Feeds

Cisco recalls suicidal UCS blade servers

Goodness gracious, great MOSFETs afire

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Cisco Systems warns that its high-end B440 blades for its "California" Unified Computing System have a potentially disastrous defect that could result in one or more board failures, and emit a flash of light that could perhaps give system administrators heart attacks.

Last week, Cisco put out a field notice to customers using its UCS B440 server blades, saying that the failure of a MOSFET power transistor on the blade can "cause the component to overheat and emit a short flash which could lead to complete board failure." The company went on to say that "in extreme circumstances it could affect the other blades in the chassis by disrupting power flow."

Cisco actually warned customers that something was afoot with the MOSFETs back on July 12, 2011, and said at that time that there was "no indication of a systemic issue with the MOSFET components, and the observed failure in the field is considered to be a random component failure." To that end, Cisco's system engineers could whip up a firmware fix for the blade to keep the MOSFET from overheating and flashing, obviously causing the system board to fail. This is a no-no in the enterprise server racket.

Then on January 26, the company notified customers using the B440 servers that the firmware patch did detect MOSFET failures and prevent a "potential thermal event," but that since the firmware had been distributed, another B440 in the field has gone poof!. And so Cisco has made hardware modifications to the B440 system board and is now replacing all of the machines currently used by customers.

Cisco said in the field notice that no other UCS B Series blade servers or C Series rack servers are affected by this MOSFET failure issue.

If you have one of these B440s in production, Cisco recommends upgrading to the most recent UCS blade management controller software, which has the patch for monitoring the B440 MOSFETs, and arranging to get replacement blades as soon as possible.

The UCS B440-M1 blade server was launched back in April 2010, and is a double-wide blade that slides horizontally into the UCS chassis. It is a four-socket server that is based on Intel's eight-core "Nehalem-EX" Xeon 7500. The four-socket C460-M1 rack server has a slightly different design and is not affected by the MOSFET issue. Back in March 2011, Cisco updated its chubby UCS blade with the B440-M2, which is also a four-socket blade, but one supporting the ten-core "Westmere-EX" Xeon E7 processors from Intel. They shipped in last April.

There's no reason to believe that Cisco's distribution of servers is much different from the rest of the x86 world, so the MOSFET issue probably only affects somewhere between 5 and 10 per cent of its installed base. Cisco will very likely have more to say about the issue – and any costs it incurs for the recall – on Wednesday, when it goes over its financials for the second quarter of its fiscal 2012. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box
Only 250th most powerful in the world? Bring back Michael Fish
Microsoft brings the CLOUD that GOES ON FOREVER
Sky's the limit with unrestricted space in the cloud
'ANYTHING BUT STABLE' Netflix suffers BIG Europe-wide outage
Friday night LIVE? Nope. The only thing streaming are tears down my face
IBM, backing away from hardware? NEVER!
Don't be so sure, so-surers
Google roolz! Nest buys Revolv, KILLS new sales of home hub
Take my temperature, I'm feeling a little bit dizzy
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.