What’s new in Cisco UCS 2.1(2a)?

Cisco UCS B200 M3A few days ago Cisco released an incremental upgrade to the Cisco UCS Manager firmware, version 2.1(2a). This is more than just a bug fix, and it enables some new hardware, storage enhancements, and operational enhancements. Cisco finally enabled the SD card slot, found on the B200 M3 and other models. No idea why it took them well over a year after blades with SD slots came out to enable it. Spec sheets will no longer have to say ‘future firmware support’. You can find the full release notes here. 17 bugs have also been zapped.

Cisco UCS 2.1(2a) Firmware Enhancements

New hardware features:

•C22-M3L—C22 M3 Server with Large Form Factor HDDs
•C24-M3L—C24 M3 Server with Large Form Factor HDDs
•C24-M3S2—C22 M3 Server with 16-HDD Extender Backplane with Small Form Factor HDDs
•UCS-SD-16G—16GB SD Card
•UCSB-FBWC-1GB—LSI 2208R Embedded; Cache Option Contains Both the Supercap and the 1GB Flash Module
•UCSB-FBWC-SC—Spare for Supercap Module for LSI 2208R
•UCSB-RAID-1GBFM—1GB Flash Module for LSI 2208R
•C240 NEBS Refresh

New Software Features in Release 2.1(2a)

•Storage Enhancements

–Windows 2012 NPIV Support
–Single IQN for iSCSI Boot
–ESX/Linux fNIC Driver Enhancements
–SD Card Enablement Support
–Transportable Flash Module (TFM) Support

•Operational Enhancements

–CIMC Session Management
–Fabric Interconnect High Availability Firmware Auto Synchronization
–VIC PXE Boot Optimization
–M3 Board Programmables Firmware Update
–UCSM GUI Size Optimization
–Nested LDAP Group Support
–UCS Central 1.1 Integration

You can find the full downloads here. Be sure to check out the new 2.1(2) UCS drivers ISO, which has ballooned to a whopping 1.78GB here.

Cisco UCS 2.1(2a)

Cisco UCS Firmware 2.1(1F) Released

Cisco UCSContinuing the bug fixes for the UCS 2.1 firmware baseline, a few days ago Cisco released their 2.1(1f) firmware for UCS servers. Unlike the last two releases that just fixed a single caveat, 2.1.(1f) sports a number of fixes. You can find the full Cisco UCS firmware release notes here. You can download the B-Series software bundles here. I won’t list all of the fixes, but here are some highlights that jumped out at me:

CSCuf35678: When VLAN port count optimization (VLAN compression) is enabled on a Cisco UCS 6200 series fabric interconnect, traffic no longer stops if an uplink port channel port goes down. Around since 2.1(1a)

CSCuf60988: Virtual fibre channel ports are no longer error disabled on one FI when the server is rebooted. Around since 2.0(4a)

CSCud60746: The system no longer runs out of memory when Call Home is enabled. Around since 2.0(2a)

CSCug93076, CSCug93221, CSCug98662: The Cisco UCS B200 M3, B22 M3, and B420 M3 blade servers no longer experience non-correctable memory errors during booting. Note: There are specific upgrade steps needed which include powering off the host. Around since 2.0(5b)

CSCug40752: The KVM console now supports Java 1.7 update 17 and Java 1.6 update 43. Around since 2.1(1a)

Of course if you have a test environment, then run the firmware through its paces before pushing into production. But given 2.1 has been out a while and just minor bug fixes have been released, it’s probably pretty safe to seriously consider jumping to 2.1 if you are still on a 2.0 or prior baseline. 2.1 proper added a host of new features.

Cisco UCS Firmware 2.1(1b) released

New Cisco UCS firmware has now released! Their long anticipated first patch release of the 2.1 firmware, 2.1(1b) is out and you can download it today. Version 2.1, released in November of 2012, adds a number of great new features including the ability to rename service profiles. Since 2.1 added so many new features, there are bound to be some bugs/issues. So after several months of 2.1 in the field, you may now want to strongly consider jumping on 2.1(1b).

2.1(1b) adds a few new features, most notable in my book as the ability to run memory at 1333MHz vice 1066MHz in the B200 M3/C240M3 servers when all three DIMM slots are populated with memory. That’s great for a VDI blade, where you may fully populate it with 384GB using 16GB DIMMs.

Release 2.1(1b) adds support for the following:
•Cisco UCS B200 M3 blade server configurations with a single CPU
This patch release provides support for UCS B200 M3 blade server configurations with a single CPU, in addition to the previously supported dual CPU configurations.

New Software Features in Release 2.1(1b) adds support for the following:
•BIOS Policy Settings—Provides the ability to select refresh interval rate for internal memory.
•Memory Speed—Enables 1333 MHz memory speed for 8GB/16GB 1600-MHz RDIMMs populated with 3 DIMMs Per Channel/1.5v on the Cisco UCS B200 M3 blade server and Cisco UCS C240 M3 rack server.
•Call Home—Enables you to configure call home for CMOS battery voltage low alert.

There’s also a nice, relatively short, list of resolved caveats. I won’t post all of those, but you can check out the full release notes here.

On March 6, 2013 Cisco also released v2.1.1d of the UCS drivers ISO.

New VMware Cisco UCS Drivers for vSphere 5.x

new VMware Cisco UCS Drivers for vSphere 5.x are now out for the fnic and enic drivers. The fnic and enic drivers are for the Cisco VIC cards, which come in a few different flavors. These are the most common FCoE cards used in the UCS blades. They are now at version 1.5.0.20 and 2.1.2.38, respectively. The enic has the following enhancements:

  •     Improved RX checksum offload support
  •     Fixed PSOD in enic_reset in UPT mode
  •     In UPT mode, allow updating the provising info of a Virtual Interface.
  •     Add support for Cisco VIC 1240
  •     Improved WQ/RQ error recovery in UPT mode
The fnic has the following enhancements:
New Features:
  • FIP VLAN Discovery support
  • FC Event Tracing

Bugs Fixed (since fnic version 1.5.0.8):

  • Corrected failure to login to SAN fabric which could randomly occur when FIP is enabled and the adapter is connected to an NPV-enabled switch advertising multiple FCFs (CSCtr73717, CSCtk14373).
  • Serialized interaction with adapter firmware to correct occasional fnic and/or device offline behavior when the connected Veth port on the switch is shut (disabled).  This was a general issue that could also occur in other scenarios where the driver was required to issue a reset command to the adapter firmware (CSCtz63473, CSCty31268).
New Hardware Supported:
  • Cisco UCS Virtual Interface Card 1240

The Cisco interoperability matrix that shows these drivers are validated with UCS 2.1(1) and 2.1(1a) firmware. You can find the whole matrix here. To download the new drivers, go to:

My VMware > Product & Downloads > All Downloads > VMware vSphere and click on the Drivers and Tools tab.

Cisco is very slow to release customized ESXi Installation media, so you can check out my post here to roll your own ESXi 5.0 updated media. This would allow you to build a ESXi 5.0 U2 media with the latest drivers baked in. As of this writing, Cisco has only released 5.0 U1 custom ISO media.

You can push the enic and fnic driver updates via VUM. To do that you will need to unzip the parent archive (the one you download) then import the “offline_bundle” ZIP into VUM. You can then create a custom baseline in VUM to push the enic/fnic drivers and validate compliance.

Inject Cisco UCS Drivers into Windows Server 2012 ISO

A few days ago I blogged about injecting VMware vSphere drivers into a Windows Server 2012 image, so you can seamlessly install WS2012 inside a VM with PVSCSI and VMXNET hardware. Next up is injecting Cisco UCS drivers into Windows Server 2012, in case you need to install Windows Server 2012 on a physical Cisco UCS blade. The process is the same as injecting the VMware drivers, but requires a little more effort to gather up all the right drivers.

Noteworthy is that you really need to do this on a Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 computer/VM, and use the Windows 8 ADK. The DISM software for Windows Server 2008 R2 doesn’t understand the SHA256 digital signatures on some of the drivers and will barf unless you use an override switch.

1. Download the Cisco UCS Drivers disc v2.0.4 or later, which contain the Windows Server 2012 drivers. You can download the 2.0.4a (Oct 26, 2012) version here. Note: Cisco TAC account is required to download the software.

2. Find a Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 VM that you can use to copy the drivers to and install the Microsoft ADK on. WS2012 comes with many drivers built in, so the only Cisco drivers we need are Network and Storage. All LSI drivers are built-in to WS2012, so you don’t have to worry about the built-in local storage controller on the server. For the Cisco UCS drivers, I created a folder called D:Boot Drivers64-bit.

3. Now that you have a folder to put the WS2012 drivers, you need to drill down into the Cisco driver ISO image and pull out the “W2K12” folders. In my case I only wanted the 1280 and MLOM drivers. Remember Cisco adapters are converged network adapters, so you need both the storage and network folders.

 
 
Under each adapter copy the W2K12 folder to your D:Boot Drivers64-bit folder and rename it to make it more clear what the driver is for. 
 
 
 
4. After I completed the copy process, I ended up with this folder structure. Folder names are not important, so call them whatever you want.
 
 
5. Download the Windows 8 ADK from here. Run through the installation wizard until you get to the feature set. All you need are the Deployment Tools. Finish the wizard and wait until it is installed.
 
6. Mount a virgin Windows Server 2012 ISO image and under the Sources directory copy boot.wim and install.wim to the root of your D drive.
 
7. Open the DISM command prompt and enter the following commands, or save them to a batch file and run the batch file. This assumes your ISO image has five WIMs on it, one boot WIM, and four OS WIMs. If you are unsure how many WIMs are in your install.WIM file, run:
 
dism /get-wiminfo /wimfile:d:install.wim
 
 
:: Creates mount directory for DISM
 
mkdir D:mount
 
:: Modifies the boot WIM
::
dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:D:boot.wim /Index:2 /MountDir:D:mount
dism /image:D:mount /Add-Driver “/driver:d:boot drivers64-Bit” /recurse
dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:d:mount /commit
 
:: Modifies all of the Operating System WIM images
::
dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:D:install.wim /Index:1 /MountDir:D:mount
dism /image:D:mount /Add-Driver “/driver:d:boot drivers64-Bit” /recurse
dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:d:mount /commit
 
dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:D:install.wim /Index:2 /MountDir:D:mount
dism /image:D:mount /Add-Driver “/driver:d:boot drivers64-Bit” /recurse
dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:d:mount /commit
 
dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:D:install.wim /Index:3 /MountDir:D:mount
dism /image:D:mount /Add-Driver “/driver:d:boot drivers64-Bit” /recurse
dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:d:mount /commit
 
dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:D:install.wim /Index:4 /MountDir:D:mount
dism /image:D:mount /Add-Driver “/driver:d:boot drivers64-Bit” /recurse
dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:d:mount /commit
rmdir d:mount

 
8. Review all of the output and verify no errors occurred. If you see any invalid signature issues, then you probably aren’t using the Windows 8 ADK on Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012.
 
9. In your favorite ISO editing tool, such as UltraISO, over-write the boot.wim and install.wim with your customized version. Boot the server from your new media and it should now automatically recognized any vNICs and vHBAs you have provisioned via the service profile in UCSM.


Cisco UCS now supports Windows Server 2012

If you want to run Windows Server 2012 on Cisco UCS blades, fear no more! As of the 2.0(4a) release they now have official support in firmware, and an updated drivers disc. Just login to Cisco TAC, get the firmware and new driver disc. As you can see in the image below, they have directories for Windows Server 2012. You can check out my blog article about firmware 2.0(4b) which contains minor bug fixes, unrelated to Windows Server 2012.

New Cisco UCS Firmware – 2.0(4b)

Today Cisco release a new firmware bundle for their UCS servers, 2.0(4b). No major fixes in the bundle. You can find the full Release Notes here. If you want to run Windows Server 2012, 2.0(4a) is the minimum supported version you need to be running. You can check out my blog post about that here.

KVM Viewer no longer fails to establish a connection to the KVM Server if the trusted.certs keystore password is not the default. (CSCuc48582)

User passwords with more than three consecutive characters or numbers are no longer accepted by Cisco UCS Manager. (CSCtq09466)

When polling ipAdEntIfIndex, “No Such Instance currently exists at this OID to the MDS boxes” error is no longer received. (CSCub84958)

SNMP no longer returns a “No such instance” error when VRF context is configured. (CSCub90031)

Chassis with four PSUs and n+1 power redundancy no longer displays “Power state on chassis X is redundancy-failed” error. (CSCub84671)

The Cisco UCS Manager GUI no longer displays “Unable to authenticate this site certificate” messages. (CSCub94755)

The Cisco UCS B200 M3, B22 M3, and B420 M3 Blade Servers no longer experience `Server Hardware Not Supported’ or discovery errors when you are upgrading from Release 2.0(2) to Release 2.0(3) or 2.0(4) and the blades are inserted into a UCS DC chassis. (CSCuc35326)

The KVM Java client will no longer display an error/warning message stating that the KVM certificate to the blade has expired. (CSCuc26360)

The IOM upgrade no longer fails and gets into a continuous reboot after the IOM is activated by the FI. (CSCuc15009)

Cisco UCS Manager is no longer truncating the last digit of the license file id from the license. (CSCuc32555)

Cisco UCS and VMware vSphere 5.1 Support

UPDATE: On Sep 18th Cisco released 2.0(4a), which you can download from Cisco support.

For those of you that are Cisco UCS customers, word on the street is that a forthcoming firmware update 2.0(4) will be required for official vSphere 5.1 support. Cisco should have the updated firmware out by the end of September or early October. As for a Cisco UCS customized ESXi 5.1 installation media, that may be towards the end of October.

Cisco UCS ESXi 5 U1 Custom ISO Image Download

A few months ago I blogged about how to create your own custom Cisco UCS ESXi 5 U1 installation media, with the latest security patches and drivers. There was also an ISO image on VMware’s web site, which magically disappeared for a while. Well, now it appears to be back. There is a Cisco Custom Image for ESXi 5.0 U1 GA Install CD dated 8/28/2012. You can download it here, under OEM Customized Installer CDs. At as of April 2013 Cisco has not released an ESXi 5.0 U2 custom install ISO. So use the 5.0 U1 ISO for the time being.

Cisco UCS ESXi 5 ISO

Unfortunately the Cisco release notes PDF hasn’t been updated since April 2012, so without deconstructing the ISO image I have no idea what is updated. But as always, I would use the latest ISO when deploying new UCS servers.

Cisco UCS Firmware 2.0(3c) Released

If you have the pleasure of working with a Cisco UCS server farm, you know ease of which you can upgrade firmware. A few days ago Cisco released the 2.0(3c) version of their UCS software. This is a minor release which fixes a few specific bugs. If you won’t run into the affected issues, then it’s probably a release you can skip. A major new release is due out later this year, so stay tuned for that. You can find the full release notes here. Prior releases have a number of bug fixes, so it’s worth reviewing what code base you are currently running and see if any subsequent releases fix bugs you might run into.

The following caveats are resolved in the 2.0(3c) release:
  • During reboot, Samsung 32GB LRDIMM will no longer display voltage errors on B200 M3. (CSCub08343)
  • You will no longer see a mismatch between UCSM Part number and mctools. (CSCtz65329)
  • The FI will no longer reboot due to ‘cdp hap reset’. (CSCub32324)
  • FCoE VLANID Change will no longer drop all Storage Paths. (CSCub32386)
  • You will no longer see random errors such as thermal-problem, performance-problem, and equipment-degraded false alarm. (CSCua9670)
  • You will no longer see any transient thermal or fan problems. (CSCtx52556)