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Cisco Warns Its B440 Blade Server Could Crash And Burn

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The B440 blade server could overheat, according to a field notice from Cisco

Cisco Systems has warned its clients that due to a factory fault, some of its blade servers might overheat, emit a bright flash and shut down permanently.

The company has issued a field notice for the Unified Computing Systems (UCS) B440 blade server, and launched a hardware replacement program.

Flash Bang

The problem is caused by a failure of a MOSFET power transistor on the server module. It can cause the B440 to overheat and emit a short flash, which could lead to complete board failure. In extreme circumstances, it could even affect the neighboring blades in the chassis by disrupting power flow.

The issue was first discovered in July, and Cisco was quick to offer a firmware upgrade that seemed to solve the problem. The software would monitor the state of the board and shut down the server in case things got too hot. However that didn’t fix the issue completely, and now Cisco has determined that “a hardware modification to the UCS B440 Blade Server is appropriate”.

The company defends itself, saying, “There is no indication of a systemic issue with the MOSFET components, and the observed failure in the field is considered to be a random component failure”.

While you are waiting for your server replacement, the best protection from this fire hazard is to install UCS Blade Management Controller software equal to or greater than version 1.3(1w), 1.4(3L) or 2.0(1q). The software can be downloaded from Cisco.com.

Despite initial criticism, network giant Cisco’s move into servers has been gaining success since it was announced more than two years ago. The blade server hardware received good reviews, and Cisco started to appear in list of top server vendors, when measured by revenue. The company claims that it has replicated the loyalty of its network equipment customers – more than 30 percent of UCS customers have placed repeat orders, and UCS was a major attraction at last month’s Cisco Live event in London.