Crossflashing the Fujitsu D2607

Beating Rube Goldberg with a hex editor

Update: I wrote a new tool that lets you do most of this process from Linux, without rebooting and without needing any UEFI or DOS tools, which should work for any LSI SAS2008 card regardless of vendor and let you crossflash to any firmware.

I own a Fujitsu Primergy server (hosted at a secret location ;-) ) that I use for offsite backups and a few misc things (and for which it’s, incidentally, grossly overpowered). It came with a Fujitsu D2607 RAID controller, which is based on the LSI SAS2008 (“Falcon”) chipset. Unfortunately, its firmware is old and only barely supports drives in JBOD mode with some issues (I want to use software RAID 5), and also does not support drives larger than 2TB.

One chip, many faces

Interestingly, LSI uses the same SAS2008 chipset on both their higher-end RAID cards and lower-end SAS HBAs. There are, in fact, two different classes of devices, with completely different Linux drivers, that are implemented using the same chip: MegaRAID/iMR (the full-featured hardware managed RAID solution) and MPT2SAS (a simpler device which comes in two firmware variants: IR, with support for basic hardware RAID0/1/10, and IT, which is just a plain HBA with no RAID support). I use two SAS disks in hardware RAID1 as boot drives, and four SATA disks in software RAID5 as data drives, so I’m interested in the IR mode firmware, which has good support for passing through plain drives straight to the OS but still lets me have a hardware RAID1 volume to boot off of.

There is in fact quite a bit of documentation on how these LSI-based cards can be “crossflashed” to different firmware versions, from different vendors and in different modes. Unfortunately, most of this documentation is of the form “download these random tools and run them in this order, worked for me!“—nobody seems to have done any serious analysis. There are over half a dozen tools potentially involved depending on which mode you’re coming from and going to, and countless firmware variants. Some tools only work with some firmwares, and the tools themselves are available for different combinations of DOS, Windows, UEFI, and Linux, depending on which tool and which version you stumble across.

Even more unfortunately, the Fujitsu card seems to be a bit oddball, with only a few people reporting a successful crossflash, and that involving a really bizarre dance through 3 different firmwares. I tried it, and it certainly didn’t work for me. So I ditched all of that and made it work the right way. Here’s how.

LSI firmware basics

First things first: one nice thing about these cards is that you can’t brick them, as long as your BIOS lets you turn off Option ROM loading. Low-level recovery is always possible. Just make sure you write down your SAS address before starting, as you’ll have to write that back if you wipe and flash from scratch.

There are actually 3 different types of nonvolatile memory on these cards: there is an “SBR”, which is actually just a serial EEPROM containing the core information about the card (but no actual firmware). Then there is the main Flash memory, which contains both the firmware that runs on the card (it has a PowerPC CPU) and the Option ROM that runs on the host, as well as other misc bits. Finally, there is an nvSRAM (MRAM memory, the modern descendant of core memory!) that holds settings and buffers.

To crossflash a card to a different firmware, you first need to write the SBR corresponding to the type of card that you want (iMR or IT/IR). Then you can wipe the flash memory and flash whatever firmware you need.

SBR flashing

To flash the SBR, the only tool available seems to be a small DOS binary called megarec.exe. This tool works on a “dead” card, and doesn’t care whether the card is in iMR or IT/IR mode.

Supermicro actually provide tools and documentation on how to crossflash their SAS2008 based cards between MegaRAID and IT/IR modes, so I recommend going to their page if you need to get ahold of megarec.exe.

Unfortunately, this does mean you need to put together a FreeDOS USB boot disk or similar. I recommend these prebuilt bootable USB images if you just want something ready to go. Picking the HIMEMX boot config works best.

You should probably back up your SBR first (which, by the way, also contains your SAS address):

megarec -readsbr 0 sbr-bak.bin

Then write the new SBR:

megarec -writesbr 0 sbr.bin

Wiping the flash is recommended at this point:

megarec -cleanflash 0

Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me: it only wiped half of the flash (8 out of 16MB) before erroring out. My guess is that this version of megarec doesn’t properly support my Flash chip. However, this doesn’t seem to cause major issues; presumably, wiping the first half of flash is more than enough to make sure no remnant firmware is running and the card comes up in a clean state.

So what SBR should you use? At first I used the Supermicro SBRIR.BIN, but keep reading. What is critical is that you pick an SBR for the correct mode of your card: an iMR one if you want full MegaRAID mode, or an IT/IR one if you just want the MPT2SAS mode. The SBR determines which mode the card comes up in, and its PCI ID which identifies it to the host as one or the other kind.

As we’ll see, though, the SBR isn’t nearly as mysterious as you might assume, judging by the fact that they get tossed around but nobody seems to have bothered to throw one in a hex editor yet. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Firmware flashing

Here’s where it gets all over the place. There are different firmware flashing tools depending on which mode you’re in (iMR or IT/IR), and which OS you use. I’ll be discussing only the IT/IR flash tool, which is called sas2flash.

I tried a bunch, but what worked best for me was the UEFI version. The DOS ones wouldn’t work due to some missing BIOS functionality in my UEFI BIOS, while the Linux ones only work if the card is already functional, not if it has been wiped (since they rely on the kernel driver to talk to the card, and that won’t come up if the card is dead).

I used the P19 version of the LSI sas2flash.efi tool. To use it, boot into an EFI shell with the tools on a FAT32 formatted disk (e.g. USB drive), and:

cd fs0:
sas2flash.efi -o -f 2118ir.bin -b mptsas2.rom

Where 2118ir.bin is the firmware that you want to flash (I used the P19 IR firmware from LSI), and mptsas2.rom is the Option ROM (I used version of the standard BIOS ROM, but I’ll probably try an UEFI version next time I get a chance to mess with the server, see how that works).

Then you should write back the original SAS address:

sas2flsh -o -sasadd 5000112233445566

At first, I had issues getting this to work at all: the UEFI versions would detect the card and attempt to boot it, but fail. However, I think I was hitting a strange interaction with my board’s UEFI implementation. I was doing this on a consumer miniITX board, not the server, since the server takes ages to boot, but consumer hardware probably has a less reliable UEFI implementation. I eventually discovered that booting FreeDOS, flashing the SBR with megarec, using Ctrl-Alt-Delete to warm-reboot, and going to a UEFI shell would allow sas2flash.efi to boot the card properly properly (but only once, I had to reboot and repeat the process for subsequent invocations).

Unfortunately, here I hit the first issue with flashing this Fujitsu card, which other people had also reported:

Chip is in RESET state. Attempting Host Boot...
Firmware Host Boot Successful.

Mfg Page 2 Mismatch Detected.
Writing Current Mfg Page 2 Settings to NVRAM.
Failed to Validate Mfg Page 2!

This is what someone purportedly worked around by using a strange combination of tools and firmwares, which didn’t work for me, but we can do better. What is this Mfg Page 2? I have no idea. Why is it validating it? There should be nothing to validate, as I’m flashing the card from scratch. This sounds like an attempt to prevent crossflashing by making sure that e.g. the vendor ID does not change.

Hacking sas2flash

So instead of trying to come up with a Rube-Goldberg solution as seems to be popular with these LSI cards, I threw sas2flash.efi into IDA. It took 5 minutes to find the function responsible for the Mfg Page 2 message (via string search) and patch out the check. Interestingly, sas2flash.efi is compiled into EFI Byte Code (EBC), a platform-independent bytecode architecture, so it should work for both 32-bit and 64-bit EFI implementations. This didn’t really make it any harder to patch, though: IDA can disassemble EBC, and the patch was so obvious I didn’t even need to look up the EBC instruction encodings to work out what to patch.

The culprit

-0000CC00: 72 84 70 00 1F C4 05 47  C2 03 77 48 7C 00 01 00  r.p....G ..wH|... 
+0000CC00: 72 84 70 00 1F C4 05 47  C2 03 77 48 7C 00 00 00  r.p....G ..wH|... 

With that patch, the flashing process completed successfully (actually, I had to run it again after a reboot to get the BIOS flashed, probably due to the aforementioned UEFI issues). Grab the patched sas2flash.efi here.

Victory! Time to stick the card back into the server, plug the SFF connectors back in, and boot. Except… turns out the card only sees 3 drives. One connector’s worth. The other connector is dead. This was also reported as an issue by someone. They hadn’t managed to Rube-Goldberg their way out of this one.

I had a hunch here. One connector working and not the other one is a bit strange. The chip only has 8 ports, and they are connected straight to the connectors with no intervening logic. There is nothing “special” that the Fujitsu card can possibly require to enable both connectors. However, sometimes, high-speed interfaces like these have configuration bits that do things like flip the polarity of the signal lines, or rearrange them in some way. It’s possible that the Fujitsu card requires a slightly different config. What’s that SBR all about, anyway?

Demystifying the SBR

What is inside that SBR? It’s only 256 bytes. Is it secret boot code? Encrypted information? Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin wallet?

Turns out comparing a few SBRs you can find around is enough to deduce the interesting bits.

00000000  61 f6 22 61 f7 36 4f b3  f8 00 d7 91 00 10 72 00  |a."a.6O.......r.|
00000010  00 00 04 01 34 17 77 11  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |....4.w.........|
00000020  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
00000030  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
00000040  00 0c 5d 00 5c 30 5a 14  75 05 10 ab 61 f6 22 61  |..].\0Z.u...a."a|
00000050  f7 36 4f b3 f8 00 d7 91  00 10 72 00 00 00 04 01  |.6O.......r.....|
00000060  34 17 77 11 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |4.w.............|
00000070  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
00000080  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 0c 5d 00  |..............].|
00000090  5c 30 5a 14 75 05 10 ab  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |\0Z.u...........|
000000a0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
000000b0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
000000c0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
000000d0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  50 00 11 22 33 44 55 66  |........P..W.z..|
000000e0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 a6  |...............a|
000000f0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
  • PCI Vendor and Product ID (little-endian)
  • PCI Subsystem Vendor and Product ID (little-endian)
  • Interface mode (iMR: 0x10, IR/IT: 0x00)
  • Checksum
  • Copy of bytes 0x00-0x4b (Mfg Page 2?)
  • SAS address and checksum

The checksum is simply calculated such that the sum of all bytes including the checksum byte, mod 0x100, is 0x5b.

The above highlighted bits were the only differences between the Supermicro IR SBR, the Supermicro iMR SBR, and the original Fujitsu iMR SBR that I had backed up… including that lone little mystery yellow byte, which was 04 in the Fujitsu SBR, but 07 in every other SBR I’d seen. Could this be the magic fix for the connector issue? Only one way to find out: patch up the SBR (both copies), fix the checksum, write it with megarec, and see what happens.

Did it work? You bet. All drives detected. Victory.

Grab the patched SBR here. This one keeps the Fujitsu subsystem IDs, but is in IT/IR mode. It’s actually the one above, but with the SAS address section blanked out, as seems to be expected from “generic”/vanilla SBRs.

15 minutes of reverse engineering beats trying every possible firmware and tool combination out there hoping to stumble upon something that works by accident :-)

2016-05-07 01:15