pcesolutions
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Contributor

ESXi 5.5 and RAID problem

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So I have an ESXi host and RAID problem with an Intel Server S1200V3RP motherboard. Basically the problem is that the ESXi 5.5 host isn't recognizing the RAID array I setup with the integrated utility. See images below for what I mean.

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I did some digging and my research has pointed me to the possibility that this raid controller on the Intel server isn't actually a hardware controller but a piece of embedded software using the computer as the controller. My research tells me basically that ESXi is super picky and does not play well with fake RAID. Granted I could be wrong about that but the behavior from ESXi and every website I've found says this might be the case. I've tried embedding the storage and RAID drivers into the ESXi iso, I've tried updating the BIOS chipset with the Server Deployment and Management disk, and I've tried mounting a USB with the drivers but nothing seems to resolve this particular problem.

Since ESXi won't recognize the array as anything other than dedicated disks I tried some inventive work around by switching to ACHI mode on BIOS and installing ESXi 5.5 host on a dedicated disk (volume 0). Then I switched back to RAID and used the Rapid Intel Storage Management utility to configure a RAID5 from the three remaining disks. This appeared to work fine and I was able to access the ESXi environment from vsphere. However I couldn't see the RAID volume still on vsphere storage.

I schemed a plan where I would load up the disks as individual data stores on the host and through a virtual machine server use the disk management utility or an alternative program to RAID the 3 hard disks together so they appear as a single volume. However when I booted the system back up it appeared as though the integrity of the RAID5 degraded after adding each drive separately (probably because it had to load up a VMFS onto each drive thereby breaking the array). So this probably won't work (and even if it could it's probably needlessly complex).


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So yeah I really do not have any clear idea of where to proceed to get the integrated RAID controller to be read by ESXi. I was told there may be compatibility problems between VMware and my Intel server model but I checked and its on its approved compatibility list so that couldn't be it. I guess I could just stick with dedicated disks and load up the HDDS as individual data-stores, then use software RAID through a virtual machines - but I am worried about how redundancy will behave when one disk eventually fails (could I just swap them out like a hardware raid?). I'm always told that software RAID (particularly disk management on windows server) smb read and write speed is terrible when compared to RAID hardware.

Anyone know a solution to this problem or where I could go from here?

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MKguy
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

I did some digging and my research has pointed me to the possibility that this raid controller on the Intel server isn't actually a hardware controller but a piece of embedded software using the computer as the controller. My research tells me basically that ESXi is super picky and does not play well with fake RAID.

ESXi isn't "super picky" here. These kind of fake-RAIDs that are so common on desktop and entry-level server boards rely on specific OS drivers provided by the hardware vendor to actually work. And vendors basically only provide Windows drivers in the first place. Any other non-Windows OS would face the same issue. Try installing a Linux and you won't see your RAID volume either.

Yes, your motherboard is not using a true independent hardware RAID but a cheap software/fake-RAID controller. See the Intel site:

http://ark.intel.com/products/71385/Intel-Server-Board-S1200V3RPS

RAID Configuration    Software RAID RST (0,1,10,5) and ESRT2 (0,1,10)

-- http://alpacapowered.wordpress.com

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gregsn
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

If you value your data and datastore performance, buy a hardware raid controller with battery/flash backed write cache.  If you're on a tight budget, check eBay.  LSI and Adaptec are common brands compatible with ESXi.

JarryG
Expert
Expert

Raid-controller on S1200V3RP is *not* true hardware raid controller, so it is not supported by ESXi (and never will be, for good reasons). Your motherboard is supported, but this so called "raid-controller" not. It does not matter what you do, ESXi will always see only independent disks...

Get true solid hardware raid-controller. If you can not afford original LSI (they are sometimes expensive as hell), try oem-models (i.e. IBM, Fujitsu, Intel, Dell). Sometimes they are cheaper and better equipped. I got new IBM M5016 (which is basically OEM-model of LSI 9266-8i) with super-capacitor for ~250€. Works like charm on my s1200 mobo, esxi reports its health-status, I'm flashing it with original LSI-firmware, and managing it with LSI-tools (IBM is always 2-3 version behind)...

_____________________________________________ If you found my answer useful please do *not* mark it as "correct" or "helpful". It is hard to pretend being noob with all those points! 😉
MKguy
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

I did some digging and my research has pointed me to the possibility that this raid controller on the Intel server isn't actually a hardware controller but a piece of embedded software using the computer as the controller. My research tells me basically that ESXi is super picky and does not play well with fake RAID.

ESXi isn't "super picky" here. These kind of fake-RAIDs that are so common on desktop and entry-level server boards rely on specific OS drivers provided by the hardware vendor to actually work. And vendors basically only provide Windows drivers in the first place. Any other non-Windows OS would face the same issue. Try installing a Linux and you won't see your RAID volume either.

Yes, your motherboard is not using a true independent hardware RAID but a cheap software/fake-RAID controller. See the Intel site:

http://ark.intel.com/products/71385/Intel-Server-Board-S1200V3RPS

RAID Configuration    Software RAID RST (0,1,10,5) and ESRT2 (0,1,10)

-- http://alpacapowered.wordpress.com
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pcesolutions
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks so much. I had already my suspicions this was not a real hardware RAID controller but my boss wanted to be absolutely sure before we proceeded to our next step.

Thanks for all the helpful and speed replies. Nice to know I was on the proper track

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