Then we started to see the ESXi errors on writing to hardware. When we rebooted the hosts, they would fail to find the boot disk or SD card or it would look like a corrupted ESXi instance. After messing with support for a while, we tried replacing the SD Cards, but they still wouldn't work. Replacing the Motherboard did work.
Turns out there was an issue were the NAND memory on the ilo (which is where the SD card controller is located) would become corrupted.
We had only a few issues for a while but once we had a project to upgrade ESXi from 6.0 to 6.5 and upgrade firmware (BIOS requirement for Spectre\Meltdown) we started to see these issues en masse. Almost every one of the hosts we tried to upgrade saw these issues. It was a huge pain and slowed our migration down significantly.
HPE released many different advisories and ilo firmware in an attempt to fix the issue.
This is the latest version of that Advisory.
The Simple Procedure for blades:
- Upgrade the firmware to 2.61+. (When I started this it was 2.50. There were many versions that changed the behavior throughout the year. Some version were better than others.)
- Run ilo command to Format the NAND Memory. You can get the Force_Format.xml details from the advisory.
- You can run it from a Windows host with the Ilo configuration utility.
- You can run it from SSH session from the Enclosure OA.
- NOTE: This will “format” the NAND memory. It will not erase anything. Just resets the memory on the ilo that the SD card data runs from. This can be run while ESXi is online or not, but it is preferable to shut the server off. It will not format the SD-Card.
- Then reset the bay via the e-fuse command.
- From SSH session on OA, run “Show server list” To view the blade statuses. Confirm the bay that you want to reset is correct. This will reset the bay you input, very easy to make a mistake.
- Run “Reset Bay XX” Change XX to the Bay number. Then Type Yes to continue. Can’t stress enough that the blade will be reset immediately.
- Run “Show server list” to monitor the status of the reset.
- After the blade is back up, it should boot automatically. This usually fixes it. Sometimes you need to reset it again.