Xyratex Autodesk branded RS-1200 5412E hard drives (Using most drives)

07 Feb

Well we picked up a “few” Xyratex RS-1220-F4-5412E Autodesk systems a few years ago, you know the ones with the AD22 firmware that is locked.
Total cost was $40usd for 4 including a shed load of spare controllers & drive sleds
The controllers are generally marked:
RS-LRC-F4-5412E-1024-ADSK 08 Mar-31 (happy decade!!)
RS-LRC-F4-5402E-1024-ADSK 06 21 (almost a teenager)

Unfortunately no drives were included.

Had a quick look on the internet to see if we could find anything on “non Autodesk” drives, mostly just people saying that the devices were locked to drives with a special FW AD02 or AD03
Others were saying there was a magic firmware AD20 or something…….

I had a few hours to throw at it the other day, since I was waiting for some new PCB’s to assist in a hack of the new Seagate F3 drives with locked down firmware.
We burnt some drives with a drive sig of XR36 & XR38 inserted them into the array but nothing was showing up , other than the drives were “unsupported”

I cannae change the laws of physics Captain
But it’s in here some place

Trying to load a Xyratex firmware into the Autodesk kit was a failure, there are specific checks & security to ensure that the kit stays as “Autodesk”
Invalid firmware
Invalid controller file
for both of the RS232 monitor commands (the Xyratex kit has a special RS232 mode connector on the back, which STUPIDLY uses the same connector as a USB socket)
Yep it looks like a USB connector ,but is is actually a cross wired RS232 connector

Just throw some shrooms at it
Yes if only computers were like people and could be drugged & made to do things that they would not normally do.
So after pulling some chips and a bit of physical hardware reverse engineering.

build my array
well here is a preliminary image:

Any of you guys familiar with xyratex will know that both these drive sets are not part of the actual “Autodesk” range… since “AutoDesk” requires a “AD” firmware prefix
you will see I even managed to update a SATA drive to the “XR38” firmware
Finally you can see we even have built mixed arrays of both SAS drives & SATA drives.
So it would appear that the upgrade attempt to a bog standard Xyratex firmware did actually work.

Interestingly the management software also changed screen colour and logo design…

AD22 firmware

NOT AD22 firmware
now this is really really interesting.. specifically becasue there was ONLY ONE change made to the firmware
All other firmware is EXACTLY the same, this one change was enough to trigger completely new logos & new behavior as well as a new name for the management front end

Screen capture showing the different drive firmware versions Two drives are not marked with “XR38” or “AD0x”


Leave a Reply



  1. Xyratex

    April 17, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    when will you show the rest?

  2. Thomas

    June 1, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I was just trying to do that same with a
    RS-1220-F4-5402E-1.7TB-2-ADSK can you give me any advise on how I can make it use any hard drive?

    I cant seem to even find the spec for the USB to serial cable?

    • Site_owner

      July 19, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      The diagram you need is called this:

      But be CLEAR it is NOT USB to serial…
      it is a serial interface with a USB socket!!!…….


      do a google search for :

      But basically……

      2(-DATA) -> 3
      3(+DATA)-> 2

      • Thomas

        November 9, 2019 at 2:28 am

        Thanks for the info, I really would like to get this to work. I actually contacted Autodesk and they sent me your blog link!

        • Site_owner

          November 29, 2019 at 5:09 am

          That’s some funny shit right there………
          Just knew I’m being watched……

      • Thomas

        November 10, 2019 at 6:43 am

        I was able to find out that I’m on firmware 3.1 Build AD05.

        I cant find any information any where on where i can get the updated firmware.

        Any help would be greatly appriciated.

        • Site_owner

          November 29, 2019 at 5:07 am

          OK… AD05 it’s a problem…..and very old

          AD indicates “autodesk”, which is a locked down firmware that uses “Autodesk” checksums to prevent non Autodesk firmware being loaded, it’s becasue Autodesk supply a “full set”
          1. The boot loader which you are looking at.
          2. The controller code.
          3. Specialist Firmware for the LSI chips.
          4. the internal webserver (stone direct)

          Do you have a chip programmer?

  3. mangelot

    July 17, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Can you please give us detailed information about your modification? or can you export the actual firmware for us, so we can use other branded drives with the unit ?

    • Site_owner

      July 19, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      Basically you need to acquire & load in FW 0025

      BUT……. it depend what version & vendor was loaded previously..

      since there are … shall we say … anti modification/ change pitfalls built into the software……….
      Someone went out of their way to obfuscate the code…
      in particular rather than using standard ways to compare strings..,
      individual characters are loaded into 1 reg…. transferred to another reg… then indexed into a hard buffer of the command to identify the command being used..

      • mangelot

        August 3, 2019 at 7:02 pm

        I have 2 Autodesk systems (2x 5402 controllers)
        1 Maxdata SR1202 (2x 5412 controllers)

        I have tryed to update the FW0025.bin trought USB but with no luck.

        Current boot firmware version is AD17

        Start XMODEM Download to RAM

        Download Completed, 265344 Bytes

        Validating downloaded boot firmware.

        Firmware Identifier Invalid
        Invalid Boot Firmware File

        Boot Firmware has NOT been updated.
        Version AD17 remains in place.

        Is it possible you put your the firmware online?
        are tell us in detail what to do?

        p.s. Because it’s hard to find all documentation and
        firmware’s online I’ve uploaded all our files from Xyratex and Maxdata software for everybody to use!

        download them here: no links

        • Site_owner

          October 22, 2019 at 9:57 am

          The issue is that autodesk & SEAGATE will fuck you VERY HARD…..
          I have a complete DL of xyratex FTP site and i very nearly got fucked for posting the info……

          as regards the rom code…
          There is specific code in the rom designed to ensure that roms can only be applied in sequence, they made sure that, the prior one would only accept the next one.
          Then there is the issue of the software, “storeview”

          There is actually 3 versions buried in the code, and depending on the rom, the right version is selected.
          (there is even shit for Fujitsu” switches in the code……..)
          AND.. there is hidden commands for engineers to do all sorts of shit.
          BUT….. and here is the BIG but…. “storeview” is licensed per version & option.. and it’s not just a simple case of “patching code” to enable the license..

          This shit is so ingrained into nearly EVERY routine….. that it is time consuming to find it.(over 100 routines and counting!!!)

          finally… these devices WILL NOT WORK correctly with any drive >2TB.. not just the fact that if you stick in a bigger drive it only sees 2TB, the size is MASKED not subtracted…due to the lack of address bits.

          Let me take a look at the files on your site… maybe we can go private

          Also :
          1. do you have a programmer for chips?
          2. do you have the firmware file AD17 as either (direct from chip or the fw_AD17.BIN)

          • Nicola Tomarelli

            October 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm

            Hi, can you please me contact in private? I’m interested in your Downloaded Xyratex FTP

          • Pedro

            August 30, 2020 at 10:12 am

            hello, i was reading the topic “xyratex-autodesk-5412e-any-drive”

            I have 1 xyratex rs1220 with 2 RS-LRC-F4-6412E-2048-ADSK, but dosen’t up start boot, and i cant find the firmware to recovery controller.

            and i have another xyratex rs1200 by Lacie with 2 RS-LRC-F4-6412E-2048-LAC, with the same problem, sometime up start, but i need try around 20 times stop/start to up controller.

            Please, can you help me with de firmware?

          • Site_owner

            August 31, 2020 at 8:09 am

            ADSK, means it is autodesk.
            You need to come in via the RS232 connector on the back. (they used a USB plug, it is NOT USB, it is wired as an RS232)
            when the unit starts up it will print diagnostic info.

            lets see what it’s doing

        • Thomas

          November 9, 2019 at 2:26 am

          Can you email your download links please im still trying to get this to work as well
          thharris at Hotmail dot com

  4. PaulB

    November 11, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    Hey, I currently have an RS-1220 with 2 F5402E controllers, both of which have ‘NO VALID FIRMWARE PRESENT’. I don’t suppose you have a copy of the firmware file for these?

    • Site_owner

      December 14, 2020 at 8:18 pm

      if the FW is gone……. then it can only be loaded back by either:
      1. a special loader, which I have not seen
      2. re-Flash the EPROM