6T Deluxe BIOS, we would see throttling kicking in under high CPU load and dragging the CPU multiplier down to 22x, just like in the picture 6.

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Picture 6

However, once ASUS P6T WS PRO BIOS has been crossflashed and the “High TDP Turbo Mode” has been activated, the aforementioned issue is gone (pic. 7).

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Picture 7

 

The Drawback

Despite getting the ability to lock in turbo multiplier under heavy load on the ASUS P6T Deluxe board, there seems to be a little problem with the onboard firewire (IEEE 1394) controller as it is not being properly recognized anymore (pic. 8, highlighted in red).

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Picture 8

Although the firewire controller is still “visible” to the BIOS, I could not get it to work by either enabling legacy mode or installing a whole bunch of different VIA IEEE 1394 drivers. In such case, I suggest you simply disable it in Windows device manager (pic. 9).

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Picture 9

Apart from the firewire controller, the rest of the onboard controllers seem to work just fine.


SSD RAID0 TRIM Support on X58 Platform

I still find it hard to believe the X58 platform has been around for six years now.  If we lived in 2005 now,  in the world of CPUs such a large amount of time would have been considered as eternity, however, this is no longer true in 2014. That’s right, cheap Westmere-EP based LGA1366 hexa-core Xeon CPUs  is the reason why the X58 platform is still a  viable option.

If you’re interested in getting the best out  of your X58 setup, you may consider putting your SSD drives in RAID0 mode. However, there seems to be a hurdle in the way: the X58-based motherboards lack TRIM support in RAID configurations. Note that TRIM is only supported since Windows 7, so if you have an SSD but  run an older version of Windows, it’s probably a good idea to upgrade.

TRIM is an important feature as it ensures your SSD drive does not keep junk data. When the HDD deletes a file, it simply marks that file as “deleted” and does not destroy that data until something new needs to be written on “top” of it. The SSD, on the other hand, works on a completely different principle from the HDD and simply cannot overwrite the files mentioned in one step. Before writing new data, the blocks storing junk data need to be deleted and this is the moment the TRIM command extends a helping hand.  The TRIM command can be thought of as a message from the OS telling the SSD what previously used memory blocks no longer hold valid data and can be deleted even though nothing is scheduled to be written yet. This prevents the SSD from losing its speed over time as well as extends its longevity.

That being said, Intel does not officially support TRIM in RAID configurations on X58 systems. However,  thanks to guys on www.win-raid.com , this finally seems to be possible with some effort. Next I’m going to provide you with a simple steb-by-step tutorial on how to modify your motherboard BIOS to add support for TRIM in RAID configurations.

Before We Start

In the following steps I’ll be using ASUS P6T Deluxe BIOS as a reference. Please note the following steps apply to all X58-based motherboards, not only ASUS as long as your motherboard comes with American Megatrends BIOS and not Award BIOS like, for example, Gigabyte boards. In case you own either an ASUS P6T Deluxe or an ASUS P6T WS PRO motherboard, you can download already modified latest BIOS for either board below:

ASUS P6T DELUXE ver.2209 RAID TRIM

ASUS P6T WS PRO ver. 1205 RAID TRIM

 

Step 1. Download the latest BIOS for your X58 motherboard. If you’re not sure of what motherboard you’re running (which I highly doubt), download CPU-Z  utility. After launching it, head over to “Motherboard” section and find the “Model” field (pic. 1).

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Picture 1

Step 2. Download BIOS modification tool MMTOOL as well as the custom modified RAID ROM Module which we’ll later inject into a BIOS file. This RAID ROM module carries a version number of v10.1.0.1008 and if you log on the www.win-raid.com forum, you’ll see this is not the latest version which “should work”, however, I’ve found the v10.1.0.1008 to be the one to work on my P6T Deluxe motherboard. The newer versions would result in blinking cursor during POST after enabling RAID.

Step 3. Extract what you’ve downloaded in step 2. Launch the MMTOOL, click “Load” and select your motherboard BIOS file (pic. 2) and then “Open” (pic. 3).

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Step 4. Once loaded, in the BIOS contents table locate “PCI Option ROM” entry. Keep in mind there may be more than one entries matching this name. The one you need comes with “Link Vendor ID: 8086″, “Link Device ID 2822″ (pic.4). Vendor ID of 8086 means the manufacturer of  corresponding BIOS device is Intel, meanwhile device ID of 2822 confirms we’re dealing with Intel Desktop/Workstation/Server Express Chipset SATA RAID controller.

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Picture 4

Step 5. Click on “Replace” tab in the MMTOOL. Now click “Browse”,  select the extracted RAID ROM Module which you downloaded in step 2 (pic. 5). Then click “Open” and “Replace”.

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Picture 5

Step 6. That’s it, the hard part is over. It wasn’t actually that hard, was it? The last thing left to do in MMTOOL is to save the BIOS file with the modifications you’ve just made. I suggest you create a new BIOS file by clicking “Save ROM As” and leaving the original BIOS file untouched just in case. Next, upload  the modified BIOS file onto a flashdrive and flash your motherboard with it. If you’re running an ASUS board,  you may flash via  EZ-FLASH built-in BIOS utility. It’s advisable to clear CMOS after flashing. Not to mention, you do everything at your own risk.

Step 7. Once you’re done flashing your motherboard, download the modified Intel RST drivers for Windows. Next, install them and reboot your computer. That’s it!

Making Sure TRIM Is Working

Here comes the moment of truth and we’ll see if out effort finally pays off. Download a tiny Trimcheck  application and run it from your RAID disk. On the first run the application will create a test dummy file. After no less than 20 seconds launch the Trimcheck again to see the result (pic. 6).

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Picture 6

Here are some of my benchmarks comparing a single Samsung 840EVO 120GB SSD against two of them in RAID0 on my ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard.

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