I've got the above mentioned server in a particularly strange configuration right now. This is the 12x3.5" drive configuration model of the 180. From the backplane, the drives go into an HP Smart Array controller.

Problem: I'm not interested in the hardware RAID provided by this controller. I just want the drives to be passed through, raw, to the operating system for me to manage there.

This doesn't appear to be possible, from looking at some other questions. There's no JBOD mode on these controllers, and the workaround of just setting each individual volume to a single logical raid0 works, but means downtime for failures as the drives can't be swapped online.

So there are no doubt a boatload of SATA HBA's out there. I don't dare ask for recommendations at the risk of getting this question closed (but if the answer to this question is affirmative, feel free to throw a model number or two at me..), rather, I'm a bit more interested in if the backplane and system board support arbitrary HBAs. Can I plug any random SATA HBA in and have it work with this machine, or is there some special HP sauce that limits me to a tiny handful of first party controllers. Do these even exist?

  • Are you trying to use ZFS? – ewwhite Oct 13 '16 at 20:48
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    Most backplanes don't have much going on electrically or logically. They provide a flat surface with which to push drives up against, and in most cases some electrical protection circuits that don't affect the data path. If you want to stick an HBA in this system and use that instead of the stock controller, inspect the physical ports of your backplane and see if they're just simple SATA or SAS. They typically are. HOWEVER, most vendors have a SAS controller version that supports JBOD that fits in the same slot. Do whatever is easiest and what works, so long as it works. – Spooler Oct 13 '16 at 20:57

There may be more to the design of the solution you're trying to build. But for your use case, if you are trying to use a software-defined-storage solution like ZFS or a software RAID setup, buy a simple SAS HBA.

The LSI 9211-8i will work well for this server chassis.

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  • There probably is more involved, but that goes far beyond the scope of a simple Q&A as to what works with what else. It's mostly about working around HP's braindead firmware... – Mikey T.K. Oct 13 '16 at 20:59
  • There's nothing wrong with HP's firmware. You haven't stated what you're actually doing. – ewwhite Oct 13 '16 at 21:00
  • I've found that including details that could possibly be extraneous is bait to getting your questions flagged off. And for the record, I find the fact that a RAID controller lacks the option to just pass a drive through to the OS to be quite silly. – Mikey T.K. Oct 13 '16 at 21:01
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    @MikeyT.K. Then don't use 2009-era HP equipment. You aren't the target for that system. For that particular server, you would need to change to a dedicated SAS HBA. – ewwhite Oct 13 '16 at 21:03
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    FWIW, HBA-mode was added in the Gen8 product line's controllers. But I have DL180 G6's running happily with the LSI-9211-8i card. A 4i card will work because the expander is on the backplane and you only need one 4-lane SAS cable. – ewwhite Oct 13 '16 at 21:05

HP recently got a HP H240 Smart Host Bus Adapter, which is what was lacking for a long time - a HP branded HBA with ability to connect the HP server enclosures and get all sorts of software raids, including ZFS. Though H240 is PCIe 3.0, and HP DL180G6 has only 2.0 x8 slots, H240 should work in backwards compatibility mode.

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  • 'recently'<>4.5 years ago – Chopper3 Oct 13 '16 at 22:07
  • yeah, when you started to work with gen5 servers recently means exactly this. – drookie Oct 14 '16 at 8:59
  • and no, it was released in the Spetember, 2014. I'd call your "4.5 years ago" a cryptomnesia. – drookie Oct 14 '16 at 9:06
  • Fair enough, my google-foo failed me sorry – Chopper3 Oct 14 '16 at 10:21

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