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

Notice: Page may contain affiliate links for which we may earn a small commission through services like Amazon Affiliates or Skimlinks.

pac1085

New Member
Jan 4, 2016
9
9
3
38
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

jmhalder

New Member
May 21, 2019
20
16
3
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:
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

pac1085

New Member
Jan 4, 2016
9
9
3
38
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...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

jmhalder

New Member
May 21, 2019
20
16
3
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
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir and pac1085

jmhalder

New Member
May 21, 2019
20
16
3
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?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir and eddyg

pac1085

New Member
Jan 4, 2016
9
9
3
38
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
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

jmhalder

New Member
May 21, 2019
20
16
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.

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

Smedwardd

New Member
Jul 23, 2020
17
15
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!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

pac1085

New Member
Jan 4, 2016
9
9
3
38
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

jmhalder

New Member
May 21, 2019
20
16
3
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
17
15
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!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

foureight84

Well-Known Member
Jun 26, 2018
281
254
63
I"m guessing the 4 harddrive expansion is really hard to find used? Not seeing it on eBay other than one from a seller in Australia. I was looking at this as a viable NAS and VM for various projects but seem that power consumption of the unit alone is a bit high at 2xW? I can't imagine with the addition of the 4 drive expansion.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

Senses3

Member
May 11, 2013
48
57
18
Has anyone had success in replacing the fan? My unit just arrived and the fan itself is DOA.
Apparently you'll need to use something to spoof the rpm readings from the fan since the firmware cries if it doesn't get a high RPM reading. There's some posts further back in the thread about how someone did this. Unless ofcourse you get an identical fan replacement.

Also I'm sure the seller would replace your unit, if we got them from the same seller that is.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

waywardelectron

New Member
Nov 3, 2020
3
3
1
Apparently you'll need to use something to spoof the rpm readings from the fan since the firmware cries if it doesn't get a high RPM reading. There's some posts further back in the thread about how someone did this. Unless ofcourse you get an identical fan replacement.

Also I'm sure the seller would replace your unit, if we got them from the same seller that is.
I saw previous posts about the work others were doing with alternate fans but seems like so far no one has been able to.

The seller suggested I look for replacement fans on ebay so I'm not exactly thrilled with that reply. Am deciding if I want to bother trying to source a replacement or just get a refund.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir

duckduck

Member
Aug 22, 2016
33
41
18
I saw previous posts about the work others were doing with alternate fans but seems like so far no one has been able to.

The seller suggested I look for replacement fans on ebay so I'm not exactly thrilled with that reply. Am deciding if I want to bother trying to source a replacement or just get a refund.
Yeah, so I posted about it earlier in the thread. But I’ve sort of giving up on swapping the fan on the EC200a, at least for now. I tried reading the outputs with an oscilloscope. And using the little PWM generator I also mentioned. But no luck.

I will say I do find it a little odd they would put so much into making sure its the right fan is connected. To have it check and match the PWM tach with PWM signal. When other HP iLO servers where people have swapped fans. All they did was short the PWM with the ground. Like this guy doing it on a HP ML30P Gen8 Server

Could be with the EC200a its power draw and not the PWM, I’ve not tried that. But with other things to do. I just put the fan swapping a side for now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Samir