[Beowulf] Re: ECC support on motherboards?

David Mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Wed May 14 15:32:39 PDT 2008

Greg Lindahl <lindahl at pbm.com> wrote:

> The AMD servers I've been buying default to ECC off. I figure that
> anyone who doesn't care enough to go through the BIOS and find things
> like this deserves what they get.

I agree, although sometimes going through the BIOS isn't an option...

I'm temporarily helping another lab manage their systems and one of the
first things I noticed was that the newer of their two IBM x3455's had a
front panel amber "!" indicator lit.  Despite this it had been running
for a couple of months with no errors. The manual said, not
surprisingly, that "!" is a fault indicator, so time to run the
diagnostics to find out what that warning means.  Unfortunately the BIOS
on the system was not set to boot from the external USB CDROM.  No
problem, I thought (oh so naively), just change the BIOS boot settings.
 It turned out that on this one x3455 the keyboard works only until the
system gets into the first BIOS menu.  It takes the "F1" from the
keyboard to get there, but after that, it ignores all keyboard input.  
(Yes, I swapped around keyboards, and the other x3455 had a navigable
BIOS with both keyboards tested.)

Really one of the oddest failures I've seen lately.  It is acting like
an old PC, the kind where the USB keyboard support doesn't work in the
BIOS, so only a PS/2 keyboard can be used.  Except that can't be the
case here, since there are no PS/2 ports to use!  


David Mathog
mathog at caltech.edu
Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech

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