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We have an IBM xSeries 345 server with a ServeRAID-5i controller which is starting to report problems. We also have a couple of "retired" x345s with ServeRAID-6i or 6i+ controllers in them.

Is it feasible/safe (re existing data) to move the drives from the x345 with the failing 5i to a x345 with a 6i(+) in it? Are these controllers sufficiently compatible to do that without data loss?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Both controllers are based on LSI 1030 chipset and there will be 100% HW compatibility. Metadata is stored across the members of the array. You will need to activate RAID volumes from controller BIOS during bootup. Controller won't erase anything unless you want to do that or you set it up so, but anyway, there is no 100% guarantee for data loss prevention. I'm sure disks are low-capacity disks, so it's easy to backup them if you can get couple hours for maintenance window.

Will it boot OS? Some guys are reporting problems booting Windows after this procedure.

What are reported problems? Disks must be very old already, and failing... Got SMART status?

Update: Also, there are Adaptec-based ServeRAID-6i controllers (CARDS). This one is incompatible with LSI metadata format.

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Thanks for that, @GioMac. Re reported problems - getting a PFA on one drive, and the controller is alerting to a cache battery-backup needing replacing. –  Graeme Aug 18 '13 at 22:48
    
That's it. PFA error = SMART error. It's not the problem of controller, it's a drive. For battery-backup - you can use battery from the other server. BUT, wait a minute. Check updated answer. –  GioMac Aug 18 '13 at 22:57
    
Yup ... was considering the replacement option as we have had failing controllers say disks were faulty shortly before the controller 'breathed its last' within the past 12 months and we had the spare kit "lying around", but the differing RAID controllers gave warning signs. Decided to go with just replacing the PFA drive for now. The databases on it are in the process of being migrated to another server anyway, so not too concerned about the cache battery-backup as the server has dual/redundant power supplies fed by dual/redundant UPSs, which are then 'backed-up' by a diesel generator or 2. –  Graeme Aug 19 '13 at 1:26
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LSI1030 is a SCSI chip on planar. 5i and 6i are zero-channel RAID cards on top of it. Both have i960 series chips on them, hence the driver name nfrd960.sys. Metadata is compatible, 6i can import RAID config from 5i. But cards have different PCI ID values, so Windows may not be able to cope with the change, as it ties the boot volume with controller PCI ID. Chances are better when Windows already knows 6i and has driver configured for it (6i may be present in another PCI slot, it just cannot communicate with onboard SCSI from there).

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