Flash/Crossflash DELL H330 RAID Card to HBA330/12Gbps HBA IT Firmware

Discussion in 'RAID Controllers and Host Bus Adapters' started by Sleyk, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. rootpeer

    rootpeer New Member

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    Tremendous! Thanks for all the info and for your work!
     
    #61
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  2. mbls

    mbls New Member

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    Can you detail how this is exactly better than just switching the H330 from RAID to HBA mode?
     
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  3. sd11

    sd11 New Member

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    Thanks for the help. Flashed mine successfully...

    Now I need to figure out why my SAS ssd will not be detected in my U-Nas 810a case.
     
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  4. Sleyk

    Sleyk Active Member

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    Hey brother! Thats a good question. Well, to start, you have to remember your use case. If you are using any type of zfs or os where you just need your drives behind a hba, then its better to just convert to a hba330, which has no proprietary firmware behind it.

    If you read through my posts on this thread, i mention this word ALOT.

    Proprietary.

    Proprietary can mean a good thing for business. But for us tech guys and tinkerers, its the bane of our existence. Proprietary for me means limiting, lock down, inaccessible, closed boundaries etc.

    As you know, the goal of technology is to get the MOST out of your gear for as little money as possible. Why spend more for a card,when you can unlock the exact, identical features on a cheaper card?

    Let me explain it this way. The general rule is thus: for best access to your drives, you need a controller that is "dumb" in that it doesn't seek to write any sort of information or place the drives behind any sort of proprietary software "wall" before your os can reach the drives. This is also useful from a drive life standpoint. Less chance of software corruption and single points of failure, along with reduced "writes" to the drive so to speak.

    In addition to this, the dell proprietary rom is very, very clunky. Yes, you can get used to it, but now we don't have to my friend. We can convert and remove the clunky, limiting, proprietary firmware.

    I'm a man of practical applications, so i will use what every man can understand.

    Girls and sex.

    So homeboy saw this kardashian looking, fat ass girl with supple, big tits walking. Tits look at least like double dd's. He stops her and after a small conversation, he asks her out. She, by a miracle of goodness itself, says yes. She's a new russian beauty who moved into town from Russia. Her dad owns a business and wanted to setup shop here in America. She doesn't know anyone but you.

    You take her to dinner and she is just staring at you and getting horny as hell. You're a decent hardworking guy, and she sees that. She actually likes you. She wants to start a family with a honest man who wont use her. She wants to marry a good decent man and live life here. No fraud or anything. As a matter of fact, she has money and a huge home. A very very big home. Lots of storage space. You get a taxi and you end up at her place. She invites you in.

    She freaking starts to undress and you see those supple fat tits and ass. You definitely wanna touch and slap that ass. She beckons you to come. Little johnny boy is awake, primed and ready to get to business.

    As you get close enough to smack that ass and taste those tits, an invisible plastic barrier pops up and literally prevents you from feeling and groping those tits. You can see them, heck you can feel the outline of those tits, You can see those nipples pressing against that forsaken plastic, but you can't FEEL them on your skin. You cant touch them. Only see them.

    What is a man left to do?

    Do you stand there while a sexy as hell girl is beckoning you to come tap that ass? Do you say, ah well, im comfortable just looking?

    By now, since homegirl cant see or feel the invisible plastic, she is starting to get frustrated cuz shes wondering why you aren't all over her right now. ESPECIALLY, when she WANTS you.

    I think i know what a guy would do. He would tear that freaking plastic barrier down as fast as he could to get to that ass and those tits.

    Needless to say,
    -You are the guy. Or if you prefer, your OS is the guy.
    -The sexy russian beauty with big tits is your hard drives.
    -The plastic barrier is the dell H330 with proprietary rom.

    Once you tear that plastic barrier down, you now get full, proper access to that ass. You get to grab those tits and fondle them. You get to smash all night long bro. Now, you have a H330 without proprietary firmware, also known as a HBA330.

    You're Welcome. :cool:
     
    #64
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
  5. mbls

    mbls New Member

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    I agree that I want to get most out of my gears, but I'm mainly interested in practical differences (performance in particular). If I switch my unaltered H330 to HBA mode, it also gives (by definition of HBA I suppose) direct access to the disks without writing any proprietary stuff onto it. Meaning if I have a ZFS file system and take out my disks and put it into some other computer with arbitrary HBA controller, it will work.
    So, in terms of practical differences, will the crossflashed HBA IT firmware allow for faster disk access/throughput than the H330 firmware in HBA mode? (in my particular case, I'm using 6GB/s SATA drives)
    I prefere retaining dell support unless the crossflashing gives me actually better performance.
     
    #65
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2019
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  6. pchangover

    pchangover Member

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    I currently have an r730xd with h730p that has abysmal disk performance for both HDDs and SSDs in FreeNAS, like 70 MB/s on the HDD array and similar numbers on the SSD array.

    I purchased an h330 perc to do the flash you laid out hoping it would help my performance. I installed it and booted into the bios to see that it shows up as an HBA330 before I did any flashing:

    2019-12-16.png

    So I'm like hmmm, maybe they flashed it already and sold it as a regular h330? I boot into FreeNAS hoping my performance woes are gone but I'm getting the exact same performance. Should I go through the steps of flashing it?
     
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  7. Terry Kennedy

    Terry Kennedy Well-Known Member

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    Maybe. Some Dell firmware limits the controller queue depth below what the generic LSI firmware does, for reasons known only to Dell. I believe the queue depth on the H330 is 256 which is not bad, but LSI's defaults are normally in the 600+ range. Some of the older LSI cards with Dell firmware are really bad, with queue depths of 25. This seems to be getting better on newer cards. In particular, the RAID cards (which you don't want) seem to be up there with the generic LSI values. Here's a H730 Mini with stock Dell firmware in a PowerEdge R730, under FreeBSD 12:
    Code:
    mrsas0: <AVAGO Invader SAS Controller> port 0x2000-0x20ff mem 0x92600000-0x9260ffff,0x92500000-0x925fffff irq 26 at device 0.0 on pci3
    mrsas0: FW supports <96> MSIX vector,Online CPU 12 Current MSIX <12>
    mrsas0: max sge: 0x46, max chain frame size: 0x400, max fw cmd: 0x39f
    mrsas0: max_fw_cmds: 927  max_scsi_cmds: 911
    The LSI spec for this card is 975, so 927 seems reasonable. Also note that with 96 MSI-X vectors, this card supports hosts with up to 96 cores.
     
    #67
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  8. Sleyk

    Sleyk Active Member

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    I think having the controller running on actual HBA330 firmware is the better way to go. Without going into complicated details and launching a deep investigation into this, Dell's firmware rom seems to impose limits on the capability of what the card can do. HBA330 firmware poses no such limitations.

    Look at it this way, as you know, ZFS wants unfettered, unrestricted access to your sweet, sweet hard drives. The dell rom adds a software "layer" to this. No way of getting around this. You need the rom to make the card "run" in HBA mode. The HBA330 firmware does this by default. Remember, this is simply LSI IT firmware with a renamed identifier code to make it report as a HBA330. No fundamental difference between a 9300/9311-8i.

    I do understand your point about keeping Dell support. I wouldn't want you to flash something that may not have warranty, but think of it this way. Dell usually covers software corruption, and all this is really, is a software flash. I insist on finding ways to only modify these cards with software in the event that you needed to service it, you can just erase the HBA330 firmware and send it back to Dell. They will just do a iMR hostboot and reload the H330 firmware anyways. Or maybe...they'll come after you and send the CIA to inquire how you flashed over their proprietary rom...i disavow knowing you.... :D

    Meh, I say do a quick test to prove which is better for ya. A simple test will do. I personally saw full speeds when I tested with a nvme. I only have a shitty older samsung 951 though. I think you might find that the card converted to an HBA330 works better. Let's be honest. The Dell rom is clunky and slow and old fashioned as shit. This is somewhat weird though, cuz Dell literally manufactured some of these cards up to last year even. My thing is, why use it? Now that we have a method to convert, only use the Dell rom if you absolutely had to. Otherwise, take that H330 and flash it over to a HBA330 like a boss :cool:

    Now, I have come across some of their more nonsensical limitations when I was studying the intricacies of their firmware. Before I figured out how to flash the H330, I first went and examined their verbose bios readouts in the firmware of the Dell rom and found such silly limitations as not being able to mix sas vs sata drives. Anyone doubting this, go boot up your system and do a "megacli -adpallinfo -a0" command and read that whole output. You see some wacky limitations built into the firmware, and you're like "why?" isnt this a full raid card?

    But you see, that's the thing. The H330 isnt really a full raid card. The card was built with limitations. Rather, limitations were placed onto the card. But, this is what made it easy to flash. Dell was kinda gaslighting us from the get go with this card. For all intents and purposes, and this is just my personal speculation, but there should have never existed a H330. Only the HBA330.

    As you know, the H330 and the HBA330 both use the base SAS3008 chipset. Nothing more. So what was Dell thinking?

    Perhaps something like:

    "Well, we already have the LSI/Avago standard built HBA330, that uses the SAS3008 chipset, and we can charge people a lot of money for, plus we already have the high end H730 and H830 models with REAL onboard raid chipsets, So how about we take a HBA330, strap on a "semi-logic" purported raid chip on there, load our shitty proprietary half-baked in-house firmware rom, and sell it as a RAID SOLUTION. Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't that be fun? Ahahahhaaa!"

    Something along those lines :D

    No, when you think about it, the H330 is a con. We look at this flash as up-converting a H330 to a HBA330, but in all reality, the true way to see this is turning the H330 BACK into a HBA330.

    I'll put it to you this way: ALL H330's started out as an HBA330. :eek:

    Trippy right? I know o_O

    Of course I know its much more nuanced than that, I am only half kidding around. Its a cheap raid solution. This is what Dell meant to do. They crippled the HBA330 with proprietary rom and called it a H330. Done.

    Thus, the capability of the card is sorely limited by the in-house dell rom. I say we free it up and unleash the cards initial intended potential.

    Damn. I get carried away sometimes. I like writing too much. Forgive me.

    Interesting! My theory is that they told you the card was a H300 mini mono, but it was in fact an HBA330 mini mono all along. This is what I meant in my initial posts about the different dell models. Its confusing as hell. Too many sellers don't know how to identify the cards and they often sell you something that isn't what they describe in the listing. I could be wrong, but this is what I think happened to ya. I doubt the seller flashed a H330 mini mono to a HBA330 mini mono and sold it to you knowingly. You see, if they did, they would have probably charged you more since they would have known the capabilities of the card they were selling you.

    Well all in, that's good. You got a card worth about $120 for the price of a H330 mini, which goes for about half that. Lol! :p

    Yes sir! Spot on Terry! The Dell firmware imposes weird limitations such as limited queue depth and transfer limitations, along with the mixing of sas vs sata drives. Nonsense I say!

    I have been talking to a few Dell folks here and there for additional knowledge, and to some people who use the H330 and seemingly from my understanding, Dell limits their firmware in certain areas to decrease overall stress and power consumption of the card. Of course, this may not be right, but I did have a fella who measured the power output of the 3rd Gen sas chips, and they seemingly use more powa.

    Thing is, I feel like that is normal since you probably need abit more juice to push the pci-e 3.0 speeds we want. Not entirely sure myself though. I would love to have an interesting conversation on this for further added knowledge. :)
     
    #68
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2019
  9. pchangover

    pchangover Member

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    Well that's a bit disheartening if you do believe my card is a true HBA330 because that means there is something else at play in my performance woes. I kind of wonder if it's a bad backplane at this point.
     
    #69
  10. Sleyk

    Sleyk Active Member

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    Yeah, I wanted to talk to you more about that. The HBA330 should give WAY more performance than 70MB/s. Must be some config error? Or as you mentioned, a backplane issue? I know some backplanes still route all traffic through one lane, even though the card is theoretically capable of 2. (Well, much more than that with expanders).
     
    #70
  11. pchangover

    pchangover Member

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    I haven't found any config that I'm missing so I'm not sure.
     
    #71
  12. wcool

    wcool New Member

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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the write-ups and experiences, it might help to solve my issue.

    So, I bought a flashed H330 (flashed to Dell HBA330 adapter) from a seller named techdude10 on eBay (great guy, very friendly) and got it shipped to the EU as I can’t find such a card over here (surplus market is very small here). I don’t think he can help me further, because I get no replies (or he’s just on holiday of course).

    I bought especially a SAS3 controller for my new system, because I plan on throwing 4x SSD in there for some fast data processing.

    Anyway, I had (suggested by the seller) to do the tape mod for bypassing power management (smbus) as the machine didn’t go past POST and threw a beeping at me). The machine then booted fine and it is accessible in UEFI BIOS of the mainboard. I can go in and view all properties of the controller and the disk. I can also enable the legacy bios of the card, no problem.

    The card has the following specs:
    - Type: UCSA-109
    - Firmware version: 16.17.00.05

    My newly built system:
    - Mainboard: Fujitsu D3644-B (UEFI BIOS r1.6.0, latest)
    - CPU: Intel Xeon D-2146G
    - Case (w/ integrated 2x4 SAS backplanes): SilverStone CS381
    - HDD: 4x 12TB HGST Ultrastar DC HC520

    However... I get A LOT of drops during testing. After a while the card just craps out and all the disks are gone.

    What I tried:
    - Re-seat the card in the x16 slot.
    - Seat it in the x8 slot (x4 electrically).
    - Only use 1 HDD.
    - Use a (Seagate) SATA drive.
    - Connect to the other available slot (B).
    - Use another SFF-8643 cable.
    - Connect HDDs by using a SFF-8643 to 4x SAS HDD (SFF-8482?) adapter (to rule out backplane).
    - Test the card in a GA-Z77X-UD5H (my desktop).
    - Tried data copy tests on Windows 10 (with stock and original Avago driver), Proxmox 6.1, plain Ubuntu latest, VMware ESXi 6.7U3. In Linux, the used driver is mpt3sas.

    Result: Logs and dmesg always fill up with a very specific failure code of the adapter (not the HDDs). The code reads 0x2626. It shows that error quite a lot before it finally craps out.

    Things possibly left to do: Re-flash the card myself to the generic 12gps sas firmware? Do I need SMbus to work for that or can I flash with that mod without bricking it?

    I really like this card tho as it doesn’t get too hot and is very fast (at least it is during the brief moments it does work). If anybody can help me, or has seen that error, I’d be most grateful for your help.
     
    #72
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
  13. Sleyk

    Sleyk Active Member

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    Hey there! Welcome! I read through your post and i think it could possibly be your backplane or the card itself. I would test the backplane with another hba if you have one, that way you can rule out the backplane before doing anything else.

    Now, as for the card, as long as it is flashed correctly and you see it come up as an hba330, the card should work. If you want, you could reflash the latest hba330 firmware without the bios to see if it helps.

    Use commands:
    1. sas3flsh -list (this will list all the card's info. Write down your sas address.

    2. sas3flsh -o -e 7 (this will erase the entire firmware. You could "6" instead of "7", but if you are getting this error, better to erase everything)

    3. sas3flash -o -f hba330.fw (this will flash the card with just firmware and no bios)

    That way, you can see if there was maybe a compatibility issue between your card and your system. You could also try the generic 12gbps firmware as well. In my experience with these cards, i don't think the card went bad, as sas3flsh usually always flashes these cards correctly, but there could have been a corruption somewhere. You never know.

    Try those commands and let me know how it works for you without the bios. Try with just the hba330 firmware and try it out with the 12gbps firmware without the bios as well.

    Oh, you definitely wont brick the card if you flash with the tape mod. The tape mod just blocks a specific signal that prevents the bios from booting. Once you need the tape mod for your system, you will always need it for the specific motherboard. If you have the card in your system, it wont let you boot unless you use the tape mod. But don't this doesn't affect the cards performance in any way.
     
    #73
  14. Terry Kennedy

    Terry Kennedy Well-Known Member

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    People say this a lot, but is isn't always true. I had some flavor of Dell LSI card in my Supermicro X8DTH-iF motherboard and the system would boot fine without the tape mod, but not all memory would be detected. It depends on how a specific motherboard model routes the SMbus - in the case of this X8 board, it ran through some of the DIMM sockets (for the SPD info).
     
    #74
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  15. Sleyk

    Sleyk Active Member

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    Yup right again Terry! There are some exceptions. I used that exact board before when i was flashing older H310 cards and it would just disable a few memory channels and i would just make sure i only put ram in the slots that weren't disabled.

    I remember figuring this out when i loaded most of the slots with 2gb sticks and i was like "why am i missing 6gbs of ram?" I thought my ram was dead until i figured out the dell hba cards had caused the bios to disable a few memory channels. If i did the tape mod, they all came back, but seeing as the board worked without it, i got lazy and stopped doing it :(

    But yeah, for most other atx boards that have an issue booting with certain dell hba cards, you would definitely need that tape mod, but at least its super easy and safe for the card and system.
     
    #75
  16. Terry Kennedy

    Terry Kennedy Well-Known Member

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    Yup - the X8DTH is a rather complicated board with multiple SMbus channels routed through different things. If you put the controller in another slot, it would probably disable different RAM sockets.

    For your average desktop / workstation board with a single SMbus channel, it is indeed all-or-none.
     
    #76
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  17. BLinux

    BLinux cat lover server enthusiast

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    Another option with Supermicro X8 boards... there's a jumper to disable SMBus on the PCIe ... which usually is the default jumper setting from factory. With that jumper setting, I've never had problems with Dell H310 or H200 cards filling all 7 PCIe slots.
     
    #77
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  18. wcool

    wcool New Member

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    Hi there and thanks for the welcome!

    So, I flashed it multiple times today to try out both. Result: No improvement... Same error keeps popping up with the same problems.

    Got a bit desperate, so tried to find whether it was possible to flash it to, say, a 9300-8i or something. Didn’t find any results, so didn’t want to risk it.

    If anybody wants me to try something out which could fix it I’d be most grateful.

    edit: I did exactly as Sleyk adviced, so always fully erased flash first.
     
    #78
  19. Sleyk

    Sleyk Active Member

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    Thanks for that tip BL! I have to try this out. I usually flash 2 cards at a time because of this, but this would help tremendously with the time it takes to flash multiple cards.
     
    #79
  20. Sleyk

    Sleyk Active Member

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    Yeah I'm a bit confused as I confess I haven't seen that error in my testing. I don't doubt you though. I just wish I could reproduce this.

    As of right now, I haven't found a way to flash the actual "labelled" LSI 9300/9311-8i firmware to the card, but I confirmed that the Dell firmware is just a rebranded/relabelled 9311-8i firmware anyway.

    Let's try a few things.

    Tell me about your tape mod. What did you do specifically? If your backplane isnt the culprit, I suspect the card could be bad, but we can also examine the tape mod. Can you confirm you only taped the front side of the card? And that it is only pins 5 and 6? Sometimes a piece of tape could be blocking the wrong pin, thus causing errors. Also, the tape only goes to the front of the card, not the back.

    This could be causing the errors you see. Let us know what you did. Lets see if we can get to the bottom of this.
     
    #80
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
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