The good news is that we were able to install the OS, that too the server unlimited license version, onto the hardware with surprising functionality out of the box considering the modern hardware we used (i.e. PCIe graphics, USB keyboard, SATA with IDE, relatively modern Gigabyte Motherboard, etc.). However, we are far from complete on the software to hardware compatibility front, now begins the process of working out numerous small problems that have developed.
Boot Loader Dependence
The first problem that we hope to solve (though might not necessarily be the most dire) is that the OS does not want to boot in the absence the CD iboot bootloader inserted to the optical drive. This has been explained elsewhere, but the way it should work is that the OS should be first be installed and run on a custom boot loader like chameleon. Then adjustments are made to update the hardware to understand how to boot OSX on its own. Needless to say, we have not succeeded in “syncing” the hardware and software in this specific aspect, it still relies on the iBoot cd to Boot into OSX. We have attempted to install a custom edited DSDT specifically for the mother board that installs chameleon along with it but booting into a standalone bootloader from the harddrive stalls the booting process. It does not even boot with -x, -v, -f, or any flags for verbose mode, flagged mode, single user mode, or safty mode. All that happens is Fans rev at high speeds and the computer stalls.
Other issues that also need to be addressed are successfully installing (made more difficult to accomplish due to the Mac+PC combo) the Radeon graphics/ audio drivers, the ethernet drivers (network card), the sound drivers for the rear of the motherboard (for some reason the audio cables which extend a stereo output to the case which has a stereo plugin on the front seem to be working. We do not yet have an explanation for this contradiction), and lastly the USB 3.0 and eSATA port. The good news regarding the video card is that it is practically natively supported by Mac OSX 10.6.5 and above. This card is amazing, it works out-of-the-box so long as you update the OS after the install to at least 10.6.5. Right now the machine is running 10.6.6 the latest version of OSX and both DVI ports work to 1080p resolution (could be higher but we do not have display to test it). The HDMI port works perfectly up to 1080p and even detects the television as it was designed to. However, audio output is not present from the HDMI port. There has been a rumor floating around that the card can output audio from the mother board’s SPDIF output if it is connected. The card has yet to be inspected to see if it even has this port available. The ethernet Works out of the box as well, so no problems with that. There is another rumor suggesting people have indeed gotten USB3.0 ports to work successfully, but the kext used are custom tailored to specific motherboards. That may prove to be slightly more difficult and even if it did work, we have no USB3.0 devices to test to see if the port even works. The eSATA port is connected to a 6.0 GB/s highspeed SATA port on the motherboard, which 6.0 GB/s data transfer is not supported by OSX yet so the port may not be working. We, again, have no devices to test to see if the eSATA port even works, and if it does are the drives that connect to the port hot swappable or not. More kext will be needed to address this issue.
Other than driver installation issues we also want to be able to upgrade OSX to its up coming version : Lion version 10.7.x. in the near future. Picture of active OS will be uploaded asap…
Side Note: Though this post may sound pessimistic, a lot of things ARE working. The internet is working that too high speed I am able to download at 16mb/s. I am able to project dual screen both at 1080p and the CPU is a power house. I stress tested it running 4 x 1080p movies, extracting a 15GB files by RarX, surfed the internet using Safari streaming youtube videos and simultaneously used the computer to open light applications. All this was very successful and without any lag! The Geekbench score of this machine was 8760 which is an understatement for what all it can currently do. Next step is to network stress the server have 10 users stream content from it, write data to it, and copy data from it while the server runs a GPU intensive and moderately CPU intensive task.
Update benchmark: The latest benchmark test by Xbench for mac has resolved to be ~261. This is relatively impressive considering it is a $820 hackintosh and compared to Lifehacker’s build for “under $800” which was technically a $1,123.92 build with a score of 303.38 (difference being: a Solid State Harddrive [better than ours], 4 more GB of ram than our build [better than ours], and GeForce 9500GT video card [theoretically worse than ours). The largest price and Xbench score contributors are the 4GB more ram (~ $65 more) and the 120 GB Solid State Harddrive on top of the Seagate 7200rpm Barracuda (~$250 more). I am excited to see how the benchmark scores compare after over clocking our CPU to ~>3.5 Ghz. In the near future, plan on seeing a new page regarding over-clocking procedures of the i7 870 CPU on the Gigabyte GA-P55-USB2 rev 2.0 F8 board.