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Tech Inferno Fan

WARNING: HP ZBook 15/17 G2 has non-functional expresscard slot

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<i>This issue has been logged with the text below on the HP Support Forums at http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Notebook-Hardware/HP-ZBook-15-17-G2-has-non-functional-expresscard-slot/td-p/4962544</i>

The ZBOOK 15/17 G2 series looked to be the perfect candidate for me to do EC and TB2 testing with. Unfortunately it looks like the G2 series has a non-functional expresscard slot. Both my own testing with a 17G2 and that of @hishamkali with a 15 G2 here <i> where he says "I have noticed that the express card slot on my unit seems to not work</i> confirming this to be the case.

My analysis below points to the introduction of the Z Turbo Drive (x2 2.0 PCIe SSD) in the G1->G2 revision as being the cause of the lost expresscard slot functionality. The ZBook 15 G1 has a working expresscard slot as can be seen at http://www.tinhte.vn/threads/hoi-egpu-external-desktop-gpu-for-laptops-mo-rong-card-do-hoa-gan-ngoai-cho-laptop.2350894/#post-43575840 .

Wonder how HP will fix this since they are advertising the G2 systems with an expresscard slot? Will they install revised boards for affected users? Otherwise they could transplate a TB2 chip onto the TB1 systemboard. Though the use of a G1 systemboard means no Z Turbo drive functionalilty. Or else affected users could seek a refund and acquire a 15" Lenovo W541 instead which does have a EC2 slot and a TB2 port.

Analysis details below:

ZBook 17 G2 QM87 Southbridge port layout (max = 8 ports)

port1 (0:1c.0) @ x4 2.0 - Thunderbolt2 port. Running 4 lanes means cannot use port2/3/4.

port7 (0:1c.6) @ x1 2.0 - PCIe bridge hosting the wifi card and cardreader.

Suspect the missing ports are:

port5 (0:1c.4) @ x2 2.0 - When enabled port5 in Setup 1.30, it defaulted to x2 2.0. A HP Z Turbo Drive is a x2 2.0 device. . Running 2 lanes means cannot use port 6 since it's the second lane.

port8 (0:1c.7) @ x1 2.0 - expresscard slot. The only remaining port it could be!

That is the only way it could be since the HP Z Turbo Drive is a x2 2.0 PCIe link. REF: pg 16 of ZBook 17 G2 Mobile Workstation technical whitepaper at

http://h20195.www2.hp.com/V2/GetPDF.aspx/4AA5-4884ENW.pdf . The BIOS probably only enabling port5 when a Z Turbo Drive is detected.

And that then only leaves port8 that could be the expresscard slot. However, it's not enabled by the bios on bootup. I enabled that port and configuring it with DIY eGPU Setup 1.30 software yet still didn't see my video card attached to my expresscard-to-PCIe device being visible!! Though admittedly, there may be more configuration necessary to enable the port8 for functionality.

ZBook 15 G1 QM87 Southbridge port layout (max = 8 ports)

Now let's compare against HP ZBook 15 G1's lspci output at

http://lists.launchpad.net/kernel-packages/msg39581.html tells me:

port1 (0:1c.0) @ x4 2.0 - Thunderbolt1 port. Running 4 lanes means cannot use port2/3/4

port5 (0:1c.4) Probably @ x1 2.0 - no device listed. Suspect this is the expresscard slot.

port7 (0:1c.6) @ x1 2.0 - wifi card

port8 (0:1c.7) @ x1 2.0 - cardreader

How HP could make a revised ZBook G2 systemboard to provide a functional expresscard slot

If it so happens HP discover that the expresscard slot has mistakenly not been wired through when the G1->G2 architecture changes were made, then I recommend HP implement the Macbook Pro PCIe architecture in a revised board.

There the Thunderbolt2 port is attached to the Northbridge along with the GT750M dGPU rather than on the Southbridge. That frees up four x1 Southbridge ports. Then can move say the Z Turbo Drive to say port1 (as a full x4 port) in place of using those ports for the TB2 chip. The rest of the port layout can then be like the ZBook 15 G1, ie: port5 = expresscard, port7=wifi port8=card reader. That eliminates the need for the PCIe bridge introduced in the G2 series to deal with insufficient ports.

A short term solution of the missing expresscard slot would be to take a HP ZBook G1 systemboard and replace the TB1 chip with a TB2 chip; assuming they are pin compatible. There would gain the expresscard slot functionality but lose the Z Turbo drive functionality.

Another quick fix would be to wire the expresscard slot to the Northbridge port. That would even better the Southbridge port since it would be PCIe 3.0 (8Gbps) rather than PCIe 2.0 (5Gbps).

-----------------------------------------------------

2014 15" Macbook Pro with GT750M port layout

==============================

Northbridge

0:1.0 @x16 3.0 -> NVidia GT750M dGPU

0:1.1 @ x4 2.0 -> Thunderbolt2 controller

Southbridge

port1 (0:1c.0) @x1 2.0 -> nothing listed. It's the root port. Must be enabled for all others to work.

port3 (0:1c.2) @x1 2.0 -> wifi

port4 (0:1c.3) @x1 2.0 -> PCIe webcam

port5 (0:1c.4) @x2 2.0 -> PCIe SSD

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The G2 expresscard slot is hosted off the PCIe bridge

I've been advised that the G2 model has the expresscard slot hosted off the Pericom PCIe bridge, sharing the x1 2.0 link with the card reader and the wifi. Even if it did work, the bandwidth would be split across those devices which imho is not an acceptable architecture. The expresscard slot should have the full x1 2.0 bandwidth. So the disfunctional expresscard slot appears to be due to the Pericom PCIe bridge.

G1 Block diagram found

Finally found a block diagram of the ZBook 17 G1 system along with the full schematic. Don't have a G2 schematic but from what I know the changes are minimal - newer Haswell CPUs, the Turbo Z-drive (x2 2.0 PCIe SSD) and associated with that the *problematic* PCIe bridge needed to be able to host it on the HM87 Southbridge PCIe ports (max=8 ports).

This whole situation can be re-evaluated with this new info. We see the ZBook 17 G1 hosts the Thunderbolt controller on the expresscard daughter board:

LA-9371P.png

ZBook "Expresscard Assembly" containing the Thunderbolt chip + USB + displayport

The "Expresscard assembly" is a daughterboard that attaches to the systemboard.

The following part numbers were extracted from each of the system's HP Maintenance & Service Guide. Googling those I find a close up pic below of the G1 part with that big central chip being the Thunderbolt controller. It's a TB1 DSL4410 2xTB channel, 1-port "Redwood Ridge" chip.

My G2 has a 8086:156b chip on it, same as a ASUS ThunderboltEX II board of the spoiler closeup reveals is a TB2 DSL5320 2xTB channel 1-port "Falcon Ridge" chip.

6249_05_thunderbolt_2_ready_for_windows_with_the_asus_thunderboltex_ii_full.jpg

Wikipedia tells me the TB1 DSL4410 chip is 10x10mm but has ?? for the TB2 DSL5320 sizing, though it's likely again to be 10x10mm.

ZBook 15 G2 - ExpressCard assembly (includes activity LEDs and Thunderbolt port, Dual Mode DisplayPort, and USB port): 794579-001

ZBook 15 G1 - Expresscard assembly (includes activity LEDs and Thunderbolt port, Dual Mode DisplayPort, and USB port): 734287-001

ZBook 17 G2 - ExpressCard assembly: 794578-001

ZBook 17 G1 - ExpressCard assembly: 737733-001 pictured below

<A HREF="http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTA2M1gxNjAw/z/4RgAAOSwosFUWCA7/$_57.JPG"><img width=800 src=http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTA2M1gxNjAw/z/4RgAAOSwosFUWCA7/$_57.JPG></A>

{click to zoom}

ZBook G1 owners can probably upgrade to TB2 with a G2 expresscard assembly swap

It is highly likely then that G1 owners can upgrade to TB2 by just swapping in the corresponding G2 Expresscard assembly. It also means that users affected by this expresscard fault may opt to get a G1 model and do this swapover to gain TB2 + expresscard functionality. Then the only G2 feature they'd miss out on is the Turbo Z-drive (pcie x2 2.0).

The swapover would require removal of the keyboard (remove ODD + undo 2 screws) and palmrest (4+3+9 screws) to gain access to the top part of the systemboard where the expresscard assembly daughterboard attaches.

Full schematic for ZBook 17 G1

This is where the above block diagram was extracted from -> .pdf"]ZBOOK 17 G1 - Compal LA-9371P R03 [intel HM87].pdf.

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Hi,

I've been eying the Zbook 17 G2 as a replacement for my lenovo w520 but the cost is a deterrent for me. The zbook 17 g1 is available at much better prices. Can I get an estimate of how much it might cost to retrofit the g1 with TB2? And how complex would the procedure be along with the possibility of success?

thanks.

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Hi,

I've been eying the Zbook 17 G2 as a replacement for my lenovo w520 but the cost is a deterrent for me. The zbook 17 g1 is available at much better prices. Can I get an estimate of how much it might cost to retrofit the g1 with TB2? And how complex would the procedure be along with the possibility of success?

thanks.

I have already posted on my thoughts about the TB1->TB2 board swapover complexity, quoted below. Pls contact your local HP for part pricing.

ZBook G1 owners can probably upgrade to TB2 with a G2 expresscard assembly swap

It is highly likely then that G1 owners can upgrade to TB2 by just swapping in the corresponding G2 Expresscard assembly. It also means that users affected by this expresscard fault may opt to get a G1 model and do this swapover to gain TB2 + expresscard functionality. Then the only G2 feature they'd miss out on is the Turbo Z-drive (pcie x2 2.0).

The swapover would require removal of the keyboard (remove ODD + undo 2 screws) and palmrest (4+3+9 screws) to gain access to the top part of the systemboard where the expresscard assembly daughterboard attaches.

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@prosetheus, I'm speaking to HP about this express card issue. Turns out they want to test a non-public 'open' bios.

That suggests to me that they are whitelisting devices on the pcie bus. If that's the case then the tb2 board will not work in place of the tb1 board on the G1 system because it will not be in the whitelist.

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@prosetheus, I'm speaking to HP about this express card issue. Turns out they want to test a non-public 'open' bios.

That suggests to me that they are whitelisting devices on the pcie bus. If that's the case then the tb2 board will not work in place of the tb1 board on the G1 system because it will not be in the whitelist.

Hi,

started reading this (and also the HP support post).

I'm kinda confused.

I just got the HP ZBook 15 G2 (company).

I was thinking about selling my home PC and do this E-gpu project. But, seems like thunderbolt would not have full bandwith?

Can you clarify? I saw some other project here thru thunderbold with a 970.... so...

Thanks!

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Hi,

started reading this (and also the HP support post).

I'm kinda confused.

I just got the HP ZBook 15 G2 (company).

I was thinking about selling my home PC and do this E-gpu project. But, seems like thunderbolt would not have full bandwith?

Can you clarify? I saw some other project here thru thunderbold with a 970.... so...

Thanks!

The statement was about putting the TB2 board of the G2 into the G1 which will probably not work. Nothing about the G2 not having the full bandwidth on the TB2 port.

Tech Inferno Fan is using his G2 with an eGPU, just read his signature.

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This is an old thread, but this is a relevant contribution.

 

Despite the data telling me that this should not work, I decided to pull out my old PE4C V3.0 Expresscard to PCIe adapter (previously used with my Lenovo X230) and plugged it into the Expresscard slot on my HP ZBook 15 G2. The adapter currently has a Radeon HD6570 installed. To my surprise, the device was detected in Windows 8.1 (Enterprise, 64bit). I am using the latest BIOS (10/28/2015, M70 Ver. 01.13 according to HWiNFO).

 

Attached is a screenshot of the PCIe arrangement with the HD6570 enumerated at PCIe 1.1 with an x1 link. While this is the slowest PCIe gets, the slot is indeed functional, even if it seems that it cannot work at PCIe 2.0 x1 as nando stated above.

 

I wouldn't recommend this slot for eGPU use due to the very constrained link, but it can work to host a desktop sound card or another device where the lowered bandwidth would not be an issue, or to host a GPU for multiple desktop purposes (a Quadro NVS comes to mind).

 

The HD6570 doesn't share a WDDM driver model (1.2 vs 1.3) with my other video cards in this setup, so I cannot load its driver, but I will do my best to get another WDDM1.3 card that can work alongside so I can make sure that the slot truly works 100% with the latest BIOS.

Dual eGPU.png

Edited by Yukikaze
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On 17/3/2016 at 8:43 PM, Yukikaze said:

The HD6570 doesn't share a WDDM driver model (1.2 vs 1.3) with my other video cards in this setup, so I cannot load its driver, but I will do my best to get another WDDM1.3 card that can work alongside so I can make sure that the slot truly works 100% with the latest BIOS.

any news about? 

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