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invalid NVRAM header on an UltraSparc

 
 
doofus
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      12-27-2009, 08:45 PM

Today I put OpenBSD 4.6 onto a consoleless Ultra 60 (2 x 450MHz), and
noticed a worrying error in the installer boot messages:

"isp0: invalid NVRAM header"

Can anyone tell me what this actually means and/or if it's fixable?

I think the isp device is the SunSwift combined ethernet/scsi PCI card
I have in the machine. It also carries an Expert 3D card and a no-name
USB 2 card.

I have the latest 3.31 openboot firmware on there, set to defaults,
and all three SCA disks (two inside, one in a Unipack on the primary
SCSI bus - not the SunSwift) are identical 300GB Seagates.

A quick search turns up plenty of similar reports, but no one seems to
know what to do about it.

Thanks in advance for any advice offered.


(I guess c.s.s.h should be the first place to ask, but it it seems to
be dying before our eyes...)
 
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Dr. David Kirkby
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      12-27-2009, 11:12 PM
On Dec 27, 8:45*pm, doofus <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Today I put OpenBSD 4.6 onto a consoleless Ultra 60 (2 x 450MHz), and
> noticed a worrying error in the installer boot messages:
>
> * "isp0: invalid NVRAM header"
>
> Can anyone tell me what this actually means and/or if it's fixable?
>
> I think the isp device is the SunSwift combined ethernet/scsi PCI card
> I have in the machine. It also carries an Expert 3D card and a no-name
> USB 2 card.
>
> I have the latest 3.31 openboot firmware on there, set to defaults,
> and all three SCA disks (two inside, one in a Unipack on the primary
> SCSI bus - not the SunSwift) are identical 300GB Seagates.
>
> A quick search turns up plenty of similar reports, but no one seems to
> know what to do about it.
>
> Thanks in advance for any advice offered.
>
> (I guess c.s.s.h should be the first place to ask, but it it seems to
> be dying before our eyes...)


What might be a plausable explanation is the battery is dying. I know
on older SPARC the error message is different.

There is about a 20% chance I have an NVRAM chip from a Ultra 60
spare. I scrapped an Ultra 60 after it got hit by lightnight, but
think I took the NVRAM out, as I had some software tied to that
hostid. If you want to try another NVRAM chip, and are willing to pay
postage from the UK, you can have it for nothing IF I can find it. And
its a big IF I'm afraid to say.

Dave
 
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Dr. David Kirkby
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Posts: n/a
 
      12-27-2009, 11:30 PM
On Dec 27, 11:12*pm, "Dr. David Kirkby" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:
> On Dec 27, 8:45*pm, doofus <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>
>
> > Today I put OpenBSD 4.6 onto a consoleless Ultra 60 (2 x 450MHz), and
> > noticed a worrying error in the installer boot messages:

>
> > * "isp0: invalid NVRAM header"

>
> > Can anyone tell me what this actually means and/or if it's fixable?

>
> > I think the isp device is the SunSwift combined ethernet/scsi PCI card
> > I have in the machine. It also carries an Expert 3D card and a no-name
> > USB 2 card.

>
> > I have the latest 3.31 openboot firmware on there, set to defaults,
> > and all three SCA disks (two inside, one in a Unipack on the primary
> > SCSI bus - not the SunSwift) are identical 300GB Seagates.

>
> > A quick search turns up plenty of similar reports, but no one seems to
> > know what to do about it.

>
> > Thanks in advance for any advice offered.

>
> > (I guess c.s.s.h should be the first place to ask, but it it seems to
> > be dying before our eyes...)

>
> What might be a plausable explanation is the battery is dying. I know
> on older SPARC the error message is different.
>
> There is about a 20% chance I have an NVRAM chip from a Ultra 60
> spare. I scrapped an Ultra 60 after it got hit by lightnight, but


lightening I mean!

The Ethernet port got destroyed, but I believe I may have taken the
NVRAM chip from it. What I can't recall is if I put it back, or not
before scraping the machine. I might have put it back, then decided
later to scrap it. I have another Ultra 60, but I'm not going to ruin
that.

If you think it might be one of the cards, the obvious thing is to
remove them first.
 
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Steve Firth
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      12-28-2009, 12:15 AM
Dr. David Kirkby <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> > There is about a 20% chance I have an NVRAM chip from a Ultra 60
> > spare. I scrapped an Ultra 60 after it got hit by lightnight, but

>
> lightening I mean!


Where did the doctorate come from? Was it Hamburger University?

I suspect that you mean "lightning".
 
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DoN. Nichols
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      12-28-2009, 04:38 AM
On 2009-12-27, doofus <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> Today I put OpenBSD 4.6 onto a consoleless Ultra 60 (2 x 450MHz), and
> noticed a worrying error in the installer boot messages:
>
> "isp0: invalid NVRAM header"
>
> Can anyone tell me what this actually means and/or if it's fixable?


This probably means that the cell in the NVRAM package is dying.
The NVRAM package contains what it set by the eeprom command from a
booted Solaris system, or from the "set" command at the OBP level before
booting. It is a NVRAM and the TOD clock combined in a single package,
and they typically last about ten years on a system powered up full
time, or somewhat less on a system which is powered down most of the
time.

It is important, because it contains a lot of critical bits of
information, including the hostid (which tells the OS where to look for
various interfaces) and the ethernet MAC address.

Sun will sell you a fresh one -- with the right hostid and MAC
address if you give them the barcode number from the old package. If
you don't have any licensed software on the
system (especially if you don't have Solaris on there) it would not make
any difference if you swapped in one from another system.

When you power up -- what is shown as the HOSTID on the screen,
and what is shown as the MAC address? If these are unreasonable for the
computer, then the dead/dying battery is likely.

On the Ultra-60, the chip is U2706, socketed under the power
supply near the last DIMMs (most distant from the CPU modules).

The first two digits of the HOSTID for the Ultra-60 should be
"80".

The chip is a 48T59 NVRAM (with clock chip, battery and crystal
included). Sun's part number for it is 525-1430. It is possible to
carefully dig into the chip and cut loose the leads going to the cell to
connect them to an external cell. Search on "IDPROM" for the web sites
which explain how to do it. But if you have to repair the chip, you
will need to recreate HOSTID and MAC address. It is good practice, if
you can't find the original MAC address to instead get one from an
ancient ethernet card for an old PC, and destroy the ROM which sets the
MAC address in that card so you will never have another system using the
same MAC address. It is certainly bad news on a local net to have two
duplicates, and I don't know what would happen over the internet if two
systems with the same MAC address happened to connect to each other.

> I think the isp device is the SunSwift combined ethernet/scsi PCI card
> I have in the machine. It also carries an Expert 3D card and a no-name
> USB 2 card.


The driver for "isp" probably handles a lot of things on the
system board, so it could be almost anything -- but the NVRAM bit is
pretty clear.

> I have the latest 3.31 openboot firmware on there, set to defaults,
> and all three SCA disks (two inside, one in a Unipack on the primary
> SCSI bus - not the SunSwift) are identical 300GB Seagates.
>
> A quick search turns up plenty of similar reports, but no one seems to
> know what to do about it.


Get a replacement chip from Sun -- or perform surgery on the
chip to extend its life.

> Thanks in advance for any advice offered.
>
>
> (I guess c.s.s.h should be the first place to ask, but it it seems to
> be dying before our eyes...)


Well ... it is where *I* saw this, and answered it. And it is
where several other replies are (which I have not yet read). It may be
that your news server has dropped it, if you see this only in the other
newsgroup. (I've left the cross-posting intact, in case that is what is
happening to you.

Good Luck,
DoN.

--
Email: <(E-Mail Removed)> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
--- Black Holes are where God is dividing by zero ---
 
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Dr. David Kirkby
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      12-28-2009, 09:30 PM
On Dec 28, 12:15*am, %(E-Mail Removed) (Steve Firth) wrote:
> Dr. David Kirkby <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > > There is about a 20% chance I have an NVRAM chip from a Ultra 60
> > > spare. I scrapped an Ultra 60 after it got hit by lightnight, but

>
> > lightening I mean!

>
> Where did the doctorate come from? Was it Hamburger University?


Department of Medical Physics, University College London.

http://www.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/researc...k/phd/phd.html

> I suspect that you mean "lightning".


You suspect correctly.

Dave
 
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Steve Firth
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      12-28-2009, 10:32 PM
Dr. David Kirkby <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> > Where did the doctorate come from? Was it Hamburger University?

>
> Department of Medical Physics, University College London.


In that case, Tsk.
 
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Dr. David Kirkby
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Posts: n/a
 
      12-28-2009, 10:42 PM
On Dec 27, 11:12*pm, "Dr. David Kirkby" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:
> On Dec 27, 8:45*pm, doofus <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>
>
> > Today I put OpenBSD 4.6 onto a consoleless Ultra 60 (2 x 450MHz), and
> > noticed a worrying error in the installer boot messages:

>
> > * "isp0: invalid NVRAM header"

>
> > Can anyone tell me what this actually means and/or if it's fixable?

>
> > I think the isp device is the SunSwift combined ethernet/scsi PCI card
> > I have in the machine. It also carries an Expert 3D card and a no-name
> > USB 2 card.

>
> > I have the latest 3.31 openboot firmware on there, set to defaults,
> > and all three SCA disks (two inside, one in a Unipack on the primary
> > SCSI bus - not the SunSwift) are identical 300GB Seagates.

>
> > A quick search turns up plenty of similar reports, but no one seems to
> > know what to do about it.

>
> > Thanks in advance for any advice offered.

>
> > (I guess c.s.s.h should be the first place to ask, but it it seems to
> > be dying before our eyes...)

>
> What might be a plausable explanation is the battery is dying. I know
> on older SPARC the error message is different.
>
> There is about a 20% chance I have an NVRAM chip from a Ultra 60
> spare. I scrapped an Ultra 60


I can not find the chip. It is quite possible I simply swapped them
over from one machine to the other, then later decided to scrap the
machine due to the lightning damage.

I doubt Sun would sell you an NVRAM chip, but even if they would, it
is not likely to be economically viable, due to the machines age. Look
on eBay and you might find a motherboard.

The other option might be to buy an NVRAM chip from a professional
electronics dealer (RS and Farnell in the UK would be places I'd
look). It may then be possible to program the chip.

http://www.squirrel.com/sun-nvram-hostid.faq.html

is a semi-useful link, but it is very outdated and does not cover any
machine as new as the Ultra 60.

Dave

 
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HankVC
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Posts: n/a
 
      12-29-2009, 02:03 AM
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
doofus <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>Today I put OpenBSD 4.6 onto a consoleless Ultra 60 (2 x 450MHz), and
>noticed a worrying error in the installer boot messages:
>
> "isp0: invalid NVRAM header"
>
>Can anyone tell me what this actually means and/or if it's fixable?
>

You may have an NVRAM battery going dead. If the clock won't hold
time and/or the MAC address and hostid are all zeros, that's
definitely your problem.

The 48T59 NVRAM IC is available from Mouser. You'll need to program
it. Instructions for doing that are in the NVRAM archive at
www.squirrel.com. Program it as you would for an Ultra 1.
real-machine-type is 80 (the first two digits in the MAC adress).
The MAC address is on a label on the NVRAM, so you can restore the
machine to its original identity.

Make sure you install the thing oriented properly---there is a notch
at one end. Check the orientation of the NVRAM currently in the
machine and in the plastic carrier. Be careful plugging the new one
into the socket. The plastic carrier makes life a lot easier, but you
need to feel all the pins engage in the socket.

I have a sleeve of 48T59's and have replaced several over the years.
Not a difficult job, and the programming takes maybe all of five
minutes. When you finish, lift the label with the MAC address off the
old NVRAM and stick it on the new one with Pliobond.

Hank.
 
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Bill Green
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      12-29-2009, 06:14 PM
On 2009-12-29, HankVC <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
> doofus <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>
>>Today I put OpenBSD 4.6 onto a consoleless Ultra 60 (2 x 450MHz), and
>>noticed a worrying error in the installer boot messages:
>>
>> "isp0: invalid NVRAM header"
>>
>>Can anyone tell me what this actually means and/or if it's fixable?
>>

> You may have an NVRAM battery going dead. If the clock won't hold
> time and/or the MAC address and hostid are all zeros, that's
> definitely your problem.
>
> The 48T59 NVRAM IC is available from Mouser.


According to Mouser, the part is obsolete (you have to request a quote).
Is your experience that they're available from Mouser recent? Or do you
know an alternative supplier? I've got an Ultra 60 that needs a new NVRAM
chip.

Thanks.
 
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