Dell Poweredge R815 - no boot, no POST


We are a small charity which uses a Dell Poweredge R815 as our server.
With no apparent cause, the server stopped working abruptly.

When we spotted it, the machine was still running; the LCD screen on the front of it was still active, but there was no video output. IWepowered it off and and on, and it went through exactly the same sequence that it now has ever since :-
- The green LEDs light up on the system board and the PSU
- The fans spin for maybe two seconds
- Then nothing. The power switch LED fails to light the motherboard green LEDs stay on, flickering nicely. Nothing on video output, and the front LCD screen doesn't light up.
We've tried :
- Switching the PSUs
- Taking out the RAM and just leaving two in (position A1 and B2)
- Disconnecting the SAS controller
- Taking out one CPU so there's only one, and swapping that CPU
- Resetting the NVRAM

If we pull the Riser 1 card (that the SAS controller is normally connected to), something slightly different happens :-
1. The LCD screen on the front becomes operative
2. We can access the DRAC and login to that.
However, we still can't power on the system. I guess it may all point to a motherboard failure. My guess is all that is happening is that the lack of the Riser triggers an error condition a step further back in the process, and there it stops.

We don't have a replacement Riser 1 card or motherboard to test. Any suggestions or things to try would be hugely welcome...

Thank you, Jamie
Jamie AllenAsked:
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
It looks like one of power voltage is missing.
If fans are spinning but no video reaction I would say 12V is missing. If you have changed Power Supply and still nothing, then I would say that Power Supply back plain or voltage stabilizer on motherboard is not working correctly.
It looks like you need new MB.
Jamie AllenAuthor Commented:
Thanks Tom. Is the DRAC successfully operating (under certain circumstances!) in line with that? Is it independent of the 12v supply?
Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
DRAC is using his own battery and 5V supply from motherboard.
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Jamie AllenAuthor Commented:
Aha! Thanks. That would account for it.

- Would you have any idea why taking our the Riser board allows the boot process to proceed to that point?
....and, if that's the problem, then the entire motherboard really has to be replaced? :((

Gratefully, Jamie
Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
Maybe stabilizer on MB is not completely death but not delivering enough power.
Jamie AllenAuthor Commented:
Hmmm, good thought. Would the machine normally power on without that Riser present?
Thanks again...
Jamie AllenAuthor Commented:
Greetings again. Excuse my ignorance, but the system board is in two sections - the one where the CPUS and RAM sits - and the section where the Riser Boards are. Which one of these two is the part needing replacement? With thanks again, Jamie
Jamie AllenAuthor Commented:
...does anyone know the answer to that question?? Please!!
With thanks
Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
Yes, server has 2 boards one processors and memory, second all other components.
It's hard to tell with one board is not working without technical analysis and each board costs over $300 for new one.
I would bet for board with video card, chipset and other components, but like I said it's hard to tell without testing.  
You have 2 choices

One is send server to Dell service (or pay for onsite visit) and let them fix this for you - most expensive without extended waranty
You can but parts and replace for yourself.

There is another option and I would go for it personally
You can find used working server on eBay for about $500.00,(make an offer)  purchase it and replace just hard drives and Raid controller.
This will give you quickest option to make this work and will live you with spare parts.
Just think about it


Board (I'm not sure if this one is broken)

Processor Board

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Jamie AllenAuthor Commented:
Many thanks indeed for your help :)
We're based in New Zealand, and shipping a replacement server here is horrendously expensive - albeit it would be ideal for the parts. Nonetheless, it does seem like probably the best option.... :(
Thanks again for your help - very very much appreciated.
Jamie AllenAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your fantastic help with troubleshooting our broken server.
Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
You are very welcome Jamie.
I'm in USA and if I can help you from here please let me know.
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