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Revision as of 00:38, 16 November 2007 by Ward (talk | contribs) (TODO)
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The wiki is being retired!

Documentation is now handled by the same processes we use for code: Add something to the Documentation/ directory in the coreboot repo, and it will be rendered to Contributions welcome!

Which board do you have?

The GIGABYTE GA-M57SLI-S4 seems to exist in 4 versions as of 2007/05.

There is a version with a PLCC socket for the BIOS chip (socketed BIOS), but this might be a pre-production board since nobody has so far (2007/03) confirmed the purchase of a GA-M57SLI-S4 board with socketed BIOS. The mainboard photo on the backside of the GA-M57SLI-S4 box shows a ROM socket too.

There are 4 volume revisions, 2 with PLCC32 (v1.0, v1.1) (soldered BIOS) and another 2 with single 8 pin SOIC (SPI). All 4 have unpopulated secondary pads. For the PLCC32 versions, the procedure outlined below can be used to add a ROM socket.

A PLCC32 revision of the GA-M57SLI-S4
An SPI revision of the GA-M57SLI-S4


Device/functionality Status Comments
CPU works OK
L1 cache enabled Untested
L2 cache enabled Untested
L3 cache enabled N/A
Multiple CPU support N/A
Multi-core support OK
Hardware virtualization Untested
Dual channel support OK According to memtest86+ it works.
ECC support Untested
On-board Hardware
On-board IDE 3.5" OK
On-board IDE 2.5" N/A
On-board SATA OK A FILO patch is needed (see below) as LinuxBIOS is too fast and the disks have not spun up yet when LinuxBIOS is done.
On-board SCSI Unknown
On-board USB OK Tested: mounting USB storage devices and accessing files on them. USB MIDI-keyboard works, too (keyboard == the music instrument, in this case).
On-board VGA N/A
On-board Ethernet OK
On-board Audio OK Use modprobe snd-hda-intel (Alsa).
On-board Modem N/A
On-board FireWire Untested PCI 01:0a.0 (FireWire) shows up in lspci as of r2921, but needs testing.
On-board Smartcard reader N/A
On-board CompactFlash N/A
On-board PCMCIA N/A
On-board Wifi N/A
On-board Bluetooth N/A
On-board SD card reader N/A
Add-on slots/cards
ISA add-on cards N/A
Audio/Modem-Riser (AMR/CNR) cards N/A
PCI add-on cards WIP As of r2921 PCI 01:07.0 appears fully functional; PCI 01:08.0 (closer to the board edge) shows up in lspci, but no interrupts yet.
Mini-PCI add-on cards Unknown
Mini-PCI-Express add-on cards Unknown
PCI-X add-on cards Unknown
AGP graphics cards N/A
PCI Express x1 add-on cards Unknown
PCI Express x2 add-on cards N/A
PCI Express x4 add-on cards N/A
PCI Express x8 add-on cards N/A
PCI Express x16 add-on cards OK Graphics card works (but not with the propritary nVidia driver right now).
PCI Express x32 add-on cards N/A
HTX add-on cards N/A
Legacy / Super I/O
Floppy No Should work, but doesn't.
Serial port 1 (COM1) OK Serial console for LinuxBIOS and Linux is fully operational.
Serial port 2 (COM2) N/A
Parallel port OK Doing modprobe parport parport_pc works, but no further tests were done.
PS/2 keyboard OK Validated when booting with a PCIe VGA card under FILO and Linux; LinuxBIOS logs an error ("keyboard init failed") but this is not critical.
PS/2 mouse OK
Game port Untested
Infrared Untested
PC speaker OK Works with beep (use modprobe pcspkr).
DiskOnChip N/A
Trackpoint N/A
Touchpad N/A
Fn Hotkeys N/A
Fingerprint Reader N/A
Docking VGA N/A
Docking LAN N/A
Docking USB N/A
Docking Audio N/A
Docking Displayport N/A
Thinklight N/A
Webcam N/A
Sensors / fan control OK Sensors and fans work, see instructions. Some sensor readouts are off, and the pwm polarity seems to be inverted, but fan speed can be set.
Hardware watchdog Untested
SMBus Unknown
CAN bus N/A
CPU frequency scaling No Won't work as long as there's no ACPI implementation for this board.
Other powersaving features Untested
Reboot OK
Poweroff No
Suspend Unknown
Nonstandard LEDs OK HD-LED works. Power-LED untested.
High precision event timers (HPET) Untested
Random number generator (RNG) Untested
Wake on modem ring Untested
Wake on LAN Untested
Wake on keyboard Untested
Wake on mouse Untested
TPM Unknown
Flashrom OK As of revision 2958, Flashrom now works under LinuxBIOS if you have a PLCC version of this board. Flashrom works fine under the proprietary BIOS. SPI flashing support is on its way, but not 100% there yet.

Before you begin

The fact that the BIOS is soldered onto the board complicates matters considerably, because it means that one flash of a faulty image will render your board unusable (it will be 'bricked'). Top Hat Flash does not work with the SST 49LF040B 33-4C-NHE soldered onto the GA-M57SLI-S4, but might work with other chips (FWH). This means a hardware hack is necessary to prevent accidental bricking of the board.

This wiki page is maintained by Ward Vandewege (ward at gnu dot org).

If you're going to work on this board, you need a backup plan in the event you flash a faulty BIOS image. You have been warned!

PLCC32 hardware hack

If you have a PLCC32 revision, it is possible to desolder the BIOS chip, and replace it with a PLCC socket. You will need some tools (heat gun/pencil, good soldering iron, etc) and soldering experience to do that. The other option is to add a PLCC socket to the empty position next to the soldered-on BIOS chip. With an extra resistor and a switch, this allows switching between 2 BIOS chips. This has been documented carefully by ST; see his instructions.

If you don't feel like doing this yourself, you could try to find a commercial service to do it for you. One way to find a shop is to look for game console modification shops, they do this sort of thing (and more advanced things) all day and should be able to help you for around $50 if you bring the needed components (PLCC socket, resistor, wire and switch). Possibly a friendly TV or radio repair shop could help too, but they may not have suitable soldering equipment for the surface mount parts.

Once you put a socket on the board, you will also discover that the RD1-PMC4 BiosSavior does not work with this motherboard: the RD1's built-in chip seems to be incompatible with the mainboard. This means you will need to hot-swap BIOS chips until you have a working LinuxBIOS chip. Plugging your BIOS chip into the RD1 and switching it to 'ORG' does work though. I have used the BiosSavior to ease hot swapping; it's a lot easier to pull out the BiosSavior and replace the chip plugged into it than to replace the ROM chip on the board.

This is the list of BiosSavior resellers: IOSS. In the US, FrozenCPU seems to have stock (verified 2007/04). Eksitdata in Sweden also seems to have stock (verified 2007/03).

SOIC hardware hack

If you have an SOIC revision, you can add a second SOIC chip in the unpopulated position, and use a switch to toggle between both chips. Instructions can be found here here, and here are some photos. These instructions have been confirmed to work, with more photos here.


Flashrom works fine under the proprietary BIOS (PLCC32 version). There seem to be some issues under LinuxBIOS (PLCC32 version), see this this issue tracker ticket.

Flashrom does not yet work on the SOIC version of the board, but that is being worked on. It will detect the SOIC chip, but the read and write functions are not implemented yet (as of 2007-10-13).

Flashrom can write the MX25L4005 SPI chip, but just under propritary bios.


LinuxBIOS requires a payload to boot an operating system.

If you want to boot from the network, you will need to use Etherboot.

If you want to boot from an IDE drive, SATA drive, USB stick or CDROM, you can use FILO.

Another possible payload is 'linux-as-a-bootloader' (LAB). You will need a 1MB ROM chip (the GA-M57SLI-S4 comes with a 512KB ROM chip) for this payload. It consists of a (stripped down) kernel + busybox, which can then be used to kexec a kernel from disk. If your disks are playing up, you will still have a busybox environment on boot, which could be useful for debugging.

Buildrom vs. manual build

You can build a LinuxBIOS image with a kconfig-style configuration tool (buildrom) if you want to use FILO or LAB. This is by far the easiest way to build a ROM image. Continue to the Buildrom section.

If you want another payload or would like to get closer to the metal, you can use the manual build method outlined below under Manual build.


Skip this section if you want to do a manual build; in that case jump to Manual build below.

Check out buildrom:

 svn co svn://

Now configure buildrom:

 cd buildrom/buildrom-devel
 make menuconfig

Configure to your liking. If you use the LAB payload, make sure to exclude the kexec binary and boot menu from the initramfs, otherwise your image will be too big. Please note that currently only the FILO and LAB payloads have been tested. The other payloads likely require some more work before they will be useable. Patches are welcome, of course.


If all goes well, you should now have a ROM image file


If you are building a FILO payload, it will be exactly 512KB in size. If you are building an LAB payload, the image will be 1MB.

FILO payload

Skip this section if you use the LAB payload.

When using FILO in GRUB emulation mode, it's important to get a few details right in your GRUB boot stanza. This is what mine looks like:

title   Ubuntu LB, kernel 2.6.21-rc3
root    (hd4,0)
kernel    /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.21-rc3 root=/dev/sda1 ro acpi_use_timer_override console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200

Note the root device - FILO sees the first sata device as hd4.

In order to get serial output from GRUB, you will also need to add something like this to your menu.lst:

 # serial port 0
 serial --unit=0 --speed=115200
 terminal --timeout=15 serial console

LAB payload

Skip this section if you use the FILO payload.

The LAB payload expects a file /lab.conf on /dev/sda1 with contents like this:

 CMDLINE="root=/dev/sda1 ro console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200"

This is the kernel that you will be running after boot. It will be kexec'ed by the kernel that is burned into your ROM chip.

You will also need a statically linked copy of kexec, which the LAB payload expects to reside at


If you are on a Debian-based system, you can easily recompile your kexec package to be statically linked by following these instructions:

 cd /usr/src
 apt-get source kexec-tools
 export LDFLAGS="-static"

Now edit kexec-tools-1.101-kdump10/kexec-tools-1.101/kexec/Makefile, change line 53 to


(you're adding the LDFLAGS variable)

 cd kexec-tools-1.101-kdump10 
 dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -b
 cd ..
 dpkg -i kexec-tools_1.101-kdump10-2ubuntu2_i386.deb

Adjust the package name as necessary for your distribution. You can tell if your copy of kexec is statically linked by running 'file' on it:

 file /sbin/kexec 

If all is well, you will see something like this:

 /sbin/kexec: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), for GNU/Linux 2.2.0, statically linked, for GNU/Linux 2.2.0, stripped

The binary will also be considerably larger than its dynamically linked cousin.

Note that you must build a 32-bit version of kexec, because buildrom puts a 32 bit kernel into the ROM image. A 32-bit kexec can kexec into a 64 bit kernel, so if your system is 64 bit this will work just fine.

The LAB code currently expects lab.conf and kexec to live in / on /dev/sda1.

Manual build

Skip this section if you used buildrom; in that case jump to Burning LinuxBIOS below.

Building the payload

In order to boot from a SATA disk, we use FILO.

Once you've downloaded FILO, you will need to put a file 'Config' in its root tree. An example can be found in the distribution, called 'defconfig'.

You can configure FILO to load GRUB. Here's my Config, which does that:

 # Use grub instead of autoboot?
 # Grub menu.lst path
 MENULST_FILE = "hde1:/grub/menu.lst"
 # Driver for hard disk, CompactFlash, and CD-ROM on IDE bus
 # Add a short delay when polling status registers
 # (required on some broken SATA controllers)
 # Driver for USB Storage
 # VGA text console
 # Enable the serial console
 # Serial console; real external serial port
 SERIAL_SPEED = 115200
 # Filesystems
 FSYS_ISO9660 = 1
 # Support for boot disk image in bootable CD-ROM (El Torito)
 # PCI support
 # Enable this to scan PCI busses above bus 0
 # AMD64 based boards do need this.
 # Loader for standard Linux kernel image, a.k.a. /vmlinuz

Because physical disks take a while to spin up, I've had to add an extra delay to FILO:

Index: main/filo.c
--- main/filo.c (revision 34)
+++ main/filo.c (working copy)
@@ -60,6 +60,7 @@
     /* Initialize */
+    delay(5);
     return 0;

This will make FILO wait 5 seconds before probing the disks, making sure that the SATA disk is ready.

In order to get serial output from GRUB, you will also need to add something like this to your menu.lst:

 # serial port 0
 serial --unit=0 --speed=115200
 terminal --timeout=15 serial console

Now execute 'make', which will generate a filo.elf file that will be your payload. You will need to refer to this file to build LinuxBIOS as explained below, because it gets included in the LinuxBIOS ROM image.

Your menu.lst entry

When using FILO in GRUB emulation mode, it's important to get a few details right in your GRUB boot stanza. This is what mine looks like:

title   Ubuntu LB, kernel 2.6.21-rc3
root    (hd4,0)
kernel    /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.21-rc3 root=/dev/sda1 ro acpi_use_timer_override console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200

Note the root device - FILO sees the first sata device as hd4.

Also, the GA-M57SLI-S4 will not boot unless you add acpi_use_timer_override as a kernel option - and use a modern kernel (tested on and up). Hopefully this will be fixed in newer kernels. If you have a somewhat older kernel (tested with 2.6.16 and up), add these options: apic=debug acpi_dbg_level=0xffffffff pci=noacpi,routeirq snd-hda-intel.enable_msi=1.

Current status of the LinuxBIOSv2 tree

Use revision 2619 or higher.

Building LinuxBIOS

Make sure that the path to your payload is correct, by editing


and updating all the lines that start with 'payload'. There are 2 occurrences, one for the normal image, and one for the fallback image.

If you get compilation errors, you may need to disable the stack protector that is now enabled by default in the version of GCC shipped with some newer distros. See the stack protector page.

Now build a target directory:

 cd targets
 ./buildtarget gigabyte/m57sli

Finally build the image:

 cd gigabyte/m57sli/m57sli

This will generate a linuxbios.rom image, which is 512KB large. That's the file that should be burned into your BIOS chip.

Burning LinuxBIOS

Make SURE that you have a fallback position: a ROM chip with backup copy of your factory ROM image (you can make one with flashrom), and either a socket on the board to plug the backup chip into, or the tools and skills to remove a 'bricked' BIOS chip from the board and replace it with a socket for the backup chip.

If you do not prepare properly, you are likely to brick your motherboard. You have been warned!

You can use flashrom from the LinuxBIOS v2 tree to burn the image:

 util/flashrom/flashrom -v -w linuxbios.rom

(that's assuming the image is called linuxbios.rom; if you used buildrom it would be called gigabyte-m57sli.rom and live in the 'deploy' subdirectory).


  • ACPI support is not implemented yet. This is a fairly major problem, and needs to be addressed soon.
  • All PCI and PCI Express slots are now functional, but it seems like the PCI slot on the edge of the board and at least one of the PCI Express slots does not get interrupts yet. This is being investigated.
  • There is also still an issue with I2C, which causes X startup to be very slow. You can bypass this problem by adding
 Option   "NoDDC2"
to your "Device" section.

If you can help out with these issues, please join the mailing list and let us know!

GNU head This work is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or any later version. This work is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.