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MegaRAC SP-X: The Foundation for Powerful Server Management - Part I

MegaRAC SP-X: The Foundation for Powerful Server Management - Part I

Since 2003, MegaRAC® SP-X Service Processor, a sophisticated BMC / server management firmware solution based on embedded Linux® has been a leading product for AMI - both in the market and in terms of the innovation it contains. In today's post, we will give a brief overview of some of the key features and capabilities that set it apart and make it a first choice for many of the leading OEMs and ODMs, including its sensor management, security and customization capabilities.

This powerful, modular server management solution is composed of firmware and software components based on industry standards and key serviceability features like remote presence, CIM profiles and advanced automation. These features combine to unleash the true power of today's Baseboard Management Controllers (BMCs) for the ultimate in remote server management capabilities like hardware and software inventory, robust power, BIOS and user management, and much more.

The modular architecture of MegaRAC SP-X gives users the ability to easily configure and build the firmware image to their own needs by selecting desired features of the stack using an intuitive graphical development tool chain. Each of these features are available in independently maintained packages, for superior manageability of the firmware stack.

Notably, MegaRAC SP-X is also available for all the major System-On-Chip (SoC) designs and supports the following platform architectures, including Intel® / AMD x86-based platforms, Arm® 64 (including designs from Ampere, Cavium and Qualcomm), and the POWER® 8/9 architecture from IBM.

Delivering Vital Industry Standard Protocols and Services

Because MegaRAC SP-X is based on full-featured embedded Linux as opposed to an RTOS-based solution, it features many vital industry-standard services and provides the high level of standards compliance required by a demanding industry, with support for IPMI 2.0, Restful APIs, SMASH, Serial over LAN (SOL) and many more. These services enable administrators and data center managers to deploy a complete server management solution with incredible ease. Standard, off-the shelf deployments of MegaRAC SP-X also support key, familiar system interfaces, including KCS-based interfaces as defined by the IPMI specification, as well as standard SMS and SMM interfaces.

Authentication and Security

Along with offering the highest level of manageability for mission critical servers, rock-solid security for those servers is also of the utmost importance. To ensure security, MegaRAC SP-X offers several key authentication and security capabilities including hardware-based encryption support, a single-point, configurable encryption support for all out-of-band (network) access, unified authentication, secure password reset and security audits on released candidates to identify and fix potential security holes.

Sensor Management

Another key capability of MegaRAC SP-X Service Processor BMC firmware is its complete implementation of sensor management, including PECI and PMBus devices. The sensor records for specific hardware platforms can be easily generated and customized using the MegaRAC® Development Studio (DS) for MegaRAC SP-X, with plug-ins for sensor management simulation available to test these customizations. In addition to BMC sensors, the firmware also supports the management of the sensors on board a satellite controller, which can be displayed in the SP-X web interface (for most supported platforms).

Auto-Recovery and Fault Tolerance

The robust architecture of the MegaRAC SP-X stack supports many key High Availability features for excellent fault tolerance and quick, safe recovery after service disruptions. These features include support for fail-safe configuration storage and redundant firmware, as well as process/thread managers that enable auto recovery of MegaRAC SP-X operating services and reduce downtime to zero. MegaRAC SP-X can also restore the hardware to a complete factory default configuration when needed.

The MegaRAC Development Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

MegaRAC SP-X offers an extensive development tool chain known as MegaRAC Development Studio (DS), which is implemented as a set of rich plug-ins on top of the popular Eclipse IDE. Stack components like web and OEM-specific changes can be completely customized and enriched with MegaRAC DS, giving the ability to customize the firmware, build and debug at the same time. Moreover, customization, modification and the addition of OEM-specific features is possible even on the binary image.

MegaRAC DS allows for easy stack configuration based on the SoC and hardware platform, together with automated test tools to validate functionality and a large repository of standard devices to support any hardware platform. This helps to preserve customers’ investment over time through a high degree of code re-usability. Its extreme ease of use and functionality are designed to help developers and manufacturers speed Time-to-Market (TTM) and reduce development costs.

In our next post on MegaRAC SP-X, we will look more closely at some of the other specific features and benefits of MegaRAC SP-X mentioned earlier, including hardware and software inventory, power, BIOS and user management, along with more of the different interface protocols that SP-X supports.

Thanks for reading! What did you think of today's post on MegaRAC SP-X, our flagship BMC firmware management solution? Feel free to leave us your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as suggestions on any other AMI products you would like us to spotlight in future blog posts, and thanks for reading today’s Tech Blog!

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