HP ProLiant n54l BIOS modification guide – Allow Hot-Plug SATA and 5th SATA port 46


This article describes how to perform a BIOS modification on the HP n54l microserver. Firstly, I’ll list the two reasons why I wanted this modification, then I’ll list the steps required to carry it out.

  • The n54l has 4 ‘Non-Hotswap’ bays. These are only non-hotswap in bios, with a modification these can be made hotswappable.
  • There is an unused SATA port on the motherboard, intended for use with a disk drive in the 5.25″ bay. With a BIOS modification, this port can be forced to run at full speed (6Gb/s) and so a SATA hard drive can be used in this bay.

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EDIT 2/3/15: Looking in the comments, it appears some people have had issues with their server since trying this. It appears to be with newer models. This guide was accurate at time of writing, however unfortunately I haven’t been able to test this on a newer model. As always, follow at your own risk.

Before starting, it’s worth you taking a look at the stock bios, that way, when you’ve followed the guide you’ll know it’s worked by seeing the difference. The image up top shows the stock BIOS with the headings ‘Main Advanced Boot Security Exit’.

Before going any further, I should probably post some sort of disclaimer. In carrying out this guide, you will be altering software on the chip that starts your server, if this goes wrong, your server may not be able to boot. I can take no responsibility for any damage caused by you following this guide.

With that out the way, let’s get started! You’ll need a USB memory stick to store files on which will be used to flash the BIOS on your N54l. Make sure there is nothing on the memory stick you want. In following this guide, you will wipe the memory stick. From here on in, I’ll do this guide in bullet form so it’s easy to follow and check off.

1)      Download SP54344.exe – This allows you to format a memory stick which can flash the BIOS.

2)      Extract and run SP54344.exe.

a)      Keep going until you get to the screen where you’re asked where you’d like the files saved. Remember where you saved the files to, in my case it’s a folder on the ‘C:’ drive.

b)      The application should finish, exit and load a webpage automatically.

c)       If for some reason it doesn’t , the flashing utility can be run manually by navigating to the directory where you saved the files and running ‘HPQUSB.exe’ This file can be found in the ‘Flat Files’ or ‘USB Key’ subdirectories, in my case it could be found in the directory ‘C:\SWSetup\SP54344\Flat Files\HPQUSB.exe’. *

3)      Run HPQUSB.exe

4)      Select your memory stick as the device – MAKE SURE THIS IS THE CORRECT DEVICE AS THIS UTILITY WILL WIPE THE DEVICE SELECTED.

5)      Click Start and go through the application – the memory stick should now be reformatted

6)      Go to your memory stick in My Computer, you should see files there as shown in the picture below.

At this point, it is worth noting that what you have created is effectively a BIOS recovery memory stick. There is nothing modified about the files you have created, they can be used to restore your BIOS, should anything go wrong. So, either use a different memory stick and have that handy to restore, or, if you mess up, just follow the guide up until this point to make one anew.

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The following steps take the official BIOS installer, modify the file to flash and then covers how to flash this to your N54l.

  1. Download o41072911mod.rar
  2. Extract the archive.
  3. The archive should contain one file ‘o41072911mod.rom’, rename this to ‘o41072911.rom’. This is the modified BIOS.
  4. Replace the ‘O41072911.ROM’ file on the memory stick with ‘o41072911.rom’ you just downloaded.

You now have a memory stick with modified BIOS configured and ready to flash you N54l with. Just a couple of points:

  • When you start the server with the memory stick in a USB drive, it will automatically boot from it.
  • Do not remove the USB stick until flashing is done.
  • Do not power down / turn off / allow any sort of power failure while flashing is underway.
  • I didn’t have any hard drives, other USB devices, PCI cards installed and no network cable was plugged in when flashing the BIOS.
  • The whole process, from turning on the server to flash complete, should take under a minute.

Time to flash the BIOS.

  1. Turn off the server at the socket.
  2. Insert the USB Stick.
  3. Turn the server on.
  4. WAIT. Once you’ve done this, DO NOT TURN OFF THE SERVER / REMOVE THE MEMORYSTICK.
  5. Lots of information should run past on the screen, then ‘C:\>’ should be displayed.

That’s it, you’re done. Now that ‘C:\>’ is displayed it is now safe to reboot the server and your bios should be flashed.

To enable full speed on the onboard SATA connector and allow hotplugging of the drives, continue with THIS guide.

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* I’m running Windows 8, when I ran the utility, I got an error ‘Unable to execute the specified command line!’. However, all files had already been extracted, so I suspect this was just a problem with loading the final webpage.


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46 thoughts on “HP ProLiant n54l BIOS modification guide – Allow Hot-Plug SATA and 5th SATA port

        • Mike

          Krazerxz ….what an excellent post, you have bought my 2 year old HP Microserver back to life now …running ESXI and able to virtualize newer windows OS’s without any network issues….Thumbs up Krazerxz ! from Mike in Birmingham.

          • Sam

            Great hack!
            Wandering if someone could advise what version of Esxi should i use for n40l?
            From my limited understanding, I can use “rdm” (raw disk mapping) to present the disks to the VM’s, however from what I recall this was definitely possible in esxi 5.0 or 5.1, but should I be targeting 5.5 or 6? Do the later versions even work on n40l?
            Ultimately I wanted to have a nas vm (i.e. openindiana / zfs)to manage the disks and then be able to spin up 2-3 vm’s aswell.
            Thanks

  • Silkwig

    I live in south korea..
    Thank you for your kindly guide..
    very useful..especially, your link for SP54344.exe
    Because, HP homepage dose not support SP54344.exe..
    Have a good time..^^

  • Carlindo Costa

    I thank you for your great instructions about HP Microserver bios mod. Everything worked fine. Regards from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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  • John

    at first you mentioned the unused sata can be set to MAX speed 6Gb/s, but the second page you set to 3Gb/s MAX. Is that the max speed? I understand SATA III speed is 6Gb/s so i assume that port is SATA II only.

    Another question, i found that the first two bays of four are detected as 3Gb/s as well,,, i read somewhere in the internet that they should be SATA III (6Gb/s). May I know what speed you got?

    PS: I flash the BIOS with MOD BIOS.

  • Tracy

    Being new w/servers, I hope you can clarify. If I were to install nas4free as the system, what are the advantages of “hot-swapping”? I’m using the HP N54L & I currently have 2 x 2TB WD Red drives- ready to install. How would I utilize hot-swapping in the N54L?

  • Popeofdope

    Sadly, that didn’t work for me at all… Followed all the steps, flashing went smoothly, without any problem. However, after restarting, nothing works at all. The server won’t even start, nothing happens when i try pressing the start button :(. Fans won’t start, disks won’t begin spinning, just no reaction at all… I’ve tried clear CMOS, removing power/battery, using the J19 jumper, but as of now, nothing worked and my N54L is bricked… I’m devastated and don’t know what to do …

    • Matt

      Hello,

      Did you ever solve the bricked server problem?

      I just flashed my proliant today and everything worked fine. The only thing I did differently to this post is use an updated version of the bios. This blog uses an older version of the bios (O41072911.rom) which is from 29/07/2011. This was what came on my server, but since then the bios has been updated to (O41100113.rom) which is from 01/10/13. Probably the servers that shipped after that date have a problem with the older bios. The newer, fixed version you can get from here:
      https://www.bios-mods.com/forum/Thread-HP-Proliant-Microserver-AMI-BIOS-MOD?pid=75965#pid75965

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  • Joe

    Just a quick word to say that I followed these instructions and everything went fine. It booted fine afterwards and I was able to configure the modified BIOS to enable full speed on the SATA port. I’m thinking Popeofdope may have done something wrong to brick his machine…

    • Chris Pomfret Post author

      Unfortunately looks that way. Many others have followed this guide with success and this is the first time anyones said it hasn’t worked for them.

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  • Thomas Kerkhoff

    Just a short question. I did run this mod. Everything went fine. Do you know if this mod does change the mac adress of the mainboard?

    • Chris Pomfret Post author

      It shouldn’t do – That is, I have no reason to believe it would have any reason to do this.
      That said, I didn’t write the mod and can’t say I checked the MAC address of my server before and after.

  • Hey you

    @Popeofdope and recent commenters.
    Got my N54L and followed the direction to the letter!
    I had the same result – a server that wouldn’t boot after flashing.
    The flash went great, i waited it through until it show me c:> prompt, then i rebooted it but it wont POST, no video signal, only a solid RED HP logo. I’m also devstated

    • Cel

      Same here..
      Followed the instructions to the letter.
      Waited for the c:> to appear, waited a minute extra to make sure it was done.
      After that it won’t even boot to post, only a red HP Logo. 🙁
      I’ve tried everything from resetting the cmos jumper, removing the battery, powered it on with a hp-recovery-usb-stick in it, no luck.
      Has anyone had any luck in “un-bricking” it?

  • Tom

    Same Here:

    Followed the instructions to the letter.
    Waited for the c:> to appear, waited a minute extra to make sure it was done.
    After that it won’t even boot to post, only a red HP Logo. 🙁

    Brand new server. It seems my N54l came with a newer bios than the one this mod is based on

    • Cel

      I submitted this fault to HP, they got me a new motherboard within a few days.. It’s now up and running, without the mod 🙂

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  • dave

    Flash went fine,
    Post screen upon boot up sees 5th data drive.
    Penology thou once booted doesn’t see it.
    Is there a way to make it see the 5th drive or do I have do a complete re install?

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  • erix

    Hi,

    I’ve followed the tutorial and all went well.
    my problem now is more hardware. It’s about installing the 5th disk. I bought a SATA 3.5″ but I cannot find information where I can find pieces to install it. like tray.
    is someone can give me some URLs ?
    Thanks in advance for your help
    Regards
    Erix

  • Devian Patel

    I got my modded and had been working just fine and i’ve been meaning to max out the storage capacity on it, anyone know what the maximum size of hard drives are that can be installed in it with the modded firmware. I know with the stock firmware you can install 4x3TB drives in the bay but i would like to know if it can stretch to 4x4TB. Any info would be would be very helpful as i’ve not been able to find any info online and the only other way to find out would be to purchase 4x4TB drives and see if they work!

    thanks

    dev

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