We (a client) are considering [insisting on] using consumer grade SSDs (to keep the cost down) in some Dell R710 and HP Proliant D380 G5 servers.

I've looked about and people report the P400 cards on the HP will not recognize the SSDs (Intel 530/Curucial BX), although a P400i might; reports are the PERC6/i and PERC 700 in the Dell should.

A quick question please- would the use of the drives in a RAID configuration have any bearing on these users' experience - i.e. is it possible I may be more successful if the drives are not in a hardware RAID (which is the current setup of the client)?

closed as off-topic by Chopper3, Ward, mdpc, MadHatter, kasperd Jul 1 '15 at 21:57

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Keep in mind that most all Enterprise RAID controllers still don't support SATA TRIM / SCSI UNMAP (give it another couple years and they likely will). That means you will need an SSD with built-in garbage collection. Most Dell-branded MLC SSDs today tend to be made by Intel, with a SandForce controller on the SSD to cover the garbage collection. Without garbage collection, you'd see performance go downhill very quickly after a short period of normal use.

As for the effect of RAID configuration with SSDs on user experience, I'd say you should expect mixed results. This blog post mentions testing with newer-generation PERC controllers where single-SSD configurations actually outperformed testing on multiple drives, due to bottlenecking at the controller. This question on SF covers a lot of relevant detail too: You may want to consider Intel DC / S series drives since they provide power-loss protection; although they're targeted at enterprise markets, you'll still spend far less than you would for vendor-branded drives.

In the end, you'll probably need to get familiar with what performance various configurations can provide with different workloads, and choose based on each individual system/client's needs.

  • Thanks Jim- I know that a lot of the consumer SSDs are less capable than enterprise equivalents but in this use case it doesn't matter- the machine isn't providing a 100% flat out service- they are supporting office trading (~0900-2200 CEST) and email/AD/etc and other services. So the SSDs themselves should be OK. My question was more that because some people seem to have trouble getting the drives recognized by the controller, I wondered if I would have a better success connecting them to the mobo SATA or as a non-RAID member; or if the controller will always simply refuse to recognize them? – questions Jun 30 '15 at 16:04
  • For Dell controllers, the latest firmware revisions only seem to give a warning, and nag about drives being uncertified. Not sure about HP controllers, but if a system does have mobo SATA connections, I'd go that route - that eliminates hassle for you, and also gives the OS more direct access for TRIM. – JimNim Jun 30 '15 at 16:35

Interesting question from a customer/end user perspective.

My advice is not to use the HP DL380 G5 systems for anything today, if you can avoid it? They are unfavorable for power, performance, support and compatibility reasons. A few examples:

  • RAM is very limited on this model.
  • Any SATA SSD used on a Smart Array P400-era controller (2005-2008) will be stepped-down to run at 1.5Gbps speeds (187.5 Megabytes/second). You'll lose any sequential IO performance of the SSD in this situation.

The Dell R710 has a few better options, as it's a generation newer than the HP G5 system. Being Perc/LSI controllers, you have access to more compatible SSDs, and can also augment the selection with newer RAID controllers.

More of this is going to depend on your actual performance goal, OS, application and budget. I wouldn't recommend enterprise SSDs for the servers you've described either. I rarely use disk form-factor SSDs on current-generation servers, instead opting for PCIe-based solutions. That removes the hardware RAID controller complexity and potential bottlenecks. They fit my use case, but also mean that software RAID and monitoring become more important.

Can you describe more about your environment?

  • Sure- thanks for the reply. Essentially they operate several SME servers (running office/trading software, etc). Typically they have several large disks connected (some RAID [software], others not) and one or two smaller disks for OS. They want to move to SSD, and I know there are mixed success rates with disk controller recognition- would I be more likely to have the disks recognized with mobo SATA or connected to the RAID controller as "non-raid member" (instead of within a raid config)? Understood R710 is more capable, may be able to convince replacement if (e.g. Intel 530) will be OK. – questions Jun 30 '15 at 15:58
  • When I say move to SSD, I mean that the disks will be cloned to SSDs and then put back in the server.... if they can be recognized by the controller! – questions Jun 30 '15 at 15:59
  • The HP is too old to use SSDs effectively. It's also too old to continue using in a production environment. I would seriously suggest replacement. The Dell is okay enough for another few years, but in both cases, try to get purpose-built equipment. – ewwhite Jun 30 '15 at 16:14

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