BIOS Update instructions of PC Engines APU1, APU2 and APU3

This tutorial does not require serial access to the device.
As long as you have a PC and an ethernet port (or a USB-Ethernet adapter) on your PC you can follow the instructions in this article.

PC Engines APUs are similar x86-64 devices and their bios upgrade procedure is exactly the same. The only difference is the bios file you download from https://pcengines.github.io/ so be VERY SURE you are downloading the BIOS for the right APU device.

All APU1 will work with a file that is called apu1_v4.14.0.3.rom at this moment (version may increase in the future as they update it).
All APU2 will work with a file that is called apu2_v4.14.0.3.rom at this moment (version may increase in the future as they update it).
All APU3 will work with a file that is called apu3_v4.14.0.3.rom at this moment (version may increase in the future as they update it).

The benefit of installing BIOS updates is that you should get ECC RAM support enabled if your APU2 or APU3 has 4GB of RAM, and all APUs should get CPU boost feature, so the CPU frequency remains its normal 1 Ghz when all cores are in use but if there are tasks that load mostly one or two cores the CPU will turn off one or two cores and increase frequency of the cores left active to 1.4 Ghz, to increase performance on single-core workloads. While this isn't as important for OpenWrt as it is for pfSense and other firewall operating systems based on FreeBSD, it's still good to have it. Also newer BIOS versions have better support for SDCards.

OpenWrt default images ship with /dev/mem access disabled so the tool we use to update the firmware cannot work.
I assembled an OpenWrt firmware image with that feature enabled, integrating web interface and all other tools you need for this procedure.
apu-bios-update-openwrt-x86-64-generic-squashfs-combined.img.gz

Uncompress and flash it to a USB drive or SD card, insert and power on the device.
Windows users can use 7-Zip or WinRAR to extract the IMG file. Rufus can be used to write the IMG file to a USB or SD card.

  • Connect a cable from one of the two ports near to the USB ports (LAN) to your PC, disconnect your PC from any other wifi or internet connections.
  • Connect the WAN port of the APU to the cable/DSL modem, disconnecting the router. It should reach the internet through the APU device now. This process will take only a few minutes.

If your current network setup does not allow you to just disconnect the router and connect to a modem over the ethernet port, please check if your current main router also has an IP in the same 192.168.1.x network.
If that is the case, change the IP of the LAN interface of the APU device from its own Luci web interface at 192.168.1.1, click on Network –> Interfaces and click on Edit button of the LAN interface. Then change the IP, click Save, then click on the small arrow on the right side of the “Save and Apply” button, and select “Apply Unchecked”, the button changes to red and becomes “Apply Unchecked”, click on it and confirm the action. After it has started doing it, pull the LAN eternet cable from the PC, wait 10 seconds, connect it again and go to the new address you set.

Now you can connect a cable from the WAN port on the APU device (the ethernet port closest to the Serial port) to a LAN port of your current router. It should reach the internet through the APU device now.

  • If you want to use the web interface, go to 192.168.1.1 with Firefox/Chrome/Edge, click Login (don't set a password, we don't need it here) Click on Services –> Terminal, it will open a page with a terminal screen (this is luci-app-ttyd package). If it shows a “unable to connect” error message click on Try Again button or reboot the device.
  • write “root” as login and press Return/Enter key, It will now show console screen.
  • You can also connect with ssh to root@192.168.1.1, or through the RS-232 console port, the following commands are the same.
  1. check that internet is accessible with ping -c 5 8.8.8.8
  2. download the latest firmware image from the repo https://pcengines.github.io/ and REMEMBER TO CHECK IT IS FOR THE RIGHT APU (APU1 or APU2 or APU3) you can copy the link from the “Binary” list and then rightclick on the terminal window to paste it with (for example) wget https://3mdeb.com/open-source-firmware/pcengines/apu2/apu2_v4.14.0.3.rom
  3. You can check the current installed firmware version with dmidecode It will dump a big amount of text, we care about the first few lines where you see BIOS Information and the Version string.
  4. give the flashing command flashrom -w apu* -p internal:boardmismatch=force This command may or may not print a bunch of errors about flash chips not recognized, but it will eventually find a chip it likes and start the flashing process. When it has finished it will say verifying flash VERIFIED and gives you back the console.
  5. reboot with reboot or just pull the power and see if all is still good or you cooked the device.
  6. Close any open OpenWrt tabs from the browser and start a new browser session, retry connecting to the device in 20-25 seconds or so it should be accessible again.
  7. Open the Kernel Log and look for the line starting with SMBIOS to verify the udated BIOS version.
root@OpenWrt:~# flashrom -w apu* -p internal:boardmismatch=force
flashrom v1.2 on Linux 5.4.143 (x86_64)
flashrom is free software, get the source code at https://flashrom.org

Using clock_gettime for delay loops (clk_id: 1, resolution: 1ns).
coreboot table found at 0x77fae000.
Found chipset "AMD FCH".
Enabling flash write... OK.
Found Winbond flash chip "W25Q64.V" (8192 kB, SPI) mapped at physical address 0x00000000ff800000.
This coreboot image (PC Engines:apu2) does not appear to
be correct for the detected mainboard (PC Engines:PCEngines apu2).
Proceeding anyway because user forced us to.
Reading old flash chip contents... done.
Erasing and writing flash chip... Erase/write done.
Verifying flash... VERIFIED.
# dmidecode 3.2
Getting SMBIOS data from sysfs.
SMBIOS 2.7 present.
7 structures occupying 306 bytes.
Table at 0x77FB7020.

Handle 0x0000, DMI type 0, 24 bytes
BIOS Information
        Vendor: coreboot
        Version: 88a4f96
        Release Date: 03/07/2016
        ROM Size: 8192 kB
        Characteristics:
                PCI is supported
                PC Card (PCMCIA) is supported
                BIOS is upgradeable
                Selectable boot is supported
                ACPI is supported
                Targeted content distribution is supported
        BIOS Revision: 4.0
        Firmware Revision: 0.0

Handle 0x0001, DMI type 1, 27 bytes
System Information
        Manufacturer: PC Engines
        Product Name: apu2
        Version: 1.0
        Serial Number: 123456789
        UUID: Not Settable
        Wake-up Type: Reserved
        SKU Number: Not Specified
        Family: Not Specified

Handle 0x0002, DMI type 2, 8 bytes
Base Board Information
        Manufacturer: PC Engines
        Product Name: apu2
        Version: 1.0
        Serial Number: 123456789

Handle 0x0003, DMI type 3, 21 bytes
Chassis Information
        Manufacturer: PC Engines
        Type: Desktop
        Lock: Not Present
        Version: Not Specified
        Serial Number: Not Specified
        Asset Tag: Not Specified
        Boot-up State: Safe
        Power Supply State: Safe
        Thermal State: Safe
        Security Status: None
        OEM Information: 0x00000000
        Height: Unspecified
        Number Of Power Cords: Unspecified
        Contained Elements: 0

Handle 0x0004, DMI type 4, 42 bytes
Processor Information
        Socket Designation: Not Specified
        Type: Central Processor
        Family: Pentium Pro
        Manufacturer: AuthenticAMD
        ID: 01 0F 73 00 FF FB 8B 17
        Signature: Type 0, Family 22, Model 48, Stepping 1
        Flags:
                FPU (Floating-point unit on-chip)
                VME (Virtual mode extension)
                DE (Debugging extension)
                PSE (Page size extension)
                TSC (Time stamp counter)
                MSR (Model specific registers)
                PAE (Physical address extension)
                MCE (Machine check exception)
                CX8 (CMPXCHG8 instruction supported)
                APIC (On-chip APIC hardware supported)
                SEP (Fast system call)
                MTRR (Memory type range registers)
                PGE (Page global enable)
                MCA (Machine check architecture)
                CMOV (Conditional move instruction supported)
                PAT (Page attribute table)
                PSE-36 (36-bit page size extension)
                CLFSH (CLFLUSH instruction supported)
                MMX (MMX technology supported)
                FXSR (FXSAVE and FXSTOR instructions supported)
                SSE (Streaming SIMD extensions)
                SSE2 (Streaming SIMD extensions 2)
                HTT (Multi-threading)
        Version: AMD GX-412TC SOC
        Voltage: Unknown
        External Clock: Unknown
        Max Speed: Unknown
        Current Speed: Unknown
        Status: Unpopulated
        Upgrade: Other
        L1 Cache Handle: Not Provided
        L2 Cache Handle: Not Provided
        L3 Cache Handle: Not Provided
        Serial Number: Not Specified
        Asset Tag: Not Specified
        Part Number: Not Specified
        Core Count: 4
        Characteristics: None

Handle 0x0005, DMI type 32, 11 bytes
System Boot Information
        Status: No errors detected

Handle 0x0006, DMI type 127, 4 bytes
End Of Table

Example of post-update dmidecode output

root@OpenWrt:/# dmidecode
# dmidecode 3.2
Getting SMBIOS data from sysfs.
SMBIOS 3.0 present.
13 structures occupying 554 bytes.
Table at 0x7EE85040.

Handle 0x0000, DMI type 0, 26 bytes
BIOS Information
	Vendor: coreboot
	Version: v4.14.0.3
	Release Date: 08/10/2021
	ROM Size: 8192 kB
	Characteristics:
		PCI is supported
		PC Card (PCMCIA) is supported
		BIOS is upgradeable
		Selectable boot is supported
		ACPI is supported
		Targeted content distribution is supported
	BIOS Revision: 4.13
	Firmware Revision: 0.0

Handle 0x0001, DMI type 1, 27 bytes
System Information
	Manufacturer: PC Engines
	Product Name: apu2
	Version: 1.0
	Serial Number: 1159568
	UUID: Not Settable
	Wake-up Type: Reserved
	SKU Number: 2 GB
	Family: Not Specified

Handle 0x0002, DMI type 2, 14 bytes
Base Board Information
	Manufacturer: PC Engines
	Product Name: apu2
	Version: 1.0
	Serial Number: 1159568
	Asset Tag: Not Specified
	Features: None
	Location In Chassis: Not Specified
	Chassis Handle: 0x0003
	Type: Motherboard

Handle 0x0003, DMI type 3, 22 bytes
Chassis Information
	Manufacturer: PC Engines
	Type: Desktop
	Lock: Not Present
	Version: Not Specified
	Serial Number: Not Specified
	Asset Tag: Not Specified
	Boot-up State: Safe
	Power Supply State: Safe
	Thermal State: Safe
	Security Status: None
	OEM Information: 0x00000000
	Height: Unspecified
	Number Of Power Cords: 1
	Contained Elements: 0
	SKU Number: Not Specified

Handle 0x0004, DMI type 4, 48 bytes
Processor Information
	Socket Designation: CPU0
	Type: Central Processor
	Family: Pentium Pro
	Manufacturer: AuthenticAMD
	ID: 01 0F 73 00 FF FB 8B 17
	Signature: Type 0, Family 22, Model 48, Stepping 1
	Flags:
		FPU (Floating-point unit on-chip)
		VME (Virtual mode extension)
		DE (Debugging extension)
		PSE (Page size extension)
		TSC (Time stamp counter)
		MSR (Model specific registers)
		PAE (Physical address extension)
		MCE (Machine check exception)
		CX8 (CMPXCHG8 instruction supported)
		APIC (On-chip APIC hardware supported)
		SEP (Fast system call)
		MTRR (Memory type range registers)
		PGE (Page global enable)
		MCA (Machine check architecture)
		CMOV (Conditional move instruction supported)
		PAT (Page attribute table)
		PSE-36 (36-bit page size extension)
		CLFSH (CLFLUSH instruction supported)
		MMX (MMX technology supported)
		FXSR (FXSAVE and FXSTOR instructions supported)
		SSE (Streaming SIMD extensions)
		SSE2 (Streaming SIMD extensions 2)
		HTT (Multi-threading)
	Version: AMD GX-412TC SOC                               
	Voltage: Unknown
	External Clock: Unknown
	Max Speed: Unknown
	Current Speed: Unknown
	Status: Populated, Enabled
	Upgrade: Unknown
	L1 Cache Handle: 0x0006
	L2 Cache Handle: 0x0007
	L3 Cache Handle: Not Provided
	Serial Number: Not Specified
	Asset Tag: Not Specified
	Part Number: Not Specified
	Characteristics:
		Hardware Thread
		Execute Protection

Handle 0x0005, DMI type 7, 27 bytes
Cache Information
	Socket Designation: CACHE1
	Configuration: Enabled, Not Socketed, Level 1
	Operational Mode: Unknown
	Location: Internal
	Installed Size: 0 kB
	Maximum Size: 0 kB
	Supported SRAM Types:
		Unknown
	Installed SRAM Type: Unknown
	Speed: Unknown
	Error Correction Type: Unknown
	System Type: Data
	Associativity: 8-way Set-associative

Handle 0x0006, DMI type 7, 27 bytes
Cache Information
	Socket Designation: CACHE1
	Configuration: Enabled, Not Socketed, Level 1
	Operational Mode: Unknown
	Location: Internal
	Installed Size: 0 kB
	Maximum Size: 0 kB
	Supported SRAM Types:
		Unknown
	Installed SRAM Type: Unknown
	Speed: Unknown
	Error Correction Type: Unknown
	System Type: Instruction
	Associativity: 2-way Set-associative

Handle 0x0007, DMI type 7, 27 bytes
Cache Information
	Socket Designation: CACHE2
	Configuration: Enabled, Not Socketed, Level 2
	Operational Mode: Unknown
	Location: Internal
	Installed Size: 2048 kB
	Maximum Size: 2048 kB
	Supported SRAM Types:
		Unknown
	Installed SRAM Type: Unknown
	Speed: Unknown
	Error Correction Type: Unknown
	System Type: Unified
	Associativity: 16-way Set-associative

Handle 0x0008, DMI type 32, 11 bytes
System Boot Information
	Status: No errors detected

Handle 0x0009, DMI type 16, 23 bytes
Physical Memory Array
	Location: System Board Or Motherboard
	Use: System Memory
	Error Correction Type: None
	Maximum Capacity: 2 GB
	Error Information Handle: Not Provided
	Number Of Devices: 1

Handle 0x000A, DMI type 17, 40 bytes
Memory Device
	Array Handle: 0x0009
	Error Information Handle: Not Provided
	Total Width: 64 bits
	Data Width: 64 bits
	Size: 2048 MB
	Form Factor: SODIMM
	Set: None
	Locator: DIMM 0
	Bank Locator: CHANNEL A
	Type: DDR3
	Type Detail: Synchronous Unbuffered (Unregistered)
	Speed: 1333 MT/s
	Manufacturer: Not Specified
	Serial Number: 00000000
	Asset Tag: Not Specified
	Part Number: Not Specified
	Rank: 1
	Configured Memory Speed: 1333 MT/s
	Minimum Voltage: 1.5 V
	Maximum Voltage: 1.5 V
	Configured Voltage: Unknown

Handle 0x000B, DMI type 41, 11 bytes
Onboard Device
	Reference Designation: SATA controller
	Type: SATA Controller
	Status: Enabled
	Type Instance: 0
	Bus Address: 0000:00:11.0

Handle 0x000C, DMI type 127, 4 bytes
End Of Table

Before update

[    0.000000] SMBIOS 2.7 present.
[    0.000000] DMI: PC Engines apu2/apu2, BIOS 88a4f96 03/07/2016

After update

[    0.000000] SMBIOS 3.0 present.
[    0.000000] DMI: PC Engines apu2/apu2, BIOS v4.14.0.3 08/10/2021
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  • Last modified: 2021/09/14 15:16
  • by bobafetthotmail