Dude This Should Not be in a Dell

Immediately we’re going to share the results of a little bit of investigation that began a couple of months in the past on STH. The brief model, it seems as if the Dell EMC S5200-ON collection switches, the corporate’s high-end 25GbE-200GbE switches, have license/ royalty stickers which have a distinct firm identify on them than they need to have. As an alternative of claiming “American Megatrends”, they as a substitute say “American Megatrands”. To offer some perspective, this appears to be like unusual as a result of it might be like shopping for a Dell pocket book and getting a Macrosoft Wandows license sticker on them.

Whereas we have now been in a position to affirm these stickers on 4 completely different fashions within the S5200-ON line, we have now motive to imagine they transcend simply Dell. In case you occur to work on a sure US Military supercomputer by HPE Cray you might need to open up the system and take a look.

Via a reasonably tough October, we validated that certainly these stickers are within the wild. In the end, after we introduced their existence to American Megatrends (AMI) and Dell’s consideration (HPE didn’t care sufficient to research), we now have an artifact that claims that American Megatrends is honoring the license stickers and won’t pursue authorized motion in opposition to Dell’s prospects or these utilizing them.

Since we have now an official response from AMI and Dell, as a substitute of going on the market weaving unfaithful or misweaving info as others have (I did the follow-up Yossi Appleboum interview on How Bloomberg is Positioning His Analysis Towards Supermicro for reference, and that was eye-opening), all we are able to do is clarify what we noticed, what our course of was, what the response is, and the affect now that we have now all of this info. In case you agree or disagree with this, all I can say is be at liberty to take this to no matter discussion board you want to on-line to touch upon it.

For Context: The Solely Technical Background You Want

At STH, we do a whole lot of in-depth technical articles. This specific article goes to be across the baseboard administration controller or BMC. That’s truly the principle chip within the complicated Bloomberg was making an attempt to spotlight in its story. Now we have a complete article on Explaining the Baseboard Administration Controller or BMC in Servers. Successfully, consider a BMC as a small pc inside a pc that operates independently. That impartial operation permits options on servers, switches, storage, and different IT gadgets to energy on/ off, replace firmware, present distant entry as a substitute of needing to bodily troubleshoot at a field, and even do issues like mixture, log, and report sensor readings. BMCs are elementary to fashionable IT.

Aspeed AST2600 Cover
Aspeed AST2600 Cowl

On the Dell EMC PowerEdge aspect, the corporate’s answer is named iDRAC and that could be a customized answer. Nonetheless, Dell truly makes use of the ASPEED BMCs in lots of its merchandise. Even the outdated Dell PowerEdge C6100 utilized ASPEED BMCs as a result of massive hyper-scale prospects need industry-standard administration. Whereas iDRAC has many nice options, for many of the {industry} the ASPEED BMCs are the go-to choice.

Dell C6100 XS23-TY3 Motherboard Tray Hot Swap
Dell C6100 XS23-TY3

For the reason that BMC is a small pc that runs principally independently from the principle server, storage, or community machine, it wants its personal OS and functions. That’s the place American Megatrends steps in. This can be a little bit of an oversimplification, however AMI MegaRAC one can consider because the Microsoft Home windows of the mainstream BMC world. AMI has numerous variations, and there are completely different characteristic ranges in BMCs, however at a excessive degree, that’s what’s going on.

Discovering the Dell Megatrand Problem

In August 2021, I made the choice that we would have liked to do extra hands-on change opinions. We had carried out the Edgecore AS7712-32X, Celestica Seastone DX010, Arista DCS-7060CX-32S, and extra, nevertheless it appeared prefer it was time to have a look at different high-performance switches on STH.

Celestica Seastone DX010 Two PCBs 1
Celestica Seastone DX010 Two PCBs 1

After chatting with Dell about opinions on the finish of August, I used to be instructed somebody in a gathering mentioned one thing to the impact of “why ought to we care about STH.” For context, STH is the most important editorially impartial server, storage, and networking evaluation website on the planet, by a large margin. Now we have been doing opinions of Dell merchandise for years, so this was extra of a traditional course of they undergo. Nonetheless, as an A-type persona, that instantly triggered a response of “OK, I’m simply going to select a product, and we’re going to do a evaluation and get extra web page views/ video views than Dell.” Since I used to be on Community switches, that turned the main target.

On September 5, 2021, we bought a couple of switches. First up was the Dell S5148F-ON piece the place Dell used Marvell as a substitute of a Broadcom change ASIC. Datacenter switches that had been $10K+ new are a distinct segment class, nevertheless it nonetheless did superb for one in all our movies since we’re a distinct segment website.

With that, it was time to have a look at different switches and from the newer collection. We regarded on the subsequent Dell S5232F-ON Palms-on A Vastly Improved 32-port 100GbE Swap.

As one would think about, we did these switches together with pictures, testing, and the entire B-roll as a set, after which printed over time. After publishing that video, we had a really fascinating remark:

YouTube Comment Megatrands
YouTube Remark Megatrands

To be truthful, we had each the Dell S5232F-ON and the S5296F-ON items carried out, and by no means had observed that there was a misspelled sticker. A fast put up on Twitter and it didn’t appear to be there was lots on MegatrAnds versus the right Megatrends.

STH What Is MegatrAnds Twitter October 4 2021
STH What Is MegatrAnds Twitter October 4 2021

Right here is the photograph in query:

Dell EMC Networking S5232F ON ASPEED BMC Board
Dell EMC Networking S5232F ON ASPEED BMC Board

Here’s a nearer view:

Dell EMC S5232F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Close
Dell EMC S5232F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Shut

Right here it’s even nearer. I needed to indicate the complete zoom-in development simply to indicate how superb it’s that somebody noticed this on the YouTube video. Additionally, simply how exhausting it’s to overlook. This sticker ought to say “AMERICAN MEGATRENDS” not “AMERICAN MEGATRANDS”.

Dell EMC S5232F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Closer
Dell EMC S5232F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Nearer

After all, we checked the Dell EMC S5296F-ON piece that the video was already carried out and simply ready for a publishing slot. We do attempt to area these out a bit, however that could be a problem when you have got spent tens of 1000’s of {dollars} on switches and the content material is simply sitting there ready.

Certain sufficient, there was an “AMERICAN MEGATRANDS” sticker right here as effectively. You may see them in Rohit’s evaluation, however we particularly edited out this photograph in addition to within the S5296F-ON video when it went stay in mid-October. The investigation was ongoing at this level, however we had two information factors after we pulled the pictures in order to not begin a firestorm.

Dell S5296F ON ASPEED BMC AMI Megatrands 1
Dell S5296F ON ASPEED BMC AMI Megatrands 1

On October 4, I despatched a be aware by way of the American Megatrends web site’s authorized kind alerting them to discovering “Megatrands.” I used to be contacted by AMI on October 5, 2021. I used to be requested to not share the dialog, so I’ll respect that. All I’ll share is that on October 5, there was no reply as to why this was, even after AMI had sufficient time to do analysis the following day. If it was one thing AMI headquarters knew about, they didn’t inform me on that decision. They wanted time to do extra analysis as a result of, identical to discovering a “Macrosoft Wandows” license sticker on a PC, this regarded off to each events.

I let Dell know by way of a telephone dialog that I had discovered one thing that didn’t look proper in two of its switches. We had Dell Applied sciences Summit on October 13, and I didn’t need this to grow to be a subject. Plus, everybody was busy with that occasion. As an alternative, I scheduled a lunch with Dell on October 19 to indicate them what I had discovered. I’ll get extra into my thought course of for disclosure in a bit. Throughout the dialog although, I used to be requested a couple of questions. One was merely to the impact of, “how have you learnt the change was not tampered with by the reseller?”

That was an ideal query. The S5148F-ON that used a distinct administration answer and the S5232F-ON and S5296F-ON all got here from the identical reseller within the southeastern US. It might have been provide chain tampering on the trail to me. Alternatively, bear in mind these are 2019 period (so nonetheless very present) $10,000+ switches so investigating additional will not be low-cost.

In the meantime, on October 7, 2021, we bought a Dell S5248F-ON from a reseller within the midwest. We additionally bought a S5224-ON from a global reseller. These two we didn’t do our opinions of as a result of we had been ready to research Megatrands. Certain sufficient, although, we noticed some issues.

The next week, earlier than Dell Applied sciences Summit, the switches arrived. Right here is the S5248F-ON from the midwest reseller:

Dell EMC S5248F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Closer
Dell EMC S5248F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Nearer

Right here is the S5224F-ON from the worldwide reseller:

Dell EMC S5224F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Closer
Dell EMC S5224F ON ASPEED MegaRAC PM American Megatrands Sticker Nearer

We now had 4 fashions, from three resellers, in two international locations all with “AMERICAN MEGATRANDS”. This was not only a rogue reseller. It gave the impression to be a part of the high-end Dell change platform. At this level, I had additionally gone by our archives and I discovered a couple of cases of those stickers with “Megatrands” that I had by no means observed beforehand from the 2018-2019 period or so. This gave the impression to be extra than simply Dell being impacted, however I had 4 of those sitting in our studio.

I knew all of this by October 15, 2021. American Megatrends was investigating however didn’t have a solution over every week later.

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