krumedia
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Contributor

ESXi 5.5 free - which RAID controller is best choice?

Hi,

i'm running a ESXi 5.5 free on a Supermicro X9DR3-F with an Adaptec RAID 6805.

The Controller was not(!) supported/recognizes by the standard Installation CD, so i had to create an ISO with an "offline-bundle" and powerCLI.

From time to time, the host crashes (freeze) and some aacraid-errors appear in the logfile (F12), so i'm now considering to switch to a better RAID controller. Unfortunately, the Compatibility-Guide of vmware said this 6805 Controller would be "inbox", means compatible with 5.5. But they were obviously wrong.

Therefore my question:

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good RAID Controller, (8 port for SATA-600 needed) which is absolutely compatible with the ESXi 5.5. free standard installation, which works stable and does not require any "ISO tricks" to install ??

thanks,

Michael

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JarryG
Expert
Expert

I had some problems with adaptec-controllers too, so I switched over to LSI some time ago. LSI is maybe not as good as Areca, but still good enough for me (and much better than Adaptec). I have used 4 various LSI-based controllers of 8xxx/9xxx series, they all worked with standard ESXi installation image (even those not on VMware HCL). Arrays were recognised and I could install ESXi and VMs, but at the end I had to install newer drivers, SMIS-provider and LSI-tools.

Original LSI-manufactured controllers are a little expensive, but one can buy re-marketed/OEM versions for quite good price (Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, Dell, etc) and still use the latest drivers/tools from LSI.

_____________________________________________ 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! 😉
krumedia
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Thanx, Jarry, so i consider to buy the LSI 9271-8i

What do you mean with "I had to install newer drivers"? How did you manage this with the Standard (free) ESXi version?

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JarryG
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I just downloaded new driver for my LSI-controller from LSI-web (the version for ESXi 5.x), uploaded to ESXi-datastore, connected to ESXi using SSH-client, and updated manually (with esxcli) the same way you can apply ESXi-patches on free ESXi. And I installed LSI-tools (MegaCLI and StorCLI) and SMIS-provider (so that you could see controller health-status).

Just FYI: you do not have to update driver, but I recommend it. LSI releases updated drivers frequently (iirc this year three versions already), solving various problems, adding features. It is worth the effort, and it takes just a few minutes. You do not even have to put ESXi off-line...

_____________________________________________ 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! 😉
krumedia
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Thanks. Jarry, so now i've finally bought an LSI 9271-8i with a Cache Protection. Gonna install it the next days...

Maybe one last question about "... and updated manually (eith esxcli) the same way you can apply ..." .

Well, i really didn't know that it's possible to update drivers, i thought this is something like a kernel-included-thing 🙂 so, when i enter the esxi with putty, i can just replace the driver file (in which directory) and eveything is still working fine? I did never apply any patch, before. Just used the SSH to copy and move VMs around.

Excuse my (maybe stupid) request - i'm just afraid of killing the machine and have two more days extra work..

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JarryG
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You'd better read this:

VMware KB: Installing patches on an ESXi 5.x host from the command line

It describes how you can install ESXi-patches (which you definitely should do, as sometimes they resolve serious problems, improve stability, add new devices/features, etc). You can not just replace driver, you have to install it using esxcli-tool. Steps are described on the above mentioned page. And the same way you can update drivers LSI-drivers, SMIS-provider, or LSI-tools (StorCLI/MegaCLI).

_____________________________________________ 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! 😉
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krumedia
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Now i'm prepared 🙂

Many thanks for your help, Jerry. (If ever our pathes cross, i'll get you a huge beer)

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