Sony^W PC BIOS madness

So I wasted most of my weekend messing with old PC hardware. Initially I just wanted to check some KVM/VT detail and needed a test system. I was under the impression some lingering Sony VGN-SZ laptop would fulfill the need. However, it turned out, that Sony disabled VT in the BIOS, at that time, locking the MSR bits. While some NVRAM tweaking should enable it, this procedure required some newer BIOS to be flashed for a determinstic, known offset to tweak.

First of all the Sony BIOS flash thing required Windows, which obviously was not installed on the machine. So I grabbed the XP copy shipped with the device and some hours later I had to find out that the Sony BIOS flash tool requires a bunch of Sony “support-DLLs” (to determine the machine model). So some more disc jockey-ing later, I finally had to find out that the latest Sony BIOS updates even require Vista!

All my time spent on just getting XP on the machine where thus wasted - and obviously I had no Vista around. I grabed the latest Windows 7 public beta and thanks god some hours later the Sony BIOS flasher was not so picky to complain about Windows 7 vs. Vista, but that the BIOS update would not be suitable for this machine!

It was only some more hours later that I accidentally found on Google, that the US version of the BIOS (PHBSYS-01041232-US.EXE) would not flash on this particular VGN-SZ2M, but the Japense (or Asia or whatever) version (PHBSYS-01041232-UN.EXE) would! I really wonder what the PC manufacturers think creating such a madness. Specifically with 40++ model variants you can go hunt the matching BISO for (not to mention the initial insane move to disable a hardware feature, such as Intel VT).

But now with the BIOS update finally done the biggest suprise is still to come: The T2300 CPU does not even feature VT!!! And this, while I even checked on the Intel website that it should. Turned out the cpuid identifier T2300 is no real T2300 but a T2300E. Yes, and extra E, indicating no VT. And I really wonder how such a huge, market leading company, as Intel can afford shipping CPUs not correctly identifying uniquely thru the cpuid, …

4 Responses to “Sony^W PC BIOS madness”

  1. TK Says:

    That post just stopped me from giving up on the US update for the VT hack

    like you I had the T2300E but have installed T7400 memrom napa refresh ($150 ebay) 3gb ram and laughing

  2. René Says:

    Oh you updated the CPU? Given the size I thought the CPU would be soldered onto the main logic board. A quick check with Google revealed it is just a regular socketed one that can be easily exchanged?

  3. TK Says:

    no wait asian one wont install either, says bios is current..

  4. René Says:

    No idea. For me the latest “US / English / International” BIOSs did not flash (not supporting that older SZ model), while the latest Asian ones did (still supporting older SZ models?).

    In the meantime I Ebay’ed the Sony SZ (which was my girlfriend’s one anyway), as we are both IT professionals and use VT/SVM for virtualization quite intensively.

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