Flashing LSI SAS HBA Raid Cards on Sun Fire servers

By Alasdair Lumsden on 8 Dec 2008

We have a fair bunch of Sun Fire x2100, x2200 and x2250 servers, all of which we slap LSI SAS HBA cards (LSISAS3041E-R) in (Sun part code SG-XPCIE4SAS3-Z or "4 port SAS PCIE Internal HBA B3"). They’re not the best RAID cards out there (Management software is exceptionally poor), but they’re fast and well supported by Solaris, Linux and Windows. Periodically LSI release Firmware/BIOS updates for the cards, and believe me – if you care about your data, install the firmware updates.

Unfortunately it’s not made easy for you. You need to use something called a "DOS Boot Disk" After doing some research, I learned that DOS was the operating system used on early PCs based on the 8086 chip back in 1981. It was distributed on something called a "floppy disk" – a piece of hardware I can only assume computers of the era shipped with. Unfortunately in this modern day age, computers no longer have them. This makes updating the LSI card quite tricky to say the least.

Fret not however! There are methods of getting by without the required floppy disk drive.

DrDos, UltraISO and Nero Burning Rom

Download this humble DrDos image. Unzip. Obtain and install the trial version of UltraISO. Open UltraISO. Select "Open" from the "File" menu, and open the unzipped drdosmin.img file. Select "Change Image Format" from the "Actions" menu. Choose 2.88MB, select a location to save the file, and save.

Download the latest firmware files for your LSI raid card. Unzip. Drag the files into the UltraISO window, which should add the files to the image. Save.

Using your favourite CD Burning software, create a new "Bootable CD". In Nero you select "New Compilation" from the "File" menu, then select "CD-ROM (Boot)". From the "Boot" tab, select the Image file you created above with the firmware files on. Tick "Enable Expert Settings", and choose "Floppy Emulation 2.88MB". Burn to an ISO image by choosing the "Image Recorder" via "Choose Recorder" from the "Recorder Menu". (Note older Nero versions don’t support burning to anything other than Nero’s native image format which is no good – you’ll probably have to burn an actual CD)

iLOM, Beautiful iLOM

Head into your iLOM, mount the ISO you created, reboot, set the boot order if needed, and boot up your lovely ISO. You should be met with this:

Type "hbaflash" and hit return. Say no to the question asking you if you want to save a copy of your bios – saving to a read only CD-Rom won’t work. It is a good idea to save the old version, but sadly it’s not possible with this method.

Answer the on-screen questions. Be very very careful – giving the wrong answers may lead to your RAID card ceasing to function and/or bursting into flames. The main one to get right is the "Which Chip Version?" question. The answer is actually above under the "Ctrl" column – mine reads 1064E(B3), therefore it’s the B3 chip.

Once answering the questions, congratulations – your raid card will now be slightly less (or more, depending on how buggy the new bios release is) likely to frag your data.