Firmware Mismatch with FlexFabric Adapters causing Gen8 BL460 Blades to not POST

Having recently spent a week off-site to upgrade some blade chassis and add some new hardware, one of the more pleasant aspects of the upgrades was pulling some new HP BL460 Gen8 blades out of the box and turning them on. Not so pleasant was the fact they would not get past a POST, stopping with the following enigmatic error message:

1706 – The extended BIOS Data Area in Server Memory has been Overwritten – Smart Array Interrrupt 13h BIOS Cannot conitnue – System Halted.

What was worse was that this was happening to all four blades that I had inserted. Time to call HP.

The initial support response from HP was grim, suggesting all mainboards would need to be replaced. However it seemed far to coincidental that all 4 servers needed a new mainboard. A HP support guy was sent out to investigate further.

Investigation proved to be stripping the blade down until it worked, then adding bits in until it stopped working. The problem was soon isolated to the following components:

  • Ethernet FlexNIC LOM
  • HP FlexFabric 554M Adapter

Notably, the firmware for the 554M Adaptor (4.1.450.7) was different to the Firmware for the LOM (4.0.449.0). After a bit of juggling of parts, we brought both adapters up to the same firmware version and the machine then booted fine.

Which just goes to show how important firmware matching is 🙂