HP MSA G2 Array - $499 with dual SAS controllers

dba

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I just picked up one of these for my VM cluster. I was tempted to buy them all, but I decided instead to share my "find" with the group.

HP StorageWorks MSA2312SA Dual Controller Modular Smart Array AJ805A | eBay

What you get for $499 plus shipping is an HP MSA2000 G2 12-slot shared-SAS array (model MSA2312sa) with dual active-active controllers. The HP MSA is a bit different than other arrays - in good ways and bad but mostly good.

On the plus side:
1) A VERY well made piece of hardware.
2) Shared-SAS array with eight SFF-8088 host connectors. You can directly connect the array to eight hosts, or to four hosts with full HA across controllers.
3) Supports clustering!
4) The controllers are active-active with mirrored caches. Those caches are backed with supercapacitors (no batteries to wear out) and they have flash memory for backup storage should the power stay out for a significant amount of time.
5) The array is web managed
6) You can buy very expensive upgrade keys to get up to 512 snapshots. VERY expensive - around $450 for 8 snapshots or $2,000 for 512 snapshots.
7) It's a current model - though just barely. Parts are freely available from HP. They sold some 50K of these, so parts will be around for years.
8) Price new is around $7K without drives. eBay price for HP refurbished with warranty is around $4K, so $499 is a steal even without a warranty save for the 90 day DOA one from the seller.
9) Works with SAS and SATA drives from 72GB to 3TB - though see below for the big gotcha.
10) Includes two SAS ports through which you can connect an expansion chassis - including a cheap-as-chips HP MSA70 with 25 2.5" caddies.
11) Redundant and hot swap drives, controllers, fans.

On the downside:
1) The drive sleds are VERY proprietary. The backplane has strangely offset connectors that will not work with non-HP drive sleds. The HP drive sleds themselves are "active" in that they include a SAS-to fiber channel interposer board or a SATA to fiber channel interposer. This means that no third-party sleds will ever work.
2) HP drives specific to the MSA array range from very expensive (dual-ported SAS drives) down to almost reasonable (dual-ported 1TB 7200 RPM SATA drives for $120 used or $190 new).
3) Configuring the array for the first time requires an odd RS-232 to nano-RS-232 null modem cable that costs $280 from HP but is equivalent to a $70 version sold on eBay.
4) The G3 version of the array has been released, so the G2 will be discontinued soon and EOL in a few years.
5) Drives run as 3 Gbit/s - fine for normal drives but slow if you dream of swapping in SSD drives.
6) Rails are not included - but are only $40 on eBay if you look around.

RAID6 performance is pretty good - 1,050GB/Second reads and 730MB/Second writes maximum. By the way, the 6G SAS G3 version is faster, but not dramatically - 10% higher IOPS, 50% higher write throughput, 57% higher read throughput. It is also much more expensive of course.

Probably the best low-cost disks for this unit are the 1TB 7200 RPM drives. They are SATA, but because of the interposer cards they work as dual-port drives, visible to both controllers as dual-ported drives. eBay price is around $170 each new and around $125 used, though I did manage to pick up six new ones for $60 each just recently.

Finally, the chassis that I received is in "as new" condition - no signs of wear whatsoever. The badging says that it's part of an HP X9320 - which is a big HP scale-out NAS sytem with two server heads and five or more iSCSI disk arrays. It looks like someone took one of the arrays from a recently off-lease x9320 and replaced the HP iSCSI controllers with a pair of HP SAS controllers. This is quite OK with me, but the seller did fail to mention it in the auction.
 
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dba

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No trays. The cheapest eBay prices for MSA trays is $130 each, which makes buying whole 1TB drives cheaper than buying just trays. I would expect that trays will appear from time to time at more realistic prices, but I don't expect them to ever get as cheap as the usual Dell/HP/Supermicro trays without interposer boards.

Did you get the trays with that unit?
 

RimBlock

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Have been looking for something like this for quite some time.

Probably three things are deal breakers for me though.
Possibly having to buy an insanely prices RS-232 cable.
Very expensive drive caddys.
No shipping outside of the US
Seller is not accepting questions.

Shame as I would have been pretty tempted.

RB
 

mrkrad

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Oct 13, 2012
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i've got 12 3.5" interposer cards - they have PMC sierra sata to sas converters. Strange centronics like connector. I think they might be P2000 G3 but i think they are the same interposers. I'll check. Would trade for icypak (compatible with servers to 2.5" to 3.5") or perhaps all 12 for a controller or something server like

Back when drive shortage happened it was cheaper to buy 2TB HP drives from these and chuck the interposers into a box ;) Been running the 2TB drives in the dl320s (same thing as a MSA2312SA or MSA60).


Would trade for something cool.


p.s. google power supply msa2 failures for a long hard hmmm before you buy it now.
 
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dba

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The HP MSA trays have fiber channel connectors - D-shaped and very different than SAS or SATA. Oddly, the connectors aren't centered like a normal fiber channel but are offset to the right if you stare at them like you were the backplane. Having looked, are yours MSA interposers? Do you have HP disk caddies with interposers or just the interposers?

Here is a photo of a drive with a FC connector:


i've got 12 3.5" interposer cards - they have PMC sierra sata to sas converters. Strange centronics like connector. I think they might be P2000 G3 but i think they are the same interposers. I'll check. Would trade for icypak (compatible with servers to 2.5" to 3.5") or perhaps all 12 for a controller or something server like

Back when drive shortage happened it was cheaper to buy 2TB HP drives from these and chuck the interposers into a box ;) Been running the 2TB drives in the dl320s (same thing as a MSA2312SA or MSA60).


Would trade for something cool.


p.s. google power supply msa2 failures for a long hard hmmm before you buy it now.
 
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dba

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...
3) Configuring the array for the first time requires an odd RS-232 to nano-RS-232 cable that costs $280 from HP and may or may not be equivalent to the $70 version sold on eBay (mine hasn't arrived yet to check)....
I can verify that this cable works to configure the array: New 038 003 084 25ft EMC Null Modem Micro DB9 to DB9 Female Serial Cable | eBay

Once configured, the MSA array has a very pretty graphical interface. Amazingly, I was able to update the firmware on both controllers while the array was online and in use!
 
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mrkrad

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The HP MSA trays have fiber channel connectors - D-shaped and very different than SAS or SATA. Oddly, the connectors aren't centered like a normal fiber channel but are offset to the right if you stare at them like you were the backplane. Having looked, are yours MSA interposers? Do you have HP disk caddies with interposers or just the interposers?

Here is a photo of a drive with a FC connector:
AW556A 2TB drives. during the shortage, it was faster to buy these ;)

The P2000 G3 version. If you check the MSA2000 G2 quickspecs you'll see they added these drives. The AW555A are the 2TB MSA2000 G2 version. I suspect it's a 3gbps/6gbps thing.

Quite honestly with the cost of lefthand VSA and free hypervisor, the server version of this unit uses standard ISS drives and are far cheaper ;)

I'm about to fire one up [dl320s storage server] with 6 300GB SAS and 6 2TB RE4 - windows 2012 dedupe, 8gb ram, Q6600 instead of the xeon (works!). Last one I built with the 12 2TB Drives, I used a P812/1GB FBWC i got off ebay for $199 since I figured i might add some chassis and expand, but quite honestly an empty MSA60 or MSA2312SA costs more than a whole 'nother server.
 

dba

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Since they are HP interposers, they'd be good to play with, maybe add some SSD drives to my array. Did you say you'd be willing to trade? What sort of stuff are you looking for? I'm flush with LSI HBAs, 1U servers, and Vertex3 boot drives plus SAS cables.

VSA sound quite interesting, something like StarWind but VM based. I should look into it.

AW556A 2TB drives. during the shortage, it was faster to buy these ;)

The P2000 G3 version. If you check the MSA2000 G2 quickspecs you'll see they added these drives. The AW555A are the 2TB MSA2000 G2 version. I suspect it's a 3gbps/6gbps thing.

Quite honestly with the cost of lefthand VSA and free hypervisor, the server version of this unit uses standard ISS drives and are far cheaper ;)

I'm about to fire one up [dl320s storage server] with 6 300GB SAS and 6 2TB RE4 - windows 2012 dedupe, 8gb ram, Q6600 instead of the xeon (works!). Last one I built with the 12 2TB Drives, I used a P812/1GB FBWC i got off ebay for $199 since I figured i might add some chassis and expand, but quite honestly an empty MSA60 or MSA2312SA costs more than a whole 'nother server.
 

mrkrad

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yeah I have 4 real lefthand (p4300 G2) - wanna buy? I'm trying to to do some DW and would love to hear about your success with those mad servers. I'm running into issues not getting full IOPS in esxi, even after tuning the settings to push the queue depth further.

Also if you have any tips or ideas on how to cheaply do networking (10gbase-T is not cheap, nor is FC, Each are $100/port for switches and $500+ for HBA's).

Lefthand VSA is not the fastest and has some serious flaws (no unmap) but the ability for it to do multi-site and network raid, snapshots with veeam support, ability to run VSA + vm's on same machine (Think 3 VSA's with JBOD or RAID-0) using network raid-5.

Main problem is networking ;) I wish you could use SAS as a target as it would be a super fast point to point.

PM ME bro, i'm sure we can work something out. If you have some links about your dl585 G7 setup i'd love to learn it. Specifically how you got all those ssd's and LSI controllers in that thing?!!

Perhaps some help to achieve similar DW results would be a fair trade?
 

dba

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I you want **massive** DW performance on the cheap, man do I have info to share with you! I'm getting 14,000MB/Second of scan speed from a single server - half a billion rows per second - with indexes turned off. I'll PM you my contact information and some info about the DL servers.

yeah I have 4 real lefthand (p4300 G2) - wanna buy? I'm trying to to do some DW and would love to hear about your success with those mad servers. I'm running into issues not getting full IOPS in esxi, even after tuning the settings to push the queue depth further.

Also if you have any tips or ideas on how to cheaply do networking (10gbase-T is not cheap, nor is FC, Each are $100/port for switches and $500+ for HBA's).

Lefthand VSA is not the fastest and has some serious flaws (no unmap) but the ability for it to do multi-site and network raid, snapshots with veeam support, ability to run VSA + vm's on same machine (Think 3 VSA's with JBOD or RAID-0) using network raid-5.

Main problem is networking ;) I wish you could use SAS as a target as it would be a super fast point to point.

PM ME bro, i'm sure we can work something out. If you have some links about your dl585 G7 setup i'd love to learn it. Specifically how you got all those ssd's and LSI controllers in that thing?!!

Perhaps some help to achieve similar DW results would be a fair trade?
 

dba

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Feb 20, 2012
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I only have eight 1TB 7200 RPM low performance drives installed right now, but I have begun testing.

First, I wanted to run some performance tests. I connected the array it to a C6100 node fitted with an LSI 9200-8e SAS host bus adapter. I ran one SAS SFF-8088 cable to each controller on the array. I then created one large RAID10 volume on the array and mapped it to all eight SAS ports as if it were part of a cluster. On the C6100 node I configured MPIO to "see" the drive through both ports to provide true multipathing.

Using IOMeter, I ran a few tests against a 5GB test file - big enough to overflow the array caches. Maximum IOPS was 49,000. Maximum read speed was around 580MB/Second and maximum write speed was 492MB/Second. These really aren't bad numbers for an array with a total cost of less than $1K including drives. The really cool part was next: While IOMeter was reading and writing through both controllers with a queue depth of 128, I unplugged one SAS cable, waited a minute, and then plugged it back in. I then repeated with the second cable. Speed dropped when a cable was unplugged of course, but there were zero errors. Nice!

The next step is to set up the VM cluster. My plan is to use three C6100 nodes as the Hyper-V 2012 VM cluster nodes attached to the array with the fourth C6100 node acting as destination for VM replicas for DR.
 

dba

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I bought 12 used 1TB MSA drives. Several of these started throwing errors, so I am returning the whole batch. Luckily, I found six brand new 1TB MSA drives (drive + sled + interposer) for just $60 each. I'll keep hunting for six more. The tests above were run with the eight used drives that did work properly.

What did you finally end up using for drive trays?
 

mrkrad

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why not stuff ssd's in this?

you know it does software raid-6? maybe even raid-5?

what about getting 3 of these running raid-0 and then stripe them raid-10 or raid-1E or raid-5 using those two controllers :) ?
 

dba

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Three of them? You are a madman! Actually, that's sort of what the HP X9300 scale-out storage cluster looked like: three of these arrays connected to two DL 380 server storage heads running the IBRIX filesystem. They called it a scale-out array since you can cluster multiple of them as you need more speed and/or capacity. Base price was $180K or so.

why not stuff ssd's in this?

you know it does software raid-6? maybe even raid-5?

what about getting 3 of these running raid-0 and then stripe them raid-10 or raid-1E or raid-5 using those two controllers :) ?
 

dba

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An update on this array after a week or so of use:

1) Power consumption isn't that bad - 1.6A when running full out.
2) No snapshots are included in the base license. Snapshot licenses are absurdly expensive.
3) Nice web GUI.
4) 1TB dual-port drives are surprisingly reasonable if you have patience. I bought six of them at $60 each with a 2012 manufacturing date - still under warranty! I found other new 1TB drives for $104 to $160 depending on whether they are Cheetah, Constellation, or Hitachi versions of the drive. These prices are a bit above the base price for a 1TB "enterprise" (midline) SATA drive, but remember that you get a fancy interposer sled that turns them into a dual-port drive.
5) I forgot how long it takes to format a large RAID-6 array! Three days!
 

Patrick

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Wow! That 1TB drive pricing is not bad at all. Can you swap larger capacity non-HP drives or locked firmware?
 

mason736

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Wow! That 1TB drive pricing is not bad at all. Can you swap larger capacity non-HP drives or locked firmware?
Hello, is there any update to this question? I have the opportunity to purchase a version of the HP p4300 mdl WITH 8 1tb drives included. If one of these drives goes bad, I was curious if I could replace it with an off the shelf WD RE4 SAS drive or other non-HP drives. Even possibly upgrading all 8 drives to 2TB SAS drives down the line
 

dba

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I assume so, but I can't say for sure - at least not yet. Another STH user may have some sleds that he's willing to trade or sell me, but right now I don't have any that I can use for testing. I'm hoping to test some Hitachi drives and some SSDs if I get a chance.

Hello, is there any update to this question? I have the opportunity to purchase a version of the HP p4300 mdl WITH 8 1tb drives included. If one of these drives goes bad, I was curious if I could replace it with an off the shelf WD RE4 SAS drive or other non-HP drives. Even possibly upgrading all 8 drives to 2TB SAS drives down the line