Figured out the fan control on the XServe ClusterNode

I spent the last couple of hours figuring out the missing bits of the fan/thermal control on Apples Dual XServe ClusterNode. Luckily it's very similar to the design Apple used in their Desktop G5 machines, so I can build on the work that Benjamin Herrenschmidt did with his thermal_pm72 driver.

So in case anybody is interested in the technical details: Eight fans are controlled by the FCU (Fan Control Unit), which is attached to a i2c bus of the Apple U3 northbridge.

There are three RPM controlled fans per CPU. The Left CPU (viewing from the front of the machine) has fans #1,2,3. The right CPU: #4,5,6.

The other two fans are not RPM controlled, but just PWM controlled... so instead of setting an RPM, you have to set a pulse-width between 10 and 100%. PWM Fan #1 is located between RPM-fan 3 and 4 (between both CPU's) and it's job is to keep the U3 chip cool. PWM Fan #2 is located behind the PCI-X slots and thus cooling them (too bad in my machine there is no card to be cooled *g*).

Regulating the CPU fans is quite easy, since there is a per-CPU temperature sensor, and also a voltage and current reading, so we can calculate the power consumption of each CPU and tune the fans accordingly.

For the U3 it is a bit more difficult.. I have not yet found a way to get a temperature reading for it, but I'm quite sure there is some temperature sensor somewhere.

As for PCI cards, there is apparently some way to read the power consumption - but of course again undocumented and not reverse engineered yet. As I don't have PCI boards in my box anyway, I personally don't care that much. But I should now stop arguing rationally, since a machine hosted in some rack-space is very unlikely to need fan control at all :)

I'll try to make a somewhat cleaner unified driver for PowerMac7,2 and RackMac3,1 and post a patch in the next couple of days.

I really wonder why Apple is not releasing their FCU driver source code for Darwin... it's really annoying. And I doubt they can claim that it contains any valuable intellectual property that their competitors are not allowed to see ;)