IBM Remote Supervisor Adapter


IBM Remote Supervisor Adapter

Remote supervisor adapter (RSA) is the out-of-band management interface card optional on most IBM Intel-based server machines sold under the IBM System x brand.

Similar in functionality to HP iLO, Dell DRAC, Sun SSP or Real Weasel

Remote management is independent of the status of the managed server.

Adapter Versions

Advanced Systems Management Adapter (ASMA)

This is a full-length ISA or PCI adapter. The ISA version is very rare, and was only ever supported in one or two servers.This adapter can be accessed either in-band through a device driver, or out-band over serial or 10Mbit Ethernet.

In addition, this adapter supports chaining of IBM Servers with Advanced Systems Management Processors (ASMP) using RJ45 patch cables (RS485 signal), to reduce the number of adapters required. A total of 12 systems can be controlled this way using a single adapter.

The PCI version is supported under Linux through the ibmasm driver.

Supported servers:
* IBM Netfinity 4500R
* IBM Netfinity 5000, 5100, 5500, 5500 M10, 5500 M20, 5600
* IBM Netfinity 6000R
* IBM Netfinity 7000 M10, 7100, 7600
* IBM Netfinity 8500R
* IBM eServer xSeries 230, 240, 250
* IBM eServer xSeries 330 (8654), 340, 350, 370

Remote Supervisor Adapter (RSA)

This is a half-length PCI adapter, which can be accessed either in-band through a device driver, or out-band over serial or Ethernet.

In addition, this adapter supports chaining of IBM Servers with Integrated Systems Management Processors (ISMP) using RJ45 patch cables (RS485 signal), to reduce the number of adapters require.

The adapter is supported under Linux through the ibmasm driver.

This is the first version to support remote KVM over Ethernet. But when chaining is used, only the server with the adapter installed supports the remote KVM function.

Supported servers:
* IBM eServer xSeries 205, 225 (8647), 232, 255
* IBM eServer xSeries 305, 330, 335, 342, 345, 360
* IBM eServer xSeries 440, 445, 450, 455

Remote Supervisor Adapter II (RSA-II)

This is a half-length PCI adapter, which can be accessed either in-band through a device driver, or out-band over serial or Ethernet.

In addition, this adapter supports chaining of IBM Servers with Integrated Systems Management Processors (ISMP) using RJ45 patch cables (RS485 signal), to reduce the number of adapters required.

This adapter (when properly cabled) can be accessed for in-band management through a USB driver.

This adapter has its own ATI video chip, and will cause the onboard video chip to get disabled. The reason for this was to resolve some of the problems with capturing the video for the remote KVM function that the original RSA experienced. Just like the original RSA, in the event of chaining the remote KVM function is only supported on the server with the adapter installed.

Supported servers:
* IBM eServer 326, 326m
* IBM eServer xSeries 206, 225 (8649), 226, 235, 255
* IBM eServer xSeries 305, 306, 306m, 335, 345, 365
* IBM eServer xSeries 445

Cable

The RSA-II requires a 20-pin cable (called an FRU 02R1661 cable for x345) to attach to the motherboard of the server. Without this cable the remote video facilities will still work, and if the external USB cable is connected, the remote keyboard and mouse will work -- but nothing else (including power control) will function properly. Moreover, some servers will pause for 30-120 seconds after power-on if the RSA-II is installed but the cable is missing.

Different cables are required for different servers, and as of April 2008 it appears that the cards themselves are far more plentiful on the used market than certain cables -- often the cables sell for more than the cards themselves!

Older servers use what is known as the "planar cable". Newer servers use the cable shown in the image to the right:

Remote Supervisor Adapter II Slimline (RSA-II Slimline)

This is a special version of the RSA-II that does not need a PCI slot. Instead it is plugged into a dedicated slot on the systemboard, like a mini-pci adapter. This version also does not have a video controller anymore like the RSA-II.

Out-band management is provided by a dedicated Ethernet port on the server, which is not connected if the RSA-II Slimline is not installed.In-Band management is provided by the same USB driver as the RSA-II.

Supported servers:
* IBM eServer xSeries 236, 260
* IBM eServer xSeries 336, 346, 366
* IBM eServer xSeries 460, MXE-460
* IBM System x 3200, 3250, 3400, 3500, 3550, 3650, 3655, 3755, 3800, 3850, 3950

Peculiarities

Invisible to Traceroute

The network stack used by the RSAII does not respond to UDP packets sent to a closed port; therefore, it appears to be "invisible" to traceroutes based on UDP (the default for non-Windows systems).

Reliability Problems

A defect in the design of the RSA can cause it to go into a state in which the remote video capabilities are disabled. Unfortunately, once in this state the only way to correct the situation is to physically remove power from the RSA and the server; no amount of remote restarting will correct the problem. Because the point of the RSA is to eliminate the need for this sort of physical intervention to clear errors, this flaw calls into question the usefulness of the device.

This flaw is documented on IBM's website at [https://www-304.ibm.com/systems/support/supportsite.wss/docdisplay?lndocid=MIGR-54299&brandind=5000008 No graphics displayed with remote login to IBM RSA Web interface remote control option - Servers] ]

Related

BladeCenter Management Module (BCMM)

This is the management module of the IBM BladeCenter and IBM BladeCenter T.

Its function is very similar to that of the RSA-II

The BCMM provides an external 10/100Mbit Ethernet connection and shared VGA, PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 Mouse ports.Internally the VGA and PS/2 ports are switchable between blades. The PS/2 ports are internally seen to the blades as USB.

BladeCenter Advanced Management Module (BCAMM)

This is the management module of the IBM BladeCenter H and IBM BladeCenter HT.

Advanced Systems Management Processor (ASMP)

This is an integrated Service Processor on select IBM Intel-based servers. It was succeeded by the ISMP.Out-of-band management is possible using a serial port (shared with the OS), or by adding the Advanced Systems Management Adapter (ASMA).

These servers have ASMP functionality:
* IBM Netfinity 4500R
* IBM Netfinity 5000, 5100, 5500, 5600
* IBM Netfinity 6000R
* IBM Netfinity 7100, 7600
* IBM xSeries 130 (8654), 135 (8654), 150
* IBM xSeries 230, 240, 250
* IBM xSeries 330, 340, 350

Integrated Systems Management Processor (ISMP)

This is an integrated Service Processor on select IBM Intel-based servers. It was succeeded by the BMC.Out-of-band management is possible by adding the RSA or RSA-II.

These servers have ISMP functionality:
* IBM xSeries 232, 235, 236, 255
* IBM xSeries 335, 342, 345

Baseboard Management Controller (BMC)

On the latest IBM Intel-based servers a BMC is standard, and optionally the RSA-II Slimline can be added.

RSA features include

* Remote control of hardware and operating systems
* Web-based management with standard Web browsers (no other software is required)
* Text-based user interface

References

* [http://www-304.ibm.com/jct01004c/systems/support/supportsite.wss/docdisplay?lndocid=MIGR-4ZVQKY&brandind=5000008 IBM Remote supervisor adapter User's Guide]
* [http://www.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=psg1MIGR-57091 IBM RSA-II and RSA-II Slimline User's Guide]
* [http://www-304.ibm.com/jct01004c/systems/support/supportsite.wss/docdisplay?brandind=5000008&lndocid=MIGR-50116 IBM RSA-II - Overview]
* [http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/tips0146.html IBM Service Processors support matrix]


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