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N54L + ESXi + SSD = Hmmmmm


nitrolx
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Greetings all,

first time poster here. . stumbled on a bit of a problem with my new N54L.

 

I just grabbed two of these little machines, one to replace my ageing home server here, and one to use for development/testing etc. to replace a few desktop style machines.

 

I popped 8GB RAM in, and a 120gb Samsung SSD into the top bay, connected to the ODD port.

 

Installing Server 2008 R2 from a USB stick straight to the SSD drive works no problem at all. . runs great.

Added 4 x 1TB drives to the front bays to test out Drive Pool, also works great.

 

With that working, I thought I'd trash that setup and put ESXi on a USB thumb drive (in the internal USB port) and use the SSD for the VM datastore.

This is where the problem comes in.

 

ESXi itself runs from the USB drive no problems, but accessing the SSD datastore just about cripples the machine.. it's just super slow. . i managed to transfer the Server 2008 ISO to the datastore, and then managed to get Server 2008 installed as a VM, but it took ages and struggles to even boot. . access time to the SSD and transfer speed is just snail pace. To the point it's unusable. It also seems to stall ESXi itself. . the vsphere client hangs and gets errors, won't respond to commands to restart or shut down. . eventually just have to hard shut down the box.

 

If I remove the SSD, chuck an old 320GB WD Blue in the top bay (same cables etc) and make that a datastore in ESXi, I can transfer as fast as the 1Gb LAN connection will go, install VMs, and they run great.

 

Pull the WD blue, put the SSD back in, the whole thing stops again. . 

 

So I'm looking at some kind of conflict there between the SSD and ESXi?

Installing the OS directly to the SSD works fine, so there's nothing actually wrong with the drive, the port or the cables. . 

ESXi just doesn't like the SSD it seems?

Has anyone experienced similar?

 

FWIW I haven't flashed the BIOS, it's stock out of the box.

When I installed Server 2008 natively and it worked fine, I didn't see the need.

However I'm thinking maybe there's a combination of non-flashed BIOS and ESXi??

Any help would be appreciated.

 

Cheers,

Ryan.

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I doubt it's a function of the BIOS being flashed, although the 3rd party BIOS does permit the ODD SATA port to run at SATA II (3 Gbit) speed instead of SATA I (1.5 Gbit). I think jmwills is pointing you in the right direction.

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Is the port the SSD drive connected to set for IDE or AHCI?

I'm not sure that is selectable in the factory BIOS?

I have changed from IDE to AHCI and back again for the onboard controller but I think that may only affect the 4 front bays, not the ODD port?

Whatever it's set to works fine with Server 2008, Server 2012 or Win 7 just installed natively to the SSD, it's only ESXi that struggles with it.

What should it be set to for ESXi?

 

I doubt it's a function of the BIOS being flashed, although the 3rd party BIOS does permit the ODD SATA port to run at SATA II (3 Gbit) speed instead of SATA I (1.5 Gbit). I think jmwills is pointing you in the right direction.

Interesting, as my factory untouched BIOS has the option for 1.5 or 3.0 Gbit on the 'Embedded SATA Link Rate' option.

I thought that only appeared with the hacked BIOS?

Mine is definitely fresh out of the box.

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I believe it is an issue with you using the ODD port and a non-modded BIOS. That ODD port will not be set to the highest speed.

 

This could also be a bad SSD drive.  AFAIK, ESXi doesn't care if the data store is solid state or spinning.

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I believe it is an issue with you using the ODD port and a non-modded BIOS. That ODD port will not be set to the highest speed.

 

This could also be a bad SSD drive.  AFAIK, ESXi doesn't care if the data store is solid state or spinning.

That's what I first thought, but the same port and drive function at correct speed and without issue if I just install an OS straight to the SSD and run from that (rather than virtualising through ESXi). Would that not rule out a problem with the BIOS/port and a bad drive?

Granted I have only done that with a Windows OS (Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, Win 7). All work fine without the major speed issue that ESXi seems to have.

 

I might re-locate the SSD to one of the removable bays in front, and see if there's an improvement.

 

If that works properly I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and flash the BIOS. . or re-think my plan and use a mechanical drive for the ESXi datastore instead of the SSD. (SSD was more for lower power consumption, noise and heat rather than strictly a performance choice).

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Nothing to lose with flashing the BIOS

I guess not.

Just didn't want to flirt with that 1% chance something goes wrong. . my luck and 1% chances are not to be taken lightly :unsure:

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What model is the Samsung SSD?

840 Series 120G.

Pretty sure the model number is MZ-7TD120

The mess that the 2 x N54Ls will hopefully replace. . most of it anyway. . .

 

rack_zps6dfde475.jpg

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