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How do I replace a motherboard and keep the RAID configuration?

Our Gateway server died (it was an E-9510T) and after selling their business division to Micron, and Micron going under, we no longer have warranty support.  Our motherboard is dying on our server (it still works, but it is marking DIMM slots as bad when the RAM sticks are good, and the other day we had the case open and we heard a pop and saw a transistor blow).  It still functions, and we're still using it, but just to be safe, we ordered a replacement motherboard.... the EXACT model and configuration of motherboard that is in the machine now.

We're using the onboard SATA RAID to mirror two 250GB drives.  If I replace the motherboard, and plug in everything as it was on the old motherboard, and configure the BIOS, and RAID BIOS the same way as it was on the old motherboard, will I have any issues (aside from minor stuff like Windows product activation, since the MAC addresses will be different and so will the serial number)?  Will the RAID setup still work, and will I be able to boot into Windows?

If not, is there anything I should do?  Can I clone my logical drive and restore it and then would it work?  I really need to get this server up and running with no time to re-install Windows and configure everything.
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smkudelko
Asked:
smkudelko
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2 Solutions
 
DavidPresidentCommented:
the metadata on RAID controllers is make/model and even firmware specific. If you do not know the firmware on the dead mobo, then you need to contact gateway and have a discussion with them to see if they changed anything between the time they likely loaded FW on the mobo, and the firmware (assuming same motherboard) loaded on the new mobo.

If you switch motherboards, then all bets are off ... unless you go with a gateway and they give you warm fuzzies that all will be well with what you purchased.   Release notes and manuals rarely get into firmware RAID compatibility, so the ultimate authority is gateway.

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PCBONEZCommented:
Well, first... Your systematic failures and transistor pop-corn suggest a bad power supply.
The motherboard [or memtest] saying bad RAM when it's good is a classic example of what happens with excess noise [ripple currents] in the power to the RAM. If the RAM is getting bad/noisy/unstable power,,, it won't work right.
- Probably not a great idea to put new board on a bad PSU.
- IS a great idea to replace that PSU for now even though you are about to kick that one to the curb.

I would:
Backup your data to another [portable] drive.
Build another server with the new board and a new PSU off to the side [no case required].
- This is leaving the existing server in service.
Install Windows to new 'table-top' server.
Restore the back-up only to the new table-top server.
- The old RAID metadata is a non-issue this way.
- It will allow you to work out all the bugs with MAC addresses and so forth without being off-line.

Also:
Do these look familiar?
http://support.gateway.com/s/Servers/COMPO/Cases/WME876246/WME876246nv.shtml
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190357524296
http://support.gateway.com/s//Servers/COMPO/MOTHERBD/WME871305/WME871305nv.shtml
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=400088897104

Your server is simply a re-branded Intel unit.
- That means all the info at Intel works for it.
http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/server/chassis/SC5300/
http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/server/se7520af2/
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It was a popular model so it also means there are LOTS of parts around for it and not too much $$$
As one of those links shows you can replace the whole server unit for ~$360.
.
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smkudelkoAuthor Commented:
I ordered the motherboard that was the exact same part number as the one in the Gateway server.  It arrived today, and I was kind of nervous because it was not Gateway branded, but instead had the Intel Server Board branding, but I installed it.  I configured the BIOS settings to be exact, and upgraded the firmware on everything using a downloadable CD from Gateway that had the firmware updates for the E-9510T series of servers.  I was able to re-flash the BIOS to brand it as a Gateway server.

Without ever touching the SATA RAID BIOS, I was able to boot into Windows Server 2008 with no problems.  Windows detected all of the devices, but installed "new" network cards and the video chipset.  This caused a few problems because the DNS, DHCP, Routing and Remote Access and Active Directory services were all configured to use those specific network cards.  After some minor re-configuration, after the first restart everything worked perfectly.  The server is up and running now.

So, I guess to answer my own question:  yes, if you replace the motherboard with an identical motherboard, you can use your existing RAID setup.  I can't say whether this will work if there is a variation like a different RAID firmware version, or different BIOS version, as I used the Gateway CD to make sure everything was identical, but everything worked without problem.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
I do not agree that the Author answered his own question ... which included will I have any issues (aside from minor stuff like Windows product activation, since the MAC addresses will be different and so will the serial number)?  Will the RAID setup still work, and will I be able to boot into Windows?"

I supplied information to verify firmware, which original poster never mentioned in question, but admitted to performing.  I also object to author posting incorrect information as fact, specifically, "yes, if you replace the motherboard with an identical motherboard, you can use your existing RAID".

This is not always the case, as there is plenty of history that confirms that firmware MATTERS when it comes to RAID controllers.

In addition smkudelko added useful information about the Intel firmware and  saved him alot of money buying the Intel card instead of the OEM card.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
I do not agree that the Author answered his own question ... which included will I have any issues (aside from minor stuff like Windows product activation, since the MAC addresses will be different and so will the serial number)?  Will the RAID setup still work, and will I be able to boot into Windows?"

I supplied information to verify firmware, which original poster never mentioned in question, but admitted to performing.  I also object to author posting incorrect information as fact, specifically, "yes, if you replace the motherboard with an identical motherboard, you can use your existing RAID".

This is not always the case, as there is plenty of history that confirms that firmware MATTERS when it comes to RAID controllers.

In addition smkudelko added useful information about the Intel firmware and  saved him alot of money buying the Intel card instead of the OEM card.
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PCBONEZCommented:
I agree for the most part with dlethe.
smkudelko simply got lucky this time.

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DavidPresidentCommented:
i say #3 - split evenly between PCBONZ (who identified replacement motherboard at lower cost) & dlethe (who answered question relating to "is there anything else I should do" in context of firmware)

I say no refund because original poster got valuable information that saved him real money.

No matter what, do not let his naive and incorrect response that "yes, if you replace the motherboard with an identical motherboard, you can use your existing RAID setup." get into the database.  This is not true unless not only firmware matches, but in some cases the disks are configured in same physical ports as before.

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PCBONEZCommented:
I agree
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smkudelkoAuthor Commented:
I would like to apologize for the controversy that my reply caused, and also for the vague and generic content of my "answer."  What I should have said was that I was able to replace the motherboard on my server with the exact same part, and plug everything in the exact same way, and was able to use my RAID without starting over.  I was lucky, and while I'm not experienced enough to say that this will work for EVERYONE (and I never intended to... I should have taken more time to write my response), I think it is safe to say that if you are using a Gateway E-9510T server platform, or any server running on the Intel SE7520AF2 Server Board, and are using the embedded SATA RAID that is included on the motherboard, and you replace the motherboard with the exact same board, and flash the BIOS and firmware so it is the same BIOS and firmware that you were previously running, and you re-connect everything the same way it was connected before, there is no reason why your RAID shouldn't work without any additional configuration.  But, since I only have experience doing this on my server, what I should have said was that it worked for me, and it might work for you, but be careful and give it a try.
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