Overcoming Challenges with SuperMicro BIOS Updates

After far, far too long, I finally stood up my home lab to run vSphere 6 and an upcoming assortment of servers and tools. SolarWinds, Rubrik, and many others will shortly be churning away. First things first, though, the foundation needs to be solid.

My ESXi hosts are powered by SuperMicro X10SLH-F/X10SLM+-F boards that shipped with v2.0 in the BIOS. I thought that would be a really simple remedy after seeing the Maintenance > BIOS Update menu in the IPMI, but SuperMicro considers that a “premium” feature that’s separately licensed–and well elaborated upon by Bhargav here.

supermicro_bios_update_pk

Thankfully, Bhargav and others like my colleague, Chris Wahl, documented the USB-bootable option to save both time and money. In my application of their steps, I discovered a couple other helpful hints that I thought I would share here.

supermicro_bios_update_nf

The first challenge I faced was finding the BIOS update itself. The SuperMicro > Support > Downloads page says to search by model number, but when I input mine (X10SLH or any variant), I got the above “WE ARE SORRY” page. I tried the FTP site after that to no avail. Then I Googled.

supermicro_bios_update_dl

Searching Google for my model number led me to the product marketing page for the motherboard, which kindly included an “Update Your BIOS” link on the right menu. How nice! That led straight to the download page and the zip file I needed.

From there, it was by the book following Wahl’s steps. As his is from 2013 and the last gen of mobo, I ignored the AMI_1 vs AMI_2 installer caveat as there was only one option for me (AMI.bat).

supermicro_bios_updatesupermicro_bios_update_2
Lastly, be aware that once you power off the host, swap the USB sticks (assuming you boot ESXi from USB), and power back on, the server will go through several iterations of POSTing. For a minute or two, I thought it was looping from a bad/incompatible update, but it cleared up and proceeded after the 4th or 5th iteration.

Thanks for reading. Happy labbing!

3 Comments

  1. Guido said:

    Hi Chris, as your Mainboard seem to have IPMI you could also create a usb bootable image containing the needed files and mount it within the ipmi. Maybe not necessary on a single system but a good option with multiple servers and does not need buying the “premium feature :)”

    April 21, 2016
    Reply
    • Chris said:

      Indeed, I could have used the IPMI to do it, but since I have easy physical access and need not choose an alternate boot device (because I swapped USB sticks), I chose the direct approach. Thanks for adding that, though, Guido!

      April 21, 2016
      Reply

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