Articles > Remote Insight Board, Lights-Out by HP/Compaq

One of my favourite IT management products is the Remote Insight Board, made by HP (previously Compaq). As a full-length PCI card, they are almost a fully independent computer in their own right. They let you remotely perform 80% to 90% of the tasks that you'd normally do in front of the actual server hardware.

Here I will discuss and share useful information. This is aimed at tinkerers/modders.

What they do

HP's lights-out boards (or Remote Insight Board, RIB) let you take control of a remote server, as though you were physically in front of it. In its basic form, this remote console lets you control the keyboard, mouse and monitor (think of it as somewhat like a virtual KVM). The remote console is implemented as a Java applet on the RIB's web page, which runs on its embedded web server.

The RIBs can be connected to their own power supply. If the host server crashes or is otherwise unresponsive, you can use the remote console to try to fix the problem, or initiate a hard reset or power-cycle to reboot it. You can even power on a server remotely, and view the complete boot-up progress, from BIOS to OS load up.

They are also particularly useful for creating densely packed servers in a datacentre. A RILOE in a server means you won't need to hook up a keyboard, monitor and mouse, nor do you need to hook up one or more KVM switches (which can get messy and complicated). Servers such as these are called 'Headless Servers'.

Models, and telling them apart


RILOE I board

RILOE II board
Compaq (and later, HP) produced several incarnations of the Remote Insight Board:
The RILOE I uses an Intel i960 chip

The RILOE II uses a PowerPC chip

I will be mainly discussing RILOE I and RILOE II cards, as these tend to be the most useful and flexible of the 'Lights-out' family.

Compatibility

Surprisingly, HP/Compaq have thoughtfully designed the RILOEs so that they are very standards compliant. When installed in a server, it will appear to the operating system as a memory controller and video display adapter, connected via a PCI-to-PCI bridge. The graphics chip is one based on an older, but popular ATi Rage series. Almost all recent server operating systems will have built-in drivers for the ATi graphics.

They integrate perfectly with most ProLiant servers, and HP provides comprehensive driver support for the device. You can even use the RILOE without installing the additional drivers (which are mainly for management purposes). RILOEs have been successfully used on servers running Linux (or any OS for that matter).

One thing you can do with RILOEs is to use them on other brands of servers, and even non-server hardware. Due to their standard nature, they will work properly more often than not. RILOEs will work on most motherboards conforming to the PCI 2.1 standard. Most motherboards based on an Intel chipset tend to work. The RILOE may fail to work on some motherboards, especially those with older VIA chipsets.

RILOEs have been successfully used to administer white-box computers running windows 2000 and XP. For example, you could set up a dedicated game server at a remote location (such as a datacentre), add a RILOE board, and be able to control it from elsewhere - and only visit the server when you really need to (such as for upgrades and repairs).

Connections and Pinouts

Virtual Power Button (VPB) for RILOE Edition 1 & II


VPB on RILOE II
The header for this connection looks identical to the connector used by some soundcards for analogue CD-audio. When connected to a ProLiant system properly, pins 1 and 4 are shorted to let the RILOE know that it has been connected. The relay on the RILOE makes and breaks the connection between pins 2 and 3.

      Bridge top and bottom pins (cable detection)
      Attach middle pins to ATX [Soft] Power Connector
	 ___
	| . |  1 <-+
	| . ]  2 <-|--------> ATX Power   these two are bridged by the relay
	| . |  3 <-|--------> Connector
	| . ]  4 <-+
	|___|

With this information, you can actually make up (or modify) a cable so that it can be connected to the 'power button' pins on almost any ATX motherboard. The relay provides electrical isolation, so there's no danger of damage from voltage differences or reverse polarity.

There are four actions that can be performed:

Action Effect
Power on Power button is pressed for 0.5 seconds
Power off (old firmware) Power button is pressed for 5 seconds
Power off (newer firmware) Power button is pressed for 0.5 seconds to initiate ACPI OS shutdown
Power Cycle (Reset) (old firmware) A system reset is initiated via the PCI bus. Only works on some older ProLiant servers
Power Cycle (Reset) (newer firmware) Power button pressed for 5 seconds, pause 2 seconds, pressed for 0.5 seconds

External Keyboard and mouse connection


Back connectors on RILOE I

Back connectors on RILOE II
Both the RILOE and RILOE II have the same number and type of connections at the rear. As can be seen in the pictures, the positions of the sockets is different for edition 1 and edition II. However, their functions remain the same.

Fortunately, power adapters and Keyboard/Mouse cables are interchangeable between the two models. The power adapter supplies 10v at 1.5A. Voltages as low as 6 or 7 can even be used. However, do not exceed 12 volts or the board will be damaged.

The keyboard/mouse connector uses a 9-pin mini-DIN connection.

Internal 16 and 30 Pin connection


16-pin internal connector on RILOE I

30-pin internal connector on RILOE II
At present the exact pin-outs to these connectors are not known - they are proprietary to HP/Compaq. These are designed to be connected to the corresponding connector on the ProLiant server.

The 16-pin connector (on the RILOE I and RILOE II) is known to carry the keyboard and mouse pass-through signals, as well as power for the RILOE (from the standby output of the PSU) when the server is powered off (but still plugged in). If this connector is wired to the system board, the external keyboard/mouse connection on the RILOE should not be used. The keyboard/mouse should be connected to the server normally, and the RILOE and system board will take care of the passthrough automatically.

The 30-pin connector (only available on the RILOE II), being of a much higher density than the 16-pin one, carries additional lines for the virtual media function. This is presumed to be somewhat similar to USB.

Firmware

Firmware - RILOE I

Latest (and last) version: 2.53

Firmware - RILOE II

v1.02 rebrands it from "Compaq" to "HP"

 


Comments

JC, Thu, 20 Aug 2009 02:05 am: Reply
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Good stuff! surprisingly until now some company still using RILOE I on their servers

K from FR, Tue, 25 Aug 2009 07:05 am: Reply
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Excellent !

Since few years I own those cards (both rib et riloe2), but I never attempt to pullit into a standard PC. I must give a try.

Many thanks.

smk, Sat, 12 Sep 2009 05:09 pm: Reply
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Hi! I found in my friend's stuff similar card (COMPAQ branded), but much more complicated. Right now I can't shot a pic, but I'll try to describe it. It is like those cards full lenght 32bit PCI, have i960 on board, another smaller PCB with VGA connector on it, in the middle of the card lies a PCMCIA slot with PC Card (probably serial port) inside wich is connected trough RJ-45 to the connector nearby, and on the end there is 6 AA NI-MH battery pack. On the other side i found two RAM chips. I have no idea whats this... AFAIR it has a VGA, KBD, and ethernet connectors (maybe more, but those 3 for sure). I would really appreciate any hint about this monster :)
P.S. Sorry for my English, I'm form Poland, and I'm rather a geek than pro IT worker.

stef, Thu, 08 Oct 2009 05:10 am: Reply
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Great. The Power-Switch Cable hack works with a standard PC here. Does anyone know of the polarity of the 9V DV input jack?
Cheers, stef
Bill, Thu, 02 Sep 2010 10:47 am:
I found: http://bill.herrin.us/gif/riloe-1022a.jpg

Here: http://www.vendio.com/stores/thetechdoctor/item/networking-communications-othe/164153-001-hp-compaq-10-volt-1/lid=1449476

If the picture is to be believed, it's positive tip, negative ring 10 vdc 1.5 amps

LittleT, Fri, 30 Oct 2009 05:08 am: Reply
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Hello!

How do I download the latest firmware and Windows XP 32 bit driver for the RILOE I board.

Thank's!

mule, Mon, 16 Nov 2009 04:15 pm: Reply
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Firmware - Lights-Out Management
Wersja: 2.53 (A) (9 marca 2004)
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SoftwareDescription.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&prodTypeId=15351&prodSeriesId=341291&prodNameId=3288098&swEnvOID=1017&swLang=8&mode=2&taskId=135&swItem=MTX-UNITY-I20439

Steve, Fri, 26 Feb 2010 02:54 am: Reply
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Would you happen to have the pin-out specs for the 9pin DIN connector. I am using the RILOE-II card in my custom built server, but unfortunately I was not given the external keyboard mouse cable, which would be really nice to have.

Thanks,
Steve
nialeph, Tue, 15 Jun 2010 08:34 pm:
I think you can use a mouse-keyboard splitter cable like the ones used on pre-usb notebooks having one ps2 connector

timfairless, Fri, 12 Nov 2010 03:19 am: Reply
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Thank you for explaining that so clearly. I was just about to throw the card out, but I'll be powering it up and updating the firmware after reading your page.

antivirusukffh, Wed, 15 Dec 2010 08:41 am: Reply
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I just book marked your blog on Digg and StumbleUpon.I enjoy reading your commentaries.

Sean, Sat, 15 Jan 2011 09:54 am: Reply
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I've been using these RILOE II cards since they were introduced in my company. Now all the new HP servers have iLO built into the motherboard. I've always stripped these cards out before tossing old servers so I literally have about 100 or so cards, some new in the box. For the past few years, I've been using them in clone machines. Thanks for the info on the power button. I will have to incorporate that into my clone servers. I would really like to find out more info on the 30 pin header. 4 of those pins should be for the Virtual Media/"USB Drive". If we can figure out which pins, then interface it to a USB header on a motherboard I'm sure the virtual media functionality can work with our non HP machines!

Dan, Tue, 22 Feb 2011 06:47 am: Reply
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Hi, like the info.. very useful.
Does anyone out there have the pinout for the mini din 9? I don't have a splitter at the moment, and I am hoping to avoid buying them. I would like to use the internal 16pin connector and keep the wiring inside the case if possible*.

I have assumed that if the internal 16pin connector contains keyboard and mouse connections, there is a reasonable chance that the pins are wired directly to the mini din on the back plate. After spending some time prodding it with a multimeter this seems to be the case.
I've also just found that the middle two pins of the virtual power cable connector also seem to be directly replicated on the 16pin connector.

I'd really like to be able to try this out before telling people what I've found just in case it makes something expensive go pop, so any info would be helpful... even just a map of what pins on each connector are connected on the keyboard and mouse splitter.
Thanks,
dan

* I'm thinking of butchering a USB - ps2 keyboard/mouse adapter so that it will plug directly in to a motherboard USB header and the card.

Slav, Mon, 26 Dec 2011 12:59 am: Reply
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Hello,
Does anyone know where I can find drivers for Windows Server 2008 R2? I tried drivers from HP site and returns:
OS not supported .....
Thanks in advance

Garik, Fri, 01 Jun 2012 06:11 pm: Reply
Hello,
Here is keyboard/mouse cable pinout for RILOE 1 and 2!
male jacks:
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/267/pict0010eo.jpg
female jacks:
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/84/pict0009we.jpg

Dirk, Mon, 16 Jul 2012 01:53 am: Reply
Hello,

how can I connect the virtual media port. Has anyone figured out the pins. Best for RILOE II. virtual CD.

Thanks.

Floyd, Wed, 28 Nov 2012 10:57 am: Reply
I have had these cards for >6 years I think I should put them to proper use :-) Dan that sounds like a good idea.

Herbert B., Thu, 27 Jun 2013 07:09 pm: Reply
Hi to All.
This is a great article that help me to use and recycle the RILOE for remote control of my home pc..

Now it's possible use this RILOE without the pc.... great !!
It's simple, I noticed that the RILOE run ever with insertion on PCI connector of computer. I tried with old MB without alimentation, but when I disconnect the RILOE from MB she goes to power off.
So you short-cut the PCI connector on RILOE number A56 and B57 yoU can use RILOE WITHOUT PC
Consult the gret site http://pinouts.ru/Slots/PCI_pinout.shtml for all pin information.
I think that is a good solution for my personal application.
Thank
By

Thomas, Wed, 21 Aug 2013 04:30 am: Reply
Hi everyone,

I just got a used RILOE II. Everything works, but remote console does not. I just get a grey canvas with a blinking cursor. I tried different browsers, even old java 1.6, did not help.

I updated the firmware to the latest version, still no success.
The card is the only graphics card in the system and delivers a correct picture by VGA.

Any Ideas? Anyone can tell me a browser/java/os combination that works?

regards
thomas
Thomas, Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:51 am:
I actually got it to work, different PC now (core2duo instead of amd)
Works fine.

Julio, Sun, 08 Sep 2013 10:59 pm: Reply
Hi all!

For me, the problem is that three are not working on the RILOE2:

- DHCP. Howerver the RILOE works with fixed IP, so maybe is some problem with the DSL router's DHCP server.

- Keyboard input. I'm using the Y cable, I dettached USB keyboard and disable the USB keyboard support setting on the BIOS. However I'm able to use the mouse on both Windows 7 and Debian 7, but not the keyboard. I tried IE7/Chrome 27/Firefox 8 from both Windows and Linux clients (only Chrome and Firefox) with Java 1.7.0_25.

- Video on reboot. Despite the RIOLE has an external PSU, it's unable to get the video back after a server restart. I need to reboot the RIOLE using the network settings. This means, of course, that if needed I can't access the BIOS o it's quite hard to access the boot loader (GRUB)

Any suggestions? :-)

Best regards.

Marius, Fri, 26 Feb 2016 05:02 pm: Reply
I'm looing for the latest firmware for RILOE 2.
Anybody knows the pinout for this 30-pin header?

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