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ESXi 5.5 & AHCI or RAID0 Issues legacy fine?


ChEeSyBoOfS
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Hi Guys I hope I've come to the right place and it sure looks like I might have.

 

I intend to set up a 3 node ESXi 5.5 cluster running vSAN's.

So far I have, 3 x  MicroServer Gen8 with the E3-1220L CPU (F9A40A)

 

I have run the latest SPP update DVD (2015.04.0 - 9 Apr 2015)

System ROM J06

iLO Firmware Version  (2.10 - Jan 15 2015) 

 

I fist installed ESXi 5.5 to a 8GB Micro SD card in the internal SD-Slot when after a few cold boots run into a bug where the SD card wouldn't boot if the power had been removed. So I have now installed the SD-Cards into small USB card readers and plugged them into the internal USB slot. Quick fix.

 

The problem now is the B120i. If I run it in AHCI or RAID0 mode the datastore just locks up and play's up under ESXi 5.5. If I set it to legacy mode it works perfectly but runs like a dog! I have tried low-leveling the disk (completely blank) but it just will not run properly under AHCI.

 

At the moment I have a 1TB Western Digital WD10EADS SATA III drive as a test before I invest in 3 x SSD's & 3 x 4TB 7200's. Before I make any further investment I HAVE to be sure that these drives should work in AHCI mode.

 

I really don't want to waste money investing in 3 x Smart Array P222 Controller if I don't NEED to.

 

Are people running ESXi 5.5 on the B120i in AHCI or RAID0 perfectly happily? I don't think it is a unit fault as I have 3. It could be the drive but as I say it works fine in legacy mode just slow.

 

Any help & advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

Cheesy

Edited by ChEeSyBoOfS
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I intend to set up a 3 node ESXi 5.5 cluster running vSAN's.

 

So far I have, 3 x  MicroServer Gen8 with the E3-1220L CPU (F9A40A)

Nice setup. Are you trying to make EVO:RAIL style setup?

 

I fist installed ESXi 5.5 to a 8GB Micro SD card in the internal SD-Slot when after a few cold boots run into a bug where the SD card wouldn't boot if the power had been removed. So I have now installed the SD-Cards into small USB card readers and plugged them into the internal USB slot. Quick fix.

That is odd. I've never had that happen here. There is a bug where using smart storage administrator (SSA), intelligent provisioning (IP) or the service pack for Proliant (SSP) can cause the internal SD reader to not work until you cut power entirely to the microserver.

 

The problem now is the B120i. If I run it in AHCI or RAID0 mode the datastore just locks up and play's up under ESXi 5.5. If I set it to legacy mode it works perfectly but runs like a dog! I have tried low-leveling the disk (completely blank) but it just will not run properly under AHCI.

I've experienced similar issues with the AHCI controller in the microserver with ESXi. If you look in the vmkernel log, you'll see it getting stuck in a long port reset loop before finally giving up entirely.

 

However, RAID0 should be fine? There are some known issues with the hpvsa driver though. You'll need to downgrade to version 88 for the performance to be where it should be. The latest driver is version 92 and that causes terrible I/O performance. Downgrading will fix it. The changelog since 88 indicates that there shouldn't be any terrible consequences of downgrading.

 

I never fixed the AHCI issues as I ended up getting a HP P222 card to drive the 4 drive bays and used the internal SATA controller in B120i mode to run a single SSD in RAID0. I used a SFF-8087 forward breakout cable to get one of the SATA III 6Gbps ports. Once the hpvsa driver was downgraded then everything was working fine. I tested the SSD as a regular VMFS and also as vFRC. Both worked fine in RAID0.

 

At the moment I have a 1TB Western Digital WD10EADS SATA III drive as a test before I invest in 3 x SSD's & 3 x 4TB 7200's

Be aware that only bay 1 + bay 2 are SATA III 6Gbps capable. Bay 3 + 4 and the internal ODD SATA socket are SATA II 3Gbps only.

 

Are people running ESXi 5.5 on the B120i in AHCI or RAID0 perfectly happily?

The B120i is fine for me using RAID0 with the downgraded driver. I've tried it on both ESXi 5.5 and 6.0. As mentioned above, I never managed to get AHCI working properly. The bizarre thing is that the B120i is actually the Intel SATA controller built into the chipset but with a HP firmware and driver.
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@GotNoTime

 

First I'd like to say respect to you sir, for not trolling me with try the search function or "are you using the HP ESXi image". I hoped to get a real response from someone who has actually tried this stuff and that exactly what I got so many, many thanks to you. Your response is exactly what I hoped for and then some!

 

Nice setup. Are you trying to make EVO:RAIL style setup?

 

Yes indeed. I also have two of the PS1810-8G Switches in a redundant configuration so I have two servers side by side then two switches sided by side on top, then one more server on top on the left switch. So room for one more on the right if it all works out. I picked up two of the servers, HP renew for £400 each and the 3rd £500.

 

I now have access to NFR keys for both Essentials plus, Enterprise & Enterprise Plus and VSANs licenses so I figured why not. Have had to make do with Hyper-v until now and its just the ugly sister to ESXi as I'm sure you know only too well.

 

That is odd. I've never had that happen here. There is a bug where using smart storage administrator (SSA), intelligent provisioning (IP) or the service pack for Proliant (SSP) can cause the internal SD reader to not work until you cut power entirely to the microserver.

 

Yeh this is a funny one that I haven't quite put to bed. I want to use the internal SD slots but am getting non boot-able issues on some cold/warm reboots but not too bothered at the moment.

 

However, RAID0 should be fine? There are some known issues with the hpvsa driver though. You'll need to downgrade to version 88 for the performance to be where it should be. The latest driver is version 92 and that causes terrible I/O performance. Downgrading will fix it. The changelog since 88 indicates that there shouldn't be any terrible consequences of downgrading.

 

THIS is the post I was hoping for!

 

I changed the on-board adapter back to B120i/RAID0. Cleared the config in the SSA and re-added raid zero with cache disables (needed for VSANS). Booted ESXi 5.5. Mounted the Datastore and wrote a new signature whilst maintaining the DATA. Copied up the older driver (88OEM) and installed it via CLI as you suggested. Reboot and BANG all cooking. Thank you so much. I can confidently go on to buy my £1,100.00 worth of SSD's and HDD's.

 

Be aware that only bay 1 + bay 2 are SATA III 6Gbps capable. Bay 3 + 4 and the internal ODD SATA socket are SATA II 3Gbps only.

 

Yeh I am aware of this that's why I intend to buy one SSD and one 7.2k HDD per server. I will keep this 1TB SATA III drive in bay three as you need somewhere to host vCenter inorder to set up VSANs in the first place (the old chicken and egg) But thank you for mentioning it.

 

I have one more question if I may be a little cheeky? Will I have to downgrade the driver every time I run update manage or just when/if I upgrade to v.6 from v5.5?

 

Many Thanks again, what a great community I have found :)

 

 

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Yeh this is a funny one that I haven't quite put to bed. I want to use the internal SD slots but am getting non boot-able issues on some cold/warm reboots but not too bothered at the moment.

What brand micro-SD card are you using? Transcend ones for unknown reasons seem to not be 100% compatible with the card readers in Proliants. I originally had an authentic Transcend 8GB card in my Gen8 Microserver but it would occasionally fail to boot with odd errors. Swapping it out for a Samsung micro-SD has cured it completely and I've not had any issues since.

 

Will I have to downgrade the driver every time I run update manage or just when/if I upgrade to v.6 from v5.5?

You'll need to downgrade the driver every time you update the HP VIBs assuming they've not fixed the problem. The updated VIBs won't be part of the usual ESXi updates however. You'd need to either use VUM or manually update with the HP VIB depot.

Edited by GotNoTime
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What brand micro-SD card are you using? Transcend ones for unknown reasons seem to not be 100% compatible with the card readers in Proliants. I originally had an authentic Transcend 8GB card in my Gen8 Microserver but it would occasionally fail to boot with odd errors. Swapping it out for a Samsung micro-SD has cured it completely and I've not had any issues since.

 

I'm using Kingston Micro SD 8GB SDHC Memory Cards but if they continue to play up I will take your advice again and try Samsung ones.

 

You'll need to downgrade the driver every time you update the HP VIBs assuming they've not fixed the problem. The updated VIBs won't be part of the usual ESXi updates however. You'd need to either use VUM or manually update with the HP VIB depot.

 

Thanks I understand.

 

Regards

 

Cheesy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

You have literally stopped me from pulling my hair out, I've had a million problems with the AHCI mode on my server and I thought I was going crazy.

I'm going to try re-installing with a single RAID0 disk and the mobo set to RAID mode.

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Just thought I'd give you guys a bit of an update on my EVO:RAIL project.

 

I managed to sort out the microSD card issue. The cards seem to be fine it's just that if you go into the BIOS or Intelligent provisioning you cant boot off them without first cold booting the server.

This has to be a bug within iLO or the server BIOS but I can live with it. 

 

The issue I now have is that my crucial 500Gb SSD's turned up and I installed them together with the 4TB 7.2k WD Red Pro's.

The drives are seen fine by the server and have been added locally as two RAID0 volumes.

 

SmartSSDWearGaugeReport.txt

Report for Smart Array B120i SATA RAID in Embedded Slot

-------------------------------------------------------

 

Smart Array B120i SATA RAID in Embedded Slot : Physical Drive (500 GB SATA SSD) 1I:1 : SmartSSD Wear Gauge

 

   Status                               OK

   Supported                            TRUE

   Log Full                             FALSE

   Utilization                          0.000000

   Power On Hours                       0

   Has Smart Trip SSD Wearout           FALSE

I have configured a 5.5 cluster and enabled and configured VSAN's. For the time being I have one NIC for all the networks inc vMotion and then NIC 2 is dedicated for VSAN traffic.

 

Everything is hunky dory until I try to use the new datastore when the SSD's will randomly drop offline and the transfer fails. Sometimes one SSD, sometimes two sometimes all three.

I can tear down the datastore and instantly recreate it and the disks are all picked up.

 

Can't help thinking this is related to that B120i driver I had to downgrade.

 

esx-a.jpg

esx-b.jpg

 

Bit stumped what to do now though! I dont want to throw any more money at it. I could try upgrading to ESXi v6 as I know VSAN's was overhauled but its alot of effort to rule it out and there is still the driver issue.

ADUReport.txt

Edited by ChEeSyBoOfS
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  • 2 weeks later...

For anyone that may find this thread and just to let you guys know I have now sorted this problem.

 

The B120i just doesn't have the balls to run VSANs the queue depth is almost non existent.

I have installed 3 x H220 SAS cards with a queue depth of 600 and its now working fine.

 

I will probably do a full write up with costings once I am done.

 

Thanks

 

Cheesy

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