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I'm wondering if it's possible to access the Dell PERC H800A from an Intel server (not a Dell server), for performing the initial configuration of an MD1200 storage enclosure? I've not worked with an MD1200 enclosure before, but it seems as though the disks on the enclosure need to be configured via the PERC card first, as you would a normal RAID array.

Some research I've drawn from:

From what I've read, it seems like accessing the configuration for our MD1200 will be easiest done via the BIOS - but I'm open to using OMSA, if it's possible, as well.

UPDATE 2014-09-12

After some tinkering, we decided to move the PERC card to another PCI-e slot on the Intel server, this has caused the card to be recognised in the BIOS. I'm not sure what the issue was, as we originally used the correctly sized PCI-e slot for the card -- I think maybe a 4x slot.

Moving it to one of the two larger slots (either 8x or 16x) seems to have fixed the issue. I'm not sure if this is bandwidth related or what, since I would have thought that if the card has a particular size, then the standard bandwidth for that slot size should be fine. After reading JimNim's update, it must be slot priority.

We're still having an issue with a conflict between the PERC card and the on-board Intel RAID we're using, but that's causing a separate issue when booting windows. The card is now fundamentally accessible from the BIOS level.

After some consideration, I'm going to mark JimNim's answer as accepted, since it hinted towards slot priority (and as of a later update actually includes suggestions for exactly what we did to get the card recognised anyway).

UPDATE 2014-09-10

  • The host machine is running Windows 2012 Standard (not R2).

  • To clarify, I don't actually care about creating a RAID array from the volumes. In fact, I'd prefer not to do RAID. This may have been a mis-communication from Dell as I think they initially assumed I would want RAID capability. They basically told me I needed the PERC H800 if I wanted to attach the enclosure to a non-Dell host (or at least that's how it sounded at the time). It sounds like Dell's SAS 6/E card may have worked just fine for me.

  • Any advice on where to obtain the H800 drivers for Windows 2012? (Or equivalent LSI drivers?) I can only find Windows 2008 R2 64-bit PERC drivers so far.

  • I've looked in the BIOS previously regarding PCI-e settings, and there was no signs of slot priority that I recall. Also, this is the first expansion card we've added to the server - so regardless of any slot priority, I'd think it would allow at least one card without modification.

  • At the OS level, we couldn't find any initial indication that the OS has detected the card (device manager seems empty and event viewer didn't have any relevant entries). Something may have been missed, so we're planning to dig into things remotely today.

Device manager not showing storage controller

Context

We have an existing Intel server with 24TB worth of storage for backups. We've encountered a need to be able to expand that storage and wanted to stick with the existing Intel server for ease of transition, and so that we'll only need to manage the storage from a single server.

At this point we have mostly Dell servers, and the MD1200 seemed to be a cost-effective way of adding some directly-attached storage. Dell assured us that since the PERC card is just PCE-e, as long as we have the sufficient PCI-e slot it would be compatible.

Fast-forward to today, and there's no signs of the PERC card, or our storage, in either the BIOS or the OS, as far as we can tell.

And I'm at a loss as to where to turn next, aside from perhaps installing the PERC card into a Dell server.

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  • What server model are you using? That info may make it easier for others to help identify proper usage... – JimNim Sep 11 '14 at 20:31
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+1 to all of Evan Anderson's answer (though I'm not familiar with opROM execution problems).

You may also want to investigate the specifications of your server to find how many PCIe cards of each type are supported, and whether there is any "slot priority" that you should be following (these factors exist even with Dell servers). Just because you have a PCIe slot for the card doesn't mean it's getting the necessary power and bandwidth to function properly.

As a work-around (if you can't figure out how to get the PERC card working) you may want to consider using a SAS HBA (e.g. Dell's SAS 6/E card). This would be presenting each individual hard drive directly to the OS though, which would require something akin to software RAID (like Storage Spaces in Server 2012, which is actually validated for use with that type of setup).

Edit 2014-09-11

Any advice on where to obtain the H800 drivers for Windows 2012? (Or equivalent LSI drivers?) I can only find Windows 2008 R2 64-bit PERC drivers so far.

The Server 2012 drivers for the PERC H800 card are provided by Microsoft via Windows Update. If you can get far enough to see the card listed in device manager, "Update Driver Software..." should handle the rest almost flawlessly.

I've looked in the BIOS previously regarding PCI-e settings, and there was no signs of slot priority that I recall. Also, this is the first expansion card we've added to the server - so regardless of any slot priority, I'd think it would allow at least one card without modification.

Slot priority (if any) is typically determined by the server manufacturer, and is not normally a configurable option in the BIOS settings. You should reference the documentation of the server (e.g. an installation, administration, or user guide) for details on which slots should be used first for specific types of cards. It could be that the slot you're using won't support a single external-storage card alone, even if no others are present.

Try testing in alternate slots with the PERC card. If that still doesn't work for you, look into purchasing a SAS6/E HBA or the LSI 9207-8e - I believe that either of these are supported for the MD12xx enclosures for use with Storage Spaces (I've tested both in lab with no problems, but cannot find supporting documentation for the MD12xx series enclosures at the moment).

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  • Thanks for your update. We actually ended up trying exactly what you suggest (testing alternate slots) - which worked. Now just need to figure out how to stop the onboard RAID from conflicting with the PERC card so we can get our server to boot! Thank you. – Geekman Sep 12 '14 at 9:14
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The MD1200 cabinet is a "just a bunch of disks" (JBOD) enclosure. Since it sounds like you want to address it as a single volume a hardware RAID controller, like the PERC you describe, will do what you want.

Your BIOS sounds like it's not executing the option ROM on the controller. Without the option ROM you won't get any signs of the controller in your BIOS.

You don't mention what your OS is so it's difficult for me to say anything about that. A Windows machine should have detected the controller and prompted for drivers (I don't what versions of Windows include the drive for a PERC H800 in the box, admittedly). You should be able to see the controller in the output of the lspci command on a Linux machine.

I'm not sure if you're going to be able to install Open Manage Server Administrator (OMSA) on a non-Dell machine. You may be stuck using the BIOS to manage the device, which will mean downtime if you need to make changes.

I know that the PERC H800 is a rebranded LSI Logic controller, and you may be able to get away with using LSI's tools, too, if OMSA won't load.

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  • Added some updates to the question, if you could take a look, I'd appreciate it! – Geekman Sep 9 '14 at 22:18

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