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Fatal UEFI pre-boot environment

We tried installing some eSATA cards in a Dell PowerEdge T320 server machine. All those cards give the same error after plugged in, boot, and after the "Initializing firmware interfaces..." screen:

"The system detected an exception during the UEFI pre-boot environment."

The cards we tried are Vantec UGT-ST622 and StarTech PEXESAT32. However, the problem is more widespread; in the past we got the same error with two other eSATA cards, other brands - not the above,  on an older PowerEdge; at that time, we ended up with an UGT-ST400 that worked, only that card won't do with the OS on the new server.

The crash is fatal, requires reboot. We tried various PCIe slots, same error. One might suggest boot priority in BIOS, but this error occurs before BIOS setup can run.

So issue seems to be systemic. But can engineers create hardware that reject each other on such a scale? Or maybe we missed something and there still is a way to go?
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campinam
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campinam
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andyalderCommented:
Do you need to have UEFI turned on? For example UEFI only systems won't boot at all with some Adaptec cards, http://adaptec-itic.adaptec.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/17087
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campinamAuthor Commented:
We just started with this new PowerEdge T320... UEFI was on by default. Does it need to be on? I don't know... Can it be turned off? How? Is there a reason it is now on? There are no other cards on the mainboard.
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andyalderCommented:
Only need it turned on if you want to boot from GPT disk, e.g. a logical disk greater than 2TB. You can still have a second volume greater than 2TB and a smaller one to boot from with UFI turned off, these can be on the same set of disks if needed, i.e. a thin slice about 100GB to install th OS on and a huge slice for data.
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campinamAuthor Commented:
System disk is 1 GB, data separate HD is 2 TB.
How do I turn UEFI off? (Server is in production, can't experiment)
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andyalderCommented:
I tink it's in http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/peT320/en/t320OMen.pdf but I can't open it from here. search it for " NOTE: Setting this field to UEFI disables BIOS Boot Settings menu" (and set it to non-UEFI)
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campinamAuthor Commented:
I copied this from the manual:
------------------------------------------------
Boot Mode
Allows you to set the boot mode of the system.CAUTION: Switching the boot mode may prevent the system from booting if the operating system is not installed in the same boot mode.If the operating system supports UEFI, you can set this option to UEFI. Setting this field to BIOS allows compatibility with non-UEFI operating systems. By default, the Boot Mode option is set to BIOS.NOTE: Setting this field to UEFI disables BIOS Boot Settings menu. Setting this field to BIOS disables the UEFI Boot Settings menu.
Boot Sequence Retry
Allows you to enable or disable the boot sequence retry feature. If this field is enabled and the system fails to boot, the system reattempts the boot sequence after 30 seconds. By default, the Boot Sequence Retry option is set to Disabled.
BIOS Boot Settings
Allows you to enable or disable BIOS Boot options.NOTE: This option is enabled only if the boot mode is BIOS.
UEFI Boot Settings
Allows you to enable or disable UEFI Boot options.NOTE: This option is enabled only if the boot mode is UEFI.
One-Time Boot
Allows you to enable or disable a one-time boot from a selected device.
----------------------------------------------------
It says above Boot Mode is BIOS now - the default - which makes it confusing. Has anyone tried playing with these settings, is there any risk of not being able to boot again / get to BIOS settings again? What worries me is "Switching the boot mode may prevent the system from booting if the operating system is not installed in the same boot mode".
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andyalderCommented:
Well, if you can't try anything there's not much that I can suggest. You can check in disk management that the volume is not GPT (that's part of what the warning about not booting if you change the setting is about since you can't boot GPT without UEFI being enabled). Assuming it's a basic MBR disk then it should still boot with either mode enabled.

Only other option I can suggest is getting a card that's guaranteed to support UEFI such as one that's marketed as Apple compatible.
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campinamAuthor Commented:
Card needs driver for Windows Server 2008 R2 and support UEFI. Do all Mac eSATA cards support UEFI? I know LaCie... didn't see 2008 R2 listed...
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andyalderCommented:
Modern Apple certified cards support UEFI since that's all available to them but whether they have Win 2008R2 drivers available I don't know. I'm not an expert in UEFI which is partly why I suggested turning it off since judging from your previous question on the subject that's what's screwing it up. You're not the only one with the problem, loads of people with Dells have UEFI turned on accidentally and have problems booting with "legacy" cards installed.
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campinamAuthor Commented:
This is some of the best advice on experts-exchange. Thanks a million. Let these answers be of reference and help others too.
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andyalderCommented:
Only you turning off UEFI and verifying that it still boots plus enables the eSATA card to come to life again will confirm 100%. You do have to try it for the sake of others in your shoes.
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dakotas94Commented:
I am in the same shoes and it is not possible to turn off UEFI on my Dell T320. It is set for BIOS boot mode but even in that mode appartently it still does something with UEFI since I run into the same problem when trying to boot with a SATA 6Gb/s adapter card. The Bios sees the card fine and the drives attached but it keep hitting that fatal error during "Initializing firmware interfaces...".
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campinamAuthor Commented:
dakotas94, that's true, even with BIOS boot mode the SATA card would cause an UEFI error that is fatal (requires reboot). So I gave up on the SATA card.

But I remember I read somewhere (in the meantime) that the card slots on the T320 can be configured in BIOS individually so that one can disable UEFI per slot.

Can you try it, and if yes, please post here if it worked, that would be great (my server is in production and I can't experiment on it). Thanks.
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