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Disabling RAID feature on HP Smart Array P400

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I'm planning to use ZFS on my system (HP ML370 G5, Smart Array P400, 8 SAS disk). I want ZFS to manage all disks individually, so it can utilize better scheduling (i.e. I want to use software RAID feature in ZFS).

The problem is, I can't find a way to disable RAID feature on the RAID controller. Right now, the controller aggregates all of the disks into one big RAID-5 volume. So ZFS can't see individual disk.

Is there any way to acomplish this setup?

Answers

If you simply delete the volume in the RAID BIOS that exposes the disks directly in some versions of the SmartArray controllers. We always use the controller even with things like ZFS.

It is not possible to disable the RAID functionality of HP Smart Array controllers.

A common "solution" to this problem is to create single-disk RAID-0 volumes at the controller level. This is not a good solution and is not equivalent to a JBOD arrangement. There's RAID metadata on the disks, and the failures will produce unexpected results.

In this case, be careful with the Smart Array P400 single-disk RAID 0 setup. If you have a hotplug event (disk failure/drive removal), ZFS won't recognize the new disk without a reboot. There's no true JBOD setting on these cards.

Using a dedicated SAS HBA is the right path.

It should also be noted, just because I just killed 7TB of data by following LapTop006's, well, lets call it "personal opinion", that a P400 Controller would expose unassigned disks as JBOD, that this is nothing but a guess, and it is false, at least for my P400. There may be other controllers behaving like LapTop006 said, the P400 does not, at least not with the original firmware (V2.75).

I learned this the hard way today when trying to bring over a 6 disc software RAID-5 from a machine with a faulty 6 channel SATA RAID controller. They had always been part of a software RAID, the RAID functionality of the ICH9 "Fake" RAID controller had never been used anyway.

The target machine didn't have enough SATA ports, so I thought, well, no problem, it is a SOFTWARE RAID anyway, why not attach the disks to a P400, the disks would - if the controller behaved like stated - appear as JBOD, and the OS would - like it had done many times before when I moved software RAIDs from one machine to another - recognize the RAID.

In my case, however, the P400 did recognize the disks as new and - without seeking my confirmation - it did auto-create a RAID-5 array at the controller level as soon as I powered up the computer. Bye-Bye software RAID.

I brought the disks back to the original machine, but the RAID had already been corrupted, the OS saw 6 empty disks now.

Bye, 7TB of data.

Damage already done, I played with the disks a little bit. Back at the P400 equipped machine, I deleted the unwanted RAID-5, the disks didn't appear at the OS level. I had to create 6 RAID-0 disks, and they appeared - all empty, however.

Conclusions:

  • The P400 does not pass unassigned disks to the OS.
  • You need to create RAID-0 configs to get the disks through to the OS.
  • Saving the RAID-0 config (or any other P400 config) will empty the disk(s).
  • The P400 auto-config may have killed anything on the disks anyway, by creating a RAID-5 without asking permission.

The other option is to create each disk as a single-disk RAID-0 array (yes, it should let you do this). Then ZFS will see all the indidual disks.

The 'technical' name for the option you're looking for is called JBOD - Just a Bunch of Disks.

I simply moved the internal SCSI cable from the smart array card to the on board SCSI Controller located on the system board. This gave me access to the raw disks.

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