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Ultra 5 NVRAM ?

Discussion in 'Sun Hardware' started by Bill Janssen, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. Bill Janssen

    Bill Janssen Guest

    My Ultra 5 just quit booting . It goes through its diag. routine and
    then says it can't
    boot from the net. and says the idprom contents are invalid

    So I did a printenv command and the diag-switch? is set to true. I tried
    that to false but it won't change.

    Question; is there a battery backed IC in the Ultra 5 similar to the
    sparc machines?
    Is this a fatal flaw or is there a simple fix. I have changed the prom
    in a Sparc machine
    so am some what familiar with that. I even added a battery to a
    clock/prom chip.

    Bill K7NOM
    Bill Janssen, Aug 13, 2005
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  2. Bill Janssen

    Bill Janssen Guest

    OK thanks for the step by step instructions. From your information I
    suspect that the
    nvram battery is dead. Are the instructions on rebuilding the nvram info
    on the web?
    I suspect that the above info is all that is necessary to make a
    workable data file.
    Of course I haven't made a note of the original mac address so will have
    to generate
    one that looks original. I will check for stickers on the mother board
    etc. for the mac address.

    Thanks for the tips.
    Bill K7NOM
    Bill Janssen, Aug 14, 2005
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  3. Bill,

    i would recommend the following

    set the nvram settings to default

    - set-defaults

    set the diag-device to disk net
    set the boot-device to disk net
    set auto-boot? to false
    set diag-switch to false

    reset the system


    with the above settings the system comes to the ok prompt

    at the ok prompt you can boot from the disk or from the net manually

    with these setting you have a better diagnostic mode.

    if the message "idprom contents are invalid" arise again,
    it is possibel the battery, located on the nvram chip, is low.

    the command banner will show you the ethernet/mac address
    if the field contains 0:0:0:0:0:0, it will be an idicator for
    low battery status.

    replacement of the nvram chip is required.


    Thomas Weidner, Aug 14, 2005
  4. Bill,

    if you get a new nvram, the mac address is coded in it.
    of course it is not the same as your current macaddress

    you only need your old mac address if you have software which license
    is bind on the mac address e.g. veritas volumemanager, solstice backup etc.

    it is possible to change the mac addr. in the new nvram.

    if you need more information about this doing, let me know.

    i can send you a step by step instructions to do this.


    Thomas Weidner, Aug 14, 2005
  5. Bill Janssen

    Bill Janssen Guest

    snip much info
    Ok maybe I will need that info. I am about to order a new nvram from
    Are there any problems with Digi-key nvram. I put a new nvram in a sparc
    (10?) and
    it didn't work. I added a battery to the old chip and it ran until I
    junked it.

    I can't write to the existing nvram so it is not "just the battery". I
    re-seated the
    chip and no success.

    Bill K7NOM
    Bill Janssen, Aug 15, 2005
  6. Bill Janssen

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    Note that the new mac address is pre-coded in a replacement
    NVRAM from *Sun*. The ones from DigiKey will be blank, as nobody knows
    what system they are intended to be mounted in, and various
    manufacturers who use the chip almost certainly use different addresses
    for the same information.
    I understand that there have been recent changes in the design
    of the NVRAM chip, and that modern ones will not work in older systems.

    Aside from that, you need at least two bits of information. One
    is the mac address (which you can get by picking up an antique PC
    ethernet card, getting the mac address from that, and destroying the PROM
    which contains the mac address, which assures that no other system will
    have the same mac address as your Sun.

    The other critical bit of information is the HOST-ID. The first
    digits of it must be right for the type of system (SS-2 in this case),
    and the remaining digits should be selected to not duplicate any
    existing one -- so you want to randomly select a number near the end of
    the range, where Sun had not yet allocated the number to any production
    SS-2. (The first digits *must* be there so the OS knows at which
    physical address to find various hardware features.

    When you get one from Sun, you feed them the barcode number from
    the old one, and they will use that to look up the proper mac address
    and HOST-ID, and program those into the chip prior to sending it to you.

    There used to be programs made available on the net to
    re-program this information into a new NV-RAM, and these suggestions to
    get a usable mac address and HOST-ID were packaged with such programs.
    I don't know whether they are still being released, but you should be
    able to find one old enough to work with an SS-2.

    Hmm ... perhaps the circuits driving it are bad? Or perhaps it
    drops power to the chip for a moment as part of the verification
    operation, and with a bad battery, it will lose the information every

    Good Luck,
    DoN. Nichols, Aug 15, 2005
  7. Bill Janssen

    Bill Janssen Guest

    Thanks Don. Yes I had to generate a mac address for the sparc that I
    changed the
    nvram in. Since it was on my local net I didn't worry about conflicts
    with other sparc
    machines. I just made my machine happy. That sparc machine is in the
    trash now so
    it was never a problem..

    Bill K7NOM
    Bill Janssen, Aug 15, 2005
  8. Bill Janssen

    James Sweet Guest

    Has anyone looked into the details of the changes? I'd be curious to know
    what they did, there may be a workaround.
    James Sweet, Aug 15, 2005
  9. Bill Janssen

    Dave Mitton Guest


    Before replacing mine, I found that if I left the machine powered on for a day
    or so, the memory would "come back" ... long enough to boot up and get the info.

    Dave Mitton, Aug 27, 2005
  10. Bill Janssen

    Bill Janssen Guest

    Interesting idea. I bought a replacement clock chip from Mouser (sp).
    It had the same part number
    and speed but the U5 wouldn't even finish the POST.

    Guess I will have to order from SUN. I talked to a sales rep before I
    ordered from Mouser
    but the rep didn't know how to order but would take my info and get back
    to me.

    Guess I will have to call her again :-(

    Bill K7NOM
    Bill Janssen, Aug 27, 2005
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