Upgrade Supermicro Xeon D-1540/1541 from BIOS 1.0b/1.0c to 1.1 for identical features, including SR-IOV for 10GbE!

Posted by Paul Braren on Mar 12 2016 (updated on Apr 29 2016) in
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    ONLY if you have a SYS-5028D-TN4T with the standard X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard, click the image, select "BIOS" then download.
    1. Get the new BIOS 1.1 download X10SDVF6_302.zip

    2. Build your DOS bootable USB flash drive

    I have good news. I've been testing the latest BIOS 1.1 from Supermicro for the SYS-5028D-TN4T system with the X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard, which was quietly released today for download. Why is this good news?


    Well, the original SYS-5028D-TN4T buyers with the Xeon D-1540 onboard has the Rev. 1.02 motherboard that had 1.0a BIOS originally, with the latest BIOS being 1.0b, ever since my September 2015 article that detailed the BIOS upgrade procedure.

    Then along came the Xeon D-1541, a slight speed boost (<5%) that replaced the Xeon D-1540 in late February 2016. It has the Rev. 2.00 motherboard that came already flashed to BIOS 1.0c, which was never offered for download anywhere. It was a stop-gap. BIOS 1.0b and 1.0c differed quite a bit in various areas, and that was kind of annoying, especially when trying to document things for folks who bought a Supermicro bundle at Wiredzone.

    Today, Supermicro resolved all that, making BIOS 1.1 available for any Xeon D-154x owner, right here:

    What's the big deal? VMware HCL compatibility! SR-IOV is back!

    TinkerTry helped make this happen, for you, the home virtualization server enthusiast!
    1. BIOS 1.1 is what's listed on the VMware HCL for this system, arguably the very first server suited for home lab use ever listed there, and certainly the only Xeon D-1500! This listing is pictured at right.

    2. SR-IOV is back! Yes, it went away on 1.0b, but with 1.1, both the Xeon D-1540 and Xeon D-1541's Intel X552 10GbE interfaces are SR-IOV capable. My tests were basic and quick, but everything seemed to work just fine. How do you enable SR-IOV? I covered that here:
      First Look - SR-IOV support in Intel Xeon D-1541

    3. Your current BMC IP address is displayed seconds after you power up, nice touch! (pictured below)

    4. All menus and submenus are identical, whether you have a Xeon D-1540 and Xeon D-1541 (only the boot screen seems to differ in a non-functionally significant way, seen here in the video below)

    For me personally, I won't be using SR-IOV fulltime, with the drawbacks (can't do vMotion of that VM, or make any changes without shutting it down) outweighing the benefits (scalability), but that's just me. But for many looking to eek that every last bit of performance out of the Intel X552 10GbE, it's an important feature, especially for production and datacenter use. It's good that finally, Supermicro has apparently been able to get SR-IOV working, delivering on that promise that Intel had made during the Xeon D-1500 announcements one year ago.

    I don't have video of implementing SR-IOV on VMware just yet, but for now, I do have a screenshot for you, below.

    Yes, that's SR-IOV working on the Intel X552 10GbE in VMware ESXi 6.0U1b. Click to zoom.

    How to flash my BIOS from 1.0c, if I can't even boot from USB? Just turn on CSM

    My particular 1.0c seemed to have CSM (Compatibility Support Mode) off, by default. While this could squeeze a slight performance boost, this posed a problem for upgrading. I was using USB boot media, as you'll see in the below video. Once I turned CSM ON, I got past that little bump in the road, and the rest of the upgrade was simple.

    It's a nice sign of maturity that BIOS 1.1 has been released, no more minor release letters, and a nice new display of the BMC IP address right on the boot screen. This is extremely handy for that first boot experience, as you now easily know what IP to connect to, no need to dig through the BIOS for IPMI settings. By the way, no new IPMI yet for Xeon D-1540, still at 2.14 for now, and Xeon D-1541 at 3.26.


    Note that all Wiredzone SuperServer Bundles are now Xeon D-1541 CPUs, and will now be shipped with BIOS 1.1 already flashed for you.

    While Supermicro is not big on release notes, at least you have this article and video!

    Video transcript

    side-by-side 1.0b and 1.0c upgrades to 1.1, RAID configuration, & more...

    • 00:00 reset BIOS to default
    • 04:15 floundering, working on figuring out why I can't boot from the 1.0c system
    • 07:00 turn on CSM, problem solves
    • 08:14 BIOS upgrades begin
    • 09:22 notice that the 1.0b system boots twice to get the BIOS upgraded, editing its own autoexec.bat
    • 18:37 configure the BIOS using
      Recommended BIOS Settings for Supermicro SuperServer SYS-5028D-TN4T
    • 24:09 compare IPMI (no update available yet for Xeon D-1540), we're awaiting Redfish to show for the HTML5 reasons outlined here
    • 25:12 Intel RSTe demonstrated, showing how to choose either the old Ctrl+I interface, or the new interface inside the UEFI BIOS
    • 32:04 disabling PXE on the primary NIC can make boot slightly faster and smoother:
      In from BIOS (UEFI model) Advanced screen:
      change from: Onboard LAN1 Option ROM [PXE] to Onboard LAN1 Option ROM [Disabled]
    • 34:16 demonstration of VMware ESXi 6.0U1b hardware health view and VMware HCL
    • 37:32 Windows 10 on Samsung 950 PRO on the Xeon D-1541, with BIOS 1.1 showing in msinfo32.exe

    Apr 29 2016 Update

    I mentioned that Xeon D-1541 arrived with IPMI 3.26. Good news, Xeon D-1540 owners can now download IPMI 3.26 from Supermicro:

    Proceed at your own risk, and work with Supermicro 24x7 should you encounter any issues. I have not tested this upgrade procedure yet, nor have I tested this 3.26 on the Xeon D-1540 system. It came preloaded on the Xeon D-1541 that I have heavily tested.

    Here's Supermicro's usual warnings:


    See also at TinkerTry

    See also

    SR-IOV support status FAQ (2038739)

    • kb.vmware.com/kb/2038739
      This article provides answers to frequently asked questions about the support status for SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization).