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Updating to HMC v9

Jaqui Lynch reviews HMC v9 updates, and explains how to upgrade your HMC to V9R2M950

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IBM brought out HMC v9 M910 in March 2018 for x86, Power and virtual HMCs. Since then, there have been numerous updates to the v9 code, adding features and fixing bugs. As new releases have come out, requirements for the HMC hardware have changed. The latest release (V9R2M950) no longer supports the x86 HMCs (7042-*) but will run on the Power and virtual HMCs. Additionally, all releases prior to V9R1M941 are now out of support, so it’s important that you get your HMC updated. This is normally required by most server firmware updates, and also provides additional functions.
 
As of Feb. 28, 2021 the HMC v9 releases and updates are as follows. There are patches within each service pack, but I’ve only listed the most recent ones for M921.
 
Versions                                           EOSPS (end of service pack support)
Release V9R1M910                        5/25/2018     
Service pack V9R1M911                8/17/2018
Service pack V9R1M920                11/16/2018   
Service pack V9R1M921                5/17/2019
Service Pack V9R1M930               11/9/2019
Service Pack V9R1M931               11/22/2019
Service Pack V9R1M940               5/22/2020
Service Pack V9R1M941               9/30/2021
Service Pack V9R1M942               9/30/2021     
 
Service Pack V9R2M950 plus MH01881/MH01882
 
As of February 28, 2021, the only supported versions of the HMC code are V9R1M941, V9R1M942 (supported till 9/30/2021) and V9R2M950. Additionally, the BMC and PNOR for the HMC should be at v3.11_v3.20.

HMC v9 Notes

HMC v9 is required by POWER9 servers and only supports POWER7 servers (at specific firmware levels) and higher in addition to the newer HMCs. The minimum HMC that can support the x86 code is a 7042-CR7 or 7042-OE1. The only POWER HMC available is the 7063-cr1. If you’re looking to replace an HMC or purchase a new one I recommend getting the Power HMC (7063-cr1) as the x86 HMC is no longer supported with V9R2M950, which is the minimum version that will be supported after 9/20/2021. It should also be noted that v9 only supports enhanced mode. Classic mode has gone away.
 
When performing updates, it’s important to pay attention to the README or description file for each update as they list prerequisites for VIO server levels, firmware, HMC hardware and more. These can be found through Fix Central or at the links in the references below. Since all versions of the VIO server prior to v3 are eoSPS (end of service pack support), it makes sense to ensure your VIO servers are at the latest v3.1.2.10. Finally, there’s an issue with V9R2M950 where it doesn’t support HMC user profiles names that are all numeric. Prior to any upgrade these should be changed or they will be deleted during the upgrade.

Location of Install Code

There are multiple image types for the HMC code. Images can be obtained directly from IBM by using anonymous FTP to public.dhe.ibm.com. The starting directory is /software/server/hmc. From there, the images are broken down by type as follows:

Recovery images (used for initial install of 910): /software/server/hmc/recovery_images
In that directory, you will find multiple HMC recovery images. For v910, you will use either the x86 or the PPC one. They are:
HMC_Recovery_V9R1M910_1_x86.iso
For v9R2M950 the image is:
HMC_Recovery_V9R2M950_1_ppc.iso
 
You can burn these ISO images to a DVD or a USB stick to install them
When burning to a USB stick I use Rufus v2. I also use that for burning bootable VIO images.
 
If you want to install across the network from an NFS server, the links to the code are:
 
/software/server/hmc/network/v910/x86 
or
HMC_Recovery_V9R2M950_1_ppc.iso
 
You can download these images to your own FTP or NFS server or you can use getupgfiles directly from the HMC to bring the files in there. This is for using to upgrade to a new version only (v910 or V92). It’s not for service packs or fixes.
The upgrade can be done by pointing directly at the IBM website or you can download the code to a local ftp or sftp server and upgrade from there. I prefer downloading and using the image locally as I can then pre-stage the code and do not have to worry if the website will be up the day of my upgrade.
 
To apply service packs or patches, there’s a different set of directories. Service packs show up as ISO images in the updates directory:
/software/server/hmc/updates
As of right now, the service packs are in this directory for V9R1M942 (both x86 and PPC).
 
Patches show up as ISO images in the fixes directory:
/software/server/hmc/fixes
 
This is where you will find the latest ifixes. For M950, you should see:
MH01882_ppc.iso.
 
For M942 (x86) you should see: MH01879_x86.iso
 
There are patches for other levels. You can determine the patches you need by using fix central.

Upgrading Your HMC to V9R2M950

The recovery image for V9R2M950 can be used to upgrade any 7063-cr1 HMC from V9R1 as long as it has MH01858 installed. There is also a mandatory ifix that should then be applied (MH01882). The upgrade process is fairly straightforward and is documented in the articles below in the references on upgrading. It will be a three step process:
  1. Get your HMC to the minimum level for the upgrade (v9.1 plus MH01858)
  2. Use getupgfiles to upgrade to V9R2M950
  3. Put on MH01882
Each step will require at least one reboot plus you should take backups in between. I estimate 10-12 hours to upgrade an HMC from v8.8.6sp3 to the latest V9R1M942 (x86) and 5-7 hours to upgrade a Power HMC from v9.1 to V9R1M950 plus MH01882. This is partly due to the time it takes for backups and also for reboots. 

Backups

There are three kinds of backups I run on the HMC:
  1. Backup profile data
  2. Save upgrade data
  3. Backup console data to USB stick
I also run an HMCScanner report before and after so my HMC is fully documented.

PNOR and BMC Upgrade

The Power HMC has an additional step in the upgrade process. The HMC has its own firmware to be updated. There are two parts: the BMC and the PNOR. The latest as of June 2020 is v3.11_v3.20. 

Upgrade to the Latest Version of HMC Code

Since M910 was released, there have been a number of significant updates to the HMC code. With all releases prior to V9R1M941 now out of service, this is the time to upgrade to the latest version of the HMC code. Given that V9R1 support ends September 30, 2021 this is also a good time to plan to replace your current HMC. The improvements in performance and functionality will make it well worth your while.

References

Other README Files

HMC V9 for x86  
HMC V9 for PPC
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