HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer Build and BIOS Modification Revisited

• February 3, 2013

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Early last year I purchased my first HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer (“MicroServer”) and wrote about some of the things I did to build-out my MicroServer after flashing the modified BIOS from BIOS-MODS. After building-out my second MicroServer that summer and the many things I’ve learned over the last year I felt it was time to re-visit and re-fresh my first Blog.

 

Contents:

HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

Check the Stock BIOS

Flashing the BIOS

Step-By-Step Guide

     Step-By-Step Guide – Critical Path Check List

Modifying the BIOS

Conclusion

Reference

= = = = = =

 

HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

The HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer’s I purchased came with 2GB of RAM, a 250GB Seagate HDD, and a 150W power supply. One was part of a combo package that included Windows Home Server 2011.

 

Check the Stock BIOS

One thing I found useful: With my first MicroServer I didn’t check out the Stock BIOS in the MicroServer before flashing it and afterwards I wished I had — before flashing the BIOS of my second MicroServer I pulled the HDD that came with the MicroServer and the first time I powered-up the MicroServer I hit F10 and checked out what was in the Stock BIOS.

 

In summary, when I first powered-up and hit F10 the MicroServer was configured with:

· The stock HDD was removed (no HDD’s were in the MicroServer)

· The Stock 2GB RAM was in the MicroServer

· No PCIe cards were installed

· A monitor, USB keyboard & mouse was attached to the MicroServer

· Nothing else was attached to the USB ports

· The NIC was not plugged into the network

 

Figure 1 shows the MAIN screen of the Stock BIOS.

 

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Figure 1: MicroServer “ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY” Main Screen — Stock BIOS

 

Flashing the BIOS

Caution: This isn’t a project for the inexperienced or faint of heart because you may be voiding any warranty you have as well as easily destroying or bricking your entire system. Proceed with the steps in the following reference links and Figures at your own risk.

 

In the original HP MicroServer N40L Build and BIOS Modification I wrote how I flashed the modified BIOS from BIOS-MODS to my first MicroServer using John Zajdler’s, @DieHarder on twitter, Diehard in the HomeServershow.com forums, guide and suggestions. DieHard is a rock star! I followed his notes and suggestions and had no problem flashing BIOS-MODS modified BIOS that would unlock many of the hidden features on the MicroServer – especially enabling me to set SATA port 5 (the mother board port for the ODD (“Optical Disk Drive”) if installed) and port 4 (the eSATA port on the back of the case) to AHCI and at a higher port speed than it’s default. At that time I downloaded HP’s SoftPaq from cvscorp, prepared a bootable flash drive and copied the file over from BIOS-MODS. Since that time the Forum thread started by DieHard has grown, as of this writing, to over 15 pages and 290 messages and continues to grow.

When issues surfaced on cvscorp’s availability last year DieHard made copies of the necessary files available from his SkyDrive account (Get Flash.Zip & SP54344.exe).

With the Flashing of the BIOS for my second MicroServer I wanted to document my experience and put together a step-by-step guide that was all in one place, starting with the original HP BIOS.

 

Step-By-Step Guide

At HP’s webpage, Systems ROMPaq Firmware Upgrade for HP ProLiant MicroServer (For USB Key-Media), download the file SP54344.exe to your laptop or desktop (I used my Windows 7 Professional Desktop Machine) and follow HP’s instructions to create a USB that can flash your BIOS.

HP Installation Instructions (changes made to improve clarity, check the WEB Page above for the original full text):

USB Key – HPQUSB.exe is a Windows-based utility to locally partition, format and copy necessary files to a USB flash media device (“USB Key”) through the Windows environment. The created USB Key is made bootable and ready to locally restore and/or update the firmware (“BIOS”) on the system.

1. Obtain a formatted USB Key.

2. Download the SoftPaq to a directory on a Microsoft Windows system and change to that directory.

3. From that drive and directory, execute (Figure 2) the downloaded SoftPaq file: Simply double click on the SP54344.exe file and follow the installation wizard to complete the SoftPaq installation process. At the end of a successful installation of the SoftPaq a web page will automatically appear to provide you with a link (Figure 3) to create a USB Key – alternatively, after the successful installation of the SoftPaq you could change to the directory the SoftPaq was installed to (default is C:\SWSetup\SP54344) and either execute start.htm in that directory or HPQUSB.exe in either C:\SWSetup\SP54344\Flat Files or C:\SWSetup\SP54344\USB Key directories.

If you followed HP’s instructions (above) you would have created a USB Key for re-installing the factory BIOS currently on your N40L. This may be handy to have on a spare USB key, so set it aside and create a second USB Key with the Factory BIOS installed on it.

That first USB Stick that you created and set aside can be used as your System Recovery Key if you’re system should fail to Boot after attempting to Flash the BIOS.

 

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Figure 2: Executing SP54344.exe — just follow the wizard for SoftPaq Installation

 

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Figure 3: Web Page that appears at end of SP54344.exe SoftPaq installation — click Launch HP USB Key Setup Creation Utility – HPQUSB.exe

 

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Figure 4: HPQUSB.exe HP USB Key Setup Creation Utility Startup Screen showing the creation of two different USB Keys that worked

 

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Figure 5: Two USB Keys (Flash Disk & USB Drive) have been prepared by HPQUSB.exe and are ready to flash the Factory BIOS

 

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Figure 6: File Explorer Detail View of USB Drive showing 11 Files with System Files Hidden then File Explorer Detail View of USB Drive showing 15 Files with System Files Un-Hidden — Prepared by HPQUSB.EXE in Figures 2-5 above on 1/31/2013

 

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Figure 7: File Explorer Detail View of Flash Disk showing 8 Files with System Files Hidden then File Explorer Detail View of Flash Disk showing 11 Files with System Files Un-Hidden — Prepared by HPQUSB.EXE in Figures 2-5 above on 1/31/2013

 

Note: I don’t know why the USB Drive and the Flash Disk file counts are different but they both worked.

 

To flash the Modified BIOS (“BIOS-MOD”) you need to first get the BIOS-MOD — you can follow DieHard’s link to BIOS-MODS thread for the HP Proliant Microserver AMI BIOS-MOD and in Post: #5 of that thread Camiloml attached the file that you can download, o41072911mod.rar, or just click on this direct link to the zipped file o41072911mod.rar — o41072911mod.rar is what you want. Un-zip it with Winzip or some other SW package and you’ll have the file o41072911mod.rom, thanks to the hard work of the people at BIOS-MODS!

 

Rename o41072911mod.rom to o41072911.rom. Replace the file O41072911.ROM on your second USB Key created by HP with o41072911.rom – (IMPORTANT: the ROM file begins with the letter Oh, NOT the number Zero – this simple error has been the genesis of many crash and burns during attempted Flashs. Another big danger is a power interruption to the MicroServer during the Flash – attach your MicroServer it to a Uninterruptible Power Supply (“UPS”) if one is available during the Flash. Another common problem has been an incompatible or just plain bad USB Key. For other failures or issues check HP’s Troubleshooting guides.) The uncompressed o41072911.rom is also in Diehard’s SkyDrive folder Flash.

Now, with your USB Key with the BIOS-MOD ROM file replacing the Stock/factory BIOS ROM (notice the file names were the same and they are the same size) you can flash your BIOS per HP’s instructions: “Insert this USB Key into the USB Key port of the system to be updated and power the system on to boot to the USB Key”. I created my USB Key with the BIOS-MOD on my Windows 7 Pro Desktop Machine. I’ve used 2 different Lexar 8GB sticks, a Team Fusion Plus 8GB stick, 2 no-name complementary 0.5GB sticks from an Alumni group, and 1 no-name 1GB stick I got at a trade show – all worked for me.

 

In preparation to Flash with the BIOS-MOD I had the MicroServer in the following configuration:

· The stock HDD was removed (no HDD’s were in the MicroServer)

· The Stock 2GB RAM was in the MicroServer

· No PCIe cards were installed

· A monitor, USB keyboard & mouse was attached to the MicroServer

· Nothing else was attached to the USB ports

· The NIC was not plugged into the network

 

With the MicroServer turned off I inserted the USB Key, the one I had created with the BIOS-MOD added, into the top USB Port on the front of the MicroServer and, after plugging in the power cord, I turned on the MicroServer.

NOTE: The process will begin instantly: If the USB Key is in a USB port on the MicroServer when you power it on – the whole process is automatic – as soon as the USB Key is seen during POST the MicroServer will begin to flash your BIOS – and will need roughly a minute or more to complete the process and finish to the C:\> prompt.

 

This is how the process went for me (times in seconds) after first checking that all plugs and cables were connected:

_0sec   Press power button to energize the MicroServer
10         HP ProLiant MicroServer Splash Screen
13         Splash Screen Blanks out
15         BIOS Starts initializing Processor, USB Controllers
20         2GB Memory detected
25         Auto-detecting USB Mass Storage Devices
28         Screen Blanks out
30         Screen Flash then blanks out
32         Post Prompts displays – dots count across screen to 35 Sec Mark
37         Copyright Screen displays and indicates config.sys/autoexec.bat are about to execute
39         DOS Command Shell copyright displays and loading ROM Image notice displays
42         Screen fills with characters
46         C:\> is displayed at bottom of screen

(See the Video I recorded of the BIOS-MOD Flash)

 

The Flash of my second HP MicroServer with BIOS-MOD was complete at the 46 second mark.

Caution: DO NOT power down the MicroServer before you see the prompt.

After you’ve powered down the MicroServer then power it back up (or simply hit Cntl-Alt-Del to restart the MicroServer) and hit the F10 Key to get into the BIOS and check out the new things that are visible.

The MAIN screen of the Modified BIOS from BIOS-MOD will appear as shown in Figure 8.

 

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Figure 8: MicroServer “ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY” MAIN Screen — Modified BIOS

 

Notice the difference between Figure 8 and the Stock BIOS shown in Figure 1 with the additional BIOS Tabs of PCIPnP and Chipset. BIOS-MOD doesn’t modify the Stock BIOS except to make visible code that was already in the Stock BIOS but had been hidden.

 

 

Step-By-Step Guide – Critical Path Check List

Caution: This isn’t a project for the inexperienced or faint of heart because you may be voiding any warranty you have as well as easily destroying or bricking your entire system. Proceed with the steps in the following reference links and Figures at your own risk.

 

______ 1. Get Systems ROMPaq Firmware file SP54344.exe from HP HERE

______ 2. Get BIOS-MOD o41072911.rom from BIOS-MOD HERE or BIOS-MOD HERE or BIOS-MOD HERE or Diehard’s SkyDrive folder HERE

______ 3. Change to directory where you downloaded or copied SP54344.exe in step #1.

______ 4. Double-Click to Execute SP54344.exe – follow installation wizard to create a bootable USB Key (for best practice for disaster recovery create an extra).

______ 5. Copy o41072911.rom (that you got in #2) to USB Key (from #4) – you will want to replace the original O41072911.rom from HP

______ 6. Move the USB Key (from #5) to any available USB port on the MicroServer.

______ 7. Turn on the MicroServer and wait for the C:\> prompt.

______ 8. Remove the USB key — Reboot or power cycle the MicroServer and hit F10 to enter the ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY – success will look like Figure 8.

 

 

Modifying the BIOS

Starting from the MAIN screen shown in Figure 8 above and using information I had found at Message #1217 and NAS Build Guide I moved through a number of screens to set Ports 4 & 5 to use AHCI and set all Ports to be external SATA Ports (basically enable hot swap).

From the MAIN Screen I went to => Chipset Menu => Southbridge Configuration => SB SATA Configuration => and set the following:

OnChip SATA Channel [Enabled]

OnChip IDE Type [IDE or Legacy IDE](1)

SATA IDE Combined Mode [Disabled] — sets Ports 4 & 5 to use AHCI

SATA EPS on all PORT [Enabled](2) — sets all Ports to be external SATA Ports

SATA Power on all PORT [Enabled]

Notes: (1) OnChip IDE Type can be set to IDE or Legacy IDE – I have one MicroServer (WHS-2011) set to IDE (see Figure 9) and the other (S2012E) set to Legacy IDE (see Figure 10) and haven’t noticed a performance difference between the two, YMMV; (2) setting all Ports to be external SATA Ports will make all of your Ports to be Hot Swappable – this is something you would need later if you want to use the Port Multiplier functionality of the eSATA Port (Port #4) – there are registry hacks that will remove the hot swap functionality from specific Ports but I didn’t bother, again YMMV. A link to the steps outlined by Alex to enable the Port Multiplier on the eSATA port can be found in Useful MicroServer links and References that highlights the necessary posts to read in the thread Successfully enabled Port Multiplier on eSATA. Depending on your planned setup you may not want to Disable SATA IDE Combined ModeLoneWolf found that disabling SATA IDE Combined Mode also disable the ability for the MicroServer to see his HP Smart Array P410 Hardware RAID controller. YMMV.

 

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Figure 9: “OnChip SATA Configuration” Configuration OnChip IDE Type [IDE]

 

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Figure 10: “OnChip SATA Configuration” Configuration OnChip IDE Type [Legacy IDE]

 

Finishing up my modifications in the OnChip SATA Configuration screen I returned to the MAIN screen. From the MAIN Screen I next went to => Advanced => IDE Configuration => and set the following:

Embedded SATA Link Rate [3.0Gbps Max] — forces the SATA Ports to run at 3.0Gbps Max mode

 

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Figure 11: Forcing Embedded SATA Link Rate to 3.0Gbps MAX

 

Be sure to SAVE your changes when you EXIT the ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY!

 

Conclusion

After flashing the BIOS-MOD and making a few minor changes in the BIOS I was ready to add additional RAM, OS drive and OS, internet cable connection to the onboard NIC, data drives, PCIe cards and many more things to this great little box. Currently, I have one MicroServer in production with WHS-2011 (Figure 12) for my home files management and providing a bare metal backup of my client computers.

 

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Figure 12: HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer and Server Backup Drive connected to Power Meter (reading 64.1W)

 

Parts List of MicroServer (my First MicroServer) Current Configuration in Figure 12

· HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer with 1GB RAM and 250GB HDD – Combo offer with MS WHS-2011 – after flashing the Modified BIOS the Stock 2GB RAM was replaced with the Kingston (below) – the Stock 250GB HDD is not being used in this configuration

· MicroSoft Windows Home Server 2011 64-b

· Kingston 8GB KVR1333D3E9SK2/8G

· WD PCIe USB 3.0 Card

· Icy Dock DuoSwap MB971SP-B

· 18” SATA Cable – I used straight ends not angled but any quality cable should work ok

· eSATA to SATA Cable – Tripp Lite Model P952-18I 18” SATA to eSATA

· Adaptor: StarTech 6” 4-Pin Molex to SATA 15-pin Power Cable

· OS Drive: Crucial M4 256GB SSD

· Data Drives: 5*ST3000DM001 – 4 in Main Drive cage and 1 on top in the DuoSwap

· Server Backup Drive: WD20EADS in a Rosewill RX35-AT-SU3 USB 3.0 External Enclosure – because of WHS-2011 Server backup limitation to 2TB only critical data is backed up to the external drive.

· StableBit DrivePool — Folder duplication turned on for all Server Shares

· StableBit Scanner

· Allway Sync Pro – keeps all Server Shares sync’d to another Server

 A place to start reading up on the many capabilities and possibilities of the MicroServer is the page of Useful MicroServer Links & References. Next check out the threads at HP MicroServer for answers to just about all questions about MicroServers, but if you don’t find a thread addressing your specific issue be sure to start a new thread and list your question.

 

Reference

· HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer Tear-Down

· HP MicroServer N40L Build and Bios Modification <= The Original

· Installing Windows Home Server 2011 on a SSD in a HP MicroServer

· A Look at Seagate’ FreeAgent GoFlex 4TB External Disk Drive & Western Digital’s USB 3.0 PCIe Card in a MicroServer

· The Icy Dock 5.25” Hot Swap Drive Caddy for a 2.5” and a 3.5” SATA Drive – DuoSwap MB971SP-B in a MicroServer

· Installing Windows Server 2012 Essentials on a HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

· Storage Spaces Performance in Windows Server 2012 Essentials on a HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

· Modified BIOS for MicroServer N40L Enables Hidden Features – This is DieHard’s Forum Thread that started everything – This thread is worth taking the time to read in its entirety – lots of valuable information including information about capabilities in the BIOS exposed by the BIOS-MOD like S3 and USB 3.0 that are NOT available/supported in the hardware – read the thread.

· More Interesting MicroServer Links – This Forum Thread has important links to information and Video’s – take the time to check out all the links – lots of valuable information.

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Category: Hard Drives, HP Microserver, SSD, Windows Home Server, Windows Home Server 2011

Comments (56)

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  1. patrick says:

    How come my rom on the usb created is showing as O41011711.ROM and not the one you've listed above?

  2. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Patrick! What you have with O41011711.ROM is the 2 version older copy of the BIOS dated 2011.01.17(A) which was updated to Version 2011.04.02(A) and finally updated to Version 2011.07.29(A) which is the current version that the BIOS-MODS is based on. The easiest thing would be to download the CURRENT HP Factory BIOS (Link in Blog Above) and Use that to Create your USB Key with O41072911.ROM on it and then copy your BIOS-MOD o41072911.ROM over it to Flash your MicroServer. HP's Current Factory BIOS is at http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/

    Join us in the Forums and let me know how your MicroServer BIOS Flash went http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum

    Thanks for catching that!

    • Rainer says:

      Hello Joe,

      thx for your excellent guide to upgrade a HP Microserver with the bios-mods.

      I followed your instructions but wondered why I don't have hidden files ? ?

      In your pictures I see : kernel.sys and other linux files ? ? ? You mentioned you crated the USB key with a Windows System. Where comes the linux files from ?

      My files are ( hidden files visible – but there is no difference, hidden on/off shows the same ) :

      Autoexex.bat
      command.com
      config.sys
      ibmbio.com
      ibmdos.com
      kyb.exe
      O41072911.rom
      readme.1st
      readme.txt
      rev_hist.txt

      THX in advance

  3. Thanks for the guide, Joe! Have flashed my N40L bios and adjusted the settings as you've described.

    However, is that enough to make it safe to hotswap the drives from a hardware/power point of view (after unmounting/sleeping, of course)? Or does that just mean that I have the ability to do so *if* I get those special hotswap brackets with individual power switches?

  4. Joe_Miner says:

    I've only tried it with inserting drives to be initialized and that was too exciting for me. I didn't feel comfortable with it. The advantage I saw with the hot-swap capability is that it adds the ability of eSATA port multiplying http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

  5. Morten Nielsen says:

    Please remember that turning all SATA ports to Hotplug will disable drive caching, which means a potential rather steep perfromance degrade.

    I have 2 N40L where I have modded one bios, and I must admit, I really can't find anything to make it usefull. If you really need hotplug, I'd suggest getting an USB3.0 usb port.

    Forcing a SATA port to run 3GB/s is just inviting disaster, if the controller on the drive mismatch a tiny tad with the HP controller. If they do talk together, they should figure out 3GB/s anyway.

  6. Joe_Miner says:

    Morten:

    Thank you for your comments. If you could join us in the forums and tell us about your research I'm sure many would appreciate it. I certainly would like to know more!
    http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum
    http://homeservershow.com/forums/

    Thanks,

    Joe

  7. Ryan says:

    Joe, THANK YOU!!!!!!

  8. Jeremy says:

    Hi Joe,

    I hope you can help as I've been scratching my head for a while on this now.

    When I come to run the HPQUSB.exe tool I then check my USB key I only have the following folders.

    AUTOEXEC.BAT
    COMMAND.COM
    fat32lba.bss
    IBMBIO.COM
    IBMDOS.COM
    kernel.sys
    syslinux.cfg

    I'm a little bit stuck if I should continue or what else I should do? I have followed the instructions step by step so I'm 100% confident I have everything right. The only thing I could think which may cause this that I'm running bootcamp?

    Thanks

    Jeremy

    • Jeremy says:

      Don't know what has happened but the files that are missing from the USB key are located on the desktop in a folder called "Flat Files" so I have now copied them into the USB key.

      I would assume that it's alright.

      • Joe_Miner says:

        Jeremy:

        I've never known HPQUSB.exe to build a USB Key with only those files but I also don't know how bootcamp might impact that file creation on a Mac. Let us know in the Forums if it worked or if you have more questions.

        Joe
        http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum

        • Jeremy says:

          Thank for the reply Joe.

          I couldn't get it to work last night so I now created the USB key here at work. I'm sure it will work fine, will have to try later.

          I would assume going through the step by step guide it will not work for any users who use bootcamp on a Mac.

  9. Joe_Miner says:

    BootCamp? Does that mean you created the USB Key on a Mac?

    Did your Flash work?

    Let us know how you are doing in the Forums: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum

  10. john says:

    Excellent guide thank you for the time put in, worked perfectly

  11. Joe_MIner says:

    Thank you John for your kind comment! When you get a chance join us in the Forums and tell us about your set-up!
    http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum

  12. Paul says:

    Thanks for this wrote up, my HP Proliant server is running great using an SSD drive for os and in AHCII mode:)

  13. devryguy81 says:

    Hi all. I have found quite a bit of this info useful, but I still have questions. I have the N54L loaded up with 16GB RAM, 4x160GB HDs and the 1 250GB that comes with it. I loaded ESXi 5.1 from a USB key and began installing VMs. Because ESXi doesn't see the "fake" software RAID, I resorted to installing 1 OS per HD just to get up and running so I could play around. How might I better configure things so that I can take advantage of RAID and run a small test network (Server 2008 R2 / Win7 / WinXP). I have 5 VMs right now. Is there also a way I can retain my current VMs after reconfiguring the storage?

  14. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Devryguy81! I'm not an ESXi user but there are a number in the Forums. I'd suggest you post your Q there to get some good ideas on configuration. Start in http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum… but also check out the threads http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?app=co

  15. Phil says:

    Worked a treat, install my New OS on my new SSD right now :-)

  16. ads says:

    Hi Guys
    Just got a N54L and looking to move the Os disk into the area under where the Optical disk would be and keep the 4 drive bays free for Data. I using it mainly to stream video to my media centre and pc backups using server essentials 2012. What effect would i have if i did not do the bios hack and run the os disk through the optical sata port. Would i see appalling performance/is this possible without the hack

  17. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Ads! You should be OK if you don't plan to use a higher performance HDD or a SSD and if you don't need the PortMultiplier on the eSATA Port.

    Without the BIOS-MOD the Ports 4 & 5 (i.e. the eSATA Port and the SATA Port on the System Board) are locked to a SATA I max speed or 150MB Read & Write. So Drives like the Stock 250 in the MicroServer or any older HDD's will not push that Max. If you wanted to use a performance drive like a Velocity Raptor, WD Black, or the newer Seagates then you will clamped at the lower performance. With a SSD not only would you be clamped at the lower speed but without AHCI you wouldn't have trim which will further degrade your SSD performance over time.

    If you want to use RAID off of the System board you'd be precluded from doing the BIOS-MOD — a better option then might be to go with a P410.

    Hope this helps. Join us in the Forums for more questions and tell us about your setup with the N54L.

  18. Clyde says:

    Hello All!
    I have purchased the HP N40L and have a couple to questions before I begin.

    1. The suggested Western Digital USB 3.0 PCIe Card has been discontinued. Do you have a substitute card that you would recommend?

    2. I've decided to use an SSD for my OS and install a fifth hard drive in the ODD slot. Should I use a "dual" StarTech 6" 4 Pin Molex to SATA Power Cable Adapter for power to both of these devices? Would that cause any problems.

    While I wait for a reply, I'll begin to flash the BIOS per the above instructions. Thanks for all of your assistance and detailed instructions/examples …!

  19. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Clyde:
    1. There's a discussion in this thread about a possible WD replacement http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

    2. This is the splitter I've used in the past http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N… but this one should also work IMHO http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N

    I've had no problems with the Nippon Splitter.

    • Clyde says:

      Hello Joe_Miner
      1. I modified the BIOS as per the above instructions
      2. I installed a Crucial SSD (256GB) to the onboard SATA port
      3. I've installed Windows Server 2012 Essentials to the SSD with no problem
      4. Problem … I've installed the 250GB (that came with the N40L) and another 3TB Seagate drive in the bays and neither are recognized … I also formatted the 3TB in another system and it still wasn't recognized when place in the N40L. Where did I go wrong? Thanks and take care …

      Clyde

      • joe miner says:

        Sounds like your Mini-SAS connector isn't fully seated.

        You could also post questions in the Forums for other ideas.

  20. Clyde says:

    Hi Joe_Miner,
    Thanks for the info. Today, my BIOS modification went well without a hitch. I will comment again when my HP N40L build is completed …

  21. Christian Marcotte says:

    Before / After performance comparison: 385% faster on ODD sata port with mod-Bios

    My environment:

    + Linux ubuntu 12.10 desktop on my desktop PC
    + Setting up ubuntu 12.04 (LTS) server on the HP N40L microserver
    + Created a usb stick ubuntu install for 12.04 server.
    + Installed an old 2.5" laptop drive in a mini USB enclosure and plugged this in the motherboard USB as boot disk
    + I will either slide it in the PCI cart compartment or velcro/hot-clue or tape it above the fan in the back of the case.
    + Installed Ubuntu server with NO PROBLEM at all.

    I installed a WD green disk (1Tb) on the ODD port (after installing a sata cable to the mobo and a power adapter cable for the disk). The N40L came with a 250Gb 7200rpm seagate disk already installed.

    + I formatted both disks with ext4
    + Setup a static address
    + Installed the samba server
    + I exported both disks

    Write performance test:
    I ran a quick and dirty write performance test on each disk from my desktop

    + The test was copying 14Gb of data (10 movies)
    + The seagate disk in the regular disk slots could write at around 87Mb/s
    + The WD disk in the ODD slot and sata port would only write at 24Mb/s (bummer)

    This convinced me that I should install the mod-BIOS. So I installed the mod-bios and configured
    the bios as follow (as recommended in the article)

    + OnChip SATA Channel [Enabled]
    + OnChip IDE Type [IDE or Legacy IDE]
    + SATA IDE Combined Mode [Disabled] — sets Ports 4 & 5 to use AHCI
    + SATA EPS on all PORT [Enabled](2) — sets all Ports to be external SATA Ports
    + SATA Power on all PORT [Enabled]

    Then I saved/rebooted and repeated the performance test:

    The seagate disk in the regular disk slots could write at around 87Mb/s (unchanged)
    The WD disk in the ODD slot and sata port would only write at 86Mb/s (358% faster!)

  22. Christian Marcotte says:

    Next test: Port Multiplier

    Since I did not test the port multiplier BEFORE upgrading the BIOS, I don't know if it would work with
    the original BIOS. One of the articles linked to the one above seemed to imply that the port multiplier
    on that chip required the ports to be marked as EPS (external SATA ports) in order to work which
    would imply that installing the mod-BIOS is required to use the port multiplier.

    I used a Rosewill RSV-S5 – 5 disk enclosure with E-SATA/port based on Sil3726 chipset
    which is a well known ultra-compatible port multiplier E-SATA chipset.

    I then installed 3 disks in it (each with a single ext4 partition)

    + 3TB WD Green
    + 750GB WD Green
    + 250GB Seagate (moved from the N40L's disk tray to the RSV-S5)

    All the disks show up without any problem.
    The write test shows the same 87Mb/s performance
    GREAT!!!!

    Compatible E-SATA Disk Towers:

    + Rosewill RSV-S5 – 5 DISK tower – $160 at NewEgg
    It comes with a small PCIe (linux compatible) E-SATA card with port multiplier
    + Rosewill RSV-S8 – 8 Disk tower – $260 at NewEgg
    Note that this unit requires that you connect TWO e-sata cables between the tower and the server.
    It comes with a small PCIe card (linux compatible) with two e-sata ports which you would need to use since the N40L only has one built-in E-SATA port.

  23. Christian Marcotte says:

    BIG NAS on the CHEAP:

    My costs so far:

    N40L $311 from NewEgg on special (with tax and shipping)
    An old laptop disk for the boot OS (free, I had one lying around. $50 if you buy new
    An old USB enclosure (free, I had one lying around). $10 if you buy new
    A RSV-S5 disk tower (free, I had one lying around). $160 if you buy new (google around, frequently on special)
    My total: $311 for a 10 disk power NAS box with NO compromise on quality or performance.

    Your costs:

    Look for specials on the N40L or its successor the N54L (same BIOS as the N40L at the time of writing)
    $350 for a N40L at NewEgg (Note that the unit comes with a 250Gb 3.5" Seagate disk)
    $160 for a 5 disk tower OR
    $260 for a 8 disk tower
    $60 for a 2.5" disk + USB enclosure

    Totals:

    $350 for a 4 disk NAS – Seagate 250Gb in ODD tray for OS, Generic BIOS
    $410 for a 5 disk NAS – use 2.5" disk in USB enclosure for OS, Mod-BIOS, RSVS5
    $510 for a 9 disk NAS – Seagate 250Gb in ODD tray for OS, Generic BIOS, RSV-S5 + PCIe E-Sata card.
    $570 for a 10 disk NAS – use 2.5" disk in USB enclosure for OS, Mod-BIOS, RSVS5 + on-board E-sata port
    $610 for a 12 disk NAS – Seagate 250Gb in ODD tray for OS, Generic BIOS, RSV-S8 + PCIe E-Sata card.
    $670 for a 13 disk NAS – use 2.5" disk in USB enclosure for OS, Mod-BIOS, RSV-S8 + PCIe E-Sata card.

    Conclusion: a big NASw/o using the Mod-BIOS:

    In conclusion, the N40L is a fantastic little server at a low price.
    Off the shelf, it gives you a 4 Disk NAS box.
    With a Mod-Bios and an old laptop disk and usb adapter, you can make it a 5 disk NAS.
    With as little as $160 and NO NEED for installing a Mod-Bios, you can get an extra 5 disks (9 Disk NAS)
    With the availability of those cheap Rosewill Disk towers, I see very little justification for installing
    the mod-Bios and hacking some USB to laptop disk in an otherwise perfectly clean, robust and affordable solution.

    The Mod-Bios should therefore really be used only by fearless tinkerers and/or severe cheapskates :-)

    Extra notes concerning the new N54L.
    It appears that this new unit is almost identical to the N40L except for a slightly faster processor.
    The Bios is even the same as the N40L (at the time of writing). I would expect that my comments
    and conclusions would also hold for the N54L (except perhaps for a slightly higher performance).

    Cheers!
    - Christian

  24. Jokes says:

    I flashed my n40l with this guidance and now my system says: 10240MB RAM?
    With the stock-bios i had 16GB (2X8GByte), what happend? any idea?

  25. Joe_Miner says:

    Flashing the BIOS-Mod will make no difference on the amount of RAM you system see's — 16GB is beyond HP's recommended 8GB and some MicroServers are quirky with 16GB with or without the BIOS-Mod — one of my N40L's with 16GB will boot only to 8GB once out of every 4-7 boots — I can reboot that N40L and see 16GB again — tried the same RAM in my other N40L and my N54L and never had a problem — I know of other's who have the SAME brand of RAM and they can't get their machines higher than 8GB — one guy I heard of was stuck on 10GB — If you're putting more than 8GB in your MicroServer you are taking a chance — you can mitigate the risk somewhat by getting RAM that is working for others on their machines but you are still taking a chance. That's why we don't recommend no more than 8GB ECC on a machine that is used for production as opposed to a Home Lab. Check out our RAM Links at http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

  26. AlanGunnSteel says:

    Hello Joe,

    Marvelous documentation and discussion!
    I just got my N54L.
    My planned configuration is a RAID array on a P420 RAID card and 16GB of memory.
    If I use the modified BIOS, what settings should I leave/change?
    Or do I need to use the stock BIOS and only 8GB?
    Many thanks, Alan

  27. joe miner says:

    Hi AGS: I don't have any experience with the P420 but some have found issues with the P410 and some of the changes after BIOS-MOD http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic… — for a production system I wouldn't go with anything over 8GB ECC — 16GB is OK for a home lab with non-critical data. Be sure to post more questions in the Forums and tell us about your build.

    • AlanGunnSteel says:

      Thank you for your prompt response, and your guidance.
      Would you please flesh out your implicit concern about operating a "production" system with 16GB of RAM.
      This will be used at home, but it will be a "mission critical" part of the infrastructure.
      I don't mind the work to get it working, but I do need to be sure that it's solid when I'm done building it.
      My plan was to run a few VMs as well as serving up data, so 16GB rather than 8GB would be much preferred.
      If I mod the BIOS, but leave all the settings as is, might I be able to see 16GB and the Smart Array card?

  28. joe miner says:

    In the Forums check the threads "Useful MicroServer Links" and listen to HSS 212 and in "MicroServer Hardware Links" read thru some of the threads on RAM.

    You don't need the BIOS-MOD to see 16GB RAM — assuming your machine will see 16GB.

  29. Pan says:

    I have now successfully modified BIOS on HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer. I can now see the PCIPnP and Chipset options in the BIOS menu. Does anyone know if I can use a DVD/CD (ODD) as a boot device?

  30. Pan says:

    Ignore me, I figured it out.

  31. tlfbi98 says:

    Joe Miner, thanks a lot for such a valuable thread. Thanks to all of you I have just purchased and flashed a N54L Proliant.

    Browsing the BIOS-MOD options I came to two options that I don't know if I have to touch:

    PCIPnP -> Plug & Play O/S. It came set to "NO". Do I have to set it to "Yes"?

    Chipset -> NorthBridge2 Configuration -> Internal Graphics Configuration -> AMD 880 HD Audio. It came set to "Disbled". Do I have to set it to "Enable"?

    I'm going to install Ubuntu 12.04…

    Thank you very much again.

  32. rjo says:

    Hi Joe,

    I have followed your instruction but it seems to get stuck because it cannot find the 041072911.rom. as advised I did not change the letter 'oh' to 'zero', but this shows that it is still looking for the 'zero'.

    Can you please help?
    Rjo

  33. Joe Miner says:

    Hi RJO! Sorry to hear you are having problems. Check Messages 408 & 413 in this thread http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

    Let is know if that works. If not give us more detail in the forums on how you did the prep for the Flash. How is your MicroServer configured? RAM? HDD(s)?, USB Ports?, PCIe Cards? brand/type of Flash drives (1 with the stock BIOS and 1 With the BIOS-MOD)? Network connection? Where did you download the BIOS-MOD file? What files are on each of your flash drives? The stock BIOS has an "oh" for the first character of the BIOS name so it is looking for and will only load o41072911.rom or O41072911.rom and will fail if it sees a 041072911.rom. did you unpack it from the RAR file that was on the BIOS-MODS site? Have you tried a different USB stick? Please post in the Forums at http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum

  34. rjo says:

    I prep the flash using a win2011 sbs server. Microserver is an HP Proliant NL 40, 4GB Ram, no HDD plugged. I am using the onboard USB port(tried other ports as well). Brand of flash drive is imation 8GB and SanCruizer 8GB. Network cable unplugged.I unpack the RAR file from the direct link you provided above. I have tried different USB stick. Also changed the letter oh from lowercase to capital. The error has now changed to "ROM File 041040~1.rom does not exist", " Line 274, Error 0×3".

    • Joe Miner says:

      Check out message #419 in the Forums for more detail http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

      Briefly, I think you are using an old ROMPaq. Rom file o41040211.ROM is the HP BIOS Version previous to the current Version o41072911.ROM. Get the current HP ROMPaq directly — links above and in the Forums at Message 419. Message #419 has additional info you may find useful.

      Good luck.

  35. Joe Miner says:

    RJO: See my reply comment in Message #419 in the Thread http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

  36. Marc says:

    Hey, just wanted to offer my thanks for helping me get my N54L fully working. I've done the mod, enabled port multiplying as well as AHCI features, and everything is working great! All of my HDDs are visible now, and I have AHCI support for my little SSD system drive. Just so you know, I didn't unplug anything when I did this update (NIC, HDDs, etc.) and it still worked perfectly. It probably took a little longer to get to the C: prompt, but other than that, I had no issues whatsoever as it seems the BIOS is preset to prefer the USB bootable devices by default.

  37. Carpediem says:

    Joe
    As a newbie, I would like to give you my heart felt gratitude for your 'HP Proliant N40L Microserver Build and BIOS Modification Revisited' which enabled me to successfully upgrade my BIOS. The instructors and screen shots were a fantastic aid for someone like me who is very enthusiatic but has very little knowldge :-)

    Thanks again. I shall be trying other things now. Next step is to add a fith drive but not sure whether to use the e-sata port or the ODD sata connection.

  38. lgo51 says:

    Hello Joe,

    After installing the mod'd ver. O41 100113 BIOS (SP64420 based) on my N36L uSvr and making what I thought to be the right CMOS changes, I was treated to the sometimes-cited, but never solved, PINK logo LED… oh, joy :O

    Following much online reading and many reversed CMOS settings, I found the solution… oh, JOY! :)

    Under the CHIPSET menu, find the Onchip USB Configuration, ensure the OHCI HC (Bus 0 Dev 20 Fn 5) setting is DISABLED …if ENABLED, the Logo LED will glow PINK instead of the normal BLUE color.

    Cheers

  39. neal fildes says:

    hi, in light of the fact that hp finally issued a new bios related to server 2012r2, have you heard of anyone redoing this mod on top of HP's? while I needed the 2012R2 aspect of the bios, I also lost the hot swap ability…
    nrf

  40. rjo says:

    Hi Joe,

    I have upgraded the BIOS successfully, thank you. The reason why I went for this venture was to be able to get 4TB WD WD4001FYYG Yellow hard drives to be detected. I am using an NL40 with nas4Free. It will detect any 500GB fine with no issues. I am booting nas4free off usb. Are there any settings in BIOS that can help in getting those 4 TB detected?

    Any help will be appreciated.

  41. Roelio says:

    Guys

    Does this custom bios enable you to install hyper-V server 2012R2 without problems? I cant install the OS because of a problem with the network card. This is fixed in the latest official bios upgrade but hp made it unavailable if your device is out of warranty.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Joe_Miner says:

      No. You will need SP64420.exe 2013.10.01 (A) (15 Nov 2013) but unless you have a Warranty or Maintenance contract getting it from HP is problematic (I hope you left HP a polite comment about their recent policy change). There is a thread on how to install S2012R2 on a N36L, N40L, & N54L without SP64420.exe if you have an open expansion slot http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

  42. kieron says:

    Hi there, i have the n54l and am planning on having 4x 4tb drives in it, i already have an optical drive in the bay, and would like to have an ssd drive internally but using the esata to boot from.

    i understand i need to upgrade the firmware to enable full speed on ports 5 and 6 (esata and optical) but i would just like to confirm that the machine needs to be updated to boot from the esata port or is this not needed? taking into account if i dont upgrade i wont get full speed.

    i plan to upgrade anyway, but am just curious

    thanks

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