Update Intel Server System Firmware

Introduction

Updating intel server firmware is crucial for performance and security. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step, ensuring your FreeNAS server is up-to-date and running efficiently. I technically updated the intel server firmware as the first step when I first received the server, but from a logical layout of the project it makes sense to make it Part 3. Updating Intel server firmware is one of the easiest things to do. I checked the firmware of the this system when I got it and it hasn’t been updated since 2012… So it’s definitely time for an update. Lets get started.

How to Update Intel Server Firmware

Update Prep Work

  1. Preparing for Firmware Update on Intel Server System
  2. Extract the files and place on flash drive
    • Now that the files have been downloaded, extracted them to your USB flash drive. If have a Intel Server System (instead of just the motherboard or something) you can extract the files to the root of the USB flash drive. Then when you boot into the EFI Shell, the EFI interface will automatically find the startup.nsh and start the update process.
    • If you have multiple components you are going to update then I would suggest that you organize them into folders on the USB drive. Some components like raid cards don’t use the startup.nsh script. Instead it will be RAIDcardmodel.nsh to start the update process.
  3. Plug flash drive into server and power on
    • Press F6 to get the boot menu on the post screen

Update Intel Server Firmware Process

  1. Boot into the EFI Shell
    • Internal EFI Shell
    • Similar to all the other vendors they do have the firmware updates available for Windows/Linux/etc but the easiest and fastest way to do it through efi shell.
    • Once the Boot Menus is displayed, select “Internal EFI Shell”

5. In the Internal EFI Shell there is a couple of devices listed.

  • On the device menu screen, fs0 is your flash drive (assuming you only have 1 plugged in).
  • If you have extracted the files on the root of the drive then you can wait the 10 seconds and the update process will start automatically.
  • type fs0: to select device to use.
  • You will see the Prompt go from Shell:> to fs0:>

6. Change directorys and list the files to find the startup.nsh (if needed)

  • You will see startup.nsh, this script runs through and updates all the server system components expect add on cards(Raid cards, Nic cards, etc).
  • Type startup.nsh to start the update process.
  • If you only want to run an individual component you can run the corresponding .nsh file for that component.

This is the short version to update Intel server firmware if you have a pre made intel server. If you have custom built server, please continue on to the next section.

Intel Server System Options

When you use Intel Server Parts you have 2 options:

1. Buy in Intel Server System then add CPU, Memory, HD, and add on cards.

2. Buy all the individual components and assemble all of it yourself.

When you buy an Intel Server System the update process detects that it is a Server System and will automatically update 95% of the settings for you without needing your input. If you buy the individual components and assemble it yourself, you will be prompted for information like “Which Chassis are you using?” also you’ll have to manually set your thermal settings as well so in the long run it is easier to buy the Intel Server System.

You’ll be able to watch the update process.

Intel server system automated process starts with a Bios and BMC updates and then moves on to the ME firmware and the FRU/SDR information. If you are using the Intel Remote Management Card to connect to the system you connection will be dropped after updating the ME Firmware. You will have to restart the session

The FRU/SDR section is for 2 functions. 1 allows you to update Server information like serial numbers and support numbers from an OEM point of view. And the second part is fan and termal controls.

Keep the following options in mind:

  • Select “option 3” to update both this controls fans and put information into the bios
  • If  your using an intel server chassis it will auto find all the thermal Settings
    • If you’re using a 3rd party chassis with a common fan layout then you can specific medium fan settings for all the connected fans.
  • Select “no” to most of the server info configurations.
  1. Once the update process is done you’ll be placed back at your original prompt. At this point you can reboot the server and start using it or you can navigate to a different folder and update other components.

I hope this guide makes updating your Intel server firmware easier! as always you can follow the progress of this build with the links below.

Conclusion

Updating your Intel Server System’s firmware is a straightforward process with our guide. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on server maintenance by following our FreeNAS series!

Intel Server System FreeNAS build Series

The Plan (Part 1)
The Build Process (Part 2)
Firmware Updates (Part 3)