using wd re4 disks on an HP proliant ml350 g8 server

Posted on 2012-08-22
Last Modified: 2012-08-24

I have a question, the school where I work at had an hp proliant server ml110 g5 which has stopped working, we had just purchased 4 disks, 2 wd re4 500gb and 2 wd re4 2TB SATA drives.
Now I wish to purchase an HP ML350e g8 (B120i embedded controller with 512mb cache) server but the included disk bays are said to be hot swappable but includes at least 4 blanks caddies for regular (non hot swappable) disks, so I am assuming they will be installable and RAID 1 will work for the 2 500gb disks where system partition and programs will reside). Could someone please confirm whether these disks would work with such a server?

From reading the online manuals it seems so but just would like to be absolutely sure since its too late to buy hp disks which cost almost double compared to the RE4 disks.

Thank you in advance for any help.

Best regards,

Question by:profanostra
    LVL 46

    Accepted Solution

    The controller will not reject RE4s.  They will work.  There are some subtle firmware tweaks that differentiate the HP firmware from these, but the differences are minor.  SAS disks aren't as forgivable on the settings.

    Just understand, if / when you have a problem, and HP says it has to do with the RAID, then you are on your own.  If it is a school, they will get the EDU discount, so personally if you're not a storage guru, I'd go the safe route and go 100% HP.

    (At least buy 2 HP disks, minimum size and use them for boot)

    Author Closing Comment

    Thank you very much for your reply. This certainly makes me think and worry. I had not considered the differences in specific firmware...
    The strange thing is that in the hp website and manuals it does not specify anything about disk compatibility. Just that the controller accepts SATA and SAS disks, hot plug or non hot plug...
    In the WD compatibility summary there is mention of tested compatibility with many HP raid controllers and chassis

    RAID controllers SA-E200, SA-P212, SA-P400, SA-P410, P600,P800, SC44Ge
    are all listed as compatible as well as PROLIANT ML350G5 and  ML380G6 SYSTEM/CHASSIS

    I dont have that much experience with this particular type of server hardware (hot pluggable, SAS, etc.) Most of the servers I have used are more "basic entry level"

    Is this particular to HP or should one always stick with same brand of disks, like IBM disks for IBM servers and so forth?
    LVL 46

    Expert Comment

    HP doesn't qualify drives that they don't sell for that server, so there is no need for them to give you a list. Look at the data sheets or their ordering site for HDDs under that server, and you will see the list of what they support.

    It isn't the brand of disks (most of them are seagate anyway), it is the FIRMWARE and default firmware settings that make the difference.  

    A toshiba, hitachi, and seagate disk can have exactly the same operating characteristics if the firmware from all three products is configured correctly.  Conversely the same make/model of HDD can be completely incompatible to the point where it destroys data or isn't even detectable by a controller by doing nothing more than setting 1 bit in the wrong mode page.

    So the answer to your question is that you need to look to see what the vendor qualifies, and as long as you buy that you know everything will work.

    If you don't, then you need to look at all the mode pages, (programmable settings, there are hundreds), and know the internals of the controllers to reprogram a drive so it will work properly.
    LVL 46

    Expert Comment

    P.S.  I assure you, "compatibility" does not mean the same as suitability and effectiveness.

    As example, I can program a disk drive to sync up at 1.5 Mbits/sec, or have a 4-second timeout if there is a bad block, and it is "compatible".  But perhaps the HP disk syncs up at 6.0 Mbits/sec and has a 1.7 sec max timeout.

    Both are compatible, but would you rather have the slow one or the fast one?

    Author Comment

    Thank you again, certainly learned a lot about this subject.  Our budget  however is  limited so buying all these disks with HP branding doesnt make sense to me especially considering the relatively light usage they will get since its a small number of concurrent users accesing these files, security is more important than speed for our file server.
     I decided to go with lenovo, their TS430 support LSI RAID cards such as 9260,9240 etc. and in turn these cards support my wd re4 disks according to both wd and lsi.

    The lenovo includes even onboard embedded LSI RAID 1,5 but its software based so I suppose its not as good as the dedicated card...

    Best regards,

    Luis Muñoz
    LVL 46

    Expert Comment

    You made a reasonable and frugal choice.

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