Following theIntel SASUC8I and LSI SAS3081E-R 1068e Based RAID Controller Review which featured a LSI 1068e based Intel SASUC8I I have started to take a look at LSI SAS 2008 based controllers. One such controller I have been working with is based on the Supermicro X8SI6-F which has an onboard LSI SAS 2008 8-port SAS2 controller. This onboard controller is essentially a LSI 9211-8i RAID controller shipping with IR firmware. Since LSI’s IR firmware on the lower-end cards like Intel SASUC8I, LSI SAS8081E-R, and the 9211-8i is limited to RAID 0 and RAID 1, the IT firmware makes a lot of sense for those users looking to use OpenSolaris, Linux, or Windows Home Server to manage software RAID and redundancy.
The first step toward flashing the Supermicro X8SI6-F with LSI IT firmware is getting the firmware. For this, one can navigate to the LSI 9211-8i’s page and choose the appropriate package in the downloads section. Since I was flashing from a Windows 7 x64 Professional environment, I used the “Package for Firmware and BIOS Upgrade on MSDOS and Windows” on the downloads page dated 11 August 2010 and extracted three files to a directory C:\sasflash
The 2118.bin is the firmware (the original sasflash used .fw files for firmware), mptsas2.rom is the BIOS file and sas2flash.exe is the LSI flash utility. I did try flashing the controller using the same sasflash.exe application I used for the Intel SASUC8I to no avail. One needs the new sas2flash.exe application and like any flash utility, to make this all work one needs to run cmd.exe as Administrator in Windows 7.
As was discovered trying to flash the Intel SASUC8I using LSI firmware, my initial attempts at flashing did yield an error due to the fact that the Supermciro X8SI6-F’s onboard controller has a Supermicro vendor name instead of a LSI vendor name. Again all one needs to do is add a “-o” to the sasflash command line and everything works perfectly. Here is what the command and utility output looks like once the “-o” switch is added (the command for reference for the LSI Windows sasflash.exe utilityflashing both the firmware and BIOS is: “sas2flash -o -f 2118it.bin -b mptsas2.rom”):
That is all there is to it! I confirmed shortly thereafter that the onboard SAS2 controller does work with the HP SAS Expander when the onboard controller uses the IT firmware. Interestingly, with this motherboard plus a HP SAS Expander, there is enough connectivity for 40 drives+ (6x on the Intel onboard controller, 4x on the onboard LSI SAS 2008 controller, and 32x on the HP SAS Expander.)
[Ed. It seems like LSI decided to change the ability to flash IT firmware over IR firmware in later sas2flash.exe versions. See the LSI knowledgebase article if you have issues.]