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DELL Server / Adding another cpu

Posted on 2009-06-29
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Last Modified: 2013-12-10
Good Day,

I searched and found a variety of opinions on the matter, but I wanted to run my situation past the experts here.

We have a Dell Poweredge server with one CPU. The mother board can accommodate another cpu, however I read that it's risky to add another one. We are running Windows Server 2003 Web Ed.

My questions are:
1. Our plan is to buy an identical cpu, ensure the bios is up to date, install cpu. Am I missing something?
2. Will windows error out (HAL, etc)?
3. Can we avoid reinstalling Windows?
4. What are the potential pitfalls?

This is a production machine and we cannot afford more than a few minutes of downtime.

Thank you for your input.
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Question by:QuestionManA
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Kyle Abrahams earned 300 total points
ID: 24736472
The plan sounds pretty solid to me.  After updating the BIOS (if required) I would boot to windows to ensure the bios doesn't cause any issues.  

Windows shouldn't error out . . . this is a hardware change similiar to adding a second drive.  Keeping the CPU the same should eliminate any kind of possibilities of this.

You shouldn't need to touch the OS.  

4)  Potential pitfall is that the server doesn't boot.  Rollback is to pull the chip out, everything should be the same prior to that point.  The Only other Gotchya at this point would be any other licensing that you need to be aware of.  (EG: SQL Server is per socket).  Make sure you review your application licensing to ensure you're in compliance.

I would call dell to confirm this, see what they say about adding another chip and running over the installation procedure.

If it's a production machine, I would do it at night after everyone goes home.

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Assisted Solution

by:MariusSunchaser
MariusSunchaser earned 200 total points
ID: 24736601
Hi there.

I've added the second CPU to several HP Proliant servers. (One of the machines was also main DC and Exchange in 1 site.)
It went smoothly, and it required no change whatsoever.
Indeed, every time I bought an identical CPU as the one on the MB.
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by:QuestionManA
ID: 31597936
Excellent. Thank you for the peace of mind.
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Expert Comment

by:activeitnetworks
ID: 24736705
First, check if your Hardware abstraction layer (HAL) is going to support multiple processors, to do so, go to %systemroot%\system32 and right-click on hal.dll, choose properties, look in the version tab and choose internal name, see if there is an M in the name (halmps.dll or halmacpi.dll, etc.) if it does, your hal will support multiprocessors.

Next, and this part is usually tricky depending on your supplier, you need to find exactly the same processor and need to make sure the processor is capable of working in tandem (most xeon nowadays are able to do so, so I wouldn't really worry too much about that if you bought that server in the last 1-3 years). The hard part is finding the exact same model and speed, processors get phased out after only 3-6 months.

Those two items are your pitfalls, if your HAL doesn't support multiprocessing, you'll have to replace it before you add the other processor. And if your processor doesn't support multiprocessing then you've got a problem. otherwise, if all is well, you shouldn't have to reinstall windows or rebuild your server.

As I always suggest when doing similar things, MAKE SURE YOU'VE BACKED UP YOUR SERVER before proceeding with anything and backing up includes restoring the backup to make sure everything is fine.
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by:QuestionManA
ID: 24736762
Great. Thank you. I will check HAL.
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 24738967
For future reference, there are two possible HAL CPU types in use, but if this is a multi-cpu or the single CPU.  If you have a new server - ANY new server that uses multi-core CPUs OR HyperThreading, then you already have the multiprocessor HAL in use and the only thing you should need to do is put the CPU in while the system is off.  Done.  Period.  Yes, BIOS updates may be required if you are upgrading the CPUs beyond what they were, but if you are just adding a second CPU, then there's really nothing to it.

But I do agree- ANYTIME you do major change to a system, make sure to perform a backup.  Nothing SHOULD happen - but once you've been in IT long enough, you learn ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.  Yes, computers work by logic - but they were designed and programmed by people - who do not.
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by:MariusSunchaser
ID: 24742834
Very good and wise comment, leew!
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