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

pac1085

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Jan 4, 2016
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these appear to support booting from an iScsi san using ibft which is cool. that would eliminate my USB problem (I have a Synology for my storage). I managed to get it to connect to the iScsi LUN and install ESXi which added an option to boot ESXi from the UEFI menu but that part's not working. hmm.
 

jmhalder

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May 21, 2019
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these appear to support booting from an iScsi san using ibft which is cool. that would eliminate my USB problem (I have a Synology for my storage). I managed to get it to connect to the iScsi LUN and install ESXi which added an option to boot ESXi from the UEFI menu but that part's not working. hmm.
Yeah, I tried that last week before posting here. (via iSCSi on my FreeNAS box) I also got it installed, but I couldn't get it to boot via iSCSI. Are we best friends?

I picked up the $3.50 USB 3.1 32GB Microcenter thumb drives. Same thing.
I also figured this may just be a BIOS incompatibility. So I downgraded, and downgraded, and downgraded:
ILO 2.75 > 2.70
BIOS v2.66 > v2.60
BIOS v2.60 > v2.56
ILO 2.70 > 2.56
Turned off USB 3 support, thought I did that last week, booted once, did not boot subsequently.

One thing I noticed is that after a failed boot (Fatal Error 8), it will reboot after a minute or two with no intervention. On the subsequent reboot, the BIOS won't see my USB drive, rather it seems the Phison xxxx boot, which is not what is normally seen. I think this is a BIOS issue, not a ILO issue, not a VMware issue. I can't believe there aren't more people talking about this.

While I was at Microcenter, I also picked up 2x cheap MicroSD readers ($.99). Installing onto a 32GB Samsung PRO Endurance MicroSD. Maybe that will work.

Edit:

Narrator: It still didn't work. USB is garbage on this. I saw something at some point mention swapping the CMOS battery, I'll try anything at this point.

PXL_20201026_001356092.jpg
 
Last edited:

pac1085

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Jan 4, 2016
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Yeah, I tried that last week before posting here. (via iSCSi on my FreeNAS box) I also got it installed, but I couldn't get it to boot via iSCSI. Are we best friends?

I picked up the $3.50 USB 3.1 32GB Microcenter thumb drives. Same thing.
I also figured this may just be a BIOS incompatibility. So I downgraded, and downgraded, and downgraded:
ILO 2.75 > 2.70
BIOS v2.66 > v2.60
BIOS v2.60 > v2.56
ILO 2.70 > 2.56
Turned off USB 3 support, thought I did that last week, booted once, did not boot subsequently.

One thing I noticed is that after a failed boot (Fatal Error 8), it will reboot after a minute or two with no intervention. On the subsequent reboot, the BIOS won't see my USB drive, rather it seems the Phison xxxx boot, which is not what is normally seen. I think this is a BIOS issue, not a ILO issue, not a VMware issue. I can't believe there aren't more people talking about this.

While I was at Microcenter, I also picked up 2x cheap MicroSD readers ($.99). Installing onto a 32GB Samsung PRO Endurance MicroSD. Maybe that will work.

Edit:

Narrator: It still didn't work. USB is garbage on this. I saw something at some point mention swapping the CMOS battery, I'll try anything at this point.

View attachment 16169
im with you, it sounds like a BIOS / hardware issue. I am curious about something though, have you tried ESXi 6.7? I was going to try that for the heck of it tonight but I don't want to bother if you've already gone there. I'm really bummed about the ISCSI boot not working, it seems like 95% of the support is there, I'm guessing some UEFI settings need to be tweaked somehow...
 

jmhalder

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May 21, 2019
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im with you, it sounds like a BIOS / hardware issue. I am curious about something though, have you tried ESXi 6.7? I was going to try that for the heck of it tonight but I don't want to bother if you've already gone there. I'm really bummed about the ISCSI boot not working, it seems like 95% of the support is there, I'm guessing some UEFI settings need to be tweaked somehow...
I haven't tried ESXi 6.7, but seem to be having trouble booting just about anything via USB. I couldn't even get Ubuntu Desktop to boot yesterday via USB. Even if 6.7 works for some reason, I really want to stay on the current version of ESXi. My USB3.0 2TB drive boots flawlessly every single time. I'm wondering if it uses UASP (USB attached SCSI), and that's the difference? I'm still going to give swapping the CMOS battery a shot before buying a couple USB>SATA adapters and additional 120GB Inland SSDs for ESXi boot.

On the plus side....

pcie.PNG
 
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jmhalder

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May 21, 2019
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For what it’s worth, this fairly recent article found that the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB flash drive uses UASP, if that’s really the determining factor...
While that is a nice small package, I can grab a USB<>SATA adapter ($7.99) and Kingston A400 ($20) for a total of $27.99 vs the Corsair at $57.99. This cost difference is double since I need both of my boxes to be bootable.

I'm still not sure why only two of us on here seem to be having issue, is anybody else USB booting?
 
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pac1085

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Jan 4, 2016
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Has anyone tried getting ipxe to work on these boxes? I was looking into that as an alternative to boot from SAN but it just hangs on initializing devices. It looks like there might be some options to debug the ipxe.efi file, but I haven't gone there yet
 

jmhalder

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May 21, 2019
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Very minor update, swapped the CR2032 battery, box still won't boot via USB (with any reliability). Swapping the battery blew away BIOS settings, as well as ILO4 settings. Even with zero changes, I was able to install ESXi7.0U1 (non-customized), however it failed to boot with a fatal error after install. I swear that I had no issue with this initially when I got my boxes. What changed? Did something over-draw on the boxes that killed some USB circuitry? Why does my 2TB USB drive work? I'm at a loss.

To be clear, I've tried this with the USB2 port on the front to no avail as well.
 

Smedwardd

New Member
Jul 23, 2020
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Very minor update, swapped the CR2032 battery, box still won't boot via USB (with any reliability). Swapping the battery blew away BIOS settings, as well as ILO4 settings. Even with zero changes, I was able to install ESXi7.0U1 (non-customized), however it failed to boot with a fatal error after install. I swear that I had no issue with this initially when I got my boxes. What changed? Did something over-draw on the boxes that killed some USB circuitry? Why does my 2TB USB drive work? I'm at a loss.
I had the same problem. Switched to a quality SanDisk drive and all the issues disappeared!
 

pac1085

New Member
Jan 4, 2016
9
2
3
35
Very minor update, swapped the CR2032 battery, box still won't boot via USB (with any reliability). Swapping the battery blew away BIOS settings, as well as ILO4 settings. Even with zero changes, I was able to install ESXi7.0U1 (non-customized), however it failed to boot with a fatal error after install. I swear that I had no issue with this initially when I got my boxes. What changed? Did something over-draw on the boxes that killed some USB circuitry? Why does my 2TB USB drive work? I'm at a loss.
Idk, I gave up on USB and the VSAN idea for now. I bought a Silicon Power 250gb nvme which wasn't recognized by ESXi so I sent it back and got a WD sn750 which seems to be working great. Gonna order 3 more of them for the other 3 ec200a's and hopefully end up with a stable ESXi cluster.
 

jmhalder

New Member
May 21, 2019
19
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Idk, I gave up on USB and the VSAN idea for now. I bought a Silicon Power 250gb nvme which wasn't recognized by ESXi so I sent it back and got a WD sn750 which seems to be working great. Gonna order 3 more of them for the other 3 ec200a's and hopefully end up with a stable ESXi cluster.
I got my NC552SFP card showing up with a m.2>PCIe adapter, works fine and is recognized in Windows. I've tried Microcenter, Samsung, 2 types of Sandisk, and a Samsung Endurance MicroSD via USB... All with no luck. I have no idea what will actually work at this point.
 

Smedwardd

New Member
Jul 23, 2020
9
2
3
Very minor update, swapped the CR2032 battery, box still won't boot via USB (with any reliability). Swapping the battery blew away BIOS settings, as well as ILO4 settings. Even with zero changes, I was able to install ESXi7.0U1 (non-customized), however it failed to boot with a fatal error after install. I swear that I had no issue with this initially when I got my boxes. What changed? Did something over-draw on the boxes that killed some USB circuitry? Why does my 2TB USB drive work? I'm at a loss.
I had the same problem. Switched to a quality SanDisk drive and all the issues disappeared!