Upgrading the BIOS of a HP Z820 Workstation

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I recently bought a SSD drive for my HP Z820 workstation for use as the main drive. This weekend when I installed it I discovered that I needed to upgrade my BIOS as the one I had did not fully support AHCI mode. I haven’t had any need to upgrade the BIOS earlier so the BIOS version (01.02) was two years old. I always find such an operation a bit scary so as long as the BIOS does what it needs to I leave it pretty much alone. But now that I had the need I went to the HP support site and downloaded the latest BIOS for this workstation. Right now this is version 03.65.

After extracting the SoftPAQ I ran the Microsoft Windows utility to install the BIOS (HPQFlash.exe). It ran through the full upgrade procedure, first saving the current BIOS then flashing the new one. As soon as it completed writing the last block it immediately threw up this scary error message: An unrecoverable error has occurred while flashing the BIOS. Error code = 0x0D.

This is not what you want to see when flashing the BIOS. Luckily, the BIOS was not trashed. It seems like the BIOS is only actually flashed when HPQFlash has successfully finished writing all the BIOS blocks, so big thanks to the HP engineers for that. But still I was not able to do the BIOS upgrade. I also tried to do the upgrade from the Computer Setup menu (F10), but that wouldn’t even accept the .BIN file.

That last attempt made me suspicious and after digging around a bit I found that it is not possible to upgrade directly to the latest BIOS from such an old BIOS version as 01.02. It is necessary to go via an interim version first. The solution was to download and install BIOS version 01.20 first. After successfully updating to this version I was then able to upgrade to BIOS version 03.65 after.