FreeNAS with H800 and PowerVault MD1200t

Flapjack

Dabbler
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Mar 4, 2015
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22
I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to this question, but I'm hoping to get some insight from anyone else with this config.

I picked up a brand new, unused 36TB (12 x 3TB) PowerVault MD1200t for a steal ($1000), but I didn't have a card. Like a fool, I picked up an H800 from Ebay without even considering that it likely didn't do JBOD. When I realized it didn't support JBOD, I went off in search of the firmware to cross-flash it to whatever LSI variant the chipset was made for. Unfortunately, it seems like even the chipset itself doesn't support JBOD, so I'm in need of a new adapter. I ordered an LSI 9207-8e for now, since it was cheap ($37 shipped), but I'm not sure if that's the best choice. I can use the card in another system, so if anyone has a better recommendation, please shoot.

I still have a few questions, however:

1) Is there is anything particular I have to do to get this up in FreeNAS, or will the drives be presented to FreeNAS just like they do when connected to a cross-flashed H200 in IT mode?

2) This is a dumb one, but I can't find the answer to it. The MD1200t came with two external SAS cables. The H800 has two ports (as does the LSI). Do use both ports on the card connected to both "IN" ports on the two controllers? I'm pretty sure I want the MD1200 in "unified" mode, but all I have to go off of are the Dell diagrams, which always show it connected to an H800 (vs an LSI 9207-8e).

Thanks!
 

Ericloewe

Server Wrangler
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Feb 15, 2014
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20,194
1) Is there is anything particular I have to do to get this up in FreeNAS, or will the drives be presented to FreeNAS just like they do when connected to a cross-flashed H200 in IT mode?
There's nothing you can do. The disks will either work or not work. In the latter case, the best you can hope for are knobs in the expander firmware, probably accessible only with a Linux or Windows application.

2) This is a dumb one, but I can't find the answer to it. The MD1200t came with two external SAS cables. The H800 has two ports (as does the LSI). Do use both ports on the card connected to both "IN" ports on the two controllers? I'm pretty sure I want the MD1200 in "unified" mode, but all I have to go off of are the Dell diagrams, which always show it connected to an H800 (vs an LSI 9207-8e).
Assuming they don't do anything weird, you can use one or two connectors, for four or eight lanes, respectively.
 

Flapjack

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Mar 4, 2015
Messages
22
There's nothing you can do. The disks will either work or not work. In the latter case, the best you can hope for are knobs in the expander firmware, probably accessible only with a Linux or Windows application.
When you say there's nothing you *can* do, are you referring to running these with an H800? They're obviously not showing up now, but I'm assuming they'd show up if I put each drive in a single-decker RAID0 VD, which is obviously not what I want. I guess I'll try it tonight, just to check connectivity and such.

Assuming they don't do anything weird, you can use one or two connectors, for four or eight lanes, respectively.
What would they do "weird"? So each SAS cable is four lanes? That would just be both plugs to the "IN" port on each of the two controllers on the enclosure then?
 

Ericloewe

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When you say there's nothing you *can* do, are you referring to running these with an H800?
I mean specifically if they don't work with arbitrary SAS controllers.

They're obviously not showing up now, but I'm assuming they'd show up if I put each drive in a single-decker RAID0 VD, which is obviously not what I want. I guess I'll try it tonight, just to check connectivity and such.
Yeah, you can try that to validate that it's not broken.

What would they do "weird"?
The most evil of things, firmware. They could whitelist acceptable HBAs, for instance. They could force you to use a certain combination of ports with certain HBAs. They might only support dual-pathing and not eight uplink ports to a single HBA. And I'll stop giving them ideas now.

So each SAS cable is four lanes?
One SFF-8087/8088/8643/8644 cable carries four SAS channels plus sideband stuff.
 

Flapjack

Dabbler
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
22
Ok. I think I got it. The PowerVault itself may ignore a connection from a non-Dell SAS card. That would suck. If that happens, I guess I'll be stuck presenting some form of RAID arrays to FreeNAS. Not the end of the world, I guess.

I ordered the 9207, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for all the help!
 

Flapjack

Dabbler
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Mar 4, 2015
Messages
22
I got the LSI 9207-8e in today and all the disks are showing up. Thanks for all the help!
 

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zenon1823

Explorer
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Nov 13, 2018
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Flapjack,

Sorry to revive an old thread, I'm transition to the exact same setup, a MD1200 with a H200E crossflashed to 9207-8e, but I curious with one detail you didn't post the final details of.

I assume you kept the MD1200 in unified mode? What did you end up doing for a cable connection? a single 8088 cable from EMM0 to the 9207, or two cables - EMM0 & EMM1 to both ports on the 9207?

If you are using the 2 cable option, did you happen to confirm if the cables function as redundant path and/or if it provides a full 8 channels of throughput shared between all 12 drives?

Any other thoughts or comments after a year+ of use?
 
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