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Just FYI, This has been resolved
This was caused by a mismatch in the baud rates of the console server connected to the Serial port of the machine, where a colleague had changed
ttya-mode to 19200,8,n,1,- while the console server was still configured for 9600.
Please note that the speed / baud compatibility changes between steps during the boot process. That is, the baud required before the point of
Loading the runtime image...
showed all messages properly @ 9600
Right after that message, it was required we change it to 19200, to be able to see all messages
After getting into ALOM, and issuing a command like 'poweron', we got all garbage again, till we changed the baud back to 9600
and once booted into OBP, the baud needed to be changed back up to 19200.
Anyway, everything's been set back to 9600 to avoid this in the future.