HPE EC200A Xeon D-1518 'hybrid server' on ebay ~$150

parkranger

New Member
Sep 3, 2020
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Really enjoying every aspect of my EC200a so far except for the fan noise. I need to figure out a Noctua swap or similar. Does anyone an example of a successful fan swap? It looks like a regular 4 pin PWM fan underneath the plastic shroud which may require removal of a lot of screws. Fan header cable also looks very short and there's not a lot of room under the shroud...
 

duckduck

Member
Aug 22, 2016
30
13
8
Really enjoying every aspect of my EC200a so far except for the fan noise. I need to figure out a Noctua swap or similar. Does anyone an example of a successful fan swap? It looks like a regular 4 pin PWM fan underneath the plastic shroud which may require removal of a lot of screws. Fan header cable also looks very short and there's not a lot of room under the shroud...
I've already made a few comments on this already. But I'll make more of a list of findings so far. In hopes others have ideas or ideas to add:

The fan is a Delta FFB0412UHN-SP4Z (FFB0412UHN-SP4Z) Which has the 4 pin wire info.
The connector on the board looks like a 4 pin JST connector. I did not want to bother trying to find the right one. So instead I cut the wires from the board to the fan and inserted normal PC fan headers.
The pin out is not the normal PC fan layout. The normal 12v PWM pin out is this: https://noctua.at/pub/media/wysiwyg/faqs/noctua_pin_configuration_12v_fans.png
Delta uses different colours. Which can be seen in the PDF for the fan or here: Pulse-Width Modulation - PWM - Technology
So I swapped the wires around to the normal PC Fan PWM pinout. And did the reverse on the original fan. So i could always just plug the old fan back in.

Wire swap to convert to a normal header:

EC200a - Fuction - Noctua colours
Black -> Ground -> Black
Yellow -> PWM Signal -> Blue
Blue -> PWM Tach -> Green
Red -> +12v Power -> Yellow

So with a bit of soldering and/or adding new headers. You get a normal PWM header coming off the board. But if you then plug in another fan. iLO will complain and say "No Fan is connected" preventing the system from booting.

My guess is iLO checks the PWM tach to get a RPM from the fan. And since the Delta fan spins a a lot higher RPM than any fan we would want to replace it with. iLO sees that low RPM as a fan simply not connected.

What I want to try to do, is sending a fake PWM tach back to iLO. Which I think can be done fairly simple with a PWM Signal Pulse Generator (This or similar: Amazon.com: Pulse Generator, DROK 2pcs LCD Display PWM Frequency 1Hz-150kHz Duty Ratio 0-100 Percent Adjustable Square Wave Rectangular Wave Signal Generator Board: Home Audio & Theater) From the pdf of the original fan it seems the PWM control signal runs at a preferred 25k hz. So setting that along with a duty cycle. Might trick iLO into thinking a fan is attached. Now how this will impact PWM usage on a replacement fan. I don't know. My plan was just to run the fans at full speed or a little less., turned down by normal fan controller.

I should also add. That I don't think a drop in replacement 40mm fan is enough to cool the chip on its own. I wanted to put in a Noctua NF-A4x20 40mm (Which is not as thick as the Delta. but does fit otherwise) And cut a hole in the lid of the case. Above the headsink the 40mm is on. To then have a Noctua NF-A8 80mm blowing in fresh air on both the heatsink and help cool the drives in the box out as well.
The default setup in the EC200a is just the single (loud) fan sucking in air from the other side of the server, across the drivebays and out the case. That is ask a lot of a 40mm fan. Which is likely why it can go to 23000 RPM and ~60db.
 

WANg

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2018
878
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93
@WANg people ask why I use a 47.3MP main camera and shoot everything in 4K when it is destined for the web. I cannot tell you how many times hardware has gone back and having those high-resolution screenshots has helped identify a part.
Yeah, getting that connector model number was...challenging to say the least. At least it came back with something theoretically usable.

What camera did you use?
 

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
11,971
4,932
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Yeah, getting that connector model number was...challenging to say the least. At least it came back with something theoretically usable.

What camera did you use?
I am using a S1R for the stills. Video is either a C200 or a GH5.
 

canta

Well-Known Member
Nov 26, 2014
1,033
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I've already made a few comments on this already. But I'll make more of a list of findings so far. In hopes others have ideas or ideas to add:

The fan is a Delta FFB0412UHN-SP4Z (FFB0412UHN-SP4Z) Which has the 4 pin wire info.
The connector on the board looks like a 4 pin JST connector. I did not want to bother trying to find the right one. So instead I cut the wires from the board to the fan and inserted normal PC fan headers.
The pin out is not the normal PC fan layout. The normal 12v PWM pin out is this: https://noctua.at/pub/media/wysiwyg/faqs/noctua_pin_configuration_12v_fans.png
Delta uses different colours. Which can be seen in the PDF for the fan or here: Pulse-Width Modulation - PWM - Technology
So I swapped the wires around to the normal PC Fan PWM pinout. And did the reverse on the original fan. So i could always just plug the old fan back in.

Wire swap to convert to a normal header:

EC200a - Fuction - Noctua colours
Black -> Ground -> Black
Yellow -> PWM Signal -> Blue
Blue -> PWM Tach -> Green
Red -> +12v Power -> Yellow

So with a bit of soldering and/or adding new headers. You get a normal PWM header coming off the board. But if you then plug in another fan. iLO will complain and say "No Fan is connected" preventing the system from booting.

My guess is iLO checks the PWM tach to get a RPM from the fan. And since the Delta fan spins a a lot higher RPM than any fan we would want to replace it with. iLO sees that low RPM as a fan simply not connected.

What I want to try to do, is sending a fake PWM tach back to iLO. Which I think can be done fairly simple with a PWM Signal Pulse Generator (This or similar: Amazon.com: Pulse Generator, DROK 2pcs LCD Display PWM Frequency 1Hz-150kHz Duty Ratio 0-100 Percent Adjustable Square Wave Rectangular Wave Signal Generator Board: Home Audio & Theater) From the pdf of the original fan it seems the PWM control signal runs at a preferred 25k hz. So setting that along with a duty cycle. Might trick iLO into thinking a fan is attached. Now how this will impact PWM usage on a replacement fan. I don't know. My plan was just to run the fans at full speed or a little less., turned down by normal fan controller.

I should also add. That I don't think a drop in replacement 40mm fan is enough to cool the chip on its own. I wanted to put in a Noctua NF-A4x20 40mm (Which is not as thick as the Delta. but does fit otherwise) And cut a hole in the lid of the case. Above the headsink the 40mm is on. To then have a Noctua NF-A8 80mm blowing in fresh air on both the heatsink and help cool the drives in the box out as well.
The default setup in the EC200a is just the single (loud) fan sucking in air from the other side of the server, across the drivebays and out the case. That is ask a lot of a 40mm fan. Which is likely why it can go to 23000 RPM and ~60db.
good luck taming the noise fan. the 40mm fan is the beast haha.
you can build pwm generator with arduino (cheap clone arduino mini) due to use software for easy tweaking rising up or down width.

the case is too small for adding bigger fan. adding additional 40mm would be great. and let alone the beast fan without replacing it.
if you put vertically, you can do add modding low rpm 1500-2000 rpm hydrolic (very quite) or reliable ball bearing (would generate low humming pitch noise). the total 40mm are 4, but ideally is 3.
or... do some extreme simple mod by adding 120mm fan on the top.
or install blower type fan of 80/120mm inside without mod the case, get the cold air from the bottom of HDD bays. the down side is no space for installing HDD. but possible installing single SSD

if you force cold air to the case, the beast fan would hovering with low noise (ball bearing fan noise) on normal load.
my test case are running some demanding containers: jellyfin, nextcloud, openvpn, and samba.

once again good luck again

did add one 40mm ball bearing fan (mounted on the DIY stand), ~1500-200 rpm. and help reducing fan noise on normal load.
ordering 2 more fan, and that is and no more modding

I am trying to stay away modding the case or internal fan replacement, do not want to spend $$ for noctua and time

just my apporach :-D
 

duckduck

Member
Aug 22, 2016
30
13
8
I've already made a few comments on this already. But I'll make more of a list of findings so far. In hopes others have ideas or ideas to add:

The fan is a Delta FFB0412UHN-SP4Z (FFB0412UHN-SP4Z) Which has the 4 pin wire info.
The connector on the board looks like a 4 pin JST connector. I did not want to bother trying to find the right one. So instead I cut the wires from the board to the fan and inserted normal PC fan headers.
The pin out is not the normal PC fan layout. The normal 12v PWM pin out is this: https://noctua.at/pub/media/wysiwyg/faqs/noctua_pin_configuration_12v_fans.png
Delta uses different colours. Which can be seen in the PDF for the fan or here: Pulse-Width Modulation - PWM - Technology
So I swapped the wires around to the normal PC Fan PWM pinout. And did the reverse on the original fan. So i could always just plug the old fan back in.

Wire swap to convert to a normal header:

EC200a - Fuction - Noctua colours
Black -> Ground -> Black
Yellow -> PWM Signal -> Blue
Blue -> PWM Tach -> Green
Red -> +12v Power -> Yellow

So with a bit of soldering and/or adding new headers. You get a normal PWM header coming off the board. But if you then plug in another fan. iLO will complain and say "No Fan is connected" preventing the system from booting.

My guess is iLO checks the PWM tach to get a RPM from the fan. And since the Delta fan spins a a lot higher RPM than any fan we would want to replace it with. iLO sees that low RPM as a fan simply not connected.

What I want to try to do, is sending a fake PWM tach back to iLO. Which I think can be done fairly simple with a PWM Signal Pulse Generator (This or similar: Amazon.com: Pulse Generator, DROK 2pcs LCD Display PWM Frequency 1Hz-150kHz Duty Ratio 0-100 Percent Adjustable Square Wave Rectangular Wave Signal Generator Board: Home Audio & Theater) From the pdf of the original fan it seems the PWM control signal runs at a preferred 25k hz. So setting that along with a duty cycle. Might trick iLO into thinking a fan is attached. Now how this will impact PWM usage on a replacement fan. I don't know. My plan was just to run the fans at full speed or a little less., turned down by normal fan controller.

I should also add. That I don't think a drop in replacement 40mm fan is enough to cool the chip on its own. I wanted to put in a Noctua NF-A4x20 40mm (Which is not as thick as the Delta. but does fit otherwise) And cut a hole in the lid of the case. Above the headsink the 40mm is on. To then have a Noctua NF-A8 80mm blowing in fresh air on both the heatsink and help cool the drives in the box out as well.
The default setup in the EC200a is just the single (loud) fan sucking in air from the other side of the server, across the drivebays and out the case. That is ask a lot of a 40mm fan. Which is likely why it can go to 23000 RPM and ~60db.
So I’ve now tried using the little PWM generator I mentioned in the previous post. And have it send back a fake Tach PWM to the board. But sadly without much luck so far.

In the spec sheet PDF for the original Delta fan. It says the optimal frequency for it is 25K HZ. So that’s what I tried on the generator at various Duty cycles. That didn’t seem to work. So I thought maybe it checks if the PWM signal it sends out is close the Tach it’s getting back. So I changed the fan setting to maximum, thinking it would then be stable/static.
iLO reports the Maximum fan speed to be 80%. But trying 25K HZ at 80% duty with that setting, still reports: No fan connected.

I’ve tried both the PWM generator on 12V from the board. I know the PWM Control signal is commonly 5V. I also tried running the generator on 5V (It can do 3.3-30V input). Still no luck.

So I’m not sure what to try next. Could it be just checking if the power draw from the fan is high enough? I don’t have an Oscilloscope at hand to possibly see what really is happening between the board and the original fan.
 

Mymlan

Clean, Friendly, and In Stock.
Oct 1, 2013
19
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The 'HPE 2020.09.0 Service Pack for Proliant' was released this week with updates to both the ILO and 366i firmware. Below I've provided the firmware versions post-update as well as an open download link in case entitlement gets instated:

Firmware NameFirmware VersionLocation
HPE Ethernet 1Gb 4-port 366i Adapter - NIC1.2688.0Embedded
HPE Ethernet 1Gb 4-port 366i Communication Board - NIC1.2688.0Slot 4
iLO2.74 May 08 2020System Board
Intelligent Platform Abstraction Data12.02System Board
Intelligent ProvisioningN/ASystem Board
Redundant System ROMU26 v1.00 (04/14/2016)System Board
Server Platform Services (SPS) Firmware3.0.3.9.1System Board
System Programmable Logic DeviceVersion 0x07System Board
System ROMU26 v2.66 (07/19/2019)System Board

Download link:

 

eabeukes

New Member
Jul 28, 2017
3
2
3
35
Other than the updates to the 366i adapter, and the"System Programmable Logic Device" the most important update isn't in the SPP. Pingtool has a link to iLO 2.75(b), and the easy way to extract it to update iLo directly without needing a full reboot cycle:
Pingtool Latest HP iLO Firmware
 
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tjsgifan

New Member
Nov 20, 2015
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Hi All,
By way of update, we've sold all the performance models now, the only units we have left are the 4 core, 16Gb RAM with Communications board here - Search - 868872-421 - this is the last reduction, no more extra STH discount applies. Buy them and part them out if you like, the comm's boards are valuable as are the DIMM.

We have dropped the price to clear them, along with some 16Gb and 32Gb DDR4 if you want some ;)

Thanks for everyone who contacted us, we have some other HP servers on the site, if you see anything of interest, please mention STH and we'll work out something for you.
 

mmo

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2016
507
267
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one of my machine looks like dead already :(. it lost the zfs pool overnight and it wont turn back on after shutdown/power off. The red power light turns on for couple secs and then off completely when plug in power adapter.
 

Mymlan

Clean, Friendly, and In Stock.
Oct 1, 2013
19
38
13
one of my machine looks like dead already :(. it lost the zfs pool overnight and it wont turn back on after shutdown/power off. The red power light turns on for couple secs and then off completely when plug in power adapter.
Can you test the voltage and amperage coming through the line when you connect it? It may be a bum power supply.
 

mmo

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2016
507
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Can you test the voltage and amperage coming through the line when you connect it? It may be a bum power supply.
do you mean the power adapter/brick? i have tested with different ones and no luck.
 

dirkthedaring83

New Member
Aug 14, 2020
28
4
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do you mean the power adapter/brick? i have tested with different ones and no luck.
Yea I have a feeling these things aren't very reliable. I had a brand new one I was given and it only lasted 9 months before it started to shut off and wouldn't power back on. The power light would flash white and I could see on the motherboard there was a small bank of green leds that were blinking in a pattern but never did find out what that meant. Fortunately I had ordered 3 more of them but I fear that they are just ticking time bombs. :(
 

mmo

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2016
507
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Yea I have a feeling these things aren't very reliable. I had a brand new one I was given and it only lasted 9 months before it started to shut off and wouldn't power back on. The power light would flash white and I could see on the motherboard there was a small bank of green leds that were blinking in a pattern but never did find out what that meant. Fortunately I had ordered 3 more of them but I fear that they are just ticking time bombs. :(
i think this machine sells cheap with a reason.
 
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pac1085

New Member
Jan 4, 2016
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Is anyone else running ESXi7 on these? I installed 7.0u1 with the HPE iso and it seemed OK until I rebooted the systems. They aren't saving the ESXi configuration consistently and I noticed the bootbank gets mounted to /tmp

In other news it seems like the internal AHCI controller is detected by ESXi and works OK. I installed ESXi on that for now and didn't have the bootbank issue. I'm going to buy an M2 drive and check to see if it works. If I can get USB to work correctly for ESXi installation, and the M2 drive also works. it would make a nice little VSAN Lab.

edit: I reinstalled ESXi on a super cheap Sandisk USB drive and it seems to be working correctly now. I was using a fancy Innodisk when I was having the issues.
 
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jmhalder

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May 21, 2019
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I picked up 2x of these EC200a units with the goal of running ESXi on them (7.0b/7.0U1). It was running it for a few weeks with no real issues on a Samsung Fit Plus USB 3.1 32GB drive, I have had one of these fail in the past, and they get set to read-only, it appeared that this happened to it so I bought 2x Sandisk 32GB Ultra USB 3.0 drives. I'll install ESXi, and sometime's I won't be able to install it, sometimes I can fully boot it after a install, sometimes it crashes in the BIOS, and sometimes when it boots, it seems to stop being able to write to the drive after a boot. (Adding it to vCenter, adding a vDS, etc doesn't "stick")

I ran over to Microcenter and picked up their cheapest 120GB SATA SSD, and it works great and reliably every time... The kicker, I want to be able to use both SATA ports now for storage (vSAN, but that's for another day).

I've actually tried a total of 5 different USB drives, and they all have similar issues, one of them is a cheap-o Sandisk USB 2.0 device. This happens with either of my 2 power bricks, and on both EC200a boxes. I was expecting to see SOMEBODY here having an issue, but it appears to be just me.

TL;DR: USB drives seem incredibly flaky for booting on the EC200a

Thoughts? Anyone else having this issue?

Edit: I should mention that I'm on BIOS v2.66 (07/19/2019) on both boxes, am using ILO4 2.75 Advanced, and the "desktop" Windows ILO client for all of my interfacing with it. Maybe I should just try hooking up a VGA/KB for all of my interfacing with it.

Double edit: I'm glad I'm not the only one.
 
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pac1085

New Member
Jan 4, 2016
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I picked up 2x of these EC200a units with the goal of running ESXi on them (7.0b/7.0U1). It was running it for a few weeks with no real issues on a Samsung Fit Plus USB 3.1 32GB drive, I have had one of these fail in the past, and they get set to read-only, it appeared that this happened to it so I bought 2x Sandisk 32GB Ultra USB 3.0 drives. I'll install ESXi, and sometime's I won't be able to install it, sometimes I can fully boot it after a install, sometimes it crashes in the BIOS, and sometimes when it boots, it seems to stop being able to write to the drive after a boot. (Adding it to vCenter, adding a vDS, etc doesn't "stick")

I ran over to Microcenter and picked up their cheapest 120GB SATA SSD, and it works great and reliably every time... The kicker, I want to be able to use both SATA ports now for storage (vSAN, but that's for another day).

I've actually tried a total of 5 different USB drives, and they all have similar issues, one of them is a cheap-o Sandisk USB 2.0 device. This happens with either of my 2 power bricks, and on both EC200a boxes. I was expecting to see SOMEBODY here having an issue, but it appears to be just me.

TL;DR: USB drives seem incredibly flaky for booting on the EC200a

Thoughts? Anyone else having this issue?

Edit: I should mention that I'm on BIOS v2.66 (07/19/2019) on both boxes, am using ILO4 2.75 Advanced, and the "desktop" Windows ILO client for all of my interfacing with it. Maybe I should just try hooking up a VGA/KB for all of my interfacing with it.

Double edit: I'm glad I'm not the only one.
Funny, we posted this at about the same time. I'm still trying to work through this on my 2 boxes. One of them came up OK with the Sandisk USB drive, and seems to be stable but I just reinstalled ESXi on another one of the same sandisks on the other box, the install went OK but this one won't boot into ESXi successfully. It gives me a fatal device error after it loads the first few modules. I am on the same FW versions as you (updated using the SPP that someone linked several posts back as soon as I got them)
 
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jmhalder

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May 21, 2019
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@pac1085, I'm going to run to Microcenter and grab 2x16GB USB2.0 drives, and 2x32GB USB3.1 house-brand drives. I have a m.2 to PCIe adapter coming in today, gonna (try) and get my HP NC552SFP 10Gb card working in it. Tired of running a FreeNAS box for iSCSI. Now I just need to learn a little design so I can make a case extension for the PCIe card with my 3d printer. Booting to SATA seems reliable, and booting to a 2TB USB3.0 spinner also seems reliable, not sure what the differentiator is.