M1015 HBA In the HP Gen8 Microserver

Here’s a quick overview on installing the IBM ServerRaid M1015 HBA (aka LSI SAS9220-8i) in the HP Gen8 Microserver.

ibm_serverraid_m1015_bracket

These cards can be bought for around $100 on ebay.  The HBA has two 6Gbps SAS ports (each port has 4 lanes, each lane is 6Gbps giving a theoretical maximum of 24Gbps per port and 48Gbps if using both ports).  A typical configuration for maximum performance is one lane to each drive using a SFF-8087 breakout cable.  With two of these cables this card is capable of running 8 drives.  You can run more drives with a SAS expander but I haven’t had a need to yet.  I typically flash it into IT (JBOD) mode.  This is a popular card for running ZFS, which is my use-case.

gen8_hp_microserver_sas1

The picture above shows the original location of the 4-drive bay SAS connector, you just need to move it to the HBA,  I didn’t have to re-wire it, there is plenty of slack in the cable so I just had to pull it to the M1015 and plug it in (below).

gen8_hp_microserver_sas2

At first boot all my drives were recognized and VMWare and all the guests booted up as normal.

hp_gen8_microserver_m1015_hba

Also, a few people have asked about mounting an extra drive in the ODD bay, here’s the power connection I think could be tapped into with a Y-splitter (below).

hp_microserver_odd_bay_power

Does this have an advantage over the Gen8 Microserver’s B20i SmartArray controller?   For a lot of setups it probably offers no advantage.  I probably wouldn’t do it in my environment except I already have a couple of M1015’s lying around.  Here’s what you get with the M1015.

  • In IT mode drives are hot-swappable.  No need to power-down to swap out a bad drive.
  • B20i only has 2 6Gbps ports, the other two are 3Gbps.  The M1015 can run up to 8 lanes (10 if you use the first two lanes from the B20i) in 6Gbps.  If you’re using the server as a NAS you’re more limited by the two single Gbps NICs so this shouldn’t be an issue for most setups.
  • The M1015 is known to work with 4TB drives, the Microserver only supports up to 3TB.
  • VMWare can be booted off a USB, but it needs at least one SATA drive to store the first VM’s configuration, so whatever SATA controller that drive is on can’t be used as a pass-through device.  So if you want to pass an HBA directly to a VM (which is a typical for Napp-it All-in-One setups) you can pass the entire M1015 controller to a VM which gives it direct hardware access to the drives (requires a CPU with VT-d).