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A Few Observations Re. HP P222 HBA


WiteWulf
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As part of a long project to convert a bare-metal redpill DS3615xs install on an HP Gen8 Microserver to be virtualised in ESXi as a DS3622xs+ on the same hardware (without dataloss and/or rebuilding) with TCRP (covered in detail here) I recently bought and installed a used HP P222 HBA.

 

At a high level:

  • backed everything up
  • checked the backup
  • replaced the redpill USB stick with a TCRP one configured for the same DSM version
  • slowly worked through updating to the latest DSM version (7.0.1-42661-4 at the time)
  • updated the backup
  • installed ESXi on the internal SD card, with a 60GB SSD on the ODD SATA port to use as a datastore
  • created a new VM with the SATA HDDs on the internal B120i adapter (already in AHCI mode) in RDM mode
    • the above worked, but disk throughput wasn't great
  • installed the P222 card
  • switched it to HBA mode in ESXi and configured it as a passthrough PCI device
  • moved the SATA cable for the internal drive cage to the P222 card
  • connected a new 1x4 SATA cable to the B120i port and reconnected the 60GB SSD to port 1 (which is 6Gb/s, as opposed to 3Gb/s on the ODD port)
  • reconfigured the VM, removing the RDM disks and adding the P222 card as a passthrough device
  • added the hpsa driver to TCRP and tweaked the SataPortMap and DiskIdxMap settings to see the drives properly (not entirely successfully, but good enough)

 

Massive thanks to @Orphée @pocopico @scoobdriver @flyride and @Peter Suh for guiding me through the above!

 

I thought I'd got a good deal on it for £9 as it came without a cache card or back up battery, but didn't think I'd need these. It turns out the card's firmware permanently disables itself if no cache module is installed. So I had to buy a 512MB cache card and battery for £15 to get it working.

 

The easiest way to access the settings when you're on HP hardware's to be running the HP custom ESXi image that includes the management tools. You can also upgrade the firmware easily from the ESXi command line tools. It's a lot easier, and quicker, than using the HP Intelligent Provisioning tool imho. So, from the ESXi command line I was able to switch it from RAID mode to HBA mode.

 

https://www.hpe.com/us/en/servers/hpe-esxi.html

 

You may find these links useful for similar tasks:

https://kallesplayground.wordpress.com/useful-stuff/hp-smart-array-cli-commands-under-esxi/

https://wiki.polaire.nl/doku.php?id=hp_p222_configuration#hp_p222_configuration

https://forums.unraid.net/topic/91922-convert-hp-smart-array-controller-to-hba-mode/

 

One thing I noted from those pages is that the (now installed) cache can be split between read and write caches, but I couldn't get the cache to work in HBA mode. I suspect it only works when the card is in RAID mode and has some volumes configured to cache accesses for. It's annoying that I had to buy the cache module to get the card working, but can't actually use it in this configuration 😆

 

Lastly, *damn* this card runs hot! The iLO reckons it's at 85degC, way hotter than anything else in the system. This means the fans are now running at 30% and noticeably louder than they were before. The server sits in the AV cupboard in our lounge and is now too loud to stay there. Fortunately, the whole point of this project was to enable moving the server into a datacenter at work, so I don't care how much noise it makes there :) 

Edited by WiteWulf
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  • WiteWulf changed the title to A Few Observations Re. HP P222 HBA

There's a very long thread on the P222 operating temps (specifically in a Gen8) here:

https://homeservershow.com/forums/topic/6790-p222-temperature-in-gen8/

 

I've not got to the end of it yet, but the consensus appears to be: yes, they're hot, you need to run the fans on full and/or use an additional fan for the P222

Edited by WiteWulf
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