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Dell PERC 5i with 3x Intel 320 SSD in RAID 5, can I use a hot spare?

Posted on 2011-10-26
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hello,
I have a Dell PowerEdge 2950 II with BIOS version 2.7.0. In it I have three 300 GB Intel 320 SSD disks. They are in a RAID 5 configuration. The problem is that when I add a fourth disk, whether it is another SSD of the same model, a non-SSD SATA disk, or a non-SSD SAS disk, OpenManage does not allow me to assign the fourth disk as a hot spare for the raid array. If I attempt to assign the fourth disk as a global hot spare, OpenManage warns me that the disk won't be eligible to be used as a hot spare for any of the existing arrays. Another interesting thing is that the light on the hot swap bay that normally is solid green doesn't turn on at all for these SSDs. Only the disk activity light does anything, namely blinking.

I am wondering what I can do to get a hot spare working with this raid array.

The perc 5 firmware is version 5.2.2-0072. OpenManage is version 6.5.0. The server is running Windows Server 2008 Standard R2 64-bit.

Thanks for any help!
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Question by:kzsigo
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by:David
ID: 37037311
The firmware does NOT let you mix  match SAS & SATA devices.  Sorry.  Nothing you can do.
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by:kzsigo
ID: 37037376
I only have 3 SATA SSDs (same model/size) in the array, and I'm trying to add a 4th as a Hot Spare that, too, is SATA, and is same model/size; but when adding it as a hot spare I get the warning above even though the only drives in the Array are the same technology, model and size (the intel 300 GB 320 SSD SATA drives).
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by:David
ID: 37037480
Thanks for the additional info.  So this is the 4th device total, and it is same make / model?   If so, then you could have one of several issues

1. Make sure firmware revision matches.    Upgrade firmware to all disks that aren't running most current revision.
2. If the 4th disk is not a virgin drive that has never been behind another RAID controller, do the secure erase on it using a different machine to insure any metadata is blown away.
3. TEST the SSD.  
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Author Comment

by:kzsigo
ID: 37038780
The firmware revisions match. The disks are all running firmware 0362, which is the latest.

I ran Intel SSD Tollbox's full diagnostic scan on the spare SSD, and it passed. I then used the Toolbox's secure erase tool to wipe the SSD. Still, the RAID manager won't let me assign it as a hot spare.
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 37038887
Are the BIOS, firmware, drivers and executable current?  Make sure all of them are.  I have a NDA developers agreement with LSI, who makes the cards for Dell.  I know for a fact that this works, at least with the LSI branded stuff, but I don't keep up on what versions Dell puts on their sites.

I am speaking of the software/firmware for the controller, NOT the motherboard also.   Certainly update motherboard firmware / drivers too while you are at it.
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 37038915
Also,  the PERC 5 is rather old, and i *doubt* Dell formally qualified any SSD products for use on it.  Personally I would not be using SSDs with that card.  My concern is in the area of error recovery algorithms and potential for losing data when/if you get timeouts.  That takes a great deal of testing and all SSDs are not created equal. The intel SSDs you have are low end and prone to lockups and failures.
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Author Comment

by:kzsigo
ID: 37038970
Dell's firmware is a couple years behind LSI's. They stopped updating it in October 2008. The RAID firmware and motherboard firmware are already at the latest revisions.
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David earned 2000 total points
ID: 37039090
Some important firmware updates have come out in last few years to address data loss in SSDs.  Your firmware doesn't have the updates.   So unless Dell qualified a specific SSD and maintained the firmware on the SSD to insure compatibility with the older firmware on the PERC (fat chance) ... then you are risking your data with or without the hot spare.  

So my official answer is that your config puts your data at risk, and what you are trying to do has never been tested, nor is there an update that will make it work.  Nothing you can do other than get different hardware or back up often.
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