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HP Blade & Virtual Connect Firmware and Nic drivers for vSphere 5

November 23rd, 2011

One of the challenges with working with HP blades and HP Virtual Connect switches is ensuring all your software and firmware versions are in sync as unfortunately there have been many firmware incompatibility and reliability issues that have plagued the technology over the years and making sure you have firmware that works certainly helps with your sanity!

I’ve been tracking the firmware requirements in my Flex-10 ESX pre-requisites post.

With the release of vSphere 5, things are a little simpler as there is no longer an ESX platform, only ESXi so you don’t have to worry about tracking separate driver requirements for both hypervisor releases.

It’s good news for G6 blades which use a Broadcom bnx2x network card. The in-box driver version 1.61.15.v50.1-1 is supported with Virtual Connect so if you have at least NIC firmware version 5.2.7 and Virtual Connect firmware 3.1.0 there’s no additional patching required.

G7 blades are now becoming common place and they don’t use Broadcom Nics but rather Emulex be2net Nics with the following adapter names, NC551m, NC552m or NC553m.

Now, you would have thought that with all the historical issues surrounding the Broadcom driver support with ESX(i) and Virtual Connect, HP would have learned their lesson and worked far harder with Emulex and VMware to ensure driver and firmware compatibility with ESXi 5. This doesn’t seem to have been the case which to me is mind-boggling. Surely when you make a big decision to switch network cards to a new vendor for all your new blades and you are selling servers by the thousands for virtualisation, you make damn sure your drivers and firmware work. HP obviously didn’t think so.

The inbox ESXi5 Emulex be2net driver didn’t work if you used VLAN tagging anywhere in your network path and also had issues with PXE which would have affected you if you wanted to use Auto Deploy.

HP then released a new driver version 4.0.355.1 which they then pulled as there were still issues with this driver and PXE.

HP then re-released the same driver but with a new Nic firmware requirement version 4.0.360.20. Although the numbers look very similar, 4.0.355.1 is the Nic driver version and 4.0.360.20 is the Nic firmware version.

You can download the Emulex firmware version 4.0.360.20 from the following link and then enjoy applying it to all your G7 blades:

The 4.0.355.1 driver version can be downloaded from VMware’s site.

This can be uploaded to Update Manager to patch your hosts or if you are using Auto Deploy you can build the driver into a custom ESXi 5.0 depot using VMware Image Builder.

To manually update each host you can enable ESXi troubleshooting mode as well as SSH. Extract the .vib file and copy it to the local /tmp folder and use esxcli to install.

esxcli software vib install -v /tmp/net-be2net-4.0.355.1-1OEM.500.0.0.406165.x86_64.vib

I’m keeping positive and hoping this driver and firmware incompatibility hiccup with G7 blades is just a bump in the road and all is good from now on!

I’ve updated my Flex-10 ESX pre-requisites post.

Categories: ESX, Flex-10, HP, VMware Tags: , , , , ,
  1. Bas
    November 23rd, 2011 at 20:06 | #1

    I’m not positive at all anymore, they solved some problems but definitely not all. I’m using bl465G7 blades with Flex Fabric. Support for FCOE functionality on the CNA is not included in this firmware and does not support PXE Boot on a ProLiant server with AMD processors.

  2. November 25th, 2011 at 15:06 | #2

    Hi Juilian

    Do you have to upgrade all modules when upgrading, there is some fiber interconnects I would like to leave alone but when I run the update command it seems it’s all or nothing.

  3. WoodITWork
    November 27th, 2011 at 18:56 | #3

    Dwayne. I’m not actually sure how it works with the fiber connects but whatever is part of your virtual connect domain needs to be upgraded in one process. Each switch in the virtual connect domain needs to be rebooted for the upgraded firmware to take effect. You can’t manage your virtual connect domain properly until all switches have been rebooted and are part of the same firmware version.

  4. November 30th, 2011 at 20:41 | #4


    in the meanwhile we have the firmware revision 15, because other findings. All older Version will remove your support this new 15 version will bring this adapter back in the HCL


    Best regards

  5. Rotem Agmon
    December 1st, 2011 at 05:41 | #5
  6. Shar
    December 14th, 2011 at 08:20 | #6

    @Rotem Agmon




    Stupid HP site where you can’t find shit!!!

  7. WoodITWork
    December 14th, 2011 at 11:49 | #7

    @Rotem Agmon

    Thanks for your help, Rotem, I’ve updated the post to reflect 4.0.360.20

  8. Behruz
    December 16th, 2011 at 21:47 | #8

    thank your for great posts

    i have few BL490c g6 servers with built-in NC532i network cards and HP 1/10Gb-F Virtual Connect Ethernet Module installed in c3000 enclosure

    i can’t find information and driver for particular (nc532i) net cards. i’m thinking to move forward and install vSphere 5 but i can’t find driver for nc532i cards designed for vsphere 5

    all discussed drivers are designed for nc55x network cards

    any suggestions?

  9. Rotem Agmon
    December 18th, 2011 at 20:30 | #9

    The driver for the NC532i network card is already included with VMware ESXi 5.0 (inbox driver) version 1.61.15.v50.1 and is fully supported with HP Virtual Connect.

    For more details please see “HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 NICs Solution Recipe” available at:

  10. Rotem Agmon
    January 27th, 2012 at 18:57 | #10

    Hi Julian,

    Emulex firmware version 4.0.360.20 iso image is no longer available for download and has been replaced with version 4.0.360.15a

    Please update the download link:


  11. Björn
    February 1st, 2012 at 14:59 | #11

    Hello, good post. I have hard to stay positive. I have the new firmware and the new driver on my BL420c G7 blades, but they hang during boot. Stops loading when using be2net driver. This sucks.

  12. Rotem Agmon
    March 13th, 2012 at 19:23 | #12

    @Rotem Agmon

    Emulex firmware version 4.0.360.15a iso image is no longer available for download and has been replaced with version 4.0.360.15b

    Please update the download link:

  13. michael schweiger
    February 14th, 2013 at 12:45 | #13

    Hi all,

    Since I had again a couple of PSOD’s and again some Network driver unloading I tought about opening a facebook group to see who else is affected by these issues.. I’m fighting almost 2 years against the EMULEX FW and driver issues and it seems there’s no end to it.


    Nic FW 2013-01-24 -> EMULEX Nic advisory: http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Document.jsp?objectID=c03650833&lang=en&cc=us&taskId=135&prodSeriesId=4132829&prodTypeId=3709945

    Bios FW 2013-01-08 -> http://h20566.www2.hp.com/portal/site/hpsc/template.PAGE/public/kb/docDisplay/?docId=emr_na-c03612934&ac.admitted=1358155859849.876444892.199480143

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