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Is it possible to find a driver / modify ESXi to utilize an Intel Rapid Store Technology raid on an MSI x99a Raider motherboard? (Says it is an Intel X99 raid controller)

Posted on 2016-10-03
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Last Modified: 2016-10-10
Hello all,
    I have a decent machine I came across for a great price with a Xeon e5-2603, 32gb ram and a few hard drives on a MSI X99A Raider mobo and was hoping to install ESXi on it. Obviously, it can install, but will not recognize the raid controller / raid 5 array as it is Intel Rapid Store Technology. I know sometimes there are ways to inject / modify the installer with drivers that might allow it to work, does anyone know if there is anything that might work for trying this out? If not, is there any other sort of solution that might work to have some redundancy in the event of a failure, but still give good usable drive space?

Thanks!
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Question by:MostHated
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 250 total points
ID: 41827246
If you can find a driver for ESXI for this storage controller, or use a storage controller which is on the HCL.

otherwise you would need to compile a driver from source.

A warning some of these onboard storage controllers, are also Fake RAID, and are rubbish!

You would be better with a storage controller on the HCL, e.g. LSI etc
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by:MostHated
ID: 41827250
Any recommendations on them? I am guessing they end up being PCI-E addin cards? I might be able to check some of the older servers I have at work to see if they have any. Would HP ProLiant or IBM blades have raid controllers that are able to be taken out and put into something like this, or are those typically built in to the board?
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 250 total points
ID: 41827270
That so-called controller is unsuitable and is not on the HCL.  Just go to the published HCL for your version of ESXi and see the list, and buy a USED one you can afford that supports your HDD's of choice.

If you value your data, spend money on decent SAS drives, and if you can't afford that then at least get enterprise SATA drives, that the CONTROLLER is certified to run.
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by:MostHated
ID: 41827274
This is nothing mission critical, I would just like to make it work. Someone else I spoke to said something like this might work?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA9AX4SC5426&cm_re=sas_raid-_-14G-000T-00048-_-Product

Though I can not tell if it comes with and cables or anything. I am only trying to connect 3 2tb SATA drives in a raid 5.

** Edit, he said all I should need is this as well? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA6J32YE1750&cm_re=sff-8484-_-9SIA6J32YE1750-_-Product

If that will get the job done for me, I am sold.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 250 total points
ID: 41827283
This is nothing mission critical, I would just like to make it work.

You will need a driver, or you will have to compile your own.

Dell PERC controllers are based on LSI chipsets, however some Dell PERC only work in Dell servers!

I would look at generic LSI cards.
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by:MostHated
ID: 41827286
Ah, understood. I appreciate that info.

I have an M.2 32GB SSD I am going to be using for ESXi itself, then I have a few HP Proliant ML110's, and another older data storage I can't recall exactly what it is at the moment that has around 6 drives in it, as well as a few IBM HS20 8843 (and 53)-W38 blades that I can try to peek into tomorrow to see if they have anything I can use that we no longer use them since we upgraded to Dell R710's.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 250 total points
ID: 41827295
The bible is here, check this and you will see what hardware is compatible with different versions of ESXi.

some of those models are on the HCL

Check the VMware Hardware Compatability Lists HCL here

The VMware Hardware Compatibility List is the detailed lists showing actual vendor devices that are either physically tested or are similar to the devices tested by VMware or VMware partners. Items on the list are tested with VMware products and are known to operate correctly.Devices which are not on the list may function, but will not be supported by VMware.

http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl
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by:MostHated
ID: 41827302
Well, as you mentioned, it may not be so much as, is the hardware compatible with ESXi, it seems like it may come down to, is the raid controller compatible with my system (such as a Dell PERC card), lol.

Looking up what I believe I have access too, it should have either a Smart Array P400, or Smart Array E200, which look like they may no longer be supported by ESI 6, but I think might be in 5.5.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 250 total points
ID: 41827304
biggest issues with ESXi on non certified hardware is finding

1. storage controller which works
2. network interface which works.

and remember ESXi is an Enterprise Product, it's not a homebrew software.

Is this just a lab test non production,because you can use VMware Workstation, and build a virtual ESXi server using normal Windows on your hardware!
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by:MostHated
ID: 41827310
I edited my post above to say " Looking up what I believe I have access too, it should have either a Smart Array P400, or Smart Array E200, which look like they may no longer be supported by ESI 6, but I think might be in 5.5."

This is more of a home lab, but possibly just hosting some web servers / test environments at home, though I prefer not to have the huge overhead of running things through windows. I despise Windows, lol.

I have been working a lot with development with NodeJS, Express, Parse server, etc, and with what I am trying to do (creating installation scripts for fresh installs of Ubuntu) it is great to be able to spin up a fresh VM and then test it out from scratch and then just start over when need be. When I set my mind / goal to something though, I always want to accomplish it, so I want to get this running the way I originally planned, so I will just have to figure out and do what it takes.
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 250 total points
ID: 41827342
The HP SMARTArray family REALLY needs HP drives with the HP firmware.  One of the reasons is that HP firmware adds some vendor specific EVPD pages as well as SMART settings.  if the drives don't have the HP firmware then it won't work right.

(Other changes involve bad block relocation, read/write retry limits and timing constraints).

You are better off getting generic LSI HBA cards unless you have the disks with HP firmware.  Dell's disks that they bundle with their servers will NOT be a good choice.
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by:MostHated
ID: 41827360
Man, they certainly don't make "home labs" very home friendly. I have used VMware in many applications, but never had this much to consider, lol. I guess just because it was not using raid last few time I did it in a non-enterprise environment.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 250 total points
ID: 41827537
ESXi is not designed for mickey mouse hardware!

Most of us which have home labs, either have certified hardware, or white boxes, or we've now moved to the Cloud, which also saves on electricity

OR, VMware made VMware Workstation, so it could host ESXi 5.5, 6.0 for Home Labs!
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by:MostHated
ID: 41837743
I tried the card and cables when they arrived, unfortunately, it will not let me into the cards configuration utility. I tried some methods I saw online (covering pins 5 + 6 with tape, etc) yet still nothing lets me get into the raid config menu. So I guess I will just have to forgo VMware and just run server 2012 on it as is, unless I can find something else fairly cheap that I know will do the job.
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