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

31/07/2013 at 1:44 pm

HP N54l BIOS Modification

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.

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.

4 - memory stick files

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.

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.

* 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.

2 - ROMPAQ error