Cost-effective Baseboard Management Controller Solution

sro1601To satisfy the need for hardware management on server baseboards across a wide range of computer platforms from embedded to scaled out server markets, Pentair has developed the Schroff Pigeon Point BMR-AST-BMC solution, which enables a server baseboard developer to quickly and cost-effectively add advanced hardware management features, including “out-of-band” management access to the baseboard management controller (BMC) of the server even when the main server CPU(s) are not powered.

A BMC is defined in the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) architecture as a separately powered controller that can manage the operation of the server CPU(s) on its baseboard, even when those CPUs are powered down. Management in this case includes monitoring key parameters such as temperatures and voltages, providing access to inventory data, such as serial numbers or product names, powering on or off the main CPUs, and alerting higher level management layers of issues on the baseboard.

This new BMC solution is based on ASPEED Technology’s AST2500 integrated remote management processor (and its subset variant, the AST2520), which combines an advanced ARM11 CPU with a rich peripheral complement specialized for management applications. The Schroff Pigeon Point BMR-AST-BMC solution takes advantage of advanced built-in hardware in the AST2500 to support redirection of the keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) functions of the server baseboard to a remote network-attached management console. There, using the KVM peripherals of that console, IT staff can have full remote access to the server as if they were physically present at what may be one of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of servers supported by a small IT team. Also, media redirection allows using boot and installation images on such remote consoles to diagnose and/or re-initialize any of those servers with comparable high efficiency and with no need to visit the physical server.

This BMC solution will be available beginning in March 2016 and is compliant with the current revision 2.0 of IPMI. Also included are key facilities of the current 1.5 revision of the Data Center Management Interface (DCMI), a variant of IPMI optimized for servers in large data centers.

Like other members of the widely used and mature Schroff Pigeon Point BMR family of management controller solutions, the BMR-AST-BMC solution includes a reference PCB schematic for the management controller subsystem, ready for integration into the design of a particular server baseboard. Also included is the Linux-based Firmware and Operating System Layer (FOSL) that runs on the ARM11 processor inside the AST2500 and full source code for the BMR management application that runs above that Linux layer. The BMR application includes an easy-to-use configuration architecture to facilitate adaptation to the specifics of the BMC subsystem on a customer baseboard. Also included in the solution are extensive technical documentation and a year of technical support. Finally, the solution includes a bench top implementation of the reference design so that a developer can get started immediately with a live ramp up on BMC operation and IPMI-based hardware management in general. The bench top implementation can also serve as a known good comparison when a customer brings up a custom baseboard that incorporates this BMC.
As the first new technology to emerge from the former Pigeon Point team after its integration into Pentair, this solution joins the Schroff Pigeon Point family of Board Management Reference (BMR) offerings. Pigeon Point products have successfully delivered hardware management services in demanding applications for more than a decade in the telecom, datacom, defense and other sectors.