Nexus 9508 NX-OS Upgrade Procedure

So, if you haven’t heard, I’m in a different role at Cisco. I’m now working on our Nexus 9000 (N9K) and ACI initiatives. It’s an exciting time to be here and feels similar to the launch we did with UCS 5 years ago (which was more fun that one human should have been allowed).

Anyway, I’ve been working with a new Cisco Nexus 9508 in the lab this week and needed to upgrade the BIOS and NX-OS software on it. It’s part of the new Nexus 9000 portfolio of switches we started shipping in November 2013. The modular line is the Nexus 9500 and fixed line is the 9300. Anyway, I thought I’d record the process because someone else might want to do the same. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are running NX-OS release 6.1.(2)I1.(1) and are upgrading to a release that includes BIOS updates, the update process will be noticeably slow during the BIOS section. This problem is fixed for any future updates once you are running 6.1.(2).I2(1) or higher.

This process is very similar to other Nexus platforms, but not identical. The N9K platform has some key advantages when it comes to upgrades. For starters, there is a single image file used for everything. No more kickstart + system image files that have to match and be maintained. Further, if you download the single image file for the 9508, you now have the image file any Nexus 9000 switch we make (including the 9300 ToR series). Pretty cool stuff.

This video speaks for itself – a pretty simple process to follow, but I thought some written instructions would help. In addition, I’m going to point you to the official Cisco release notes for the version I used. Be sure and always check the release notes for any version you download prior to install. We sometimes introduce better and/or different ways to perform the upgrade and you don’t want to miss something. The release notes can be found here:

The abbreviated procedure steps for this specific upgrade (I1 to I2) are:

Step 1 Copy the n9000-dk9.6.1.2.I2.1.bin image to bootflash.
Also copy the EPLD .gimg file to bootflash.
Step 2 Change the boot variables to the NX-OS image by entering the following commands:
switch (config)# boot nxos bootflash:n9000-dk9.6.1.2.I2.1.bin
Step 3 Enter the copy running-config startup-config command to set the startup boot variables to the NX-OS image.
* THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT – do not forget or your BIOS upgrade will take much longer (like mine did).
Step 4 Copy the running-configuration file to a backup-configuration file to ensure that you load the running configuration after you make the upgrade.
Step 5 Enter the write erase command. The boot variables remain set (this is why you made a backup).
Step 6 Enter the reload command.
On a Cisco Nexus switch with dual supervisors, an “Autocopy in progress” message might appear when you enter the reload command. Enter No and wait for the auto copy operation to finish.
Step 7 Wait 2 minutes after the reload for all modules to come online before proceeding to the next step.
Step 8 Enter the install all nxos bootflash:n9000-dk9.6.1.2.I2.1.bin command to upgrade the BIOS. If you have successfully booted of I2 NXOS code, the chassis will not reboot at the completion of this step. If not, it will be disruptive and reboot the chassis. Do not attempt to reboot or power off the chassis during this operation. If it reboots, wait 2 minutes after the reload for all the modules to come online before proceeding to the next step.
Run the command “show ver” to verify you are running 6.1.2.I2.1.bin
Step 9 Enter the “install epld bootflash:n9000-epld.6.1.2.I2.1.gimg module all” command to upgrade the EPLD. The chassis will reboot automatically. This is disruptive regardless.
Step 10 Wait 2 minutes after chassis reload and then enter the “install epld bootflash:n9000-epld.6.1.2.I2.1.gimg module all golden” command to upgrade the golden EPLD. The chassis will reboot automatically.
Step 11 Restore the configuration that you saved in Step 4.

Note: I make one mistake in this video that’s not critical, but causes the bios upgrade to take longer than needed. I failed to copy running config to startup after I set the boot variables to I2. This makes the reload I do worthless and it came back up on I1.

Thanks for stopping by


4 thoughts on “Nexus 9508 NX-OS Upgrade Procedure

  1. You can avoid the long BIOS upgrade time by upgrade the NXOS from 6.1(2)I1.1 to 6.1(2)I2.1 first and then run “install all” command to upgrade the BIOS on all the modules. The long BIOS upgrade time is a known problem in 6.1(2)I1.1 that’s fixed in 6.1(2)I2.1, and the old BIOS is compatible with 6.12)I2.1. So you can upgrade BIOS after upgrading the NXOS software. The BIOS upgrade time will be about 90seconds/module.

  2. Thanks Lilian – after analyzing my video, I realized that my problem was that I failed to run “copy run start” AFTER setting the boot variable. I re-recorded the procedure to eliminate confusion. thanks for noticing this.

  3. I am trying to upgrade out of the box by connecting my Laptop to the mgmt interface on the switch . i see it say connected to the server but no image is going through the tftp server . Any idea’s ?

    • I wish I could tell you, but there are lots of reasons. I’d look at client-side firewall and I’ve had lots of issues with various TFTP servers.

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