R310 won’t boot or post after memory upgrade
Upgrading server memory can be can be painful at times. This all started when we upgraded our existing R710 servers to 96GB RAM. This left us with a box of DDR3 4GB 2Rx4 DIMMs (crucial, not Dell). The following year it was time to replace some remote servers running a read-only domain controller, print server, and patch distribution point. I specified R310 servers with an X3470 processor and just 1GB RAM. I figure when we get the servers, I’ll pull the 1GB stick and install 4, 4GB sticks so we can run each function in its own virtual machine. A couple months later and we finally get the servers and I pass the task of getting the base OS installed to a co-worker. We box them back up and ship them out to the remote locations. Two guys go out to install them and get a not enough memory error when trying to create the first virtual machine. It took me a few minutes to realize what when wrong, but luckily it was before I sent a scathing e-mail to procurement accusing them of messing up my order. I boxed up the 4GB sticks of memory and shipped them out next day AM delivery.
The next day they opened up the server, pulled the 1GB stick and installed the bigger memory. When they powered on the server the fans went to full speed and just stayed there. Not even a BIOS loading screen; nothing! After lots of troubleshooting the only thing that worked was putting the 1GB stick back in by itself. We happened to have another R310 here so I decided to verify that the memory was incompatible. Same thing happened; high fan speed and absolutely nothing on the screen. One of the guys at the remote site went over to Frys and grabbed an 8GB stick of registered ECC memory but that didn’t work either. Now it was time to get on the support chat with Dell to find out what was wrong. They looked but couldn’t find an answer for why our memory wouldn’t work.
I started digging deeper and finally found the answer. Intel’s 3400 series (foxhollow) processors don’t support RDIMMs with 256Mb/512Mb chips or x4/x16 chips. The left over DIMMs I have use 256Mb x4 DRAM chips; a double no-no. And of course it’s not in Dell’s hardware owner’s manual for the R310. Instead it’s in an information update here: http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/peR310/multlang/TS/3400_IU.pdf
So now, not only do you have to make sure the memory modules you buy are registered or un-buffered, ECC or not, DDRx and correct speed. Now you also need to know what size chips are used and how wide (rank width, e.g., x4, x8, x16) those chips are.