Installing VMware ESXi on IBM Lenovo x240 M5 with SD Media Adapter and SD Cards

Last week I installed VMware ESXi 6.0U1B on some (formerly IBM) Lenovo x240 M5 Compute Nodes in Flex System Chassis. The case was special because the nodes contain only SD cards and SD Media Adapters instead of SAS hard drives and standard RAID controllers. There are no interface other than IMM CLI of the node to configure this SD Media Adapter to build a RAID array. You should first connect to IMM of the node with SSH. Then you can get the initial information about your SD RAID and cards with these commands:

system> sdraid
SD Media Adapter for System x
Hardware Revision = 4.3
Firmware Version = 1.3.2.171
Serial Number = 58WXYZ
FRU Number = 00JY0XX
Mode = Operational
SDCard1
Status = Healthy
Capacity = 30436 MBytes
FRU Number = 00MLXYZ
SDCard2
Status = Healthy
Capacity = 30436 MBytes
FRU Number = 00MLXYZ

system> sdraid -driveList
SDCard 1
Index LUN Name Type Size(MB) Owner Access Removable
SDCard 2
Index LUN Name Type Size(MB) Owner Access Removable
ok

system> sdraid -getFreeSpaceInfo

I have two 32 GB SD cards which I intend to build a mirror RAID-1 array with. I switched to config mode, created the drive and switched back to operational mode with these commands:

system> sdraid -setMode Configuration -now
system> sdraid -create -driveName ESXiLocalDS -target mirror -sizeMB 30436 -removable 1 -owner system -systemReadOnly 0 -LUN 0
system> sdraid -setMode Operational -now

After these BIOS should be configured to boot from this drive:

Boot Manager > Add Boot Option > Generic Boot Option > Embedded Hypervisor
Boot Manager > Change Boot Order > move "Embedded Hypervisor" to the top
System Settings > Devices and I/O Ports > PCI 64-Bit Resource > Disabled
System Settings > Devices and I/O Ports > MM Config Base > 3 GB

When you save your changes and exit BIOS, you will be able to start ESXi installation aware of the SD card drive.

For reference: http://public.dhe.ibm.com/systems/support/system_x_pdf/dw2abms3.pdf

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