Is processor microcode advised?

Valeri Galtsev galtsev at
Wed Nov 18 20:27:16 UTC 2015

On Wed, November 18, 2015 10:31 am, Doug McIntyre wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 03:13:53PM +0000, Dave wrote:
>> On Wednesday 18 November 2015 09:27:32 Andrea Venturoli wrote:
>> > Supposing BIOS has not been updated (due to no availability, lazyness,
>> > impossibility over a remote link, fear of bricking the box, etc...)
>> FWIW, I've replaced many, many motherboards over the years and as part
>> of our standard procedure we update the BIOS firmware to the latest
>> company approved version with the corporate boot logo baked in and I've
>> never, ever ended up with a bricked board.  ...
> I have. Mostly with Dell systems. Later on, there are known errata
> that pop up, like if you have this board, with this RAID controller,
> and this version of the BCM, make sure to upgrade this component to
> this version first, that component next, etc. etc.
> And of course, usually this errata always shows up *after* I've done
> the deed and killed the board. Dell also doesn't have a field recovery
> option either.
> I don't use Dell much any more.

I'm with you on both items. If you need rack mount server, Dell will cost
you about twice compared to what one of many small companies will assemble
for you based on some barebone. And with Dell you will not be flexible.
Say, you want 3ware RAID controller. Most likely it will not be possible
to add into Dell rack mount server (I've been through that).

I didn't flash new BIOS into Dell servers (to the best of my
recollection). I've flashed into Tyan system boards, and once I've flashed
one into HP laptop (they "blacklisted" hardware, which prevented me from
replacing piece of crap broadcom wireless adapter with great Intel one -
to have Linux... - so I had to use hex editor to add my ID, and then match
checksum...). Didn't brick any of boards luckily. But with all my heart I
would oppose flashing bios or firmware (unless it is absolutely
necessary). In general, if I hear from some hardware vendor that I _must_
flash updated firmware or I am in trouble, I will never use their hardware
in a future. BIOS or firmware are programs, and being such they can
contain bugs. They are, however, extremely short and simple programs (at
least the must be IMHO), and significant effort should be put in their
debugging. So, once released, they should be virtually bug free. If I
_must_ upgrade BIOS (except for extra features), then the original BIOS as
released was a piece of crap, therefore I avoid this hardware in a future.
Just my humble opinion.


Valeri Galtsev
Sr System Administrator
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
University of Chicago
Phone: 773-702-4247

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