Dell PERC H830 in PowerEdge R710 Server

prisoner881

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Nov 12, 2016
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Greets to all. Managed to inherit a Dell PERC H830 SAS RAID controller, now trying to get it working in my home-based Dell PowerEdge R710 server.

Dell's specs say the H380 has an LSI SAS 3108 chip in it. LSI/Avago/Broadcom says that chip -- and all the SAS RAID cards it makes based on that chip -- are tested as compatible with Dell PE R710/720/730 servers. However, it won't boot in my Dell R710. Just gets to the part in POST where you can hit Ctrl-R to enter RAID setup menu and it freezes there. R710 has lastest BIOS (6.40) and Broadcom's page says it requires minimum BIOS 6.10 so I'm OK there. I'm guessing it's either I need to update the H830's firmware to the latest (25.5 as of today) and try again. LSI says this is a PCI Gen3 slot product and the R710 only offers PCI Gen2, but last I heard PCI Gen3 is still backwards compatible with Gen2.

However, if that doesn't work, does anyone have any experience crossflashing the H830 to the equivalent LSI/Avago/Broadcom product? I wouldn't be surprised if there's some nifty Dell-specific option in the firmware that's breaking something that would otherwise work with the LSI/Avago/Broadcom standard firmware.

Thanks in advance!
 

alex1002

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This controller should work fine in that server. Try flashing bios on server and card.

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
 

prisoner881

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Nov 12, 2016
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This controller should work fine in that server. Try flashing bios on server and card.

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
I'm flashing now, going from 25.2 to 25.5. I had to transplant the H830 to another system (my home-built system, Asus mobo, Core i5-4690K) to flash it. Getting ready to put it back in the R710. I'll let you know what happens.

FYI, this whole setup is as follows:

- PowerEdge R710, 72GB RAM, integrated PERC6/i controller with 2x 500GB SATA SSD in RAID1, 2x 1TB SATA WD Red NAS, BIOS 6.40, running VMware 6.0U2
- External DAS cabinet, 8x 3TB SATA WD Red NAS (PN# WD30EFRX) on SAS/SATA backplane.

I was running the External DAS off an Avago 9341-8i with the internal SAS ports connected to a backplate with two external SAS ports. Kind of a kludge but I got it cheap :). However the RAID5 write performance was horrific since you can't enable write-back caching and there's no option to add a BBU which would allow it. I was very disappointed with it because of this. The RAID5 read performance was stellar though and RAID1 read/write is very good but this is a media server holding about 800 hi-def movies so I need the capacity.
 
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prisoner881

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Nov 12, 2016
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This controller should work fine in that server. Try flashing bios on server and card.

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
OK, you were right. The H830 will boot in the R710 once the H380 is updated to the latest firmware (25.5). But now I have another problem.

I first tried booting with the H830 attached to the external DAS cabinet. As mentioned above, I've got eight 3TB Western Digital Red NAS SATA drives in the DAS cabinet. During the R710 boot process, it got to the Ctrl-R prompt for the H830 and the "Initializing Firmware...0%" message. Before I did the H830 firmware update it just froze at this point. After the update it started counting up from zero percent but stopped at 62% and just sat there. I gave several minutes, gave up, powered everything down, removed the external SAS cables connecting the DAS, and powered the R710 up again with the H830 inside but not attached to anything. I wondered if the H830 didn't like the drives my DAS cabinet.

This time the H830 got to the "Initializing Firmware...0%" bit and proceeded through the full boot process after not detecting any drives. VMware booted up just fine and found the H830 just fine. So the R710 and the H830 get along but the H830 doesn't like something about my drives.

Any suggestions?
 

prisoner881

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Nov 12, 2016
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This controller should work fine in that server. Try flashing bios on server and card.

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
OK, got more info after testing. I powered the DAS cabinet up but pulled all the drives out first (it's a hot-swap cabinet). Booted H830 into the RAID controller menu just fine. Started attaching drives one at a time. H830 recognized all but two. No matter what drive I put in those slots, as soon as I they connected the H830 menu would freeze up. Removing the drives would un-freeze it. Clearly something wrong with those slots, not the drives or anything else. Funny thing is the MegaRAID SAS 9341-8i formerly attached to this same DAS cabinet didn't have a problem with them. Maybe the H830 is more finicky.

Anyway, I got six of my eight drives up and happy and that's enough for now (13TB in RAID5). I'll figure out what's physically wrong with the remaining slots and expand my array later.

But, for the record, if anyone is trying to get an H830 to work in an R710, it will indeed work and you don't have to do anything bizarre to get it going. Just make sure you're using the latest firmware and you're good to go.
 

Terry Kennedy

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But, for the record, if anyone is trying to get an H830 to work in an R710, it will indeed work and you don't have to do anything bizarre to get it going. Just make sure you're using the latest firmware and you're good to go.
Is this via the integrated RAID controller slot or one of the regular PCIe slots? Also, do you happen to know the Dell part number for the board you're using (5-character code on a sticker on the board)?
 

prisoner881

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Is this via the integrated RAID controller slot or one of the regular PCIe slots? Also, do you happen to know the Dell part number for the board you're using (5-character code on a sticker on the board)?
It's in one of the Gen2 PCI Express 8x slots on Riser 2. It won't fit in the integrated RAID controller slot.

I don't have the part number of the motherboard but I know it's the latest generation motherboard the made for that chassis. The first generation board wouldn't run the hex-core Xeon's I have in mine.
 
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Terry Kennedy

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It's in one of the Gen2 PCI Express 8x slots on Riser 2. It won't fit in the integrated RAID controller slot.
Did the standard backplane cables reach, or did you need to replace them for either length or a different connector type? The latter assuming you started with a PERC H700, the older ones used those really wide oddball connectors.
I don't have the part number of the motherboard but I know it's the latest generation motherboard the made for that chassis. The first generation board wouldn't run the hex-core Xeon's I have in mine.
Sorry, I meant the PERC H830.
 

prisoner881

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Did the standard backplane cables reach, or did you need to replace them for either length or a different connector type? The latter assuming you started with a PERC H700, the older ones used those really wide oddball connectors.

Sorry, I meant the PERC H830.
You misunderstand. The stock PERC 6/i adapter remains in place and runs the eight 2.5" internal bays. The H830 has two external SAS ports which connect to my external DAS cabinet. It has eight 3.5" bays filled with Western Digital Red NAS 3TB SATA drives.

I did this because the stock PERC 6/i will not support drives larger than 2TB and because 3.5" drives are about half the price of 2.5" drives.
 
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prisoner881

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What I really wish I had is a Dell R720xd or R730xd with 3.5" bay option for either. 2.5" drives are just way too expensive compared to 3.5" drives for less performance and less capacity. A 1.2TB SATA 2.5" drive costs as much or more than a 3TB SATA 3.5" drive. For a media server that just needs a huge hunk of reasonably fast storage, 3.5" drives are the way to go.