BCM MX945GSE (Intel Atom) cannot install



  • I have been running pfSense 2.1 on an AMD A8 very happily for the last several weeks.

    I wanted a lower power rig, so I recently picked up this mini-itx dual GigE Atom board on eBay:

    http://www.bcmcom.com/bcm_product_mx945gse.htm

    I installed a SATA drive and 2GB RAM. However, I cannot install pfSense 2.1 (or 2.0) on this machine. I am booting from a USB drive created with the "memstick" image.

    [first problem] The pfSense boot would hang at a "UART" related line. So I disabled all of the serial ports in the BIOS.
    [second problem] The pfsense boot would hang at a parallel port related line. So I disabled the parallel port in the BIOS.
    [third problem] The pfsense boot would hang at a "atrtc0" (AT real-time clock) related line.

    At this point, I attempted a "no APCI" boot - this crashed with a fatal error. I twiddled various knobs in the BIOS, all to no effect.

    Has anybody installed on a BCM MX945GSE or have any recommendations related to installing on Atom boards?

    Thanks!
    -Geoff



  • @ghsmith:

    I have been running pfSense 2.1 on an AMD A8 very happily for the last several weeks.

    I wanted a lower power rig, so I recently picked up this mini-itx dual GigE Atom board on eBay:

    http://www.bcmcom.com/bcm_product_mx945gse.htm

    I installed a SATA drive and 2GB RAM. However, I cannot install pfSense 2.1 (or 2.0) on this machine. I am booting from a USB drive created with the "memstick" image.

    [first problem] The pfSense boot would hang at a "UART" related line. So I disabled all of the serial ports in the BIOS.
    [second problem] The pfsense boot would hang at a parallel port related line. So I disabled the parallel port in the BIOS.
    [third problem] The pfsense boot would hang at a "atrtc0" (AT real-time clock) related line.

    At this point, I attempted a "no APCI" boot - this crashed with a fatal error. I twiddled various knobs in the BIOS, all to no effect.

    Has anybody installed on a BCM MX945GSE or have any recommendations related to installing on Atom boards?

    Thanks!
    -Geoff

    Are you running latest BIOS?



  • I am running the latest BIOS (dated 2009). I am also booting the 32-bit version of pfSense.


  • Netgate Administrator

    You're not accidentally booting the memstick-serial image by any chance?

    Steve



  • I am booting the 32-bit memstick VGA console.

    After spending some more time with it, I am wondering if whatever happens after the "uart" lines in the boot output is the process that is actually hanging.



  • I was able to install pfSense version 1.2.3 to the hard drive. It worked fine.

    Unfortunately, after upgrading to pfSense version 2.1 via the web interface, it hangs at the same place it did previously during the boot. This is the last line I see in the boot output:

    atrtc0: <at realtime="" clock="">port 0x70-0x71 irq 8 on acpi0</at>


  • Netgate Administrator

    Interesting.
    There doesn't look to be anything special about that board and it's relatively old so I would expect it to boot without issue. Yet it does not. It has an option for 6 serial ports does your board have that? I wouldn't expect that to be problem and you tried disabling the serial ports anyway. It has a dual display with LVDS which is slightly unusual perhaps try disabling that if you can.
    I agree it's probably failing on whatever is detected after the RTC but that varies by board so it's hard to say what it might be. Also it's probably something that wasn't supported at all in 1.2.3 (FreeBSD 7.3) and is now partially supported by FreeBSD 8.3.

    It looks a little like issues people have had with USB3 devices (which aren't supported) but I doubt it has and USB ports. USB devices are likely the next thing to be detected though.  :-\

    isab0: <pci-isa bridge=""> at device 31.0 on pci0
    isa0: <isa bus=""> on isab0
    atapci0: <intel ich7="" udma100="" controller=""> port 0x1f0-0x1f7,0x3f6,0x170-0x177,0x376,0xffa0-0xffaf at device 31.1 on pci0
    ata0: <ata channel=""> at channel 0 on atapci0
    ata0: [ITHREAD]
    atapci1: <intel ich7="" sata300="" controller=""> port 0x7c00-0x7c07,0x7880-0x7883,0x7800-0x7807,0x7480-0x7483,0x7400-0x740f mem 0xfe4ffc00-0xfe4fffff irq 19 at device 31.2 on pci0
    atapci1: [ITHREAD]
    ata2: <ata channel=""> at channel 0 on atapci1
    ata2: [ITHREAD]
    ata3: <ata channel=""> at channel 1 on atapci1
    ata3: [ITHREAD]
    pci0: <serial bus,="" smbus=""> at device 31.3 (no driver attached)
    acpi_button0: <power button=""> on acpi0
    atrtc0: <at realtime="" clock=""> port 0x70-0x71 irq 8 on acpi0
    uart0: <16550 or compatible> port 0x3f8-0x3ff irq 4 flags 0x10 on acpi0
    uart0: [FILTER]
    uart0: console (9600,n,8,1)
    uart1: <16550 or compatible> port 0x2f8-0x2ff irq 3 on acpi0
    uart1: [FILTER]
    ppc0: <parallel port=""> port 0x378-0x37f irq 7 on acpi0
    ppc0: Generic chipset (NIBBLE-only) in COMPATIBLE mode
    ppc0: [ITHREAD]
    ppbus0: <parallel port="" bus=""> on ppc0
    ppi0: <parallel i="" o=""> on ppbus0
    coretemp0: <cpu on-die="" thermal="" sensors=""> on cpu0
    coretemp1: <cpu on-die="" thermal="" sensors=""> on cpu1
    Timecounters tick every 10.000 msec
    IPsec: Initialized Security Association Processing.
    usbus0: 12Mbps Full Speed USB v1.0
    usbus1: 12Mbps Full Speed USB v1.0
    ugen0.1: <intel> at usbus0
    uhub0: <intel 1="" 9="" uhci="" root="" hub,="" class="" 0,="" rev="" 1.00="" 1.00,="" addr=""> on usbus0
    ugen1.1: <intel> at usbus1
    uhub1: <intel 1="" 9="" uhci="" root="" hub,="" class="" 0,="" rev="" 1.00="" 1.00,="" addr=""> on usbus1
    usbus2: 12Mbps Full Speed USB v1.0
    usbus3: 12Mbps Full Speed USB v1.0
    ugen2.1: <intel> at usbus2
    uhub2: <intel 1="" 9="" uhci="" root="" hub,="" class="" 0,="" rev="" 1.00="" 1.00,="" addr=""> on usbus2
    ugen3.1: <intel> at usbus3
    uhub3: <intel 1="" 9="" uhci="" root="" hub,="" class="" 0,="" rev="" 1.00="" 1.00,="" addr=""> on usbus3
    usbus4: 480Mbps High Speed USB v2.0</intel></intel></intel></intel></intel></intel></intel></intel></cpu></cpu></parallel></parallel></parallel></at></power></serial></ata></ata></intel></ata></intel></isa></pci-isa>
    

    It doesn't have some crypto accelerator chip?

    Steve



  • Thank you for the information. It does not have any crypto accelerator hardware that I am aware of. It does not have USB3. I disabled all of the COM ports (it does have 6).

    My wife was getting mad at me for obsessing with this @#$% device, so I have decided to stick with my current AMD A8 with a 400W power supply for the time being. If anyone wants a cheap Atom board with dual Intel GigE NICs, I listed it on eBay. I can't imagine it is going to sell for very much. Good luck. If you get it working with pfSense v2, I want to know!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Atom-N270-mini-ITX-motherboard-dual-GigE-w-CPU-and-2GB-RAM-MX945GSE-/121285525063?pt=Motherboards&hash=item1c3d2e3e47

    -Geoff



  • I was able to install pfSense 2.1-RELEASE on the BCM MX945GSE by flashing a BIOS that is different from the BIOS that is linked to on the BCM support page for the board.

    The BCM support page links to this BIOS, which will NOT boot pfSense 2.1:

    http://www.bcmcom.com/admin/Bios/70701106.zip

    Just for fun, I changed the "6" to a "5" and tried this, which - amazingly - will boot pfSense 2.1 (I think I lost access to four of the six COM ports, but that is irrelevant for my purposes):

    http://www.bcmcom.com/admin/Bios/70701105.zip


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