Supermicro vs No_Drv

TL;DR – A NO_DRV driver is a driver package that doesn’t contain a driver binary. It uses the driver from another package (typically an in-box Microsoft driver).

Server Woes

One of my servers, a SuperMicro 5038A-IL has been locking up on me. I’ve been able to use the machine for the most part for the past year, but the upshot is that I can’t upgrade the machine from one Windows version to another. 22% of the way through WinRE (or sometimes WinPE), the machine has a hard Freeze, and won’t respond to mouse movement or keyboard. I’ve tried kernel debugging, hardware swaps, nothing works. My experience tells me this is a hardware problem. Time to escalate to SuperMicro support.

Upgrade your drivers

OK I should have seen this one coming, I call up support, and the first thing they ask me to do is make sure I have the latest Network and System Drivers.

  1. WinRE doesn’t use Network, so this isn’t a problem.
  2. System Drivers sure! Let’s download and check to see I have the latest stuff.

ftp://ftp.supermicro.com/driver/Intel_INF/Skylake_Series_Chipset/Chipset_v10.1.2.80.zip

No_Drv

I open the driver package, and take a look. Wait a minute, I don’t see any *.sys files, only *.inf and *.cat files.

sys – These are the compiled drivers, usually written in c/c++.
inf – These are the install files, typically there is at least one of these.
cat – This is the digial signature, signed by Microsoft to verify the source of the driver.

How can there be no driver in the driver package? Let’s look

[Version]
...
CatalogFile=Skylake.cat
...
[INTEL.NTamd64]
...
%PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_191FDesc%=Needs_NO_DRV,PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_191F

[Needs_NO_DRV]
Include=machine.inf
Needs=NO_DRV
Oh, NO_DRV, now I recall, this is an old trick. The device above DEV_191F doesn’t actually require a device driver, it’s transparently handled by Windows. But Windows doesn’t give it a descriptive name, just a generic name. So companies like Intel can provide this pack so you can give some devices more descriptive names in the Device Manager. The intel driver above points to an entry in the machine.inf driver already on the machine.
From:   “PCI Standard ISA bridge”
To:   “Intel(R) C226 Series Server Advanced SKU LPC Controller – 8C56”
That’s all it does, It doesn’t affect the operation of the OS or the hardware. Just the name! Sometimes this is helpful if you need to quickly identify a device, but, yes it’s mostly used for vanity, so I never load them on my machines.
So… I responded to SuperMicro, and confirmed I was using the latest drivers from intel. :^)

 

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