Dell Poweredge x950 Hardware Notes

Information about the Dell 1950 and 2950 nodes.

Dell Docs


The Fall '07 order arrived with BIOS v1.5.1. This was released 9/13/07 and is the latest at this writing.


When AC power is applied to nodes:

  • LCD back-light goes on briefly
  • node goes into a ready state

At press power button:

  • BIOS starts, options are:
    • F2 Setup
    • F10 Utility Mode (this requires utility partition on harddrive)
    • F11 Boot Menu
    • F12 PXE Boot
  • CPU and RAM types displayed
  • Broadcom BNX2 Boot Agent
    • Control-S to access
  • PERC5/i
    • Control-R to access (if node has RAID card)
  • F/W Initializing Devices 0%
  • Remote Access Configuration Utility (for IPMI and DRAC)
    • Control-E to access


Used the "BIOS" console access to manage the PERC5/i card, it is also possible to manage from an application in Linux...

On a 2950 headnode with 2 250GB system disks and 4 750 GB data disks, had this config out of the box:

System drives in RAID1 with a single virtual disk filling the space, 64KB stripes, No Read Ahead and Write Back.

Data disks in RAID5 with two virtual disks, 64KB stripes, No Read Ahead and Write Back. The virtual disks were 1.7 TB and 0.3 TB.

Setup a single virtual disk covering covering all of the RAID5 array. 2.0 TB. Initialize it.

BIOS Settings

The nodes come with PXE enabled on Ethernet port 1 but not on port 2.

Default Boot sequence is:

  • IDE CD-ROM device (DVD)
  • Hard Drive C: (not sure which drive is which, probably first virtual drive is booted?)
  • NIC 1

Boot sequence retry is disabled.

IPMI Settings

Press Control-E to access. This utility configures both IPMI and DRAC settings (is that correct?)

On a 2950 with DRAC, BMC revision is 1.33; DRAC revision is 1.20. You can select which NIC to use, yadda yadda

Virtual media is attached, disable it. This may mess with SCSI device ordering (it may be better to set to attached so that device ordering doesn't change).


Many of these machines have PERC cards running the disks. I don't think the SMART tools in Linux know how to interact with them. Need to interact with the PERC card and not the harddrive...

Here's output on a 1950 compute node with 2 750GB drives and no PERC:
[root@c-102-2 ~]# smartctl -a /dev/sda
smartctl version 5.33 [x86_64-redhat-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-4 Bruce Allen
Home page is

Device: ATA      ST3750640NS      Version: 3BKH
Serial number:             5QD2E5B8
Device type: disk
Local Time is: Mon Dec 10 17:14:22 2007 EST
Device supports SMART and is Enabled
Temperature Warning Disabled or Not Supported
SMART Health Status: OK

Current Drive Temperature:     <not available>

Error Counter logging not supported

Error Events logging not supported

[GLTSD (Global Logging Target Save Disable) set. Enable Save with '-S on']

SMART Self-test log
Num  Test              Status                 segment  LifeTime  LBA_first_err [SK ASC ASQ]
     Description                              number   (hours)
# 1  Background long   Completed                   -     3                   - [-   -    -]
# 2  Background short  Completed                   -     0                   - [-   -    -]

Long (extended) Self Test duration: 13260 seconds [221.0 minutes]

-- TomRockwell - 31 Oct 2007
Topic revision: r9 - 16 Oct 2009, TomRockwell
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