IBM ServeRAID M1015 Part 3: SMART Passthrough on the LSI 9220-8i

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Posted December 22, 2011 by Pieter in Servers

One of the most popular SAS 6.0gbps/ SATA III controllers for enthusiasts is the IBM M1015. In its native form, it is a very capable host bus adapter (HBA) based on the LSI SAS2008 chip. With the low price on places such as ebay (see here for an ebay search for the M1015) and an enthusiastic community that has learned to unlock many features, it has quickly become a go-to choice for low-cost SATA III connectivity. This series of articles was written by Pieter Schaar perhaps best known as the one behind laptopvideo2go.com. He has been a regular contributor in the STH forums and has been detailing his learning in threads such as these. I do want to note that these modifications are not endorsed by this site, LSI, IBM or others and the information herein is purely for educational purposes. If you do encounter problems, you are solely responsible for those consequences.

There are now a few parts to this piece including:

SMART passthrough

Passthrough of SMART information is a big issue for some. In RAID SMART is not able to be passed through at all. At this stage TRIM is also not able to passthrough on LSI controllers in any setup. SMART is how ever able to  passthrough in Single Drive (JBOD) mode, but it does need an additional setting in the Smartctl monitoring application, I had to use the ‘-d sat’ command to allow it to find the drive and read the SMART info. This will need to be allowed for in Linux based servers

IBM M1015/LSI9240 controller

C:Program Files (x86)smartmontoolsbin>smartctl -a sdc -d sat
smartctl 5.42 2011-10-20 r3458 [i686-w64-mingw32-win7(64)] (sf-win32-5.42-1)
Copyright (C) 2002-11 by Bruce Allen, http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net

=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Device Model: OCZ-SOLID3
Serial Number: OCZ-JMVY052CY854YF72
LU WWN Device Id: 5 e83a97 f1b1ebc34
Firmware Version: 2.15
User Capacity: 60,022,480,896 bytes [60.0 GB]
Sector Size: 512 bytes logical/physical
Device is: Not in smartctl database [for details use: -P showall]
ATA Version is: 8
ATA Standard is: ACS-2 revision 3
Local Time is: Sun Dec 04 10:08:57 2011 NZDT
SMART support is: Available – device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

Smartctl is a very good utility to check on SMART called SmartCTL (link above) In Windows you can right click on drives to check the SMART settings/readings, very handy. Below are the Intel and Marvell controllers not needing the ‘-d sat’ option, I think it’s  due to them possibly being in the smartctl database.

Intel ICH10R controller

“C:Program Files (x86)smartmontoolsbinsmartctl.exe” -a C:
smartctl 5.42 2011-10-20 r3458 [i686-w64-mingw32-win7(64)] (sf-win32-5.42-1)
Copyright (C) 2002-11 by Bruce Allen, http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Model Family: Western Digital AV SATA
Device Model: WDC WD3200AVJS-63B6A0
Serial Number: WD-WMAT16120461
LU WWN Device Id: 5 0014ee 056410b70
Firmware Version: 01.03A01
User Capacity: 320,072,933,376 bytes [320 GB]
Sector Size: 512 bytes logical/physical
Device is: In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is: 8
ATA Standard is: Exact ATA specification draft version not indicated
Local Time is: Sun Dec 04 10:28:51 2011 NZDT
SMART support is: Available – device has SMART capability.
Enabled status cached by OS, trying SMART RETURN STATUS cmd.
SMART support is: Enabled

 Marvell 9128 Controller

“C:Program Files (x86)smartmontoolsbinsmartctl.exe” -a G:
smartctl 5.42 2011-10-20 r3458 [i686-w64-mingw32-win7(64)] (sf-win32-5.42-1)
Copyright (C) 2002-11 by Bruce Allen, http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Model Family: Fujitsu MHV
Device Model: FUJITSU MHV2100BH
Serial Number: NW9GT67281G2
Firmware Version: 0085002A
User Capacity: 98,522,403,840 bytes [98.5 GB]
Sector Size: 512 bytes logical/physical
Device is: In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is: 7
ATA Standard is: ATA/ATAPI-7 T13 1532D revision 4a
Local Time is: Sun Dec 04 10:31:38 2011 NZDT
SMART support is: Available – device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled
The Intel and Marvell controllers need no forcing for SMART. This is a plus for Intel and Marvell controllers.

ZFS and UNRAID and other Software OSs

Running the IBM M1015 in LSI9240 mode means that the drive has to be in a Virtual Disk or a JBOD. It cannot be ‘Unconfigered Good’ meaning an extra layer is added between the Drive and the OS So running in  LSI9240 mode is not recommended in this mode, I’ll cover running the M1015 in LSI9211 IR/IR mode in another article. The more hardware checking and attempting to fix errors the harder it is for these RAID specialised Applications to do their thing.

Linux Support

Ubuntu 11.10 works happily with the LSI9240, the drivers are build in, the drives show with no user input needed  I have not had the ability to check on other Linux or FreeBSD OS versions LSI has drivers for CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Mandrive, RHEL, Scientific Linux, SCO Openserver, Slackware, SLES, Ubuntu, Solaris, Netware and VMWare.

IBM ServeRAID M1015 Conclusion

Here are thoughts on whether buying a low-cost IBM M1015 is worth it for you:

  1. SAS2/SATA3 raw Speed – yes
  2. Running SAS drives – yes
  3. Running more than 6 drives but want them on same controller – yes
  4. Running RAID5 – no
  5. Running RAID0 in other than Windows – yes (Intel RST only works in Windows)
  6. Mainstream Windows use – no, Intel does a good enough job
  7. Home server use – yes, LSI has very good parity checking and ability to run Hot spares etc, Auto rebuilds etc
  8. ZFS/UNRAID etc – yes but only use in LSI9211-IT mode, to bypass RAID BIOS.
It has blazing raw performance, that Intel cannot match until it sorts out SATA3 over more ports. Now that I’ve played with this card and know it’s weaknesses and strengths I would like to use this solely to boot from with the 4x  SATA3 SSDs, but not in LSI9240 mode, LSI9211-IR mode does an even better job of raw speed (but not by much) But in LSI9211-IR mode I’ll have RAID and when adding a drive it will be available to the OS without any input (ie  setting to RAID0 or JBOD) I have the IBM M5015 cached proper RAID5/6/50/60 capable controller to build a spindle HDD file server. Of course I’m going to need a new Motherboard with more PCIe 16x/8x slots to house both cards and the GeForce GTX470 but when done a very powerful/fast/data safe machine has been build.

About the Author

Pieter

Pieter is perhaps best known as the one behind laptopvideo2go.com. He has been a regular contributor in the STH forums and has been detailing his learning, specifically in the area of LSI controllers on STH. He is quickly becoming the resident LSI controller guru.

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