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ESXi + AHCI + RDM + XPEnology


Tuurbo
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I'm having problems configuring the setup I wanted and I'm hoping that somebody can help me. Past week I've bought my first HP Microserver Gen8 and was enthusiastic to build my ESXi dream machine.
 
The goal is to have XPEnology and two or three VM's (Linux/Windows) running a long.
 
I've started with upgraded the default G1610T processor to a Xeon E3-1220L v2 together with 16 GB of memory. For storage I've placed 2x 500GB WD5000AAKS discs (temporarly) and a 256GB Crucial MX100 SSD on the ODD port. The SSD acts as datastore for the VM's. I've also placed a 4GB Kingston SD card from where ESXi 5.5 can boot.
 
The idea was to have 2 drivers for XPEnology en keep the other 2 slots free for use with one of the Linux/Windows VM's. To keep the maximum compatibly with Synology passing the disk with RDM straight to XPEnology. For that reason I've configured the onboard SATA controller in AHCI mode. Found a great tutorial on creating RDMs on SATA drivers. Also downgraded the scsi-hpvsa-driver to version 5.5.0-88.
 
Now the problem is once I add the one of the RDM disk to the VM (XPEnology) it hangs on boot, kinda looks like the moment it wants to access the RDM. When I remove the RDM's the VM runs fine.
 
I've read different posts about problems with the B120i controller in AHCI combined with ESXi, but also found post where this combination works fine? A workaround is changing the SATA controller to Enable B120i RAID and creating array (RAID 0) for every disk. I'm not really glad with this workaround and would like to pass the whole disk to XPEnology for reasons like reading SMART statuses and spindown disks.
 
Is is possible to have the B120i in AHCI mode with ESXI of do I need to buy a other controller (like de P222) or is het better to leave ESXi and move to Hyper-V from Microsoft? Or is there an other option?

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RAID mode gives you:

 

- Lower fan speed

- Much higher queue depth (makes a big difference)

- Better performance (in my limited benchmarking)

 

A P222 won't allow you to spin down the disks, which is the only benefit you could get from using AHCI, and I doubt that works with RDMs anyway. A P222 also consumes something like 20W by itself, so extra power consumption (ongoing cost) and heat (higher fan speed). So I think you may be fixating on that one issue (the spinning down of the disks), at the expense of all the above.

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I went with RAID 0 drives too for the reasons mentioned above. I also wanted to be able to pull a drive and read it elsewhere if needs be.

 

Missing SMART data is a bummer because I run Stablebit Scanner, but not much I can do about that.

 

AHCI seems to be a real no no with ESXi.

 

I also considered Hyper-V as I had a Server 2012 R2 Essentials license, but Hyper-V on that OS ONLY allows you to run another Server 2012 R2 Essentials VM under the license, so that was a no go too!

 

I'm quite happy with my setup now and the only thing I miss is the SMART passthrough, but in the grand scheme of things, the drives are being scanned by Stablebit Scanner.

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If Microsoft focused on getting Hyper-V to boot off a USB stick or SD Card, I would be much more interested in it.

 

ESXi booting off a USB key, with my B120i set to RAID mode, is delivering everything I want (running a single Windows 2012 R2 VM with a bunch of RDMs). Low power consumption, unbelievably low noise (compared to the N54L, and everyone used to say that the G8 wasn't as quiet as the G7!), great performance. I love it!

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If Microsoft focused on getting Hyper-V to boot off a USB stick or SD Card, I would be much more interested in it.

 

ESXi booting off a USB key, with my B120i set to RAID mode, is delivering everything I want (running a single Windows 2012 R2 VM with a bunch of RDMs). Low power consumption, unbelievably low noise (compared to the N54L, and everyone used to say that the G8 wasn't as quiet as the G7!), great performance. I love it!

I believe Hyper-V 2012 boots fine from USB. You would not want to run Windows Server 2012 from USB, but I think the hypervisor runs fine.

As you state the MS Gen8 is a nice little ESXi server.

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  • 7 months later...

RAID mode gives you:

 

- Lower fan speed

- Much higher queue depth (makes a big difference)

- Better performance (in my limited benchmarking)

 

 

hi

i'm struggling about the same dilemma...

 

are you sure it is so more performant with RAID mode instead of AHCI?

 

how do you monitor Smart parameters when in raid mode?

I have disks in raid mode actually and have some bad-sectors (at least it seems) and read errors for RDM under XPenology, but cannot see any SMART parameters for disk and ILO reports them as OK but no way to read SMART data...

also I've read that fan lower speed in RAID mode has been overcome with latest bios/fw...is that not right?

 

I was thinking of putting disks back in AHCI mode to let Xpenology access them directly (read SMART, do spindown, etc.)

hi

i'm struggling about the same dilemma...

 

are you sure it is so more performant with RAID mode instead of AHCI?

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