Upgrading Dell PowerEdge R710 BIOS

A quick How-To on upgrading the Dell PowerEdge R710 BIOS using a USB drive

You will need to download the required BIOS from the Dell website, in ‘Non-Packaged’ File Format. I also used Rufus to create a bootable USB drive

R710 BIOS 6.4.0 – R710-060400C.exe
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/19/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverid=4HKX2

Rufus 1.4.12
http://rufus.akeo.ie/downloads/rufus-1.4.12.exe

Once you have got the above we can begin to create our Bootable USB

  • Plug in your USB drive and open Rufus.exe
  • From the Device drop down select your USB drive
  • Leave the other large drop downs as default
  • Label the USB drive if required
  • Check the 2nd, 3rd and 4th check boxes
  • Ensure FreeDOS is selected from the smaller drop down
  • Press Start

Rufus-Settings

Running the Update

Your new bootable drive will show within Windows Explorer, open it and copy your BIOS .exe download to the root of the drive.
Rename the .exe to something simpler, such as R710.exe (this will help later).

Insert the USB in to the server and boot, when prompted press F11 to Enter Boot Menu.
Use the arrow keys to highlight ‘Hard Drive C:’, on the sub-menu select your USB device and press enter.

When at the command prompt type in R710.exe (if you did not rename the file in the earlier steps you will need to use the original name at this point). You will be entered in to the BIOS updater screen. Follow the steps until completion

Forcing a BIOS Update

If you wish to re-flash your BIOS with the same version as already installed, or if you need to replace an OEM BIOS you might need to use /forcetype in order to force a BIOS update.

E.g. – R710.exe /forcetype

 

Dell MEM v1.2 and ESXi 5.5 U2

It would seem that the Dell MEM v1.2 will not install on ESXi 5.5 U2 using esxcli. It can apparently be deployed using vMA or VUM but as these aren’t used we had to look for an alternative.

The issue was with Dell who pointed us towards the following best practice document;
http://en.community.dell.com/cfs-file/__key/telligent-evolution-components-attachments/13-4491-00-00-20-43-46-01/TR1091-Best-Practices-with-EqualLogic-and-VMware-1.1.pdf?forcedownload=true

In summary they recommend the following.
– Use Round Robin
– Change from 1000 IO’s per path to 3 IO’s per path
– Change iSCSI Timeout values from default to 60 seconds
– Disable Delayed ACK

Dell have provided some handy scripts to get you started, here they are for ESXi 5.x (they can all be found in the PDF attached earlier in the post so please refer to this for full details);

Set all EqualLogic volumes to Round Robin and set IOPS value to 3 – this must be run on all hosts;

esxcli storage nmp satp set --default-psp=VMW_PSP_RR --satp=VMW_SATP_EQL ; for i in `esxcli storage nmp device list | grep EQLOGIC|awk '{print $7}'|sed 's/(//g'|sed 's/)//g'` ; do esxcli storage nmp device set -d $i --psp=VMW_PSP_RR ; esxcli storage nmp psp roundrobin deviceconfig set -d $i -I 3 -t iops ; done

Set a default so that new EQL volumes will inherit the correct settings;

esxcli storage nmp satp rule add -s "VMW_SATP_EQL" -V "EQLOGIC" -M "100E-00" -P "VMW_PSP_RR" -O "iops=3"

The above command will require a restart of the host before it becomes effective, once you have restarted you can verify the correct settings using the below;

esxcli storage nmp device list

The output will be similar to what is shown below, the parts in bold are what you are looking for;

naa.6090a098703e5059e3e2e483c401f002
Device Display Name: EQLOGIC iSCSI Disk
(naa.6090a098703e5059e3e2e483c401f002) 
Storage Array Type: VMW_SATP_EQL
Storage Array Type Device Config: SATP VMW_SATP_EQL does not support device configuration. 
Path Selection Policy: VMW_PSP_RR
Path Selection Policy Device Config: {policy=iops,iops=3,bytes=10485760,useANO=0;lastPathIndex=3: NumIOsPending=0,numBytesPending=0}

VMW_SATP_EQL (indicates its an EqualLogic)
VMW_PSP_RR (path selection is set to Round Robin)
policy=iops,iops=3 (shows IOPS have been set to 3)

Next up is to change the default iSCSI timeout values. “By default, the MEM configuration script will make an attempt to set each of these timeout values to 60 seconds which is the recommendation.”, so we will copy that with the below;

esxcli iscsi adapter param set --adapter=vmhba## --key=LoginTimeout --value=60

Replace ## with that of your iSCSI software adapter, for example vmhba33.

After you have done the above you will need to disable Delayed ACK, Dell don’t provide a command line for disabling this, so it needs to be done through the vCentre GUI – please refer to Page 10 in the PDF for steps on how to do this.

Dell do list a few other recommendations, around such things as LRO and SIOC but I have not applied these so I wont go in to detail on what they mention.

Hopefully this post will come in handy for a few people, as I know it held us back a bit!

Please check the commands before you apply them and also work with your vendor if you are unsure of the implications of changes some of the settings listed above will have towards other storage arrays, etc. 🙂

I will soon be posting about the VMkernel/NIC setup for this, as we have had some issues relating to that too – events such as APD! I will update this post with a link to that once it is ready

UPDATE: Post relating to iSCSI setup is here!