P420i and SSDs

javooooo

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Jun 15, 2018
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Hi all,

We're doing a Ceph build and are using some rather old HP DL360p gen 8 servers which have integrated P420i RAID controllers with 1GB caches and BBUs.

We're going to be filling these servers with Intel SSDs (most likely S4510 960GBs), but from Googling I'm a little concerned. Does anyone know if:

a) this card will work (and be stable) with the Intel SSDs that aren't HP-branded?
b) whether the card will be a bottleneck for getting the max speed out of these SSDs?

If the answer is yes, I'm considering putting a HBA card into each server. Are there any recommended cards that others have used in gen 8 servers? Would a HBA card (eg a LSI) mitigate the firmware compatibility issues of non-HP disks or is this a backplane issue?

Also curious whether this server would handle 12G disks with a 12G HBA, or whether the backplane is a bottleneck restricting everything to 6Gbps?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.
 
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sybreeder

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Oct 8, 2013
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I have DL380e Gen8 and use M5014 (LSI 9260-8) raid controller connected to the backplane - backplane is 6G only.
I will have today HP P420 at home that i've ordered to replace that LSI.
Generally with anything other than HP Branded that server just screams. Fans right now are set to 100% with mellanox 10g sfp+ and that LSI card so...
In case of Intel SSD - i have S3500 so i can connect it to that P420 today to test. But it should work. Right now i use 2 samsung SSD with integrated B120i in raid0 with no problem other than slow speed because of sata 3gb limitation.

Doesn't Ceph works best with HBA ?
 

Connorise

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Mar 2, 2017
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a) this card will work (and be stable) with the Intel SSDs that aren't HP-branded?
Should be just fine for this case.
b) whether the card will be a bottleneck for getting the max speed out of these SSDs?
It might be, in this case you can always go HBA with Ceph.
 

Patriot

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Apr 18, 2011
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450k iops is max for that controller, p430 can get you 1m... latest firmware on p420 should enable ssd smart path by default no key needed. The LSI HBA of that era max at 300-330k iops. If you really want to try something crazy... you can turn the p420 into pseudo hba mode.

hpssacli cmd -q "controller slot=0 show config detail”
hpssacli cmd -q “controller slot=0 modify hbamode=on forced"

and 6g backplane and well... Ceph is your performance limiter.
 
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tomaash

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Oct 11, 2016
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The SA P420 is pretty good raid controller, but sucks in hba mode. It does not do smart passthrough and as far as I can remember performance suffers a lot.

Good and cheap hba for gen8 servers is the H220, which is LSI 9205 or 9207 based.
 

Patriot

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Apr 18, 2011
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The SA P420 is pretty good raid controller, but sucks in hba mode. It does not do smart passthrough and as far as I can remember performance suffers a lot.

Good and cheap hba for gen8 servers is the H220, which is LSI 9205 or 9207 based.
Yes, it was mainly for the... unnamed scale out data centers that didn't want to waste the p420i (embedded)
and were using spinning rust not SSDs. You are correct, it is a hacked together hba mode, true hba mode doesn't come till p440 or just using a straight h220. The P420 with later firmware supporting smartpath.

Make sure if you enable smartpath to also enable drive cache... smart path does disable write cache, so if you have shoddy drives, it will show.
 

DanielWood

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Sep 14, 2018
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a) this card will work (and be stable) with the Intel SSDs that aren't HP-branded?
Should be just fine for this case.
b) whether the card will be a bottleneck for getting the max speed out of these SSDs?
It might be, in this case you can always go HBA with Ceph.

I had constant drive drops with RAID-1 Intel X-25M drives in my DL380P G8. Even had drops when I switched to HBA mode and did ZFS mirrored boot drives under Proxmox.

I was mixing SATA and SAS, so that could be a factor. Since I had H200s on hand, I just bypassed the P420i and have had no issues since. I did have to replace one of the SFF cables to reach the H200, but that was a 10 minute process.

You should be able to do the same thing and not trigger fan issues by using a HP H220. I haven't noticed much of a noise difference, but I am running the latest firmwares on everything including the LSI IT flashed H200.
 

Patriot

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Apr 18, 2011
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hello,

i can't use
hpssacli cmd -q "controller slot=0 show config detail”
hpssacli cmd -q “controller slot=0 modify hbamode=on forced"

how to force it. tks
If the command doesn't work, your recipe is too old, make sure you are on the latest firmware for the controller as well a current hpssacli.

I had constant drive drops with RAID-1 Intel X-25M drives in my DL380P G8. Even had drops when I switched to HBA mode and did ZFS mirrored boot drives under Proxmox.

I was mixing SATA and SAS, so that could be a factor. Since I had H200s on hand, I just bypassed the P420i and have had no issues since. I did have to replace one of the SFF cables to reach the H200, but that was a 10 minute process.

You should be able to do the same thing and not trigger fan issues by using a HP H220. I haven't noticed much of a noise difference, but I am running the latest firmwares on everything including the LSI IT flashed H200.
Sounds like a signaling issue, not all SSDs are certified to work on servers due to aggressive signaling requirements. I have noticed LSI controllers (of which the h220 is) to be more retry happy of signal integrity issues. Older sata drives are sort of iffy on ability to meet spec, while they are fine for direct connect 1' sata cables, backplane +20" cable not so much. 1" of pcb equals roughly 1' of cable as far as signal integrity is concerned. I remember M500's having issue staying at Sata 3 speeds and not dropping to Sata2.
 

arglebargle

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Jul 15, 2018
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I've been playing with a DL380p gen8 this week and I can add a bit to this. With current firmware I've had zero issues with the p420i in hbamode. Everything works, SMART pass through is flawless on both SATA and SAS drives and I've had no issues with dropped drives while running badblocks against 6 5tb SATA drives for 4 days and simultaneously slamming the two SSDs with max IOPS fio tests. I've run fio simultaneously on up to six separate SSDs (2 Samsung 850 pro, 2 SAS SanDisk Optimus and 2 STec S840s) without any hiccups at all.

Just wanted to throw it out there that the p420i at least is a totally viable HBA.

Totally stock setup here: onboard p420i, stock SAS cables to the 8 drive cage up front. I'm using whatever the cheapest carriers I could find on eBay are, I think they're legit HP.
 
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BThunderW

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Jul 8, 2013
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Thanks for the heads up. I've scored a few DL360p's on ebay for cheap and was looking to turn them into FreeNAS boxes for vmware san. I got the passthrough enabled but haven't had much chance to do real stress testing.
 

arglebargle

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Thanks for the heads up. I've scored a few DL360p's on ebay for cheap and was looking to turn them into FreeNAS boxes for vmware san. I got the passthrough enabled but haven't had much chance to do real stress testing.
Yeah, for sure. One thing I can also add is that if you're looking for more performance and you either don't need to boot off the drive bays or you don't mind using an internal USB/SD card for your boot partition you can drop a gen9 H240 in and hook the bays up to that instead of the onboard. I had some hiccups with the H240 firmware (6.88 wouldn't POST for me, 5.04 works fine) but I netted a pretty nice performance improvement (10-25%) on my SSDs for the $50 I spent on the new HBA.
 
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charlie

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Jan 27, 2016
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Hi,

I would share my experience with P420i (w 2GB FBWC) and Samsung PM883 1,9TB:

I used this command for testing (i always increased the numjobs, until when i got the max result), always booting from sysrescuecd 6.0.3 ISO:
Code:
fio --filename=/dev/sdb --direct=1 --sync=1 --rw=write --bs=4k --numjobs=1 --iodepth=1 --runtime=60 --time_based --group_reporting --name=journal-test
In HBA mode i got 5k IOPS, this was the worst.

In RAID mode, i put each disk in RAID0 (DWC always enabled). First i enabled SSD SmartPath, in this case i got ~7k IOPS. After i disabled smartpath, and cache was also disabled on volume, i got 15k IOPS. And finally i enabled cache for all volume with 100% write cache and now i got 175k IOPS with 8 jobs.
 
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StefanT

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Jun 8, 2020
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I have :

1 x HP DL 385p ( 2 x Opteron 6376, 8 x 8GB RAM, HP P420i RAID controller with 2GB mem & BBU, 2 SFP+ ports ( HP 530FLR-SFP+ ) + 2 SFP+ ports ( Intel X520-DA2 )
19 x 900GB HDD 6G SAS HGST
6 x 1TB SSD SATA Samsung 860 EVO
to be used with FreeNAS as storage for the HA Cluster.

What do you recommend for best performance? I will store only big files (images of VMs).
Should I use the P420i with the latest firmware passthrough enabled etc?
Should I use the P420 with 2 RAID5 (1 RAID5 with 6 SSDs, 1 RAID5 with 19 sas hdds) and ssd smart path ?
Ditch the P420i and use a H240?