Supermicro sas2 expander chassi firmware update

jswede

New Member
Sep 3, 2019
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I recently bought some used enterprise equipment (supermicro storage servers) and cannot update the sas2 expander firmware. Updating to latest firmware for all other stuff went well without problems (Motherboards, HBAs).

For example, one of the servers is a SMC storage server 6027R-E1R12L, with a X9DRD-7LN4F-JBOD motherboard and a BPN-SAS2-826EL1 expander backplane, and a on-board LSI 2308 HBA flashed for IT mode. There are also 3 HBA cards, LSI 9207-8e for the jbod chassis. All HBAs runs in IT-mode

I have tried using the supermicro ExpanderXtools but it cannot find any expanders
ftp://ftp.supermicro.com/utility/ExpanderXtools_Lite/
Since the tool comes for Linux and windows, I have tried booting from centos, ubuntu 1804, 1204 (since I though perhaps an old OS would help) , and now also windows 10 (I borrowed my kids windows 10 hard drive since I seldom use windows :)
I have tried connecting the onboard HBA and the separate pci-x HBAs to the expander back plane. I have tried connecting to the backplanes of the SMC jbod chassis I have as well (the have the SAS2-EL2 backplanes, e.g. BPN-SAS2-846EL2)

But the result has always been the same "expander not found"

It seems i have tried all combinations now it seems (well not windows 7).
If anyone here have some tips or info I would be grateful!

Thanks!
Jim from Sweden

(one thing popped up in my head: Perhaps I need to downgrade one of the HBAs to an older firmware? Could this help you think?)
 

BlueFox

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2015
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Why do you need to upgrade the firmware on it? You're probably best off leaving it alone.
 

jswede

New Member
Sep 3, 2019
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Why do you need to upgrade the firmware on it? You're probably best off leaving it alone.
Fair question, should have written some text about that.

I see some strange things that perhaps could relate to SAS LSI expander firmware being mismatched with the SAS LSI HBA firmware.
For example, disk ordering (presentation) in freenas seems "buggy"; the boot pool disk is shown as "unused" and another disk among the storage disks are shown as boot pool (and this storage disk is thus missing when you create new pools/vdevs, at least when using the gui)

A question back: Are the firmware in the expanders typically updated when there are updates for the HBAs? (The LSI SAS HBAs have seen quite a few firmware updates over the years, but I have no record of expander firmware, I am new to expanders)

Thanks
 

raiderj

Member
Dec 27, 2014
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I've updated firmware on my HBAs several times over the years, but never on a backplane. My current expander is a BPN-SAS2-826EL1, would be interested to learn if there's a test/update I should perform on it.
 

BeTeP

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2019
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LSI expander firmware can contain bugs but there is no such thing as
LSI expander firmware being mismatched with the SAS LSI HBA firmware
The latest update for SAS2 generation of LSI SAS expanders is dated circa 2013 IIRC.
 

jswede

New Member
Sep 3, 2019
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I've updated firmware on my HBAs several times over the years, but never on a backplane. My current expander is a BPN-SAS2-826EL1, would be interested to learn if there's a test/update I should perform on it.
Ok, thanks for replying, good to know!
 

jswede

New Member
Sep 3, 2019
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LSI expander firmware can contain bugs but there is no such thing as


The latest update for SAS2 generation of LSI SAS expanders is dated circa 2013 IIRC.
Ok no possibility for mismatch!
That is interesting, care to elaborate? (I guess it has to do with the expanders being much "simpler" than HBAs, and more easy/"robust" to implement?)

Latest sas2 expander firmware was 2013, good to know - thanks!
 

BeTeP

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Mar 23, 2019
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I do not really enjoy explaining very basic things too much but here it is:

You are probably thinking about potential (and quite real) mismatch between LSI IOC driver and LSI IOC firmware versions. Which is different from the "mismatch" between LSI SAS expander firmware and LSI IOC firmware versions you invented.

The difference is that in the first case a single vendor (i.e. LSI) controls both sides (driver and IOC) so they are free to use a proprietary communication protocol and make any changes to it when they see fit. Obviously both sides have to support the same version of the protocol. Hence the potential mismatch.

In the second case the sides (SAS IOC and SAS expander) communicate using industry standard protocols. No single vendor controls it. If both sides are compliant - everything works as it should. If something is not working - the cause of the malfunction is called a "bug", not a "mismatch".

In other words, the mismatch is always user's fault. Vendors introduced the change and released the requirements for the upgrade. The user did not follow through.

The software bugs are vendor's fault. They released a non-compliant product.
 
Last edited:

jswede

New Member
Sep 3, 2019
6
1
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I do not really enjoy explaining very basic things too much but here it is:

You are probably thinking about potential (and quite real) mismatch between LSI IOC driver and LSI IOC firmware versions. Which is different from the "mismatch" between LSI SAS expander firmware and LSI IOC firmware versions you invented.

The difference is that in the first case a single vendor (i.e. LSI) controls both sides (driver and IOC) so they are free to use a proprietary communication protocol and make any changes to it when they see fit. Obviously both sides have to support the same version of the protocol. Hence the potential mismatch.

In the second case the sides (SAS IOC and SAS expander) communicate using industry standard protocols. No single vendor controls it. If both sides are compliant - everything works as it should. If something is not working - the cause of the malfunction is called a "bug", not a "mismatch".

In other words, the mismatch is always user's fault. Vendors introduced the change and released the requirements for the upgrade. The user did not follow through.

The software bugs are vendor's fault. They released a non-compliant product.
OK got most of it, thanks for explaining! (I am a more or less a newbie with this stuff, but interested to learn, so be nice :) )
So, a follow up question, if I may; is it so that the expander requires no driver? (the expander is just "relaying" data according to the old SAS2 standard protocol? that would explain the old firmware I guess? no need to update since no OS/driver dependency?)
 

jswede

New Member
Sep 3, 2019
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Update: I finally got the Supermicro ExpanderXtools_lite up and running (I used Centos 6.3 and you have to run smc and xflash as sudo). Contacted Supermicro support who kindly send me the latest firmwares with the correct mfg binaries for the different backplanes (Latest rev firmwares are 55.14.18.01 for BPN-SAS2-846-EL, and 55.14.18.0 for BPN-SAS2-847-EL and BPN-SAS2-826-EL, make sure you get the correct mfg binaries as well)

Installed freenas again and now the glitches I saw before are gone :) (for example, boot pool shows as "Unused").

Now I will need some some advice as how to configure pools for a good tradeoff between speed, robustness, etc. (98 drives in 3 jbods).
But I will post that question in the Freenas forum.

Thanks for replies/info!
 
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