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Ask Al – How do I troubleshoot a Sun Fire V1280 CPU/Memory Board?

October 18th, 2011

Question:
I’m trying to upgrade my Sun Fire V1280 by adding a 1500MHz UltraSPARC IV+ CPU/Memory Board. But the system always hangs when it engages the Power-On Self-Test (POST) sequence during the booting process. My original configuration included a single 1350 MHz UltraSPARC IV CPU/Memory Board. I’ve tried a couple other 1500MHz UltraSPARC IV+ CPU/Memory Boards that we have around the lab and they also failed during POST. How do I troubleshoot this problem?

Answer:
Whenever adding a new component – especially an upgraded item – ensure you have followed all the required configuration rules and guidelines for the system. You can find these installation rules and guidelines in the On-Line! Detective. For the scenario you’re experiencing, click on the “Servers” tab within the top menu and then click on “Sun Fire V1280″ in the left-hand menu.

Scroll down to the very bottom of the system’s landing page. Under the “Additional Information” heading there are several links that can be used obtain the component’s configuration rules and guidelines. You should always verify that you meet all of these configuration rules and guideline BEFORE conducting any type upgrade.

Under the “Minimum Operating System Notes” heading within “Additional Information,” you will see that 1500MHz UltraSPARC IV+ CPU/Memory Boards were not supported until Sun released Solaris 9 9/05. Ensure you are running Solaris 9 9/05 at a minimum. If you’re not, halt the CPU/Memory Board upgrade.

This is just one factor involved when ensuring your system is capable of handling newer 1500MHz UltraSPARC IV+ CPU/Memory Boards. From the situation you described, however, it’s a good bet the problem is probably a system firmware compatibility issue because the system is failing during POST and before Solaris has even been loaded.

To determine which firmware versions are compatible with different hardware configurations, click on “CPU” within the left-hand menu. This takes you to a page describing all the different CPU/Memory Board options. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the CPU/Memory Board configuration rules and guidelines under the “Notes” heading. Make sure that you adhere to all of these rules.

For example, these rules and guidelines state that 1500MHz UltraSPARC IV+ CPU/Memory Boards must have a minimum system controller firmware of 5.19. And another note indicates system controller firmware 5.19.1 may cause a Panic (BugID 6319704), use firmware revision >= 5.19.2. These two guidelines must be followed to ensure full compatibility within the system.

Notes are also not limited to being generic. If you know a part’s 7-digit part number, scroll up and click on the part number to receive notes specific to that component.

Determining Configuration Compatibility

Most problems that occur after a component upgrade are a result of software, firmware or hardware incompatibility. It is imperative that you follow ALL configuration rules and guidelines when upgrading a system. A summary of the steps required to locate the configuration rules and guidelines for any major component are outlined below.

1. Go to your system’s landing page by either clicking the “workstation” or “server” tab. Choose the system that you’re working on afterward.

2. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and read all the configuration rules and guidelines under the heading “Additional Information.” Make sure you meet or exceed all of the rules and guidelines specified in this section. If needed, click on some of the links for more information.

3. Under the “Primary Components” heading within left-hand menu, click on the component you are upgrading.

4. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and read all the configuration rules and guidelines in the “Notes” table. Make sure you also meet or exceed all of these configuration rules and guidelines.

5. Scroll up until you see the specific part number you are working with. Click on the part number. This takes you to a page with detail information about that part’s configuration rules and guidelines.

6. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and read the configuration rules and guidelines under the “Notes” heading. Make sure you also meet or exceed all of these configuration rules and guidelines.

If you follow these six steps every time, you can be reasonably assured you won’t confront an operating system, firmware, or hardware compatibility issue.

Always follow the FRU removal and replacement procedures in the On-Line! Detective for Sun. You will find hardware configuration rules and guidelines as well as installation tips and slot information.

Other Possible Problems

If you have followed all of the steps above and are still having hardware issues, remove the component from the system and check for bent pins or damaged connectors. Reseat the component and inspect the connection. If possible, try a different slot and try to isolate the component by going down to a minimum configuration. If you still are having problems, you can make a reasonable assumption that you are working with a faulty component.

Do you have a question you’d like to have answered? Email Allen at askal@stsolutions.com

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