HP Blackscreen of Nothing

Posted on 26 August 2009

Sometimes you have things happen at work that are silly, weird and illogical – especially when you work with computers.  I’ve had 2 recent brushes with the HP Black Screen of Nothing (BSON).  One on a brand new HP Proliant DL380 G5 and one on an old Proliant DL380 G3.  Both had the same symptoms and the same fix.

The BSON is characterized by a server that doesn’t POST, has no video, no RED LEDs, no beep codes; just a whole lot of no booting.  The usual procedure is to re-seat and/or remove hardware (RAM, PCI cards, riser boards) in a orderly fashion until you get a POST of some type.  In both these cases the usual hardware didn’t help.  In both these cases what did help is to remove and then re-seat the PPM (processor power module). 

What was weirdest is on the new G5 this didn’t work at first.  This was a dual processor machine, so after I added the 2nd processor I got the BSON.   If I removed the 2nd processor, bam POST.  Great, I figured I borked the 2nd proggy on install.  I finally got the thing to POST and boot by – get this – switching the 2 PPMs around (i.e. slot 1 -> slot 2 and vice versa) – which of course is really the same as removing and re-seating.

Anyway, if you have an HP Proliant that won’t post, no video, no beep codes, no red leds.  Pull the PPM for a bit.  And pray…..that doesn’t hurt.  If that doesn’t work, pop the reset dip switch on the motherboard.

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