Genuine IBM M1015 or not

Mastakilla

Member
Jul 23, 2019
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Hi,

When searching for a SAS2008 HBA in Belgium / Netherlands, I actually only found one...

The seller has an very good reputation (100 reviews, all positive), but when asking for the source of his HBAs, he told me he buys them from people in China / Hong Kong.
Given his reputation, I'm quite sure the cards will work, even if they are counterfeits, but I'm searching for a long-time-reliable HBA, so not (even if it works now) counterfeit.

So I tried to do some research and found the following interesting video on this subject from an (US based) eBay seller (The Art of Server), who seems to take great pride into ensuring that he's selling genuine HBAs only.

Next, I've asked the seller from the Netherlands for some pictures of the actual card he's selling to me and he took some pictures for me.

I compared those pictures to the pictures of a M1015 from 'The Art of Server' (which should be genuine) and it looks mostly the same, but when looking closer, I do spot some minor differences...

I wonder if anyone can tell me this is a counterfeit or genuine...? Or if there is anything else I could ask to make sure it is genuine?

Below I've tried to mark all the differences that I could spot in the pictures (in yellow)

The M1015 card which I can buy from the seller from the Netherlands (which could be counterfeit or not)
upload_2020-4-13_21-1-43.png
upload_2020-4-13_21-3-19.png
Original (larger) pics: Dropbox - M1015 - Simplify your life

The M1015 card from the US seller 'The Art of Server' (should be genuine)
upload_2020-4-13_21-4-36.png
upload_2020-4-13_21-5-0.png

Original (larger) pics: IBM M1015 9220-8i (=9210-8i) 6Gbps SAS HBA P20 IT Mode ZFS FreeNAS unRAID | eBay
 
Last edited:

BlueFox

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2015
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Going by the sticker on the back, the top one could just be a newer revision. H3-25097-02C vs H3-25097-01D. Same thing with the firmware version label on the rear flash chip.

I haven't seen too many OEM cards like this counterfeited. Seems China likes to stick to retail SKUs for that.
 
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Mastakilla

Member
Jul 23, 2019
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Thanks a lot for your response!

I didn't spot yet that this is an OEM card. Would that make it thrustworthy enough to give it a shot you think?
 

BlueFox

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Oct 26, 2015
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It's OEM because it was sold as IBM branded (M1015 was IBM's model name). Retail LSI cards were a little different in component layout and are easily differentiated.

My guess is you'll be fine with it. It's likely not worth spending the extra money on importing one from the US.
 

BeTeP

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2019
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@BLinux (AKA the art of server) did a great job promoting this video - I am so tired of seeing it linked over and over again.

In the spirit of full disclosure - I have been active both as a buyer and a seller in the secondary storage parts market for 25+ years. So I am very familiar with the pricing trends (both current and historical) for all items listed in his store. Personally I do not sell parts online for profit. I buy parts online and only sell complete systems locally. The only parts I ever sell is when liquidating all stock well below market prices - so there is no competition between us of any kind. I do not have any ulterior motive - other than bringing attention to his highly unethical (in my opinion) marketing strategy.

By the way I have no fundamental problem with the price gouging for niche and non-essential products. The only issue I have with @BLinux is about his intentionally misleading and unsubstantiated claims - he routinely and deliberately exaggerates both how widespread the LSI counterfeiting is and how difficult it is to cross-flash an LSI controller to the IT mode firmware.

The truth is that counterfeiting of cheap controllers is almost non-existent. I have not seen a single SAS2008 fake in more than 2 years. Like in this promotional (but masked as educational) video he only discusses 2 way more expensive models - even he could not find the cheap one for his own video. Also cross-flashing is pretty fool-proof - it's almost impossible to completely brick the SAS2008 controller by flashing.

On the other side @BLinux sells storage controllers at huge markups. The cheaper the controller - the higher the markup percentage the market will bear so the SAS2008 based controllers make the bulk of his sales (both by units sold and total profit). That's his bread and butter.

So he invents and overhypes 2 problems (counterfeiting and cross-flashing difficulty) then offers the "solution" to both - how convenient... just pay 4x the price (recently the margin might have dropped slightly due to the obvious logistical difficulties).

Oops. I almost forgot. Yes, the card in the pictures is a genuine IBM M1015.
 
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Mastakilla

Member
Jul 23, 2019
36
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Thanks BlueFox, I thought the M1015 was personal design from IBM around the same chip. I wasn't aware that it was a simple rebrand / OEM. The LSI-markings on the card could have told me that though ;)

Thanks a lot for your insight BeTeP! That does put it a little more in perspective...

However, I must admit that I didn't start on my "genuine-HBA-quest" because of the promotional videos from 'The Art of Server'. It was jgreco on Ixsystems who first brought this to my attention by saying:
"Skip the LSI 9311 and go with a 6Gbps HBA. Do not buy anything from China or Hong Kong via eBay. There are massive issues with knockoff cards, discussed just earlier today I think. Basically you can generally trust eBay gear if it is coming from a known source of data center recycling, and not if it's coming from California (depends) or Asia (usually bad)."
I understood from this that they were seeing many issues on their forum because of these counterfeit HBAs.

I personally wouldn't mind paying a little extra for more "safety" even if, in reality it doesn't really matter that much.

Anyway, you, as a 2nd person, saying that the M1015 HBA that I'm looking at, is probably fine, does bring me a bit closer again to sufficiently trusting this ;)
 

BeTeP

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Mar 23, 2019
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I did not say there had never been a problem. There is still the problem (although to much lesser extent than a few years back) with counterfeiting more recent and/or expensive models.

But for the cheap SAS2008 based controllers there are a few very simple rules even a complete beginner could follow to increase the chance of getting a genuine item to 99.9%:

Buy "used" - most counterfeits are selling as "new"
Buy "cheap" (do not pay more than $25 shipped) - I have not seen a single counterfeit SAS2008 being sold below $35
Buy OEM (Dell, HP, IBM, Supermicro, NEC, Fujitsu) - most counterfeits I have seen were retail LSI and I have never ever seen a counterfeit H200 or H310.

The recommendation not to buy from sellers in China has some merit to the extent that it is much easier to deal with returns/other warranty issues with a local seller. Unfortunately buying domestic did not give you any higher chance of getting genuine product - when the price was still high enough there were plenty of local resellers of the counterfeit cards.
 

Mastakilla

Member
Jul 23, 2019
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* buy "used" --> is there any way to check if it is used? Is a manufacturing date of 2011 on a sticker sufficient to proof this? He did say they were used, so I guess that is a positive thing ;)
* buy "cheap" --> this is the ONLY SAS2008 card I could find for sale in whole Belgium / Netherlands :( He sells it for 62,5 euro incl shipping (and that is after negotiating the price). So more than double of the prices you mention.
* he is a local reseller of China / Hong Kong cards, as he said so himself (which partly explains the higher price). 62,5 euro is still okish for me though (was hoping for 50 euro maximum, but yeah, not much other choice I guess). I'm not going to risk buying directly from China / Hong Kong in these weird times, as it could take months to arrive...
 

BeTeP

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2019
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The cards have been produced till 2012 or so. There is very little chance of significant old new stock of those adapters still being available. Whereas the genuine cards come from parting out decommissioned servers. Thus the "used" over "new" recommendation. It's just how the seller describes the item condition.

As for the price, I am not that familiar with the EU market. My price guidelines were obviously meant for US. Can't you just order from Germany or France without paying any custom fees? I can see a few Dell H200 listings for under 40EUR shipped to Netherlands.

I would have ordered one from China as well... it's always a good idea to have a spare.
 

wheelhouse2009

New Member
May 2, 2021
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I also have this card but is a different revision not sure if a genuine as got it off facebook marketplace.
LSI SAS9220-8i H3-25097-02F