Firmware updates for Scan 3XS / ASUS servers

This page documents Chris's attempts to update BIOS and firmware on a Scan 3XS server, also known as an ASUS ESC4000 G3S server.

Why update the BIOS or firmware?

We have a number of these machines, and we've found that the IPMI console works on some of them but not on others. We've done a detailed comparison of BIOS and other configurations between a machine with a functioning console and a machine with a non-functioning console, and there seem to be no differences in settings in (BIOS) "Setup". However the machines have differing BIOS and BMC firmware versions. On a test machine (charles15) updating the BIOS seems to have caused the IPMI console to start working.

Updating the BIOS

  1. EzFlash updates the BIOS. Start it either by pressing Alt-F2 when prompted during the boot process, or from the "Tool" menu in BIOS Setup (which you get to by pressing Delete when prompted during the boot process). It will find a BIOS update file as long as that is present on a FAT-formatted USB key. The latest (as of July 2017) BIOS image has been downloaded to /afs/, ready to be copied to a USB key.
  2. A word of warning. Having updated the BIOS, the machine may well have changed its default output port to one of the GPU cards. This means that when you boot the machine with VGA connected, you'll see the ASUS flash screen, then the screen will go blank for a few minutes, then when the display comes back, the machine will be booting Linux. In order to switch the default output back to VGA, you need to connect the white monitor plug to one of the GPU card ports. Looking at the back of the machine, try each port on the left. One of them will hopefully show you the usual "press DEL to enter Setup" invitation while the machine boots. Once in Setup, choose "IntelRCSetup" then "Miscellaneous Configuration". Switch "Active Video" from "Offboard Device" to "Onboard Device" then press F10 to save your change and reboot. The output should then be back to VGA.
  3. Having done this, ensure that the serial console settings are as recommended in ASUSECS4000G3SIPMISOLConsoleConfiguration and try the serial console. This process made the serial console on charles15 start functioning for the first time.

An attempt to update the BMC firmware

  • Managed to make a bootable DOS USB key using Unetbootin. I then copied the firmware update files onto it. When you boot from the USB key, you find yourself in DOS disk drive A. Switch to C (Type C:) to see the files you copied to the key.
  • Running the Asus FLASH1.BAT firmware update batch script from the FreeDOS USB key reboots the machine. No update happens; just an instant reboot. The same happens when running just ASMC8 -release_date from the script (the first substantive command after REM and CLS). Ignoring this and running just the main firmware flash command (Yaflash -kcs E4GS1132.ima -preserve-config) produces firstly a confirmation that I'm running the YAFUFlash utility, and secondly this message:
    The Module boot size is different from the one in the Image
    So,Type (Y/y) to do Full Firmware Upgrade or (N/n) to exit
    Enter your Option:

    I don't want to risk bricking the machine, and the internet knows nothing about this message, so I'm not going any further with this.


Pieces of jigsaw

  • There is no equivalent to Dell's OS-based dsu firmware updater
  • There is no equivalent to Dell's Lifecycle Controller firmware updates.
  • There are no references to firmware updates in the manual.
  • The BMC is referred to in the user manual and elsewhere as the "ASMB8-iKVM controller".
  • The FAQ has advice for updating the firmware from Windows or from Linux:
  • Both methods use a utility called Yafuflash, which seems to be bundled with each firmware update image.
  • The download page doesn't offer a BMC update image if you select Linux. It does if you select DOS. The image is in /afs/
  • The DOS version includes a utility called Yaflash.exe. (This is a DOS version of Yafuflash.)
Topic revision: r10 - 01 Aug 2017 - 13:44:49 - ChrisCooke
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