Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seriously Dell, a BIOS Upgrade to Install a Second Processor

Most of the time, I am a big fan of Dell. I have used Dell servers for years and they work great and support is usually pretty good. However, I feel like I need to vent a little this morning about how ridiculously difficult it was to add a 2nd processor to our VMWare ESX server that is running on a Dell PowerEdge 2900.

So, after a failed attempt by one of our IT personnel to add the processor a few weekends ago, I was tasked with the job of adding the processor. Here are the details of what I was told happened on the first attempt:

- Processor was added
- Server booted
- RAID array went into degraded state
- VMWare dies loading and goes to maintenance shell
- Call Dell
- Download currently installed VMWare version
- Run re-install/repair on VMWare installation
- Try a bunch of other stuff
- Remove old processor from Slot 1
- Put new processor in Slot 1
- Server boots
- VMWare loads successfully
- RAID array eventually recovers from degraded state
- Dell sends motherboard

Alright, so now I have to install a new motherboard. Sounds exciting (sarcasm). So, I happen to be traveling to the location the next week so I schedule some time to come in in the wee hours of the morning to replace the motherboard. Today was that morning.

So, I get here about 4:30am and realize I don't have a key to the building. Oh, I have a badge that gets me in, but a lot of good that does when the door is physically locked. Anyway, I digress, I was able to get in the building and so I set about preparing for the motherboard replacement.

But, hold on, what is this error on the LED display ( E1118 CPU Temp Fail )? Hmm, maybe I should check that out. First hit on google, is this:

http://en.community.dell.com/forums/t/19274188.aspx

The post by YngwieJ sounds promising (thanks by the way). I happen to have motherboard BIOS 2.2.6. What a coincidence? So, I download the Redhat version of the BIOS upgrade 2.6.1, perform the upgrade (Oh yeah, I have to remove the CPU to get it to boot up because I had tried to add the old CPU to slot 2 since that had not been attempted yet. Long story, based on some other information we found online about processor stepping models.). So, the upgrade wasn't so hard, and once it finishes, I cross my fingers, boot up the server, the server boots successfully, and VMWare loads successfully.

Wow, seriously Dell, I cannot add a second processor without upgrading the BIOS on my motherboard. Maybe you should add a little checkbox to your testing form that says, ___ Add Second Processor. If you already have this checkbox, is it checked? If so, then you may need to look at other solutions.

Well, I feel a little better now. I am glad I get to ship the motherboard back!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that tip, David. I had the same issue (actually, my server would shut down during the boot process) and finding your posting was the solution. It is hard to understand what would have happened if I had originally ordered the second processor with the server -- would it have shipped with a different BIOS? Odd.

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