HP SAS Expander Wiki

odditory

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Dec 23, 2010
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The HP SAS Expander is a game changing device for home media storage enthusiasts and business customers alike - combine it with a low-cost RAID or HBA adapter and you've got 32 ports of harddisk connectivity for only a few hundred dollars.

Overview: The HP SAS Expander is based on the PMC Sierra PM8005 SAS-2 chip which features 36 x 6Gbps ports and 6G/3G multiplexing, SAS 2.0 zoning, self-configuration, table-to-table routing, and an integrated MIPS processor for SES and enclosure management support. Full specs here: http://www.pmc-sierra.com/products/details/pm8005/

FAQ

Q: What's so special about this card?
A: The PM8005 chip has proven to be more compatible in more HBA/Drive configurations than previous generation expanders like the LSI-based Chenbro CK series. While HP intended this card be used in their enterprise products (HP Proliant servers, etc) the card is driverless and essentially "universal" since it follows SAS/SAS-2 specs and can be used with non-HP branded RAID and non-RAID HBA cards. What's unique is the ability to connect 32 drives at a relatively low cost, when combined with a low cost 4 or 8 port RAID or non-RAID HBA.

Q: Where do I purchase this card and why do I want the green card and NOT the yellow card?
A: There are multiple hardware versions of this card, available from Amazon, ebay, etc. The yellow PCB version is the oldest hardware revision, has a smaller heatsink, and CANNOT be flash upgraded from its v.0.20. The green PCB cards are the newer hardware revision. I've bought green PCB cards from ebay and they came with firmware v1.00. I've bought a card from Amazon and it came with v1.52. Shipping firmware will depend how old your source's inventory is. To work correctly at 3Gbps with newer SATA2 drives you need firmware v1.52 firmware or higher. Click thumbnail to see a side-by-side of both cards. DO NOT buy the yellow PCB card, it is useless and will not work.



Q: How do I install the HP SAS Expander and what are the power requirements?
A: The card needs an x4 PCIe slot on a motherboard and draws 11 watts of power. The card doesn't require software drivers, it is invisible to the operating system and motherboard. A common dilemma is people needing to use this card in an empty chassis like a Norco RPC-4220 to create a JBOD enclosure. Some people have resorted to using an old motherboard serve as a power source and ON/OFF switch for the chassis - such a solution costs significantly less than buying a prefab expander chassis. Unfortunately this card has no external 4-pin Molex power connector like the Intel RES2SV240, another highly recommended SAS expander card, but in exchange you're getting 36 ports instead of 24 on the Intel.

Q: How do I connect harddisks to the HP SAS Expander?
A: There are 9 ports total which can connect four harddisks each. The external SFF-8088 port is Port #1. The internal SFF-8087 are Port #2 through Port #9. I recommend populating drives beginning with internal Port #2. To uplink the expander to your RAID/HBA, connect to Port #8 on the expander with an SFF-8087 cable from your RAID/HBA. If your RAID/HBA has an external SFF-8088 connector, connect to Port #1 on the expander with an external SFF-8088 cable.



Q: How many cables do I need to connect the HP SAS expander to my RAID or HBA card?
A: You only need 1. However some newer SAS-2 based RAID and HBA cards support link aggregation with two SFF-8087 cables connected between the RAID/HBA and ports #8 and #9 on the expander, effectively doubling bandwidth.

Q: How many harddisks can you attach to the HP SAS expander?
A: Up to 32. I've stress tested various configurations including a RAID6 array with 32 x 1Tb drives and had no issues.



Q: Why do I need firmware 1.52 or higher on the HP SAS Expander?
A: The most notable change in firmware 1.52 brought upgraded SAS/SATA speeds from 3Gbps/1.5Gbps to 6Gbps/3Gbps respectively. Most newer harddisks ship defaulted to 3Gbps, and for compatibility and performance reasons firmware 1.52 or higher is recommended.

Q: How do I update the firmware on the HP SAS Expander?
A: A flash update requires a newer HP branded RAID card- P212, P410, P411, or P712. If you have a green PCB card with lower than firmware v1.52, you can post in this thread and someone may be able to flash it for you.

Q: Which RAID adapters, HBA cards and motherboards have been tested with the HP SAS Expander?
A: In general if your card is SAS compliant and vendor specs state that it supports expanders, it *should* work, but there are some exceptions. In general if your card is SAS 2.0 compliant it should also support dual-linking (2 x SFF-8087 uplinks). The following devices were tested by me personally unless stated otherwise.

RAID Adapters
Areca ARC-1880 series: YES (dual linking supported)
Areca ARC-1680 series: YES
IBM M1015: YES (SAS2008 based card, dual linking supported)
3ware 9690SA Series: YES (verified by SeanG)
Highpoint 4320 SAS: YES (verified by Dgephri)
Adaptec 5085: No
Adaptec 5805: No
HP P212, P410, P410i, P411, P411i, P712: YES* (requires minimum of 256MB cache on RAID controller card)

Non-RAID HBA cards
LSI SAS 9211-4i, 9211-8i: YES (dual linking supported on 9211-8i model)
LSI SAS3081E-R: YES
Intel SASUC8I (cross-flashed to LSI 1068e firmware): YES
Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8: YES
SuperMicro AOC-USAS-L8i: YES (Confirmed by Tau)
Areca ARC-1300-4X: YES (Not recommended due to mediocre performance and no SMART passthrough)
Adaptec 1045 (1 x SFF-8088): No
Adaptec 1405 (1 x SFF-8087): No

Motherboards
Supermicro X8SI6-F (LSI SAS2008): YES (Dual Linking supported)
Supermicro X8DTH-6/X8DTH-6F (LSI SAS2008): YES (Dual Linking supported)
Supermicro X8DT6/X8DT6-F (LSI SAS2008): YES (Dual Linking supported)
Supermicro X8DA6 (LSI SAS2008): YES (Dual Linking supported)

*Note: In theory any motherboard with the LSI SAS2008 chip should work, especially when the SAS chip BIOS is cross-flashed to the latest LSI 9211-8i "IT" firmware.

KNOWN ISSUES
1) HP SAS Expander will only negotiate SATA-III harddisks at 3G (SATA300) even though it is capable of 6G (SATA600). It does however negotiate SAS disks at 6G.
2) In combination with an Areca 1880 series controller, certain Western Digital harddisks (Velociraptor, etc) when configured in a raid volume will cause Areca boot-time firmware initialization to hang when connected to the HP SAS Expander. This is an issue Areca needs to resolve, but something to be aware of.

* CHANGE LOG *

3/23/2011: Added KNOWN ISSUES section
3/9/2011: IBM M1015 (SAS2008) added to HCL
2/28/2011: New firmware 2.08
10/23/2010: Confirmed several Supermicro motherboards with integrated LSI SAS2008 chip supported
10/23/2010: Added motherboard section to HCL.
10/15/2010: Confirmed dual-linking supported with LSI 9211-8i More info here.
10/10/2010: Confirmed dual-linking supported with Areca 1880i. More info here.
10/9/2010: Areca ARC-1880 series added to HCL
10/8/2010: LSI SAS 9211-xx series added to HCL
10/7/2010: Intel SASUC8I and LSI SAS3081E-R added to HCL
10/6/2010: LSI SAS 9211-xx series added to HCL
 
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Patrick

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Dec 21, 2010
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Nice. I want to see odditory's fan mod. Heat is one thing that these expanders are certainly vulnerable to.
 

nitrobass24

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Dec 26, 2010
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I do have a question about Dual-linking. Currently i have my 1880-ix12 dual linked using ports 8+9 on the expander. Anything wrong with that?
 

bookmage

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Feb 27, 2011
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I can confirm the Dell 6Gbps HBA works with this card. I think dual linking works too, but I've yet to test it... how would I test the dual linking aspect other than plugging it it to 2 ports and not seeing any errors?
 

Patrick

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Dec 21, 2010
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I can confirm the Dell 6Gbps HBA works with this card. I think dual linking works too, but I've yet to test it... how would I test the dual linking aspect other than plugging it it to 2 ports and not seeing any errors?
On that setup, you may have to use SSDs if you are running at 6.0gbps. A single link is 24gbps and getting 48gbps from 16 ports will not be easy.
 

odditory

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Dec 23, 2010
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Yes, there's no such thing as a 9220-8i (I know its printed on the back of the IBM M1015 but if you ask LSI they'll tell you there's no such product as the 9220-8i). The IBM M1015 is an OEM variant of the 9240-8i, both of which are based on the SAS2008 chip. It's all covered in another thread.
 

lazy7689

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Mar 11, 2011
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Is there anyone that can help me out with updating my card's firmware? I'm in the Pasadena, CA area if it makes any difference.
 

lazy7689

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Mar 11, 2011
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I'm not sure and I don't think I can check it myself, but I purchased it in the middle of Feb, before this latest update, from Dustin on [H]. I know that you cross-post so you might know of my problem, but basically I have an AOC-SASLP-MV8 that doesn't seem to work in conjunction with the HP SAS expander. Although I can't confirm that this update will fix the problem, since I don't get a print out of what kind of errors the expander is giving the MV8, I am getting time out errors when I boot. I have not been able to boot while trying to make use of the expander but I can boot with it installed but no drives hooked up to it.

I just made up my mind that it wasn't working out for me and was going to throw more money into my server, but this has given me some hope.
 

PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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I don't know "who confirmed", but I can confirm that I am running the M1015 with an HP SAS expander and 20 SATA drives (10 Hitachi 5k3000 2GB and 10 Seagate 7200.11 1.5GB).

HP SAS expander firmware 2.06
M1015 flashed with LSI 9240-8i firmware, Dec-10 release (don't have version # handy)
M1015 dual-linked to HP SAS expander
SM X8SIA-F BIOS 1.0b
Xeon x3460
ESXi 4.1 Hypervisor, M1015 passed through
SE11 with LSI Megaraid driver version 3.03
 
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