I have a Dell 2950 Gen III rack-mounted server sitting around here that I want to upgrade with SSDs. Since I haven't found anything related from Dell and just a few post that confirmed it'll work (and even more that say it won't!), I am getting curious what's right.

I plan to put in Crucial MX100 128GB SSDs. I know PERC 5i is a 3GB/s controller supporting SATA drives and I know it does not support NCQ, but I am totally not sure about the support for SSDs.

Is there a resource that may verify/disprove the SSD support for 3rd generation Dell 2950?

Any help is much appreciated!

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  • Yes, it should work. But ther will be poor IOPS. Better way is to use PERC6i :) – Widmo Jan 28 '15 at 23:43
  • Thanks for the reply! I am wondering what the definition of "poor IOPS" will look like using PERC5i and SSDs. I already thought about upgrading to PERC6i, because lots of people out there seemed to not have SSDs showing up as SSDs anyway using PERC5i. – Mosh Pit Jan 28 '15 at 23:46

As far as "support" goes, you'll be hard pressed to find this spelled out in the documentation. Most 10th-generation and newer Dell servers have good documentation available with a list of all of the supported drive models, but I've not seen this for the 2950. I can tell you from personal experience that the 2950 never introduced SSD support of any kind. With that being said, it may still work since communication is through a SATA interface. You run the exact same risk as with using any other non-Dell-certified drives, in that there may be problems with a specific model or drive FW that never gets addressed if it's non-certified (hardware and firmware validation testing are only carried out w/ Dell-branded drives). In the end, unless you can find an instance of someone having documented a test with the exact hardware combination as you (same server, controller, and SSD model), you're just not going to be able to know without testing it out.

In regards to comments on controller performance... The PERC controller itself can often become a bottleneck when using SSDs, especially when you get into older (ancient) cards like the PERC 5/i, and even newer cards if your I/O footprint is write heavy & random, e.g. a database of some kind. Go with the newest card your system is compatible with (PERC 6/i) if it's an option for you.

Another note on performance - LSI controllers (rebranded as PERC w/ Dell) don't currently support SSD TRIM like typical (newer) desktop integrated RAID controllers do. Long story short, that means that you're going to see very poor write performance after a bit of use unless you use a model w/ built-in garbage collection (e.g. SSDs with Sandforce controllers, like those made by Intel).

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