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Feedback on Mac ATI 2600XT Firmware Update
Reports last Updated: 3/18/2008

This page is a catch-all of feedback on the Mac ATI 2600XT Firmware update (for 2008 Mac Pro owners). Here's a clip from the download page (posted 3/10/2008)

"About ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT Firmware Update
This update is for Mac Pro computers with one or more ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics cards installed, running Mac OS X 10.5.2 or later with the Leopard Graphics Update.

It updates the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card firmware on all of the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics cards in the Mac Pro to improve system stability.
Requirements: OS X 10.5.2 or later, Leopard Graphics Update"

I don't own one of these systems/cards but based on an ASP report it appears to be the same firmware version that a reader noted he was beta testing back on March 1st. (ASP also listed a .252 EFI driver version so I think that's updated also.)

Reader Feedback on 2600XT Firmware Update: (later reports first)
Personally If you're not having problems I'd leave well enough alone but if you apply this update and it helps (or not) with any graphics/freezing issue you had previously let me know the details.
FYI: A few readers that had problems with the update later wrote that Apple is sending them a replacement 2600XT card. (Updated their original reports to note their comments on that.)

(from 3/18/2008 mail)
(Did it crash during the update? (did the update complete or not?)-Mike)
just wanted to let you know I installed the firmware update and while rebooting there is NO video output. If you want to know more or have any questions about the specifics let me know. Since it was apparent that there is no fix for this I exchanged and swapped for a new non-flashed MacPro....
(I had asked if the flash update crashed during the update or had it completed)
the update DID NOT complete successfully. The crash happened during the update. I was actually really impressed with the way Frys handled my issue. I bought their service plan instead of Apple Care because it was cheaper and better. Even though I needed to just replace the card there policy is to swap out the machine entirely. They asked what happened and that was it.
-J. Duff"

I asked if he had anything else running in the background during the update. Anytime a firmware update fails during the process the result is typically a useless card.... I had one earlier report of no video after the update (which I assumed the update completed normally). Several other readers had other problems after the update and also got a replacement card.

(from 3/13/2008 mail - updated 3/14/2008)
"I too have installed the update without much thought, and lo and behold my video card fan is making a whining sound (it appears the fan speed is not constant but oscillates with 1.5 - 2 second period).
I hope another update will fix this issue.
(the next day he wrote)
Update on the firmware update. I got fed up with the noise, so I opened the case touched the video card heat sink and almost fried my finger. The thing is really hot.

I also notice that card noise profile changes when you do something graphics intensive (e.g. which between spaces continuously). (normally fan speed increases as GPU is stressed.)

Anyway, called Apple support and they are sending me a replacement card. I hope the new one is without the firmware update).

Lesson learned. I'm turning off automatic updates and from now on I will only selectively apply updates after thorough research.
-Mario G."

A couple other readers have said they're getting new cards also. See notes from Michael of AMUG below (from 3/11 news page) - he said their measurements noted a 23W increase in power use after the update and increased fan speeds (odd from the update's readme notes about Energy Star ratings mentioned in that post.)

(from 3/13/2008 mail)
" I was having the screen freeze issue with my card on my 2.8Ghz Mac Pro and after this update I have not had the issue once. The update definitely fixed that issue and I can not tell any difference in fan speed on the card either.
Thanks, Derek"

(from 3/12/2008 mail - Updated 3/13/2008)
" Everything was great before the firmware update. Now I hear fan noise from the thing. Apple support says everything is running as they want and to live with it. NOT great.
(he later wrote)
I just got off my 3rd call today to Apple Computer in California, regarding the increased sound [noise] created by the firmware update.
I went to the top of the food chain on the corporate line and was told that replacing the card with another without the upgrade would do no good because the upgrade is performed in the operating part of the computer not the card itself and thus another card would appear to show the same firmware as mine presently shows. He said that I would need a dc with firmware reversal software to revert back. I said send me one and he said they don't exist. (although apple posts intel-based mac firmware restore CDs, I don't recall them ever posting a backflasher for any graphics card firmware updates, drive updates, etc.-Mike)
All this makes no sense to me. But it does raise the question of WTF have they done. On the plus side he noted my problem and particulars to directly notify me if they correct things (he did say they were well awrae of the problem).
I guess I will have to get an nvidia card and sell this thing on ebay. Or live with a little noise and hope the whole thing breaks completely, while it is still in warranty. Frustrating.
(On 3/13 he wrote that he's getting a replacement 2600XT card, as is another reader)
Mike, as a second follow up to my previous. Apple called me late yesterday and said they were sending me a New ATI card. This action tells me something, I think.
Regards, Fred"

Another reader is also getting a new card and he said the support guy mentioned some possible issues with early cards. (I'd wondered if some 2600's were like the last batch of X800s - which had a higher than I consider normal rate of problems).

(from 3/12/2008 mail)
"Like a fool, I applied the 2600XT Firmware Update, simply because I put my Mac to sleep BY MISTAKE I went to the Apple Menu to Restart, instead of my usual practise of using CTRL-EJECT and selected Sleep. On trying to wake the machine, I got what others had experience -- the Mac rebooted.

So I thought... just apply the 2600XT Firmware Update and this should resolve the problem, which it has, but the Mac's now audible. The first time I felt the vibration in my posterior, I thought we were having a mild quake (we had quite a large tremor two weeks ago), and it's getting to be an irritation, especially as the fan does a surge every now and then.

(from 3/11/2008 mail)
" Wanted to let you know I purchased a Mac Pro "standard" 2.8GHz octo, 2G ram, with the ATI 2600XT card it locked up immediately during light use. IT was obviously a video card issue. I then found your site! (ref: posts on 2008 Mac Pro page on some using dual monitor setups as a workaround)
I hooked up a second monitor and no problems. Yesterday the update was released and I installed it. I have not had any additional lockups since. I also can now hear the fan spinning when nothing is going on video intensive at all. At first I was going to return it to the Apple Store because of this, but once I got both monitors hooked up and got to work with the machine I decided to keep it and upgrade the video card. Now the lockups are gone I am single monitor again and will upgrade video card when they are readily avail, or do the ROM flash on a PC version.

Overall very nice machine. I did a video conversion and it was neat to see top report CPU usage at 554%! I haven't found something to monitor all 8 cores cpu usage yet. New to MAC and have been using Linux and windows (and recently OSX86) on a 680i MB, with E6600 in it. The Mac Pro did the video conversion in less then half the time the dual core would. Thanks for great website. (he later wrote)
I wrote you last night about my over all impression of my Mac Pro and dealing with the 2600 video locks. I don't have locks, but now it is starting to reboot after sleep. (many have said a pram zap helped that - although it may not be a permanent fix) I would be running my hackintosh if I had known my new Mac Pro was going to have the same problems as it does! Wish I had found your site before buying and down more research.

(from 3/11/2008 mail)
"I just updated the firmware of my ATI 2600 XT 2008 Mac Pro (10.5.2 w/ Graphics 1.0 where installed). It was very quick and smooth. But I must say that I never ever had a freeze with this Mac, but I did had some sleep-restart problems. After option-command-p-r, it seems now to be just fine...
Config: standard 2GB RAM, 4 SATA HDs, 1 HD ATA drive on PATA bay, 24" DVI HD HP monitor, lots of USB and FW stuff hooked all-around.

Very good machine.. No more 60Hz humming like the previous Mac Pro did when matching different brand HDs, thanks to the rubber cushion/pads around the HD fixing bolts. So far so good.
Greetings from Sao Paulo- Brazil
-Clemente G."

(from 3/11/2008 mails - updated 3/13/2008)
"I'm caught in between a rock and a hard place... The (Leopard) Graphics Update 1.0 was the cause of my kernel panics, so I opted to reload (10.5.2), minus the update, Now, this Firmware Update is reliant (per requirements) on the Leopard Graphics Update 1.0, so I see a lot of hours to recover if it breaks... And maybe no way to regress if there is a problem... Trapped..
(he later wrote)
Wow, I leaped on it, but it seems I shouldn't have for my kernal panic problems, that omitting the Graphics update 1.0 has rectified.. So I'm now in the process of reinstaling Leopard from the Mac Pro disks, twice so far It's hung up near the end of the 2nd disc, beachball and no progress...

So, I have to agree with an earlier note I saw on your site, I should not have done the Firmware Update... (a note about "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" regarding firmware updates for those that are not seeing any problems, since they're usually not reversable) I haven't called Apple yet, want to get to a stable state first if I can, may not be possible.
CAUTION!! Backup!!! I have my data on an external, as well as the Time Machine file if it is recoverable, but, a lot of time spent already.
(he later wrote)
OK Mike, Ref: MacPro, Early 2008, multiple kernel panics, cleared by ignoring the Graphics Update 1.0 I did recover from the Graphics Update 1.0 plus the ATI HD2600 Firmware Update!
Whew, had to do a full recovery, then a dirty 2nd DVD messed me up, it hung 4 times on me, then finally completed the restoral...

Funny side note is that the Installer very carefully verifies the first disk, but not the 2nd.. And that's where I hung.. They should add that step, save us some trouble.. I see some scuffs on my 2nd disk, polished them out, should be OK, but it will be better if I never had to use them again!
Anyway, back up and solid, minus the Graphics Update.. If it remains so, I'll contact Apple, see if they have my reports, and if anything is in the mill.
(I asked if he had noticed any increased fan speed/noise)
No, but I don't have the side off, open, either, mine sits down next to the desk, silent, case remains cool, don't see any heat issues at all.. A monitor also looks very normal...
Support today came down to replacing my ATI HD2600HD card, it has to be it.
I did a revert, Safe mode updates using the Combo Update and Graphics Update and it immediately went into kernel panics.. I had it all detailed for them, and I am also seeing screen freezes, cursor disappears, so it has to be related. A new one is in the mail.. DIY approved.. Product Specialist set it up to ship, I send the old back.. He said there were issues with the early 2008 cards, apparently resolved.. We'll see.
-geOrge "

From first reports on problems (early on), I'd wondered if some 2600's were like the last batch of X800s (where there were quite a few owner reports of vram problems/display artifacts etc.) Another reader above (Fred) also wrote he's also getting a new card...

(from 3/11/2008 mail)
" Mike, I can't understand why after the update, the ATI radeon 2600 XT needs more power than before, according to the venerable AMUG friends (see post below)
That's what I read when I was updating it thru Software Update:
    "This update is for Mac Pro computers with one or more ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics cards installed, running Mac OS X 10.5.2 or later with the Leopard Graphics Update. It updates the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card firmware on all of the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics cards in the Mac Pro to improve system stability. Installing this update on a 2.8 GHz Mac Pro system configured with multiple hard drives or more than 2GB of RAM will result in the system meeting Energy Star 3.0 requirements.."
(2008 Mac Pro specs page noted originally that a base 2.8GHz/2600XT/-single drive-/-2GB ram- system was "energy star compliant" - the readme above implies improvements (i.e. now even if multiple drives/more than 2GB ram). However Michael at AMUG is not the only one to complain over increased fan speed/noise after the update. (see other reports above) although not everyone has.-Mike)
On my Mac Pro I didn't notice any extra noise coming out of the ATI fan.
Funny isn't it?! see you
-Clemente G.
Now (after update) (Apple system profiler info):

ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT:
Chipset Model: ATI Radeon HD 2600
Type: Display
Bus: PCIe
Slot: Slot-1
PCIe Lane Width: x16
VRAM (Total): 256 MB
Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
Device ID: 0x9588
Revision ID: 0x0000
ROM Revision: 113-B1480A-252
EFI Driver Version: 01.00.252 (.252 - updated also?)
HP LP2465:
Resolution: 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
Depth: 32-bit Color
Core Image: Hardware Accelerated
Main Display: Yes
Mirror: Off
Online: Yes
Quartz Extreme: Supported
Rotation: Supported..."

I think I'd have a heart attack if everyone had the same experience (and none with problems) on any update...

Notes on ATI 2600XT firmware update (fan speed/power increases??) (from 3/11 news page - see above for some other reports that also mentioned increased fan speeds.)

"Dear Mike, I would not install the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT firmware if you are NOT having problems. This update was created to address heat issues that developed with (World of War Craft) game players. The firmware upgrade increases the fan speed of the video card which increases the noise produced by the Mac Pro. In addition, the idle energy usage of the Mac Pro 2.8 rose by 23 watts after the update (which is a 15.5% increase in energy usage). From what I can tell the video card increased fan speed is set to stay running high even when idle. (a 23W boost in power from just a fan speed increase? That sounds much too high a delta to be from the card fan speed boost only.-Mike) The original firmware worked great for me and this update is a waste of power. What happened to thinking green?
(FYI - A reply to this from another 2600XT owner said the readme (not download page) for the 2600XT firmware update mentions "Installing this update on a 2.8 GHz Mac Pro system configured with multiple hard drives or more than 2GB of RAM will result in the system meeting Energy Star 3.0 requirements".
The Apple Mac Pro specs page says (originally) a 2.8GHz/2600XT -single drive-/2GB system meets Energy Star requirements, the note in the update (multiple drives/more than 2GB) implied it would reduce power. I wondered if they'd downclock the card a bit in the update in an effort to address graphics issues/freezes some saw.-MIke

I discovered this information the hard way. I am trying to revert to the previous Firmware version but Apple does not have the firmware tools to do this. It seems silly that this upgrade would show up in Software update for everyone when I would have been fine without it. The update implies that performance is increased but I only saw increased Halo artifacts, more fan noise and higher energy usage after the update.
There should be a disclaimer on this firmware update stating that it may cause increased energy usage and increased video card fan noise.
(he later replied)
I called Apple support today and talked to Greg who said he was a system specialist on this issue. He is looking into whether Apple will provide a method for users to return to the original firmware or trade to a card that has not been "upgraded". I hope to know the out come in a few days. You can also see this issue discussed here: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1436811

While the fan is only a little louder after the update, it can easily be heard if the Mac Pro is within 3-4 feet where previously it was totally silent. AMUG is just completing a review of the Mac Pro 2.8 and we included energy usage. *We were amazed that a video card firmware upgrade could cause the Mac Pro 2.8 energy usage to rise 23 watts even when idle. (that's more than just a fan speed increase in power draw)

The coy statement about meeting Energy Star 3.0 requirements should stand out as code for "This will definitely increase your power usage" :-)

I originally wondered if the update had modified timing or (reduced) clock speeds (or variable clock speeds as done with some mobile chips) in a effort to help with graphics corruption, freezes, etc that some owners have seen. Although a reader that wrote on March 1st that was beta testing this update said it helped with graphics issues/freezes, Most mails so far (as of 3/11/2008 6PM) from readers on the released update have not been good (from minor to major problems)... but usually those that write have problems, still as I've said before, if you're not having problems it's often best to leave well enough alone (especially on firmware updates where there's no going back typically).

No Video after update:

(from 3/11/2008 mail - english not native language)
" My Friend has a MacPro early 2008 2.6GHz 8 core and did the graphics update. (Firmware update)
But after the update he can't see anything on monitors, I do a vnc remote connection and get info from this mac... the update is susccesfull but still no output to monitor on dvi connection, even with dvi to vga adapter. What can i do to fix this problem?
PS: The default resolution found when i connected via remote is 1600x1280, (1600x1200?) I try with lower resolution but still no signal to monitors.
On Apple.com nothing to discuss about this...

(from 3/11/2008 mail)
" Until now I never had any problem with my 4-core MacPro 2.8 2008 Radeon 2600 XT and guess what... today I applied the firmware upgrade, put my Mac to sleep and when I just came back after an hour and woke it up, it rebooted... never fix anything which isn't broke, I should have known this! any idea how I can go back my previous firmware?
cheers, jako"

No way to backflash that I know of (unless someone posted the original rom for PC card flashers.) May not help but try the old tip of zapping the pram to see if it helps with the reboot on wake from sleep. (Old tip many have used for that issue since the 2008 Mac pros first shipped.)

(from mail)
" No improvement so far on my 2.8GHz MacPro. Restart on sleep doesn't happen any more, but the machine freezes, mouse cursor moves but doesn't do anything, keyboard inactive, hard restart necessary... Tried PRAM reset, no help.
(he later wrote)
Regarding my previous mail, I just found out that the problem doesn't show up when I start up from my original Apple 320GB drive with a slightly outdated clone of my startup volume (Raid 0 2x Raptor 150 GB). I'm updating my clone to do the test again with the exact same system. Maybe there is an incompatibility with my Raid volume. I would hate to go back toa slower setup...
Regards, Konrad"

Originally firmware updates for intel-based Macs would not work if run from RAID volumes (don't know if that's changed, but it was noted in news posts here in the past). Also Apple noted in the past that discs should be in GUID format (not APM for PPC macs) - since you noted a new drive I'd check to see if it was setup originally as GUID partition scheme. (Drives are still bootable if APM so this is often only seen down the road when the user tries to apply a firmware update...)

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