IBM ServeRAID M1015/LSI MegaRAID 9220-8i - Maximum HDD Size

hormone120

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Sep 30, 2013
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Hi,

I recently managed to acquire a relatively lightly used IBM X3200 M3 server for low $$$ and intend to use it for the standard range of home server duties. I’m very new to all things RAID and servers in general and am looking for some advice.

The server came with an IBM ServeRAID M1015/LSI MegaRAID 9220-8i SAS/SATA controller, 12GB RAM and 3 x IBM/WD 250GB SATA HDDs. Additionally, the M1015 appears to have the little Advanced Features Key installed on it, so I’m assuming I’ll be able to configure drives in RAID 5.

The existing HDDs aren’t large enough for my storage requirements, so I purchased 3 x 3TB WD Red NAS drives. I intend to use these in RAID 5, combined with a 64GB SSB I have lying around to run the OS.

HDD bays 0, 1 and 2 were working when I first got the server. Unfortunately, a couple of the bays (Bays 2and 3) appear to not be recognising the new WD Red drives when I insert them (I was pretty careful using the hot swap caddies). I’ve swapped the drives around and I don’t think any of the new HDDs are DOA. I re-seated connections from the SATA controller to the drive cage with a little success (it’s now seeing bay 3 but not bay 2). When I get time I’ll try and troubleshoot this hardware issue more; however, assuming I can fix it, that’s not really my problem.

When the UEFI does recognise the 3TB WD Reds, it only sees 1.99TB of them. Is this a limitation of the M1015 or its firmware? As above, I intend to run the server on Ubuntu 12.04LTS with a GUI (I want a GUI, given my low level of competency with CLI). My preference was to run Ubuntu on the SSD and a large storage volume in hardware RAID 5 (why use software RAID when you have a hardware controller, right??). The M1015 is running firmware version 2.0.14-0902, which is no doubt quite old. If I flash to a newer version, will I get to the practical maximum available for my new HDDs? If so, how do you do it? I’ve had a bit of a cast around for a tutorial but can’t find anything simple enough for a noob like me to follow. Can any one walk me through the process in bite-sized, single-syllable chunks?

If flashing will not work, are there any other options? What’s this passthrough I’ve seen. Would that allow me to see the full volumes in Ubuntu and apply a software RAID solution?

Hoping for some help.
 

sotech

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Jul 13, 2011
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We use M1015s in IT mode with 4TB drives without issue - the full available capacity is shown to the OS. One of the chaps who uses IR mode might be able to chip in when they see this, but I've never had issue with a SAS2008 chipset card (like the M1015/9201-8i) and drives above 2TB behaving properly. Are the drives MBR or GPT? The issue could be that and not the card.

Not sure about the performance of M1015's raid5 vs. mdadm/zfs raid5/equivalent... unless you have an anemic CPU behind it all.
 

hormone120

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Sep 30, 2013
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Sorry sotech, missed your questions above and have been away from internet access for a few days.

In short, I don't know. I installed the drives and, upon first boot out of the anti-static packet, the UEFI recognised them as 1.99TB drives. I then had to configure so that any OS can see them. Based on that, I'm assuming they must be MBR. A linux live CD also only shows 2TB; however, I think that's because of what the M1015 sees. Do they format them at the factory?

I haven't done much research yet; however, how would I find out whether they are MBR of GPT? How can I change them?
 
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cptbjorn

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Aug 16, 2013
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I'm running an M1015 with IR firmware in a DL180 G6 with ESXi 5.5 installed. 4TB Samsung and Hitachi disks are recognized by ESXi as 4TB, and passed through to a CentOS VM which also recognizes them as 4TB. I'm pretty sure they also showed as 4TB when I booted to the RAID config but I'm not 100% sure on that one - sounds like you just need to update firmware.
 

sotech

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Jul 13, 2011
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Sorry sotech, missed your questions above and have been away from internet access for a few days.

In short, I don't know. I installed the drives and, upon first boot out of the anti-static packet, the UEFI recognised them as 1.99TB drives. I then had to configure so that any OS can see them. Based on that, I'm assuming they must be MBR. A linux live CD also only shows 2TB; however, I think that's because of what the M1015 sees. Do they format them at the factory?

I haven't done much research yet; however, how would I find out whether they are MBR of GPT? How can I change them?

For Ubuntu Server it's gdisk, from memory, and in Windows you can do it via Disk Management.
 

hormone120

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Sep 30, 2013
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I just configured one of the drives as JBOD in the BIOS tool (still sees it as 1.999TB). I loaded a CEntOS 6.4 Live CD and opened the Disk Utility. I had used this drive as /home and /swap partitions for a previous Ubuntu install (on this server). The drive shows up as 12GB swap and 2.2TB of Ext4 (which is what I created earlier) and GUID as the partition type.

I guess this means the problem is more likely to be the M1015's firmware?
 

Jeggs101

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Dec 29, 2010
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This should not happen. The M1015 is LSI SAS 2008 based so it can handle larger than 2TB drives
 

mobilenvidia

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Sep 25, 2011
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LSI added >2.2TB support very early on in Firmware (ie many years ago) unless you have an ancient FW this should not happen on a M1015

What FW version you running ?
Are you using the LSI WebBIOS (CTRL+H at boot?) to configure the drive as 'Unconfigured Good' ? (JBOD), shouldn't even matter LSI BIOS should see the entire drive no matter what it's configured as.
Do a Factory reset via the WebBIOS

Are WD Red 4k sectored ?
I have only 2TB WD 4k Green but formatted to 512B sectors, so can can't testy 4k sectors over 2.2TB
Wonder if this might be the issue
 

sboesch

Active Member
Aug 3, 2012
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Columbus, OH
I have 2 ibm servraid m1015's crossflashed with the 9211-8i firmware in IT Mode. It sees my 3TB disks fine. mobilenvidia may be on to something, it sounds like you have old firmware.
 

hormone120

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Sep 30, 2013
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When the WebBIOS tool starts and asks you to select which adaptor to configure (I only have one choice) it says the FW version is 2.0.14-0902.

If you leave the boot process run (ie you don't run WebBIOS) it says that the M1015 FW is 4.14.00 from 29 Jan 2010. Either way the FW is old and should be flashed.

When I am in WebBIOS regardless of whether the drives are unconfigured good, JBOD or configured in an array of some kind, they are seen as 1.999TB drives.

Here's where you guys need to speak to me one CLI command at a time :) I'm happy to flash the card; however, I'm not sure of the process and I can't find a tutorial that talks me through the process at my simplistic level.

In terms of the drives and 4K sectors, I'm not sure. I unpackaged them, put them in hot-swap caddies and loaded them into the server. I'll have to check the factory specs.
In terms of flashing the BIOS, how do I do this? What is the difference between IR and IT mode?
 

Screedo

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Sep 14, 2013
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Hello!

I'm kinda stealing this post some, hope it's OK.

I have the same raid controller IBM ServerRaid M1015, flashed to sas2008 in IT mode and my question is how many hdd's can you connect to this card flashed with sas 2008 firmware?

With original firmware you can connect up to 16 harddrives Connects to up to 16 SAS or SATA drives i'm wondering if this is the same or I can connect more hdd's to this card now?

Reason i'm asking is if I should sell my IBM M1015 and buy a LSI SAS 9211-8i which handles up to 256 Non-RAID SAS/SATA devices , of course I need a raid expander for connecting more than 8 hdd to any of the cards.

I'm using my controllers with Nas4Free.

Sources:

IBM Redbooks | ServeRAID M1015 SAS/SATA Controller for System x
LSI SAS 9211-8i Host Bus Adapter

/Patrik
 

mrkrad

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2012
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I guarantee you can f*** up the card big time by flashing backwards where in you end up with an old boot struct and a newer firmware. It won't flash back nor forward any more. Only a person with jtag or some SMD rework can pop the rom off and fix it. It will still function oddly but LSI megaraid cards with old firmware have some serious issues :)

I could have sworn with megascu you can flip the jbod mode on some of these cards so they can pass through jbod drives as well as raid configured drives?


either way, you have 8 sas ports, with a compatible sas expander you can run more, but i'm not a fan of sas expanders. They are tricky at best.