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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Rebooting an Apple Developer Transition Equipment

In late 2020 Apple made a giant shift, switching from the tried-and-true Intel processors that that they had been utilizing for years to their very own silicon design with the M1 chips. This transition was greater than only a contemporary coat of paint. These new processors had been Arm-based, which meant that software program developed for Intel CPUs wouldn’t immediately run on them. And naturally, that meant a number of work for software program engineers that wished their functions to run on Apple’s newest computer systems.

To ease this preliminary transition, Apple launched {hardware} known as Developer Transition Kits. These boards got here outfitted with the brand new silicon designs, permitting builders to have a platform on which to construct and take a look at their software program. These kits had been all alleged to be returned to Apple after a interval of six months or so, after which most had been despatched to China to be recycled. Poof! No extra Developer Transition Kits.

Or are there? YouTuber dosdude1 discovered that these “recycled” kits may very well be bought from China for mainly the value of scrap. However curiously, lots of them are nonetheless largely intact, which implies that they’re nearly totally purposeful computer systems. After buying one such package, with an A12Z-based SoC, dosdude1 got down to restore it and get it up and operating as soon as once more.

There have been a number of issues with the package that had been instantly apparent. The NAND chips, that are used for long-term storage, had been eliminated (in addition to a number of resistors and capacitors that function help chips). Moreover, and rather more concerningly, the PCB itself had been minimize — probably deliberately. In any case, the minimize triggered the internal layers of this densely-packed eight to 12 layer (the precise depend isn’t identified) PCB to quick collectively.

Whereas the minimize was regarding, it didn’t show to be deadly. There have been no traces operating via this space, so dosdude1 got here up with an method that concerned widening the minimize within the board, earlier than sanding it with a wide range of information. By repeatedly monitoring {the electrical} continuity between layers with a multimeter, it was attainable to file the board down till the shorts had been eradicated, after which cease earlier than any additional work was executed — going too far may render the board nearly ineffective.

As for the lacking NAND chips and supporting elements, the repair was a lot simpler. These elements had been merely scavenged from different donor boards and soldered in place. Earlier than soldering it down, the NAND chip needed to be formatted to be used with the pc. Lastly, MacOS was put in on the event package by placing it into Machine Firmware Replace (DFU) mode and operating the installer.

At this stage, it type of labored. However for the reason that authentic NAND chip, which saved the machine’s serial quantity and MAC addresses, was gone the OS activation course of failed. Fortuitously, there are manufacturing facility knowledge restoration servers that one can entry to get well this data, which is precisely what dosdude1 did. After updating the NAND chips accordingly, then reinstalling the OS, the developer package lastly got here totally again to life.

To finish the construct, dosdude1 match the board right into a Mac Mini case, related the antennas, warmth sink, entrance panel buttons, and so forth. The ultimate consequence was a fairly good Mac Mini that was bought for the value of scrap supplies. Not a nasty deal for those who ask me. Even when you have no real interest in attempting to construct your personal four-year-old FrankenMac, the video continues to be properly price a look ahead to the troubleshooting ideas supplied up by dosdude1.

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