Anyone tried the HGST SSDs with "Oracle" firmware

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DavidRa

Infrastructure Architect
Aug 3, 2015
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Central Coast of NSW
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I have seen that the HGST SSDs with Oracle firmware seem to be cheaper than some of the other options - I think it's the SS200 series. Has anyone tried them in an HP server or similar? I know they're 512 bytes per sector already, so I don't need to reformat - it's just about any other potential weirdnesses given there are so many of them on Ebay for reasonable prices.
 

CyklonDX

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Nov 8, 2022
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I had them few years back when a reseller shipped them mixed in for r720xd's, non-branded hgst, and mixed branded sun oracle ones.
The Sun ones came in formatted with 520 byte sectors. (didn't really lines up for standard raid.) At that time i didn't bother trying to reform - i got replacement for new hgst non-branded ones.
 

sth2100

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Feb 22, 2022
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I am running several HUH721010AL5200 models which are the Oracle branded 10TB drives. I formatted each of them to 4k sectors without any issue. They work great, but I have not tried them in an HP server, have been using them in a Cisco server.

I did run into one problem with these. When I did have a drive beginning to throw some errors and went to buy a replacement 10TB drive, I mistakenly purchased HUH721010AL4200 which is the natively formatted 4k sector drives. These are actually a bit smaller in size, so when trying to replace the 5200 model with the 4200 model, it wouldn't work because it wasn't big enough to replace the original disk.

I would recommend if you plan to create a raid with these, slip in at least one 4200 model to ensure the raid will not utilize beyond that physical size, then you can use either model of drive as replacements.
 

mr44er

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Feb 22, 2020
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Has anyone tried them in an HP server or similar?
Unlikely that this will work, you could call yourself lucky if you could reformat and use branded drives in a normal system nowadays.
In the long run you will be happier and cheaper with generic disks/firmware and without locked servers.
 

sth2100

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Feb 22, 2022
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I just tried the HUH721010AL5200 10TB drive in my dl360p gen8 server and it recognized it like any other drive. Just to be sure, I partitioned it and created an ext4 filesystem without issue. To be clear, I did reformat this from 512 byte sectors to 4k sectors, but I don't think that would impact how the firmware functions. It seems this drive plays nice with HP.
 

mr44er

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Feb 22, 2020
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Yes, if you have a HP Server with free non-HP-ecosystem OS and FS running and a LSI-HBA with generic firmware this works.
My first thought was some dongled shelf with HP-firmwared HBA...maybe @DavidRa could give more details about the machine?
 

DavidRa

Infrastructure Architect
Aug 3, 2015
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Central Coast of NSW
www.pdconsec.net
The current plan is to stuff them into a few Gen8 hosts I have. For now, I'm just going to straight-swap 8 of them in for 3TB HDDs in the RAID6 on the Hyper-V 2022 host, and get the system more usable, but I did buy enough to consider building a proxmox cluster with ceph, or similar. So IIRC it's a P420 RAID controller, though I also have a set of low profile 9211-8i controllers literally lying around. Really the only annoyance there would be losing the OS mirror and possibly ending up with 4 hosts in jet-fan mode.

Or I could potentially throw vSphere 8 at it (I have that running on a Gen8 already, so it's possible even if it's not "supported" - for a lab, and with my skill level, vendor support isn't really needed - I do the normal right things like backup and so forth so if I have to restore it's just annoying).

And there are lots left on Ebay, so I could grab another few if I really needed to.
 

sth2100

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Feb 22, 2022
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Really the only annoyance there would be losing the OS mirror and possibly ending up with 4 hosts in jet-fan mode.
I have run several LSI cards in my HP servers along with many different drives, and they have never triggered the fans to increase. I am using the latest bios updates if that makes a difference.

As for the OS mirror, never had an issue with persevering that when going from the internal P420 to an LSI, but I have always allowed the OS to manage the mirror, I never allowed the hardware or software raid on the server to do it for me. I always run the controllers in HBA or JBOD mode.

Good luck, let us know how it turns out!
 

mr44er

Active Member
Feb 22, 2020
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That sounds good. If you have skills and have other controllers to test against and no dependancy with any vendor support, you should be golden.

If the disks are accepted and you can reformat them to fitting sector size, the hard work is done. (I wouldn't trust the preformat, it could be fast formatted or badly refurbished)

I also use different disks in wild mixes in ZFS and Ceph, if the sector size fits, they behave just fine and don't trigger unwanted things. Fine details like write cache etc. can be done with sdparm and if everything should be really bad you could give the disks back, I think?
 

DavidRa

Infrastructure Architect
Aug 3, 2015
329
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Central Coast of NSW
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@sth2100 - It's presently in RAID mode, the P420 is too old to support proper HBA mode. vSphere doesn't support software RAID if I remember correctly - so I'd be limited to Hyper-V and Windows dynamic disks, or potentially mdadm or ZFS if it works on Proxmox for the OS drive. I did actually get a different HP HBA that's supposed to support RAID side by side with HBA mode, but it wouldn't even POST so ... IDK

@mr44er - the vendor claims they were already 512B sectors - they only claim to test the device isn't stuffed, and potentially wipe data though I'm not even certain yet that they do that.

They're supposed to arrive Thur, but I expect Aus govt to get in the way and demand proof of paid taxes etc. Could be annoying.
 

sth2100

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Feb 22, 2022
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The P420 will function just fine in HBA mode with one exception - you cannot have your boot drive on it while in HBA. You can work around this with an internal USB boot stick, an internal boot sdcard, or an internal SATA SSD. I went with the internal SATA SSD - a 120GB SSD which are very cheap these days. You can connect it to the internal CDROM connector - think it's a micro SSD or something like that. I was able to slide the SSD above the drives in the front of the chassis on the DL360 model as there's a little gap for air intake there. As for the DL380 model, you can let the drive sit on top of the plastic air duct.

Once you get past this boot disk issue, you can run the P420 in HBA without any issue. Of course an alternative is to disable the P420 and install a cheap LSI card that will support booting and everything, but then you lose one of those precious PCI slots if you are running the DL360 model.
 

sth2100

Member
Feb 22, 2022
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You have to force switch it into HBA mode if I remember correctly. I haven't done it in a while, but I don't think it's a bios setting. I looked around in my notes and I actually have some I copied from someone else on how to do this. Here you go...
  • Download the SPP Gen8.1 ISO <-- this is important, later versions do not include a CLI shell.
  • Burn the ISO to a 32GB or SMALLER usb drive using the HPE USB Boot Utility. Rufus doesn't work when you try to boot the utility, and the application doesn't support > 32GB USB drives.
  • REMOVE ALL PHYSICAL DRIVES PRIOR TO POWERING ON SERVER
  • Click on the Smart Storage Administrator, and clear the config off the controller. Exit out of the SSA Utility by clicking the X at the top.
  • If you have never updated the firmware on your controller, click on "Firmware Update" to launch HP SUM and do it now. You might need to reboot.
  • Press Ctrl+Alt+D+B+X
  • Type this in the console:
    hpssacli controller slot=0 modify hbamode=on forced
  • Get out of the console, and go back into the HPE SSA Utility
  • Click on the controller, click on configure, click on configure controller
  • Select first option "Set all controller ports to HBA mode", click OK, click finish.
  • Done! Power off, pluck in some fancy drives and off you go.
If you need the SPP Gen8.1, send me a private message, I think I may have it laying around somewhere.

Remember, once you do this, the P420i can no longer boot a drive, so make sure you have already switched over to booting from a SATA, USB, or SDCARD device.
 

DavidRa

Infrastructure Architect
Aug 3, 2015
329
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Central Coast of NSW
www.pdconsec.net
Well they all seem to work, but the performance of either the SSD, or it feels more like the P420i, leaves a lot to be desired under Server 2022. Seeing 6MBps writes to a 6 SSD RAID set, or a single SSD, and it's the same with the mirrored SATA SSDs, so I suspect driver. Going to build something non-2022 to check - but will update when I know things.

Don't yet have anything useful to use as a boot controller so I can switch to HBA mode.
 
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DavidRa

Infrastructure Architect
Aug 3, 2015
329
151
43
Central Coast of NSW
www.pdconsec.net
Right so I built a second Gen8 with a 6x RAID6 set, this time VMware ESXi 8.0 and a Windows 2022 guest. 300MBps parallel IO from the RAID 6 (reading from it and writing to it at the same time) at about 4-5ms response time. More diagnostics needed, but that's a lot more usable.