Tyan Toledo q35T S5220 motherboard and FreeBSD

This is a short recap of experiences with FreeBSD on the Tyan q35T S5220 server motherboard. I had not seen a similar post elsewhere on the net so I put this together in an effort to help others who might have this board.
 
Before you begin, make sure you have the latest BIOS from Tyan. They don't distribute it on bootable media, so you probably have to hack around placing the BIOS files on a bootable CD image from www.bootdisk.com.
 
With FreeBSD 7.0, the first thing I saw was that the boot process hung and did not complete when starting from a CD on the PATA/IDE chain. It does successfully complete the bootup and launch sysinstall for FreeBSD 8.0 (200812 snapshot) but that's another story since I want to run 7.X for now.
 
My goal was to run the root disk as a 500GB PATA/IDE drive. I had this on the PATA interface with a DVD-ROM, both using cable select. After research and testing with 8.0 as well as Linux to get a better feel for the hardware, the first thing to know is that the PATA (IDE) controller uses an ITE 8213 chipset. This has not been supported in FreeBSD until a commit to the 7.0-STABLE branch after release (in October 2008).
 
Given the recent support for this I figured there was an issue with the DVDROM that was on this controller. I also have an external Plextor PX-716UF. I figured USB support would be better so I booted the 7.1-RC1 install CD from this drive instead. I launched all the way into sysinstall this time and was able to successfully start the installation from the Plextor. I am still unsure of why this did not work from the PATA DVD-ROM but I'll troubleshoot and file a bug after a bit of time getting the OS up and running. I thought I was out of the woods... but was foiled by many cd0 read errors and a failed installation. I re-burned the distribution CD in case my media had a problem but it didn't help so perhaps there is ALSO a USB problem.
 
I couldn't give up at this point so I figured that I would try the BOOTONLY CD and install via the network to minimize information reads from the CD. I booted successfully, configured the network, and installed without any read/write errors. I went with the minimal install just to be safe. After a reboot the OS booted properly with no other issues. This was cause for celebration.
 
All of this took many hours to figure out. The short of this is that if your FreeBSD install hangs somewhere, try installing from a USB DVD/CD drive instead of one on the PATA chain. If that still doesn't work, try the bootonly and an install from the network. That turned out to be the key to at least getting to a bootable multiuser system.

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