Hardware hacks – DEGXA cards for OpenVMS
As part of my project to upgrade my network to Gigabit Ethernet capability, I purchased a 3X-DEGXA-TA card for $469 from a vendor that shall remain nameless. Upon installing it in my DS10 system and booting, the system locked up after 10 minutes or so. Upon each reboot, the uptime was shorter and shorter, until finally the system wouldn’t boot at all.
When I contacted the vendor, their response was “well, it worked when you got it – call your service people”. As this is a hobby system, I am my service people.
I removed the card and studied it in detail, and as far as I could tell it was a generic BCM5703 card with a DEGXA bumper sticker on it. With the help of some resources on the net:
I determined that it was likely that the only difference between a card that would work and one that wouldn’t was the PCI subvendor / subdevice data. While it was possible to have VMS recognize the card by editing a VMS configuration file (as shown in the second post above), that meant that the system couldn’t netboot from the card. It also struck me as a bit of a hack.
I thought about obtaining a new NC7771 card and unsoldering the SEEPROM from the dead DEGXA-TA and moving it to the new card, but that was a bit of a kludge and might not work, since the NC7771′s available these days are rev B0 cards, corresponding to the DEGXA-TB. Also, the burned-in MAC address wouldn’t match the sticker on the card, a minor annoyance.
Broadcom does a pretty good job of locking down the SEEPROM, but I felt that there must be a way to accomplish this with the tools available on the net. I searched for various items related to the BCM5703, such as utilities to change the MAC address. Finally, I had enough information to begin experimenting. After a day or so of fiddling around, I came up with a system that works.
IMPORTANT: Use the following information at your own risk. If you break your network card or computer(s), don’t blame me. I have tested the procedure here on multiple cards and they all work, but variations in cards may mean that this procedure won’t work for you.
First, you’ll need to download the latest HP Broadcom firmware update utility from: http://h18023.www1.hp.com/support/files/networking/us/download/24056.html
Next, you’ll need a copy of the OEM version of the Broadcom diagnostic utility from: http://portal.atcelestica.com/public/global/suppchman/alpha/alphadw.nsf/downloads/000031/$file/B57DIAG.EXE
You will also need a utility to modify binary files. This could be as simple as the MS-DOS “debug” utility – it really doesn’t matter. You’ll also need a bootable DOS floppy, and an Intel-architecture machine to install the network card into to perform the upgrade.
Unpack the SP31728.exe file somewhere on your hard disk and copy the file 7771v235.bin to degxa.bin. Copy 7782327B.BIN to degx2.bin.
Using a binary editor, edit the file degxa.bin and change the bytes starting at 0xA4 to the new subvendor and subdevice by replacing bytes 00 CA 0E 11 with 60 1B 0E 11.
Using a binary editor, edit the file degx2.bin and change the bytes starting at 0xA4 to the new subvendor and subdevice by replacing bytes 00 D0 0E 11 with 00 C9 0E 11.
Copy all of the files from your work directory to the bootable DOS floppy.
For a BCM5703-based card like the NC7771, boot the DOS floppy on a machine with the Broadcom card installed, and give the following command:
b57diag -e b57kia -c 0 -t a35b35cd -f degxa.bin
For a BCM5704-based card like the IBM 31P6401, boot the DOS floppy on a machine with the Broadcom card installed, and give the following command:
b57diag -e b57kia -c 0 -t a35b35cd -f degx2.bin
Note: these commands assume that this is the only 5703 card in this system. If there are other cards, you may need to change the value of -c (“card”).