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Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 Systems Auto Diagnosis and Recovery Enhancements

This article describes the Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 systems availability enhancements provided in the system controller (SC) firmware versions 5.15.0 and 5.15.3 releases and the Solaris OE kernel updates. This document is useful for support personnel who have a basic technical knowledge of the Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 systems.
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This article describes the Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 system availability enhancements provided in the system controller (SC) firmware versions 5.15.0 and 5.15.3 releases and the Solaris OE kernel updates. This document is useful for support personnel who have a basic technical knowledge of the Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 systems.

This article covers the following topics:

  • System Controller Firmware Enhancements

  • Solaris OE Enhancements

  • Conclusion

Enhancements have been added to both the Solaris™ Operating Environment (Solaris OE) and the Sun Fire firmware release 5.15.3. Improved auto diagnosis of hardware failures and system recovery are now available. These enhancements achieve increased availability and better serviceability of the Sun Fire™ 6800/4810/4800/3800 systems. Both firmware version 5.15.3 and either the Solaris 8 OE kernel update 24 or Solaris 9 OE kernel update 5 are required to benefit from these enhancements.

TABLE 1 lists the patches needed to benefit from the Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 auto diagnosis and recovery enhancements.

TABLE 1 Required Patches


Sun Fire firmware release 5.15.3


Solaris 8 OE kernel update 24

112233-09 and 116009-01

Solaris 9 OE kernel update 9 and patch 116009-01

Sun Fire firmware release 5.15.3 of the system controller (SC) introduces the ability to receive hardware failure messages from the Solaris OE and ensure that the identified hardware failure is not configured in future reboots or setkeyswitch on and off events. In Sun Fire firmware release 5.15.0, several enhancements were made to improve the availability, serviceability, diagnosability, and repair characteristics of Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 systems. This document discusses both the existing firmware release 5.15.0 enhancements and the recent firmware release 5.15.3 enhancements:

  • Sun Fire firmware release 5.15.0 enhancements:

    • Auto diagnosis—Automated diagnosis of runtime hardware faults

    • Component health status—Persistent record of the information stored in the component

    • Auto restoration—Automatic restoration of a domain

    • Domain hang recovery—Detects and recovers from a domain hang

    • Repeated domain panic recovery—Runs power on-self test (POST) at increasing diagnosis levels to identify and isolate the faulty hardware (if any)

  • Sun Fire firmware release 5.15.3 enhancement:

  • Persistent record of hardware failures identified by the Solaris OE—receives hardware failure messages from the Solaris OE and stores the component health status in the affected FRU

    Additionally, some enhancements have been made in the Solaris OE to improve the availability of the domain:

  • CPU off-lining—Off-line a CPU when an L2_SRAM module has an increased probability of experiencing fatal errors

  • Communicate hardware failures to the system controller—Sends a message to the system controller when the Solaris OE identifies and isolates a faulty component

System Controller Firmware Enhancements

When the system encounters a fatal hardware error that causes a domain to be error paused, the hardware fault is automatically diagnosed. The auto diagnosis (AD) enhancement updates the component health status (CHS) on the affected FRU if the hardware failure can be isolated to a specific FRU or a set of specific FRUs. During the auto-restoration phase, POST consults the CHS and restores the domain with the fault isolated.

In addition to the preceding enhancements, if POST encounters a test failure, the CHS is stored in the appropriate FRU.

The SC firmware is enhanced to detect domain hangs and recover from such situations by resetting and rebooting the domain. Another SC firmware enhancement runs POST at increasing diagnostic levels when the domain panics repeatedly, so that the system can identify and isolate any persistent hardware faults.

Auto Diagnosis

The SC monitors the domains for hardware faults. AD is automatically invoked on hardware faults that cause a domain pause or data parity errors. On Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 systems the data path is protected by parity and ECC. Domain operation is not impacted if data parity errors occur. Domain pauses are fatal errors and stop domain operation. AD analyzes the following errors:

  • Interconnect errors

  • Data parity errors

  • Internal ASIC errors

FIGURE 1 shows the AD phase, Steps 1 through 5. Depending on the fault, three types of diagnosis results are possible:

  • Fault diagnosed to a single component

  • Fault diagnosed to a set of components

  • Unresolved fault diagnosis

Note that when a fault is diagnosed to a set of components, it does not mean that all the components are faulty, just that the fault is located in a subset of these components (usually one).

Figure 1FIGURE 1 Auto Diagnosis Process

Auto Diagnosis Recording and Reporting

After the fault has been diagnosed, AD records its diagnosis persistently in the CHS and reports it to the domain console and loghost as shown in FIGURE 2.

Figure 2FIGURE 2 Auto Diagnosis Recording and Reporting

TABLE 2, "Example 1," shows the AD result that is output to the domain console for a single FRU diagnosis.

TABLE 2 Example 1

[AD] Event: SF3800.ASIC.SDC.PAR_SGL_ERR.60111010
CSN: 124H58EE DomainID: A ADInfo: 1.SCAPP.15.0
Time: Thu Jan 23 20:47:11 PST 2003
FRU-List-Count: 1;FRU-PN:5014362;FRU-SN: 011600; FRU-LOC:/N0/SB0
Recommended-Action: Service action required

AD reports a unique event code for the failure type and the diagnostic time. A full description of the AD output format is in the Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/ 3800 Systems Platform Administration manual. In this example AD determined that the error is within CPU/Memory board at FRU-LOC:N0/SB0.

The reported information enables your service provider to make a quick determination of the problem and initiate corrective service action.

CHS on a Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 is implemented for the following FRUs and components:

  • CPU/Memory boards

  • CPUs

  • L2_SRAM modules

  • DIMMs

  • I/O assemblies

  • Fireplane switches

Since the CHS and diagnostic information is persistently stored on a component, it moves with the component, which prevents the recurrence of a fault even if the component is moved to a different location. Preventing the recurrence of a fault improves the availability characteristic of Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 systems. The diagnosis information is contained inside the component. This makes service and repair of these systems easier.

Auto Restoration

POST performs the domain auto restoration function. POST runs automatically after AD or it is manually started by issuing the setkey command on the SC. POST consults the CHS of the domain hardware and reconfigures the domain to isolate the fault (FIGURE 3).

Figure 3FIGURE 3 Auto Restoration

After the domain has been restored, you can run the showcomponent command to check which components have been disabled due to CHS.

If a FRU or component is disabled because of its CHS, immediate replacement is not necessary because the domain is restored with the fault isolated. Utilizing dynamic reconfiguration (DR), the FRU can be replaced at any time with minimal impact to the Solaris OE and user applications. For more information about DR, see [1] Sun BluePrints OnLine article "Sun Fire™ 3800-6800 Servers Dynamic Reconfiguration."

Domain Hang Recovery

A situation in which a domain is not updating its heartbeats or is unreachable by using the console is categorized as a domain hang. A domain's heartbeat is a communication mechanism that informs the SC that it is alive. If a domain is not updating its heartbeat, this indicates a domain hang. A domain hang can occur due to hardware or software issues.

When using firmware version 5.15.0 or above on a Sun Fire 6800/4810/4800/3800 system, the SC acts as an external monitor for each domain. The SC monitors for a domain hang condition and initiates an XIR domain reset if the domain heartbeat register is not updated within the maximum time out limit. The domain heartbeat monitoring is configurable for each domain using the watchdog_timeout_seconds parameter in the /etc/systems file of each domain.

The default time out value for a domain is three minutes. For additional details, refer to the system(4) man page. If watchdog_timeout_seconds is set to a value less than three minutes, the SC defaults to three minutes.

Figure 4FIGURE 4 Domain Hang Restoration

TABLE 3, "Example 2," shows the console output of a domain that was declared hung and was reset by the SC.

TABLE 3 Example 2

Jan 22 17:02:06 sc0 Domain-A.SC: Domain watchdog timer expired.
Jan 22 17:02:06 sc0 Domain-A.SC: Using default hang-policy (RESET).

In addition to the heartbeat monitoring, the SC also checks if the domain is picking up the interrupts sent to it by the SC. The SC sends interrupts to the domain when, for example, characters are entered on the domain console. If on a second interrupt, the previous one has not been picked up by the domain, the SC waits for one minute before declaring the domain hung. TABLE 4, "Example 3," shows the console output of a domain that is hung because it has not been picking up its interrupts.

TABLE 4 Example 3

Jan 22 18:09:02 sc0 Domain-A.SC: Domain is not responding to interrupts.
Jan 22 18:09:02 sc0 Domain-A.SC: hang-policy is NOTIFY. Not resetting domain.

The hang policy is set by the setupdomain command to notify or reset. If set to notify, the SC reports the hang condition on the domain console and does not reset the domains (TABLE 4, "Example 3"). If set to reset, the SC reports the hang condition on the domain console and initiates a domain reset (TABLE 3, "example 2"). By default the hang policy is set up to dump core when it is reset. To identify the cause of the domain hang, consult your service provider while referring to the core file.

A system's hang-policy can be verified using the showdomain command in the domain shell.For more information about domain setup, refer to the Sun Fire™ 6800/4810/4800/3800 Systems Platform Administration manual.

Recovery From Repeated Domain Panics

Domain panics can be caused by software or hardware. To prevent hardware faults from causing panic-reboot loops, the SC firmware runs POST at increasing diagnostic levels on recurring panics.

On the first panic, the domain reboots and writes a core file, which can be used to analyze the problem. However, if further panics occur within a short time period, it is desirable to run POST automatically at a higher level as part of domain restoration. POST diagnostics verify the status of the hardware and could identify and isolate faulty components (if any). After identifying faulty components, POST updates the appropriate CHSs. With firmware release 5.14.0 and higher, the SC keeps track of the number of domain panics over time. A panic reboot of a domain has a unique register signature that differs from the normal reboot of a domain. If the domain is manually rebooted in the meantime, the panic-reboot counter is reset.

On recurring panics, the domain POST diagnostic level is increased to the next higher level from diag-level quick. In increasing order, POST levels are init, quick, default, mem1, and mem2. The domain is put into standby position if it continues to panic undetected by the user after the highest level of POST is run (FIGURE 5). For further analysis, consult your service provider while referring to the core file.

Figure xxxFIGURE 5 Domain Panic Restoration

This feature prevents a panic-reboot loop of domains. If recurring panics are caused by a software bug, the increased POST level minimizes hardware as a possible cause. Downtime for running further POST diagnostics is not required because the system automatically takes the necessary measures.

Persistent Record of Hardware Failures From the Solaris OE

As of Sun Fire firmware release 5.15.3, hardware failures diagnosed by the Solaris OE are persistent. The SC receives and stores hardware failure messages from the Solaris OE if the system is using the appropriate Solaris kernel update that applies to Solaris 8 (KU-108528-24) or Solaris 9 (KU-112233-09). Solaris 9 kernel update -09 also requires patch 116009-01. Domain reboots and setkeyswitch off and on events no longer configure components that the Solaris OE has previously diagnosed as failed.

When the system controller receives a hardware event message from the Solaris OE, the SC updates the CHS of the affected FRU. Any future POST consults the CHS and does not configure any listed faulty components. System availability is improved as future domain configurations deconfigure the failed L2_SRAM modules. The Solaris OE can currently identify and isolate the following types of faults:



Figure 6FIGURE 6 Persistent Failure Record

The soft error rate discrimination (SERD) algorithm detects when a specified number of distinct CPU events have occurred on the same processor in a 24-hour period. After the specified CPU SERD events, the CPU becomes a candidate for Solaris OE off-lining. The AD failure message (TABLE 5, "Example 4,") specifies the phrase SF-SOLARIS-DE in the ADInfo Domain Log message to identify which hardware failures were received from the Solaris OE.

TABLE 5 Example 4

[DOM] Event: SF6800.L2SRAM.SERD.f.1b.10040000000091.f4470000
CSN: 044M347B DomainID: A ADInfo: 1.SF-SOLARIS DE.5_9_GENERIC_112233-09
Time: Mon Jun 02 23:34:59 PDT 2003
FRU-List-Count: 1; FRU-PN: 3704125; FRU-SN: 090K01; FRU-LOC: /N0/SB3/P3/E0
Recommended-Action: Service action required

The SC's persistent failure record of hardware faults identified by the Solaris OE improves availability. System serviceability, diagnosis, and repair are also easier and quicker.

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