Intel ICH7 SMBus support, ichsmb(4)

Jeremy Chadwick koitsu at
Thu Sep 11 10:47:40 UTC 2008

On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 11:51:52AM +0200, Miroslav Lachman wrote:
> Are you still actively working on bsdhwmon and do you plan to support  
> non-Supermicro servers?

Yes, I'm still actively working on it -- it is in no way shape or form a
dead project.  Most of the delays of releasing the software are caused
by the following:

* No man page or decent documentation -- this is a big show-stopper
for me.  I hate writing man pages (I write them by hand; I do not
believe in using irritating tools to try and do the work for me), and
writing one takes quite a bit of time to continually look up troff
syntax and what not,

* Code comments need to be added and cleaned up -- I need to document
my functions better so anyone examining the source can understand it,

* Badly-written Makefile with lots of hard-coded settings and options --
I need someone with better familiarity with Make to assist in cleaning
this up,

* Supermicro not providing me some necessary details (such as how
to deal with the 5VCC/5VDD bug on some motherboards), resulting in
that specific voltage being calculated wrong -- I've looked at the Linux
lm-sensors project to try and get answers, but their code is absolute
spaghetti and heavily abstracted,

* Many testers not getting back to me with results of their tests --
I've mailed many of the ones who wanted to test, but got no response
from them, indicating they lack time or lost interest in helping,

* Some users requesting additional features too soon, such as: support
for a configuration file, customisable output, and ISA I/O port

I suppose a lot of these could be addressed if I released the code in a
preliminary fashion (providing folks the ability to help me with
documentation, etc.).  Hmm... Yeah, I should really get a beta tarball
up, and/or make a FreeBSD port for it already (since I am a ports

Also, I recently discovered that at EuroBSDCon, Constantine Murenin will
be giving a talk about the OpenBSD Hardware Sensors Framework:  This makes me makes me wonder if
the project is being re-considered for FreeBSD (it was committed to
CURRENT in October 2007 and then backed out after being referred to as a
"festering junkpile that does not belong in the kernel", reference:
If it is being reconsidered, I think it would make *much* more sense for
me to spend my time getting ICHx SMBus support working under that, since
the framework provides an interface for me to work with.

To answer your 2nd question: yes, I plan on supporting other
motherboards and products.  The reason that is on hold/back-burner is:

* I have contacts at Supermicro who can provide me full register
details and provide overall support/help when I need it.  I have none of
this with Sun, nVidia, IBM, nor Intel.  I can assure you that if I mail
the general "Technical Support" lists these companies have, the support
folks will /dev/null my mails, or simply go "What is this?  SMBus slave
hardware chip what?  What the hell is that?  Whatever..." and ignore the
mail because it's outside of the norm.

I do not believe in "randomly probing the SMBus" to try and find things
by trial and error -- the risks are huge!  People don't realise that
reading registers can cause interrupts or features to be reset or
disabled on the chip, which could cause the entire machine (or maybe
just the SMBus layer) to lock up.  I can assure you none of the bsdhwmon
testers will put up with those risks, as most of them are doing testing
on actual production servers and are trusting my "play it safe"

* I want to get a good, solid list of Supermicro servers officially
supported before moving on to a mix-match of other hardware.  I do have
very basic support for an AMD-based H/W monitoring chip used in a
Supermicro board, but there's no SMBus driver available on FreeBSD for
that chipset, so bsdhwmon can't work with it.

> I wrote you an e-mail in June about my interest  in testing thist
> project on my servers, but got no reply.

Hmm...  I've looked through my mail archives for all of 2008, and I
don't see any mail from you pertaining to bsdhwmon.  I do see other
mails (discussing GRUB, ATA problems, etc.) but nothing about bsdhwmon.
I was grepping for 'Miroslav', looking specifically in my mailbox
dedicated for koitsu at  Could you resend it?

> I have some Sun Fire X2100 M2 (nVidia chips), IBM x335 (Intel), IBM x336  
> (Intel) servers and one Supermicro X6DHP-8G (Intel) server.

Thanks.  I'll add these to my list of servers that I should try to focus
on in the near future (since you have hardware available for testing),
and mark you down as the contact I should refer to for help/testing.

| Jeremy Chadwick                                jdc at |
| Parodius Networking              |
| UNIX Systems Administrator                  Mountain View, CA, USA |
| Making life hard for others since 1977.              PGP: 4BD6C0CB |

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