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SAS HBA advice

Western Digital Drives - The Preferred Drives of FreeNAS and TrueNAS CORE

DanP.

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
9
Hi guys,

I've been reading a lot in this Forum. Thanks for all the information!!
I am building my first FreeNAS / TrueNAS (Core) soon and not sure yet about my SAS HBA controllers.

I've got these components already:
  • Supermicro X9SCM-F
  • Intel Xeon E3 1230v2
  • 32 GB ECC 1600 RAM
  • 6 x 6TB WD Red Plus
Case, PSU, Boot SSD and SAS controller still to buy.

Here in Germany it's not so easy to get a used LSI HBA's (9207 / 9211), which is recommended often.
There are a few Dell H310 SAS HBA's on ebay though.
  1. If I understand it correctly, they are identical to the LSI 9211 and use the same same chipset (SAS2008). Is that correct?
  2. The Dell H310 is recommended in the Hardware Guide, but LSI seems more popular. Are they better?
  3. I am planning to use only 6 drives now (1vdev) and get another 6 drives next year. Is it recommended to use 2 absolute identical HBA's? Or could I use a SAS2008 now and see what I can find next year, e.g a SAS2308. Can I use one Dell H310 and one LSI 9211?
  4. General question to used HBA's: Obviously I don't know the history of a used controller. If it fails, is there a risk of corrupting my data? Can I just replace the controller? Or would you recommend buying new ones?
Thanks in advance,
Daniel
 

HoneyBadger

Mushroom! Mushroom!
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
Messages
3,171
Hello and welcome. To answer your questions in order:

1. You are correct. The Dell H310 uses the same underlying chipset (LSI SAS2008) as the LSI 9211-8i. The physical layout, specifically the location of the SFF-8087 SAS ports, may differ slightly - ensure that your cables will reach the correct location, and if you are purchasing "breakout" cables make sure to use "forward breakout" that take the single SFF-8087 from your HBA and provide 4x drive connectors (with or without power)
2. In this case, because both cards use the same chipset, once the Dell card is flashed with the generic LSI IT mode firmware, there is no longer a functional difference.
3. You can absolutely mix-and-match HBA types; you should follow the proper firmware guidance for whichever one you choose though, which usually boils down to "flash the newest available generic LSI firmware." The SAS2008 is more than sufficient for spinning disks, but if the SAS2308 is available for a similar cost, they can offer better future-proofing and are newer overall.
4. A failing HBA could corrupt data; ZFS would identify this of course, but you might need to restore impacted files from backup. With regards to the safety of used devices, my chain of trust would be as follows:

A genuine LSI card purchased from a reputable vendor is first. (Generic Amazon or eBay resellers are NOT a reputable vendor.)
Second place would be an OEM card (eg: Dell or IBM) obtained new from the vendor.
Third place would be a used-pull OEM card from a server refurbishment company (eBay is valid here)
Fourth through ninth place would be various combinations of manually recording the data myself via chisel+stone tablet, pen and paper, or rote memorisation of 1's and 0's.
And in the very last would be any of the "Brand new in box buy now!" listings on Amazon or eBay, especially those originating from a region of the world known for disregarding intellectual property rights.

Personally I have used all of the top three options, with only one used-pull card failing (hardware failure) at approximately its seventh year of life. This resulted in a system downtime (as the disks could no longer be accessed) but no data loss.

Your system components so far also look very well-selected, and your overall system will be excellent at handling file/media services.
 

DanP.

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
9
Thanks for your detailed response!

I had found a few used controllers on ebay for about 40€, but from private users.
After your suggestion for server refurbishment companies, I found a big workstation company that sells the Dell H310 controller as new for 50€, so I will just go for that.

Thanks again!
 

HoneyBadger

Mushroom! Mushroom!
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
Messages
3,171
No problem! Make sure to check the Resources section for the guide on crossflashing the HBA to the official LSI firmware:


Enjoy!
 

ChrisRJ

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
307
What I found easily from German eBay sellers are IBM M1015 adapters, which are well liked for FN/TN and use LSI chips
 

DanP.

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
9
What I found easily from German eBay sellers are IBM M1015 adapters, which are well liked for FN/TN and use LSI chips
Yes, I found a couple of those as well. They are about 35€ to 70€ for used / refurbished ones.
 

ThreeDee

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2013
Messages
506
Yes, I found a couple of those as well. They are about 35€ to 70€ for used / refurbished ones.
I got mine for $25.66 US off of ebay ..it's been a great card .. running 4 SATA and 1 SAS on it right now

(quick ebay and looks like only the ones shipping from China are at that price now..) :confused:
 

rvassar

Neophyte Sage
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
624
I'm late to the thread but... I run a Dell H310 flashed to IT mode, on a Supermicro X9SCL, which is almost the same motherboard. It works quite well. I did need to replace the SFF8087 breakout cables to units with 90 deg locking ends, but this was a cable stress problem imposed by the case.
 

DanP.

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
9
I'm late to the thread but... I run a Dell H310 flashed to IT mode, on a Supermicro X9SCL, which is almost the same motherboard. It works quite well. I did need to replace the SFF8087 breakout cables to units with 90 deg locking ends, but this was a cable stress problem imposed by the case.
Thanks, good to know that they work well together. I need to order the breakout cables separately anyway. I'll check the space in the case first.
 

ddaenen1

Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2019
Messages
194
I have a Dell PERC H200e flashed in IT mode and that to date, this has worked like a charm.
 
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