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help on diying ESXi server with ASUS DSBV mobo

Posted on 2009-04-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Hey guys, need some help on choosing the mobo & raid card supporting ESXi 3.5, thanks.
We have installed the ESXi 3.5 server in our PowerEdge 2950III(using RAID 5) half a year before, and it works perfectly. So it's time to make another try. However, because of the tight budget and some personal interests^_^, we decide to diy a ESXi(NOT ESX) server on our own.

The server will be used as our internal testbed, later it might be used to support some of our critical applications. At present, it will at least host 2 ~ 3 VM: 1 ~ 2 Web server and 1 DB server all runing Windows 2003:
CPU: Intel Xeon 5405 * 2
MEM: Infineon fully buffered DIMM 4G * 4
HD: Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3500320NS(500G/7200RPM) * 4, we want to group them in raid 1, 10 or 5.

What really makes us big-heading is choosing the mobo and raid card that is fully supported by ESXi 3.5(free lunch is not free). For the mobo, we vote to the ASUS DSBV series for its hight cost-value: DSBV-DX/C, DSBV-DX, DSBV-DX/SAS. After calling ASUS customer center, we had another candidate: DSAN-DX(Intel 5100 & ICH9R).

Let's back to the point, my question is:
1. Are these mobos out-of-box fully supported by ESXi with consideration of the RAID. According to my understanding right now, the answer is porbably NO because they are all S/W raid. Am I right?

2. If we have to purchase an extra H/W raid card, we prefer the bundled or optional add-on card supported by ASUS at first. We do have noticed these cards is enlisted in vmWare's HCL, but still not quite sure about it. It will be really frustrating having your raid recognized as several individual physical hard disks in ESXi. Does any guys here using these card running ESXi smoothly?
DSBV-DX/SAS + LSI 8300XLP: a ZCR card work with the on-board LSI 1068 to provide H/W 0, 1, 10, 5. As I surfing on this forum, I have found someone using a likely intel ZCR card having problem in ESXi, hummmm.
DSAN-DX + PIKE 1078 8-port SAS card: a standalone card using the on-board SAS connector to support RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 50, 6, 60.

3. The last choice is buy a HCL certified third-party H/W card from LSI or Adeptec etc, any suggestions?

Anyway, any discussion & fresh idea is welcome, thanks in advance.
Question by:Veli-Antti
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 24053782
I don't know about the cards that you mention, but ESX update 4 which came out 3 days ago, now supports the following SATA controllers
PMC 8011 (for SAS and SATA drives)
Intel ICH9 Intel ICH10 CERC 6/I SATA/SAS Integrated RAID Controller (for SAS and SATA drivers) HP Smart Array P700m Controller
This link says says that Update 4
supports them?
Hope that helps!

Author Comment

ID: 24056554
Thanks a lot za_mkh.

I have check the link, it is for ESX 3.5, but I've found a U4 patch for ESXi also. The good news is I can use U4 in one of my home mobos(P35 + ICH9) without any morphing.

But my problem is still here, we want our 4 hard disks grouped into raid, and get ESXi recognized it correctly. Maybe we should forget these add-on cards from ASUS, and try some third-party, more commonly used H/W raid card. So, could you please name some of them for me.

By the way, what 'CERC 6/I SATA/SAS Integrated RAID Controller', is it the PERC 6/i used in our PowerEdge 2950III? I think ESXi can support it from its very first release.
LVL 21

Assisted Solution

za_mkh earned 100 total points
ID: 24062675
Sorry my bad,  'CERC 6/I SATA/SAS Integrated RAID Controller' should probably be on two lines or something, since I copied and pasted info from the Update 4 release notes.
As to a good SCSI controller, I can only recommend HP since all our servers have them and we have had no issues with them on any of our ESX or ESXi Servers. But I am certain Dell SCSI adaptors are fine too. When it comes to ESX and Linux, the 'herd' mentality of choosing the most popular peripherals seems to make sense as there is more effort by the companies in question to write drivers, etc for them which means less headaches for you! :-) My 2c on that matter ...

Accepted Solution

Veli-Antti earned 0 total points
ID: 24064417
Agree, and I do understand VMWare's marketing strategy to get their ESXi fully support these popular hardwares from the very beginning and keep ahead of Hyper-V from Microsoft.

I prefer the PERC 6/i from Dell if any add-on cards from ASUS can not supported by ESXi.

Do you know or have used the LSI 8300XLP ZCR card? I am googling for it these days. Some said it is supported(I've check it in the pci.ids & from ESXi 3.5 U3 installable ISO, it is there).

Another thing I am personally quite interest in is the performance benchmark between a SATA|| raid and a SAS raid as our slim budget force us away from these expensive SAS disks.

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