One deal recently brought to our attention was for the IBM ServeRAID M1000 Advanced feature key. These are listed on ebay for $59.95 with $8.50 shipping in the US or best offer. Generally, the IBM ServeRAID M1000 series advanced feature key sells for $110-$130 so the ebay offering is for about half of the normal price. IBM’s ServeRAID LSI-based controllers usually have a reduced feature set from LSI branded cards. The companies use feature keys, such as the IBM ServeRAID M1000 series advanced feature key to add functionality to existing cards. The IBM ServeRAID M1015 is an extremely popular disk controller as it is inexpensive and based on the LSI SAS2008 chipset. Normally it does not support RAID 5 or RAID 50. This site has guides which show how to flash the IBM ServeRAID M1015 firmware to the LSI SAS 9211-8i firmware or the SAS 9240-8i firmware. The latter gains RAID 5 and RAID 50 support. That does fundamentally change the cards firmware. Some people are not comfortable flashing cards because there is a risk to losing the cards. Using the advanced feature key is a way to upgrade controllers without needing to flash the cards.
Here’s a quote regarding what the key does.
“The IBM “ServeRAID M1000 Series Advance Feature Key offers a cost-effective RAID 5 and SED upgrade for enterprise-class RAID solutions and integrates emerging SAS technology into an organization s storage infrastructure. It is ideal for supporting server mission-critical applications where high levels of sustained read and write operations are required such as video streaming Web content video-on-demand security and surveillance fixed content and reference data storage. The M1000 Series Advance Feature Key adds RAID 5 50 with SED support to your enterprise storage architecture.”
For those wondering, SED is used in the storage industry to mean “self encrypting drive.”
Overall, I think many users will still prefer flashing the IBM ServeRAID M1015 to LSI 9240-8i firmware. There are some users that have issues getting motherboards capable of flashing cards. For those users, it may make sense to just put an offer in on these IBM ServeRAID M1000 advanced feature keys. Doing so means they do not have to worry about finding a working platform or potentially bricking a card from a poor flash. One should also note that without onboard write cache, performance is generally not the best with RAID 5 and RAID 50 on LSI SAS2008 based cards. For those wanting to use RAID 5 or RAID 50, I would generally look at just getting an IBM ServeRAID M5014 or better. Also, for those wondering, the IBM ServeRAID M1015 generally sells for around $75 for bargain shoppers so the total cost should be less than $140.