Communication error between application and Intel® ME module (FW Update Client)

If you have experienced this error message, or one like it, this blog may help you to understand what might be going on. It is likely that your system may not have the right Manageability Engine Interface drivers installed (MEI or also known as HECI drivers.)

First let us cover what are the key Intel Technologies that utilize the MEI Driver:

  • Intel® Active Management Technology  (AMT)
  • Intel® Anti-Theft (AT)  Technology



Symptoms of an invalid or Missing Driver:

For Intel® AMT, the MEI driver is needed for the following functionality:

  • Discovery (The SCS Discovery tool, for example, runs on the local client)
  • Host Based Provisioning (Intel AMT makes local calls to the Manageability Engine (ME) and thus the driver needs to be present)
  • Agent Presence Feature (local calls to the ME are required to set up Watchdog timers)
  • 3PDS Storage feature  (local client usage only) - MEI driver is not used when making the remote API calls.


 For Intel® AT, the MEI driver is needed for the following functionality:

  • Enrollment
  • Rendezvous with the Server
  • Unenrollment


To sum it up, the MEI driver is needed whenever the Manageability Engine is accessed from software running on the local client.  The first symptom you would run into is an error message of sorts - it may resemble the following:

  • Error 9450:  Communication error between application and Intel® ME module (FW Update Client)
  • Error 9459: Internal error (Could not determine FW features information)
  • Unable to initialize CLS:  Error (259):  Cannot locate device interface info for HECI:  No more data is available.
  • Error:  Error state returned when testing Intel® AT.
  • Please verify Intel® Management Engine Interface driver is installed and system supports Intel® AT capability.


Getting to the root of the issue:

First, you should make sure that the Manageability Engine  is enabled in the BIOS.  If you are experiencing errors with Intel® AT, also make sure Intel® AT is enabled in the BIOS.  The same goes for Intel® AMT - make sure the ME and Intel AMT are both enabled in the BIOS. 

If your problem was  simply not enabling the ME / Intel AT/ Intel AMT then you may need to go download some tools.  Here are my recommendations (higher number of stars indicates the writer's preferences, where more is better:)

  • (1 Star) If you are running Intel® Anti-Theft, download the  Anti-Theft Status tool.  This tool reports whether or not the system is capable of running Intel® Anti-theft and whether or not there is a valid MEI driver.  It does NOT output the version of the MEI driver, if installed.  This tool is really only useful if you want to know if there is a valid MEI driver on the system and if the system supports Intel® Anti-Theft.
  • (4 Stars) If you want to do an actual "Discovery" of the system, you want to go download the SCS Discovery Tool.  This tool is often pushed down to systems by Manageability Consoles in order to do a system "Scan."  It reports the following: MEI Driver/version, LMS and UNS versions, ME enabled, a host of information needed for implementing Intel AMT, Intel Anti-Theft status, network configurations and more.  It can write everything to the system's registry or to an XML output file.
  • (4 Stars)  The Intel Manageability and Security Status tool is also handy to have installed.  It normally comes bundled with the Intel AMT drivers from the various OEM websites  (note that the Intel AMT drivers are the same for Intel Anti-theft .)  Although this tool is great to have, it is not necessary.
  • (3 Stars) Another thing  (actually, the first thing)  to look at is the Device Manager, if the system is running a Windows OS.  No need to download, it is already on your system.


 The above tools offer a variety of ways to find out information about your system and the  MEI driver status.  You can download all of them and see which one(s) you prefer. If all you need to know is whether or not you have a valid MEI driver, simply look at your Device Manager.  If you need to know more, like for determining the status of Intel AT or Intel AMT you should use the SCS Discovery tool.  Let's look at the tools individually and see what they have to offer.

I have included screen shots here of the information you can get from each of the tools.  While there is definitely a lot of overlap, you can see that they all give you the basic information that you need. My apologies if they are not all easy to look at or contain too much information - formatting is difficult inside of blogs.

Intel Anti-Theft Status Tool - note that this tool does not give you deeper information about how Intel AT is configured on your system - if Intel AT is configured on your system then it had a valid MEI driver at one point.  The output below shows what the tool tells us if there is not an MEI driver installed as well as what it displays when there is a valid MEI Driver.



 

SCS Discovery Tool -output is either written to the registers, or to an XML file.  Below is a very small snippet showing basic information that is important for Intel AMT and Intel AT support.



Intel Management and Security Status Tool - you can quickly find out if Intel AMT and/or Intel AT is enabled in the Bios,  what are the versions of the FW and of the associated components. Go to "Programs-->Intel--> IMSS"



 

Windows Device Manager - Invalid MEI Driver - look under System Devices.  If it is present, find out if it is valid or not by looking at the properties.  If it shows that there is a driver, but the major version number  doesn't match the major version number of the FW  or it actually has no files associated with it, it is an invalid or a dummy* driver.



*Microsoft was pushing out a dummy driver in order to get rid of the yellow bang that would be present when a valid MEI driver was not installed for whatever reason. The good news is that for both 2010 and 2011 platforms Microsoft is now pushing out a valid MEI driver.  While this is better than the dummy driver, we recommend to always go out to the OEM site to get up-to-date MEI drivers for your vPro platform.

Windows Device Manager - Valid MEI Driver.  Look for the version number and it should have the same major version number as the FW version. 



 

You have used the tools and now you know that you need a valid driver.  Where do you get the MEI driver package if it is not installed on your system?

As stated above, it is always best to get the right driver package from your OEM's support site.  There are multiple technologies that depend on the Intel ME, and OEM’s will often have a single MEI driver package that covers multiple technologies.  Typically a package also covers multiple models.

Each OEM has their own page structure and their own way of finding the driver package.

Lenovo:

  • Default support: http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/downloads/default.page?
  • Three mechanisms for finding the appropriate driver package, Quick Path allows for putting in just model (E420, T420, for example), and is probably the most straightforward to use.
  • The MEI bundle is under the Advanced System Management category, normally this category also contains a readme describing which systems the bundle applies to.  A typical package name is Intel Management Engine Interface.


 HP:

  • Default support: http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/ProductRoot.jsp
  • The “Search Products” field is on right side of page, the model (Elitebook 8560w, Envy 14 Beats, ProBook 6560b) is sufficient to find the appropriate package.
  • It is necessary to select “Drivers and Software”, and then the OS type before picking a driver package.  HP puts MEI package in the “Driver – Chipset” category.  A typical package name is Intel Management Engine Components Driver. 


Dell:

  • Default support page: http://support.dell.com/support/
  • A pop-up dialog box will come up with options, “Choose a Model” is straightforward. 
  • It’s necessary to select “Product Family” (example: Laptop), then “Product Line” (example: Precision Laptop), then “Product Model” (example: M6600), then confirm your selection.
  • On Dell’s site, the MEI driver package is located under the “Chipset” category, a common name is Intel AMT HECI or AMT 7 Management Interface driver.


 Specific Driver Packages (2010 Platforms; Intel AT 2.0/Intel AMT 6.0)


Note:  All OEM reference information in this blog is subject to change without notice. Please contact OEMs regarding any requests for reference information updates.

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