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Question: BIOS (32-bit) vs UEFI (64-bit)
Basic Input-Output System
Resides on a Chip on Computer motherboard
Responsible for “waking up components” on Computer
Runs bootloader that boots Windows (or other OS)
Configures system time
Configures boot order
Accessible via “ESC” or “F2” or “F10” or “Delete” keys
First step when powering on a Computer is the POST
POST ensures Hardware Configuration is valid and working
After POST, computer BIOS looks for Master Boot Record and uses it to launch the Bootloader
CMOS is a battery-backed Memory where BIOS stores various settings
Worthy to note is that EEPROM is more likely the storage space for settings storage on BIOS.
Maximum boot capacity of Hard Drive is 2.1 TB or less. Computers with >2.1TB cannot boot via BIOS
BIOS has 1MB of space to execute in
Apple started the trend in 2006 by launching EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) to replace BIOS.
Few manufacturers came onboard with the new replacement much later than Apple.
UEFI stands for “Unified Extensible Firmware Interface.” The UEFI Specification defines a new model for the interface between personal-computer operating systems and platform firmware. The interface consists of data tables that contain platform-related information, plus boot and runtime service calls that are available to the operating system and its loader. Together, these provide a standard environment for booting an operating system and running pre-boot applications.
UEFI is newer than BIOS
UEFI has an emulator to run in 16-bit BIOS mode (for backward OS compatibility)
UEFI runs in either 32-bit or 64-bit.
UEFI is essentially a TINY operating system with different interfaces and features depending on PC Manufacturer
UEFI essentially does all that BIOS does with a few changes:
- Big technological upgrade from BIOS
- PC users never notice BIOS
- Works much better than BIOS in practice
- Supports more modern hardware and features
- UEFI standards reflect the past 30 years of PC evolution by describing an abstract interface set for transferring control to an operating system or building modular firmware from one or more silicon and firmware suppliers. The abstractions of UEFI Forum specifications are designed to decouple development of producer and consumer code, allowing each to innovate more independently and with faster time-to-market for both.
- UEFI implementation enables the ability for modern, high-level programming principals to be applied to the firmware space. There are many possible implementations of UEFI that encourage code reuse, modularization, flexibility and modernization. UEFI specifications contain interfaces that streamline and aid in firmware innovation by promoting interoperability between devices, software and systems.
- One typical implementation is done in high-level C programming language, which is fundamentally different than the Legacy BIOS by encouraging the use of modern software practices.
- UEFI specifications have benefits for both the business and consumer end-user. Across multiple interfaces, they support a more secure system, faster boot times, innovation and a faster time-to-market.
- UEFI standards allow for extensibility, modularity and easy prototyping during development.
- The implementation of UEFI specifications by BIOS vendors, operating system vendors and add-in card vendors gives way to more efficient development because they allow developers to reuse code during the building process.
Question: iDRAC Express vs iDRAC Enterprise
The Dell Remote Access Controller is a Dell designed hardware that provides advanced agentless systems management functionality. It operates independently from the server’s CPU and operating system. An integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) with Lifecycle Controller is embedded in every Dell PowerEdge server. It provides functionality that helps you deploy, update, monitor and maintain Dell PowerEdge servers with or without a systems management software agent.
Both Express and Enterprise allows:
- Local Configuration via USC
- IPMI 2.0
- DCMI 1.5
- Embedded Diagnostics
- Local OS Updates
- Driver Pack
- Shared NIC (LOM) rack/tower only
- Auto Discovery
- Auto Recovery
- Web GUI
- Remote CLI
- local / SSH CLI
- Serial Redirection
- Remote Config
- Remote Update
- NFC (if applicable)
- USB Front Panel Configuration
- iDRAC Service Module (iSM)
- SNMP Alwers
- Comprehensive Monitoroing
- Part Replacement
- Tech Support Report
- System Wipe
- Power Control
- Power Monitoring
- Supports 200-500 series Rack/Tower
- Racadm command line
- SMASH-CLP (via SSH)
- Shared NIC
- VLAN Tagging
- Dedicated NIC
- Dynamic DNS
- OS Pass-Through
- Role base authroity authentication
- Remote presence (Serial-over-LAN)
- Real time power meter
- Temperature monitoring
- Predictive failture monitoring
- Full agent-free monitoring
- Configurable tresholds
- Fan monitoring
- PSU/Mem/CPU/RAID/NIC/HD/Out of Band Performance Monitoring
- Remote agent-free Update Agent
- Embedded update tools
- Embedded OS deployment tools
- Embedded driver pack
- Remote Configuration
- Inventory export
- System restore / repurpose.
- Embedded diagnostic tools
- Server configuration restore
- Easy Restore
- Health LED / LCD
- iDRAC Direct
- Quick Sync
- iDRAC Service
- Embedded Tech Support Report
- Manual Reset for iDRAC
- Virtual NMI
- OS Watchdog
- Embedded Health report
- System Events Log
- Lifecycle Log
- Work Notes
- License management
On top of all the above, iDRAC Enterprise has the following additional features:
- Scheduled Updates
- Automatic Update
- Email alerts
- Performance Monitoring
- Backup & Restore Configurations
- Virtual Console for up to 6 users
- Virtual Console Chat
- Virtual Flash Partitions
- Virtual Media
- Virtual Folders
- VNC Server
- Remote File Share
- Crash Screen Capture
- Crash Video Playback
- Boot Record / Playback
- Power Capping
- Enterprise Group Power Management
- Directory Services (AD, LDAP)
- PK Authentication
- Two-Factor Authentication
- Network Time Protocol
- IP Blocking
- Single-Sign On
- VNC Connection to OS
- Quality / bandwidth control
- Power Treshold and Alerts
- Real-time power graphing
- Historical power counters
- Power capping
- Power Center integration
- Out of Band Performance Monitoring
- Part Replacement
- Remote Syslog
- Sync with Repository (scheduled updates)
- Auto Update
- Auto Recovery
Question: Difference between SATA and SAS?
7,200rpm speed 10,000rpm / 15,000rpm speed
Low Inputs Outputs Per Second (IOPS) – about 80 High IOPS – up to 180
Good Highly Reliable
High Capacity Average Capacity
Up to 16 TB Drives Generally smaller than SATA
Question: 5 piece 600 GB drives in RAID 5
Answer: 2.4TB usable (4x read speed, no write speed gain), actual formatted capacity is closer to 2.35 TB after NTFS formatting
Question: Customer has an iPad. Teach him how to create / generate TSR logs from iDRAC.
Answer: Open Safari, browse to the IP address of the impacted server. Login with root/calvin on Pre-13 GEN servers or view the credentials for iDRAC at the front EST tag.
On iDRAC 9, go to Maintenance (at the top row of the screen) select Support Assist > Start a Collection.
If customer is not sensitive to giving out server debug information via e-mail, then select All options (System Information, Storage Logs, OS and Application Data [requires OS to be booted], Debug Logs > Hit Collect.
After an hour, go back into the iDRAC web page, Maintenance > Support Assist and look for the completed report pull. Forward to DELL using secure file transfer.
Question: Why do we install iSM?
Answer: The iDRAC Service Module
The following services can be added to iDRAC with iSM
Lifecycle Controller Log replication into operating system
Automatic system recovery
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) providers inclusive of storage data
SupportAssist collection (formerly known as Automatic Technical Support Report Collection)
NVMe PCIe SSD device removal support
Only Lifecycle Logs and Storage logs are available by default. Enabled Auto Dispatch capability added for Embedded SupportAssist (Windows only)
Question: How to get service tag when user only has RDP (no iDRAC or Physical access to server)
Answer: wmic bios get serialnumber
Question: Sequence of POST?
- DellEMC Splash Screen
- Lifecycle Controller: Collecting System Inventory
- BIOS ver / Model / IP v4 address
- Intel Ultra Path (Network)
- Memory tests
- BIOS drivers
- PCIe, USB, Video
- Initializing Firmware Interfaces
- Enumerating Boot Options (from BIOS)
- Lifecycle Controller: Collecting System Inventory
- Boot from iDRAC Controller (?)
- Begin Windows boot sequence
Question: How to configure iDRAC?
Turn on the managed system.
Press during Power-on Self-test (POST).
In the System Setup Main Menu page, click iDRAC Settings. The iDRAC Settings page is displayed.
Click Network. The Network page is displayed.
Specify the network settings.
Click Back, click Finish, and then click Yes.
Technical Support Engineer 1
Dell EMC|Support and Deployment Services