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Time to start B120i FAQ?

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muscleflex

I'm a brand new owner of a Gen 8 server (some good deals out there!) and have been reading through these great forums for the last few days to get up to speed and decide the best install for me. I've attempted to summarise my learning about the B120i controller and pros and cons. Hopefully any errors  can be corrected by more experience members to form a useful first post that gives something back to the forum.

  1. When operating in AHCI mode the drives can spin down during idle but in RAID mode they cannot.

 

Richard

 

I want to ask regarding the above - for this reason - do people prefer AHCI or the B120i? I would think access time will be faster on drives that are continuously spinning but I'm not sure I want my disks to be spinning full time..

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johnnyspice

Hey everyone,

 

I've been browsing for a couple of hours today in order to figure out whether or not I should use the B120i controller.

 

I originally figured I would initially have x2 3TB data drives and 1 SSD as 2 separate arrays.

 

However i realized that I wouldn't be able to expand the array using the b120i once I need to fill the remaining 2 drive bays.

 

Added to that, I read an interesting point here http://askubuntu.com/questions/268349/driver-hp-raid-controller-b120i whereby a HP rep has supposedly recommended using Linux software RAID instead of the b120i unless you plan to upgrade to a 'real' controller which I'm not planning to.

 

 

I guess my questions are as follows:

  1. If I were to use LSR, would the fan speeds and temperatures behave in the same was as if I used the b120i?
  2. Could I expand the array later on with LSR?
  3. Has anyone done this and, if so, was it relatively straightforward to set up?

 

 

Kind regards,

 

John

 

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JDS

Hi All,

 

Sorry for this possibly easy/noob question...

 

Are you picking the fan speed up from an additional program? I've looked all over and I can't find it. The HP system program won't let me login so I'm thinking it might be in there. No Admin password on yet, would that stop the login? I'm using a 3rd party software for CPU temp so I doubt they are accurate.

 

As you can probably tell, very new to this system and it's software.

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gordan

IMO the best thing to do with the B120i if you are running anything other than Windows is switch it off and put the ports into straight AHCI mode. If you want RAID-like features, take the plunge and use ZFS, it is far fitter for purpose in this day and age than traditional RAID.

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tiger

Please tell me if my desired setup is possible with Gen8/ESX/B120i.

 

Machine spec is MS Gen8, Xeon E3, 16GB. I plan to configure like so:

 

* ESX (HP custom: VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-HP-600.9.3.20-Jun2015.iso) boots off internal SD card

* ESX datastore on SSD connected to onboard ODD SATA port

* Cold-plug bays/B120i passthrough to a guest OS that provides software RAID

 

With the ODD port remaining with ESX, but the B120i along with all its drives in bays passed through directly to a VM. I do NOT want RDM, and cannot get a separate RAID/SATA card because the only PCIe slot is taken.

 

Is this possible?

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GotNoTime

With the ODD port remaining with ESX, but the B120i along with all its drives in bays passed through directly to a VM. I do NOT want RDM, and cannot get a separate RAID/SATA card because the only PCIe slot is taken.

No. The ODD port is the same SATA controller so you can't split it. You have to use RDM in this situation. The B120i controller is just the Intel chipset integrated SATA controller with custom HP firmware + drivers.

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tiger

No. The ODD port is the same SATA controller so you can't split it. You have to use RDM in this situation. The B120i controller is just the Intel chipset integrated SATA controller with custom HP firmware + drivers.

Strange that... I thought I read somewhere the ODD and bays can be configured to appear separate to ESX for the purpose of passthrough.

 

OK. Say if I VT-d passthru B120i (inc ODD) over to a VM, is there somewhere else I may put my ESX datastore?

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sal

With the ODD port remaining with ESX, but the B120i along with all its drives in bays passed through directly to a VM. I do NOT want RDM, and cannot get a separate RAID/SATA card because the only PCIe slot is taken.

 

Huh, how do you plan to pass the drives directly to the VM without RDM (Raw Drive Mapping) which is doing exactly that?

 

Edit: Never mind, didn't thought about passing through the entire controller, but i'm not sure if you can do that with the B120i as it's sort off software

 

You can try and put the Datastore on a USB HDD/SSD by using a dummy VM to export it as NFS 

 

http://www.waters.to/blog/mounting-usb-datastore-in-vsphere-esxi/

 

Edit2: That won't help as you don't have a place to put the dummy VM in the first place

Edited by sal

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GotNoTime

Strange that... I thought I read somewhere the ODD and bays can be configured to appear separate to ESX for the purpose of passthrough.

The Silent PC Review review of the Microserver Gen8 claims that there is an extra Marvell SATA controller for the ODD but it is actually just connected to the SATA controller in the Intel C204 chipset. No idea where they got that idea from as nobody else mentions it.

 

The ODD port is SATA II 3Gbps anyway as the Intel chipset only supports 2x SATA III 6Gbps and 4x SATA II 3Gbps. The first two drive bays are the SATA III 6Gbps ports. Everything else is SATA II 3Gbps. The remaining SATA II 3Gbps port is not connected.

 

As you're doing passthrough and want to do software RAID, you should set the B120i controller to AHCI mode. The B120i controller driver for Linux/ESXi has significant performance issues and requires downgrading to 5.5.0-OEM88 to work properly. Running it in AHCI mode bypasses those issues since you don't want it doing RAID anyway.

 

OK. Say if I VT-d passthru B120i (inc ODD) over to a VM, is there somewhere else I may put my ESX datastore?

A fast USB 2.0 flash drive inside is probably your best option but it isn't a very nice option. You may need to fiddle with the device claim rules since it is removable.

 

If your SD card is big enough then you might be able to use the space at the end of that as well but it will require manual configuration since ESXi won't use that space by default.

Edited by GotNoTime

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tiger

Huh, how do you plan to pass the drives directly to the VM without RDM (Raw Drive Mapping) which is doing exactly that?

 

Edit: Never mind, didn't thought about passing through the entire controller, but i'm not sure if you can do that with the B120i as it's sort off software

 

You can try and put the Datastore on a USB HDD/SSD by using a dummy VM to export it as NFS 

 

http://www.waters.to/blog/mounting-usb-datastore-in-vsphere-esxi/

 

Edit2: That won't help as you don't have a place to put the dummy VM in the first place

Haha. Thanks for the effort!

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