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PCIE RAID assistance - Gigabyte Mobo running ESXI

Hello all,

 

Hoping someone has experience in a similar situation to mine and is able to help. 

 

I have a desktop computer I use as a server for my home lab. It is an X99 based system running ESXI 6.5. 

I have recently purchased a couple 1TB SSD's and a Silverstone ECS03 RAID Controller (Official Description: 2 Port SATA 6gbps hardware RAID PCI Express Gen2 x2 card). 

The motherboard in this server is a Gigabyte X99 Gaming G1 WIFI. I am fully aware this isn't designed for a server, but it was my old desktop and has been doing the trick thus far.

Motherboard link: https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/GA-X99-Gaming-G1-WIFI-rev-10

 

The issue I am having is in trying to setup these disks for RAID use.

The process according to the documentation is to hold CTRL & R at startup to invoke the RAID setup. Unfortunately on this motherboard, it starts Gigabytes EZ RAID setup instead. Essentially preventing me from accessing the RAID controller setup. Within Gigabyte's EZ RAID setup, it does not recognise any PCIE RAID cards (the option is greyed out). It doesn't see the attached SSD drives either. 

I don't have the option of using the motherboards RAID either as ESXI doesn't recognise it and will see just the individual disks. 

I purchased this card as it uses the ASMedia 1062R chipset which is supported by ESXI. 

 

Thoughts thus far:

- Unsure if there is anything I can do within vSphere / vCenter. I have looked around but haven't found any options and I don't have experience with adding new devices within vSphere. 

- PCIE lanes should be fine. It's a 5820k, so has 28 PCIE lanes. There is only the graphic card in use. No m.2 storage or other PCIE devices.

- Disabling EZ RAID doesn't make any difference, the shortcut just brings it back. Maybe there is an undocumented shortcut for Gigabyte motherboards to use PCIE RAID cards?

- Manual doesn't really even reference EZ RAID. It has a section on setting up Intel's RAID option, but that relies on the same shortcut to start it up. I have tried this and there is not any options regarding the PCIE card. 

 

Really hope there is a way to get this going. But it looks like the Gigabyte BIOS is the main issue. 

 

Any tips or recommendations on how to tackle this would be greatly appreciated. 

 

 

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Please get a good raid controller, like a used one from lsi or adaptec. Id get a used dell h700(rebranded lsi card). Much better support and speed than these cheap cards. A h700 is also pretty cheap at like $20 on ebay. get something like this one https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-0XXFVX-Perc-H700-SAS-PCI-Ex8-RAID-Controller-With-512MB/333180145469?hash=item4d93158f3d:g:EqoAAOSwmE5cIPp0

 

I think esxi doesn't have that driver for the card as its made for server grade gear, not super cheap raid cards.

 

 

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Are you waiting until the RAID card starts initializing before pressing the shortcut? If you're just spamming it from POST thats probably why you're having a problem. Assuming it does an initialization, since its not a real RAID card. 

 

Also you could just put the RAID card in another computer to build the RAID, and then move it back. 

 

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On 5/21/2019 at 11:48 PM, Electronics Wizardy said:

Please get a good raid controller, like a used one from lsi or adaptec. Id get a used dell h700(rebranded lsi card). Much better support and speed than these cheap cards. A h700 is also pretty cheap at like $20 on ebay. get something like this one https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-0XXFVX-Perc-H700-SAS-PCI-Ex8-RAID-Controller-With-512MB/333180145469?hash=item4d93158f3d:g:EqoAAOSwmE5cIPp0

 

I think esxi doesn't have that driver for the card as its made for server grade gear, not super cheap raid cards.

 

Thanks for the advice. I haven't worked with RAID cards before so this is all learning for me.

I went with a new card, and went for this one as it was a several hundred dollar jump to the next option.

Second hand should be fine though. 

 

With a better card (and by better, I mean supported) will it be possible to configure the RAID within ESXI/vSphere? 

If not I suspect I may end up in the same situation with being unable to circumvent the Gigabyte EZ RAID setup. 

 

 

On 5/22/2019 at 12:14 AM, Jarsky said:

Are you waiting until the RAID card starts initializing before pressing the shortcut? If you're just spamming it from POST thats probably why you're having a problem. Assuming it does an initialization, since its not a real RAID card. 

 

Also you could just put the RAID card in another computer to build the RAID, and then move it back.

 

I suspect it's not actually searching for a RAID card at startup given it's a consumer board. And yes, picking up a second hand server would do a better job, but I have the hardware that is doing the job (except this part), so trying not to spend more. 

 

I like the idea of using another PC and will give it a try. I think I have an old one using an ASUS board hopefully. Most of my PC's have gigabyte boards. 

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2 hours ago, DogKnight said:

 

Thanks for the advice. I haven't worked with RAID cards before so this is all learning for me.

I went with a new card, and went for this one as it was a several hundred dollar jump to the next option.

Second hand should be fine though. 

 

With a better card (and by better, I mean supported) will it be possible to configure the RAID within ESXI/vSphere? 

If not I suspect I may end up in the same situation with being unable to circumvent the Gigabyte EZ RAID setup. 

 

 

 

I suspect it's not actually searching for a RAID card at startup given it's a consumer board. And yes, picking up a second hand server would do a better job, but I have the hardware that is doing the job (except this part), so trying not to spend more. 

 

I like the idea of using another PC and will give it a try. I think I have an old one using an ASUS board hopefully. Most of my PC's have gigabyte boards. 

the other raid cards have their own bios load screen you can press the key during and it will enter the raid menu.

 

I don't think esxi has a raid menu built in, your spocto use the bios menu, or do it over the network with something like a drac. 

 

But really, for a home lab, id just forget raid, or use a different hypervisor like hyper-v or proxmox that has good software raid support.

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20 hours ago, Electronics Wizardy said:

the other raid cards have their own bios load screen you can press the key during and it will enter the raid menu.

Good to know. Thank you. 

 

20 hours ago, Electronics Wizardy said:

But really, for a home lab, id just forget raid, or use a different hypervisor like hyper-v or proxmox that has good software raid support.

Unfortunately not an option. I work for a software vendor and I set this up to play with some of the companies solutions. Unfortunately ESXI is the only hypervisor supported across all of them. The good news is I get vSphere/vCenter licenses for free, so that makes it a bit easier. 

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33 minutes ago, DogKnight said:

Unfortunately not an option. I work for a software vendor and I set this up to play with some of the companies solutions. Unfortunately ESXI is the only hypervisor supported across all of them. The good news is I get vSphere/vCenter licenses for free, so that makes it a bit easier. 

Well if you want software raid then you can always run esxi on the host, and passthrough drives or a storage controller to a os like freenas, and just have a basic drive for exsi + freenas.

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I have a feeling this might be simpler than it seems.

 

Most RAID cards have a default config key (Usually Ctrl + C or Ctrl + R, etc). However, having a server with more than one RAID card is totally normal. So, what actually happens is that if the default key is in use, it usually just offers up a different key combination.

 

Have you tried watching the BIOS Post, and look on the screen to see if the Silverstone RAID Card puts any prompts or messages on the screen during boot? It would typically be after the main system has posted but before the OS starts loading, so towards the end of the Post process.

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19 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

I have a feeling this might be simpler than it seems.

 

Most RAID cards have a default config key (Usually Ctrl + C or Ctrl + R, etc). However, having a server with more than one RAID card is totally normal. So, what actually happens is that if the default key is in use, it usually just offers up a different key combination.

 

 Have you tried watching the BIOS Post, and look on the screen to see if the Silverstone RAID Card puts any prompts or messages on the screen during boot? It would typically be after the main system has posted but before the OS starts loading, so towards the end of the Post process.

 

Short answer, yes. 

 

Have watched the post screen and seen no indication of the raid card initialising. 

Further to that, have tried other common options for RAID card configs and none of these have worked. 

 

Another possibility is the card could simply be DOA. But as my other PC's are also Gigabyte boards, i'm running into the same issue on them also. 

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6 hours ago, DogKnight said:

 

Short answer, yes. 

 

Have watched the post screen and seen no indication of the raid card initialising. 

Further to that, have tried other common options for RAID card configs and none of these have worked. 

 

Another possibility is the card could simply be DOA. But as my other PC's are also Gigabyte boards, i'm running into the same issue on them also. 

If you don't see it initializing on the screen, I'm pretty sure it's either DOA or it's simply not compatible with your system. I would try and get my hands on another RAID Card (even an old shitty one) to test with your motherboard.

 

I would see if you can get your hands on a SAS2008 based RAID Card, like the Dell H200 or the IBM m1015, etc. and see if one of those would work instead. Or try exchanging the card for a replacement.

 

EDIT: Also try putting the RAID Card in a different PC and see what happens.

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Also, if your bios is displaying a full screen logo at power on, you may need to turn that off to see other bios messages and when to press the keys to enter the raid bios.

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