Admin Alert: Checking Your iSeries Batteries
June 2, 2004 Joe Hertvik
You may not realize it, but your iSeries boxes contain a set of nickel batteries, which are used as cache battery packs on your systems’ I/O adapters. And, like any battery, they eventually have to be replaced; otherwise your system may start to malfunction. This week’s “Admin Alert” explains how to check the batteries on your system, so you can determine when they need to be replaced.
Most people don’t pay attention to their cache batteries until they spot an OS/400 error message stating that their cache battery is about to die. If you’re under maintenance, you can call IBM to arrange for a replacement battery, as well as a visit from a technician to install the new battery and to reset the error. Because of the potential for system problems, you should call IBM as soon as possible after getting a battery warning error. But these errors are generally timed so that you have about 90 days to replace the battery before it fails. So don’t panic, but don’t ignore the warning, either, or you may find yourself in trouble if the battery suddenly fails before its 90 days are up.
IBM will send you a replacement battery (which is about the size of a battery you might see in a portable phone), and will give you instructions for calling for a replacement appointment once the battery arrives. To replace the battery, you must take down the partition where the I/O adapters with the failing cache battery resides, so that the technician can pull the I/O adapter card and put in the new battery.
But the batteries don’t always fail at the same time, especially if you’ve added or replaced I/O adapters on your system. So while you’re planning to take down a partition or two (especially if the failed battery resides in a primary partition, which will disable the whole system), you may want to inventory the other batteries on your system and ask IBM to change any that are close to issuing a failure warning. This way, you only have to take your system down once to replace all of your older batteries.
To find the status of batteries, open a green-screen 5250 session and go into each partition’s “system service tools” menu, by typing in the Start System Service Tools (STRSST) command. Beginning with OS/400 V5R1, IBM requires you to type in a user ID and password before entering SST. While this sounds easy, it’s also incredibly easy to disable or forget your SST password. (If you need help understanding how to set or reset an SST password, see “Bringing V5R1 DST Passwords Under Control.”)
Once you enter the SST menu, perform the following commands to display the status of your batteries.
- Type in option 1 from the “system services” menu, “start a service tool.”
- Select option 4 from the “start a service tool” menu, “display/alter/dump.”
- Select option 1 from the “display/alter/dump” output device menu, “display/alter storage.
- Select option 2, “licensed internal code (LIC) data,” from the “select data” menu.
- Select option 14, “advanced analysis,” from the “select LIC data” menu.
- On the “select advanced analysis command” screen, place a 1 in front of the BATTERYINFO command, and press Enter.
- On the option line for the BATTERYINFO command, type -INFO –ALL, and press Enter.
Performing this procedure displays the status of all batteries assigned to your partition. This BATTERYINFO results screen shows the frame and card position of each battery, the battery type, and the estimated time (in days) before OS/400 issues an oncoming failure warning on that battery, as well as the estimated time (in days) before the battery actually could fail. And if you have multiple partitions with multiple I/O adapter cards on your system, you should run this procedure on every partition to get a complete inventory of batteries needing maintenance.
My personal guideline is to ask IBM to replace any battery that is within a year of issuing a failure warning. Since iSeries boxes are renowned for running for months or even longer without a shutdown, this should be a reasonable timeframe. After you get the complete information on all batteries on the system that need to be replaced within a year, call IBM to order the batteries and schedule the service call.
There are several other options you can run once you’re inside BATTERYINFO. You can find these options by running the BATTERYINFO macro with the “help” option. But be careful when running this command, because it contains one option that will force an error on an active battery cache pack.
Also be aware that, if you’re running OS/400 V5R2, there is a PTF that you must apply in order to display battery pack status information or to force a battery pack error. The PTF number is MF32343, which is applied to licensed program 5722999.
By following these simple instructions, you can easily inventory your battery pack to monitor the health of your I/O adapter cards and to plan for orderly battery replacements.