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Feedback on Mac Pro EFI/SMC Firmware Updates
Reports last Updated: 11/13/2006 (Nov. 13th new Firmware Updates)


Apple posts EFI Firmware updates for all Intel-CPU Mac Models (Nov. 13th, 2006) Apple's released new EFI firmware updates for all intel cpu based Macs tonight. All have the same note: "This EFI Firmware Update fixes several Boot Camp, start up, and wake-from-sleep issues"

There's also a Firmware Restoration CD 1.2 update.
If any reader finds these firmware updates help with any problems you had previously, let me know the details. Thanks.
(earlier info follows)

On 9/19/2006 Apple also released EFI and SMC Firmware updates for the Mac Pro. (They should appear in software update, but here's the links from apple's support/downloads page. Note a reader said the EFI update appeared first, then after applying it and checking again the SMC update appeared.) Some recently shipped Macs may have the later firmware already (if so the updater will say it's not needed). Note as mentioned by readers (first reports below), the updaters will not run from RAIDed drives.

FYI - 2 Mac Pro owners mentioned you cannot run these updates from RAIDed drives. There's also a Firmware Restoration CD 1.1 available.
This page has Mac Pro owner comments on these updates.

Mac Pro User Feedback on the Firmware Updates: (later reports first)
If you update your Mac Pro and see any pros/cons from these updates, let me know. (Remember to apply both updates, although some newly shipped Mac Pros may have the latest firmware already. The updaters will not run from a RAIDed drive.)

(added 11/13/2006)
"Hi Mike, I installed the new EFI firmware update for my MacPro (3.0 Ghz Quad, 2 GB RAM)
Looks like this update also fixed a problem with Parallels - after a boot, you used to need to put your MacPro to sleep for the virtualization to work (Parallels would spit out a message saying so). Just booted back from Windows, and no problem launching any virtual machines now - don't have to sleep the machine for it to work. (hopefully that's really fixed - some others thought it was in the past but later said it wasn't.-Mike)

I have the ATI X1900 video card and a 23" ACD (the older ADC version with an Apple ADC-DVI adapter). Now when I boot to WinXP, the VGA screen - the "Windows XP splash screen" - comes up during the boot.
Before I had no picture until the hi-res graphics kicked in. I had to install with an old CRT monitor attached - I'll bet that's fixed too.
-Jack"

Interesting - we'd assumed an X1900 card firmware update would be needed to fix the problem of no video during WinXP boot with X1900/23in Cinema Displays. (Common problem with that combo mentioned previously on the BootCamp reports/tips page here.)
If any Mac Pro owner with a DVI (Alum) 23in Cinema Display finds the firmware update helps with the no video during WinXP Boot let me know. (Also if you've not updated the Mac Pro fimware yet, take a note on the ATI X1900 card's firmware version also before and after. (From the description it shouldn't be changing that but just wondering...)


Note: Reports below are on the Sept. 19th, 2006 Firmware upates, not the later Nov. 2006 EFI update)

(added 10/3/2006)
"I am having a weird issue after applying both firmware updates. My caps lock key will randomly flash. While it is flashing the mouse will freeze. This is a minor problem until you are trying to do things like play games in Windows XP and it freezes the whole screen.
(Does it happen also in OS X?-Mike) Tried two apple keyboards just to see if it was a hardware issue but it happens on both which leads me to believe this must be an issue with the firmware updates.
-Aaron B. "

Anyone else see this? (Does activity monitor or the system log show anything unusual/related to this?)


(added 10/3/2006)
"I've installed both the firmware updates on my Mac Pro, hoping it would fix a sleep issue that it has been having. No luck, it still has trouble going to sleep.

If I tell the machine to go to sleep (using the menu, or key combination), it will sleep, and then anything from 5 to 20 seconds later, the machine roars to life again. However, if I leave it to go to sleep after a 1 hour inactivity timer, the machine stays asleep.

I've tried disconnecting the power to the monitors completely, then putting the machine to sleep a few minutes later - it still wakes up almost immediately, so I don't think it is a monitor problem.

Repeated attempts to put it to sleep will sometimes lock the machine up - video stays off, but the fans stay on, and it can't be woken. (check the system log to see if it has anything useful. For systems that won't go to sleep, it can be due to addons (either software or hardware, but even some software addons in the past have caused sleep problems)-Mike)

My machine has the Radeon X1900 card, and I'm using a 20" Apple display and 17" Dell display. Nothing connected to USB other than the keyboard and mouse. I've tried quiting all applications before putting it to sleep - still has issues.

Is anyone else seeing this problem with their Mac Pro? The next thing I was going to try was replacing the monitors, keyboard and mouse, to see if they are causing the problem. I'll also try disconnecting the network cable before sleep... although I'm pretty sure there are no magic packets arriving. Thanks for a great website,
-Matt. "

I asked Matt to also see if there was a "wake on network access" (energy saver) prefs setting enabled.


An owner with a new Mac Pro (arrived recently) said his SMC firmware was already the new version (per apple 1.7f8) and that the VT-x issue wasn't fixed. (Another Mac Pro owner reported yesterday these updates did fix that problem, no longer needing the sleep/wake workaround, although others said it wasn't fixed.)

(added 9/20/2006)
"The 9/19/2006 Mac Pro firmware update does not seem resolve the VT-x issue for me. I still need to put the machine to sleep to enable VT-x for Parallels, and it's still disabled with Boot Camp (VMWare Workstation 5.5.2 reports 64-bit extensions are not enabled when trying to run a 64-bit guest).
(NOTE: One of the readers (Paul) that originally said the VT-x issue -wasn't- fixed later said after a reboot it was OK, no longer needing the Sleep/Wake workaround.-Mike)

According to the firmware update utility the update was successful, it won't allow me to run it again. And the Boot ROM version is updated in the System Profiler. Bummer.
(I asked if he also applied the SMC firmware update, not just the EFI one-Mike)
Thanks for the tip. I installed the firmware update and attempted to install the SMC update, but the installer told me that the SMC update was not required ("This computer does not need this update."). I just tried it again to be sure.
(I asked what SMC firmware version ASP showed he has in case it was a new shipment that already had the latest. Apple noted the new version is 1.7f8 on the download page-Mike)
System Profiler reports SMC Version 1.7f8.
Not sure how I got it, but I did just get my Mac Pro last Thursday.
Boot ROM is MP11.005C.B01 which should be the correct version as well. Very odd, and quite annoying because I really do have a need to run 64-bit guest operating systems in VMWare Workstation 5.5 running under XP SP2 in Boot Camp on the Mac Pro. I can live with sleeping the Mac to make Parallels work better, but I haven't found a suitable workaround for Boot Camp. Sleeping Windows does not have the same effect.

I previously did the slipstreamed install of XP SP2 with the Intel SATA drivers, so I can't tell whether the firmware update had any effect on that (other than it's still working in DMA mode so it didn't break anything).

I also was never able to get the workaround using rEFIt to set the configuration register to work either, so possibly that might have had an adverse effect on my firmware update. Not sure yet.
-Rick "

I thought I remember an early report on rEFIt causing problems with applying firmware updates (from back in the spring IIRC, unless I'm thinking of a different similarly named util and it may have been updated since then).
Here's another Mac Pro owner saying the VT-x issue was fixed by the updates.


(added 9/20/2006)
" The updates solved my Parallels issues. (a reader last night said these updates fixed the VT-x issue, no longer need to do the sleep/wake workaround.-Mike) Prior to the updates I couldn't get an internet connection working with a virtualized XP, and I no longer receive warnings about Intel Virtualization Technology being supported but inactive. Parallels seems to be running fine now. (there was also a Parallels Desktop update yesterday)
There was a minor issue with IVT that surfaced during a fresh install of XP. It was apparently locked, and was advised to put the Mac Pro to sleep and then reboot the virtual OS. Since doing so, it's been working fine. I haven't yet needed to reuse the sleep/reboot fix.
Sincerely, Vasili B. "


(added 9/20/2006)
" Just a follow up.. my 23" ACD which I had lots of problems getting to work in Boot Camp (and finally did get to work) no longer does again under this latest firmware update. (I asked if he had applied both the EFI and SMC firmware updates-Mike)
I can't get it to come on at all under Windows, even though it is seen. Only the 20" ACD works.
I am seeing Ultra ATA mode 5 on all SATA drives now, where I was only seeing Multi Word DMA before. I am using the same slipstreamed install as before.
I did apply both updates before testing - the EFI and SMC.
I am using the latest Catalyst drivers (6.3?) from ATI's Website.
Now here's the odd thing: after a while I gave up. I put the 20" on DVI port 2 and the 23" on port 1 as it is my main screen. I resigned myself to using only the 20" in Windows.
I shut the machine off, went back in later to OS X, did some work. I rebooted into Windows one last time to work on something and lo and behold - the 23" started working.
(This is similar to how it started working for me before the firmware update before).
I set up the 23" to be the primary screen in XP, shut down, rebooted into Mac OS X and worked for a while. I then shut down again (it is imperative to completely shut down or neither screen will work for me under XP). I rebooted into Windows, and the 23" screen remained working.
I can't explain it at all. I can't duplicate the exact steps I used to get it working in either case, but at least it is working again.

I noticed no other differences with the new firmware except for the graphics issue and the fixed DMA in Windows/Boot Camp... the fans run the same, etc.
(Paul had previously said the updates didn't fix the VT-x issue with Parallels, but later wrote:)
I rebooted. I don't have to sleep/resume anymore to get VT-x to work.
-Paul "

The 23in Cinema display/X1900 XT/WinXP no video at Boot issue reminds me of some old (many years ago - OS 9.x era) tips for similar problems with some displays where a tip was to turn the monitor on only after powering up/booting the Mac.


(added 9/20/2006)
" contrary to Andy (report from yesterday below) the firmware update of the Mac Pro didn't solve the VT-x issue with Parallels. I was hoping it would, but since I updated the EFI I still have the same message until I put the Mac to sleep and back to work.
(I asked if he had also applied the SMC (system mgmt controller) firmware update-Mike)
Not yet... I just discovered in your article that an update was available. I just downloaded it and will apply it as soon as I got back home tonight (in about 5 hours) I'll let you know the outcome.
My Mac Pro is a Quad 3Ghz with 5GB of ram, nvidia 7300 and I run the latest build of Parallels (1898).
-Francois "


(added 9/19/2006)
" I just wanted to report that the Mac Pro firmware updates resulted in a much faster Windows XP installation and that the UDMA-mode of the SATA controllers is in fact enabled and working, even before installing the Apple BootCamp Drivers CD! (I asked if he had previously slipstreamed a CD using different drivers, which was the previous fix for the onboard SATA (slow) PIO mode issue-Mike)
Also, thankfully the SMC update didn't make the fans any louder!
Greetings, Alex. "


(added 9/19/2006)
" Mike, I have updated my MacPro with the new firmware. Initially, I tried updating it off my Apple Disk Utility dual RAID boot drive, but the firmware did not update. (another reader mentioned this also-Mike) I restarted onto my cloned single-drive backup and went through the steps noted by the updater and it worked. I guess this is not surprising since Apple does not support booting from a RAID. (on Intel CPU based Macs-Mike) Also as a side note, Firewire target disk mode does not support the RAID either.

I can confirm that this firmware does appear to fix the PIO mode issue. My Windows XP Boot Camp installation now shows Ultra DMA Mode 5 in the advanced tab for the Primary IDE interface in the Device Manager. This was installed with a slipstreamed CD with a working Multi-Word DMA 2 setting. So, the mode changed from Multi-Word DMA to Ultra DMA 5 with the new firmware. I'm not going to install Windows XP once again from scratch to see if the PIO mode is fixed without a slipstreamed CD. =)

Also, the firmware update does not fix the boot display issues with the Radeon X1900XT. It doesn't harm it either... I can still boot into Windows XP but get a black screen until the boot process goes out of the lower resolution mode as before. (However those with only a 23in Cinema display and X1900 XT said they could not even install Windows XP with that combo, as they never got any video when booting from the XP Install CD.-Mike)

(he later wrote)
To supplement my previous email: the firmware update has fixed the hardware virtualization problem with Parallels on my Mac Pro as well. I no longer need to use the workaround of putting the MacPro to sleep for Parallels to work with VT-x support.
-Andy "


(added 9/19/2006)
"Might want to mention that the EFI 1.0 update cannot be run from RAID (stripped, mirror, or mirror-stripe which seems to be popular with some Mac Pro owners).
-Gregory "

I assume the same is true of the SMC firmware update (don't own a Mac Pro personally.) If you've updated your Mac Pro and see any pros/cons from these (after applying -both- the EFI and SMC updates), let me know. Thanks.





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