Fixing Broadcom NIC Firmware Update Failures on Dell R420

During a recent attempt to update some of our Dell R420 servers running CentOS 6.x, I encountered some issues when applying the Broadcom drivers listed here. My normal approach to installing finicky firmware is to follow the steps outlined in Applying Dell Firmware Updates Via SSH on Centos Linux. On occasion, I noticed that the firmware would not update successfully on each NIC. Some would indicate success while others would show the firmware update failed.

Upon rebooting the server, the server, the machine would fail to reboot and indicate several errors prior to stopping and awaiting input. The indicative error is “Option ROM Shadow RAM Allocation Error” occurring on several devices.  A typical screen shot of the errors is shown below.


Upon deeper inspection, it appears that the NIC firmware did not properly install. Upon reboot, one or more NIC cards showed no version when inspected for the firmware version installed using the Lifecycle Manager. This causes a ROM memory error on boot-up and renders all add-in cards (including the RAID controller) inoperable. Here is the process that I used to resolve the issue.

  1. Download the NIC Firmware Installer Package for Windows – be sure to get the 32 bit install package. Save the file to an empty folder on your local computer.
  2. Rename the install file to a shorted name. Ex. Nicfirmware.exe
  3. Use a tool to burn an ISO file from the folder containing the Nicfirmware.exe file. I prefer Active@ISO Burner.
  4. Save the ISO file to your Desktop (this makes it easier to sue the DRAC virtual media tool)
  5. Connect to your server via the DRAC interface
  6. The server will be stuck at a message asking you to press F1 or F2. Choose Macros > Ctrl-Alt-Del from the menu to reboot the server
  7. Once the boot options menu is visible, choose F10 to boot into the Lifecycle Manager
  8. The server will boot as previously and prompt you to press F1 or F2. Press F1 to continue.
  9. The server will load the Lifecycle Manager
  10. While that Lifecycle Manage is loading, mount the virtual ISO you created as follows:
    1. From the Menu, choose Virtual Media > Connect Virtual Media
    2. Now choose Virtual Media > Map CD/DVD
    3. Click the “Browse” button and browse to the ISO file stored on your Desktop. It should be named the same as the folder that contains the firmware update
    4. Select the ISO
    5. Click the “Map Device” button
  11. Now we can proceed with the firmware update by clicking the “Firmware Update” menu on the left side of the Lifecycle Controller screen and clicking the “Launch Firmware Update” link on the right side
  12. On the next screen, choose the “Local Drive (CD or DVD or USB) option and click the “Next” button in the lower right
  13. Be sure the “Local Drive” dropdown shows your Virtual Drive
  14. In the “File Path or Update Package Path,” type in the name of the update package file. Earlier we renamed it Nicfirmware.exe. This must exactly match the file name you placed in the ISO.
  15. Click the “Next” button in the lower right
  16. Wait…..
  17. The next screen will show your list of Available System Updates

    DRAC Screen after successful loading of the firmware update package located on the virtual CD

    DRAC Screen after successful loading of the firmware update package located on the virtual CD

  18. You will notice that one or more NICs show no current version installed (the cause of the issue)
  19. Make sure the check boxes are ticked next to the NICs that you wish update then click the “Apply” button in the lower right
  20. Wait….
  21. The server will reboot on its own and re-enter the Lifecycle Manager
  22. Simply exit the Lifecycle Manager and the server will reboot normally with your errors resolved
  23. Once your server reboots, be sure to choose Virtual Media > Mapped Drive (the one with the check mark) and click to unmap
  24. Next choose Virtual Media > Disconnect Virtual Media. You can now close the DRAC session without issue.

I have seen similar errors on Dell servers running Windows. The best bet is to install the NIC firmware updates via the Lifecycle Controller to be sure they are installed properly.

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