LinuxBIOS on the Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4

Yesterday, someone posted a message to the linux kernel mailing list announcing LinuxBIOS support for the Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 board. The M57SLI-S4 is a higher end desktop-class board that can be had for around $120.

This announcement was reported all over the internet, in many languages. Unfortunately there’s quite a bit of misinformation doing the rounds – for instance, Gigabyte has not announced any official support for LinuxBIOS – let alone that they would ship a version of the board with LinuxBIOS.

That being said, LinuxBIOS support for the M57SLI-S4 is still a big deal, because it’s the first time in several years that a current desktop-class board runs LinuxBIOS.

I wish, however, that the author of this post had held off a week or two more. The code in the LinuxBIOS source tree is not complete yet – a couple of patches are still missing to make the code build. Also, apart from Dr. Lu at AMD, nobody has tested this code. While I’m confident that it will work, I’m pretty sure that some small changes will be required after the merging of such a major patch. Finally, the message failed to mention that this board does not have a BIOS socket – the PLCC ROM chip is soldered directly onto the board. This means that you have exactly 1 chance to get the LinuxBIOS image right – if it fails to boot you have a brick, and you’ll need to desolder the BIOS chip, and add a PLCC socket to the board. With the right tools and soldering skills this can be done, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Anyway; we got a couple of M57SLI-S4 boards this week. I hope that by the end of next week – with Richard A. Smith’s help – we’ll have them boot LinuxBIOS. I’ll report here, of course.

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