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STEC SSD firmware updates with IBM SAS/SATA update utility

2013 April 3
by Kirk Kosinski

I have an IBM-branded STEC MACH8 SSD installed in a Supermicro server with a PDSME+ motherboard.  This 50 GB SLC SSD works great as a Logzilla for ZFS, but updating the firmware can be a hassle.  Getting the latest firmware requires using IBM’s update utility which doesn’t run without a workaround on non-IBM servers.

There are three variations of the update utility:

IBM Online SAS/SATA hard drive update v1.12 for Linux

IBM Online SAS/SATA hard drive update v1.12 for Microsoft Windows Server 2003/2008

IBM SAS/SATA hard drive update program v1.10

Originally I used v1.08 of the bootable ISO to update the SSD (part number M8ISB2-50UC-IBM). It detects the SSD without a problem, and (if applicable) updates it.

IBM Drive Update ISO

Unfortunately, the latest version (v1.10) doesn’t seem to support the STEC SSD and is out of date anyway; the v1.12 Windows and Linux utilities include more recent firmware.  However, the Windows and Linux versions appear to check if it is being run on a supported IBM server.  If you run it on a non-IBM server you will get an error.  On Windows:

Update failure on Windows

On Linux:

root@slax:~# ./ibm_fw_hdd_sas-1.12_linux_32-64.bin -s
This update is not meant for this system.

I’m using Slax on a USB flash drive, and the *.bin file can be extracted by the unzip command.

root@slax:~# unzip ibm_fw_hdd_sas-1.12_linux_32-64.bin
Archive:  ibm_fw_hdd_sas-1.12_linux_32-64.bin
warning [ibm_fw_hdd_sas-1.12_linux_32-64.bin]:  74943 extra bytes at beginning or within zipfile
  (attempting to process anyway)
  inflating: image/32bit/
  inflating: image/readme.txt

After extracting, navigate to the image/32bit or image/64bit subdirectory.  The fdrvwl binary located here is what actually performs the firmware updates.  It is possible to run manually, and the available commands and options are as follows:

FdrvWL FLASH       -- Flash FW on Drives [FORCE|DEBUG|32M|32I|32SM|32D|32P|32T|MCP]
FdrvWL FIND        -- Find Drives [INQ|C4|B0|PID|NONW|NODB|MCP|LSI]
FdrvWL MFLASH      -- MULTI Flash Drive(s) max 32 LINUX ONLY [sg1,sg2 ...]
FdrvWL LIST        -- Display Drive List [MCP]
FdrvWL VERSION|MAP -- Display Storlib and Adapter fw versions
FdrvWL MPAGE       -- Check/Fix SAS Mode Page(s) [FIX|CHK|MCP]

The purpose of the options are not entirely clear and I couldn’t find any documentation.  On my Supermicro server the “MCP” option was needed to successfully issue commands on the SSD connected to a SATA connector on the motherboard.  The FIND command lists available drives.

root@slax:~/image/32bit# ./fdrvwl find mcp

(C) Copyright IBM Corp.2010-2012. All Rights Reserved.

FdrvWL -- Find Drive(s)                                          v:
   1 Ada:2 SID:1   PN:44E9160:42C0340-43W7701 SN:000DD21B FW:2582      50 GB T:18 L:0 

  1 Device(s) Found(SAS:0  SATA:1  ESM:0  EXP:0)

The drive was successfully detected so I tried FLASH:

root@slax:~/image/32bit# ./fdrvwl flash mcp

(C) Copyright IBM Corp.2010-2012. All Rights Reserved.

FdrvWL -- Flash Drive(s)                                         v:
   1 Ada:2 SID:1   PN:44E9160:42C0340 SN:000DD21B FW:2804        50 GB T:18 FLASH:Ok

AdaNbr(Type)      DevFnd Flashed(SAS SATA) NbrFailed
  0(LSI-IR )           0       0   0    0          0
  1(LSI-MR )           0       0   0    0          0
  2(onBoard)           1       1   0    1          0
                       1       1   0    1          0 Error(s)

Success!  The drive was updated from firmware 2582 from the v1.08 update to 2804 in v1.12.

Flash STEC SSD with fdrvwl

I wish it was easier to update the firmware on this SSD.  Hopefully they’ll release a new version of the bootable ISO that supports this drive.

Here’s the SSD in question:


One Response Post a comment
  1. Thomas permalink
    June 6, 2016


    Some of the links are dead. The last downloadable update i found is v1.14.03-2 (see below).

    There seems to be an v1.16.0.3 but the links are dead.

    Another ressource – but also with dead links – has an v1.18.0.2

    Could you pls tell me if you have more recent downloadable version than 1.14.03-2?


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