Libreboot X200s Flashchip Replacement

Libreboot X200s Flashchip Replacement

In my first Libreboot post I talked about how awesome the project is and how I decided to order a Lenovo X200s on eBay to give it a try. While reading the documentation they talk about how the X200s using a WSON flash chip instead of a SOIC chip that the other laptops use. The downside to this is that they do not have a clip on programmer and it requires you solder directly to the pins. The author includes a note that you might be able to replace the chip with the one that comes in the X201.

http://libreboot.org/docs/install/x200_external.html#clip

For 8MiB capacity in this case, the X201 SOIC-8 flash chip (Macronix 25L6445E) might work.

Honestly this is not really a problem but I saw an opportunity to possibly help someone else and the project by giving this a try. If you were to brick the firmware after your initial flash you would have to open everything up and solder the board again. I ordered the two parts on Digikey: 1092-1065-ND for the recommended SOIC flash chip and 923655-08-ND for the test clip. It looks like you can get cheaper test clips online but I stuck with ordering from a single source.

The Process

The first step was to tear the laptop apart so I could easily get to the flash chip on the bottom. After that I wanted to carefully remove the original WSON package so if things do not work out I will be able to put it back on and not destroy the laptop. If you are new to soldering I would not recommend you try this project. The actually process of removing the WSON chip was a lot harder than I expected. You need to be careful not to get the chip and the board too hot. In the middle under the chip there is solder that needs to be heated up as well as the pins.

wsonIMG_20160104_233619862

Conclusion

I decided to abandon the process because it was much more difficult to remove the chip than it was to solder wires to it. If I had a hot air rework station and more experience this would have been possible without destroying the board.

I was also able to successfully flash the chip before it was connected to the motherboard. I actually grounded pins 3 and 7 during the flash process instead of hooking them up to 3.3V.

I think I will save my extra chips to see if I can replace the 4MBit ones that are on the Gigabyte motherboard I just got off eBay… article coming soon.

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