I've done a fair bit of troubleshooting but I'm completely at a loss what could be going on.
Hardware / platform
- Supermicro X10SRi-F motherboard
- EVGA 850W G2 PSU (one of the highest rated for power quality at Jonnyguru.com)
- 128GB Crucial DDR4 RDIMM
- LSI 9211-8i PCIe HBA flashed to latest P20-IT (from LSI/Avago website)
- 8087-to-quad-SAS connector cable (new: see this picture, the kind of cable where the power side accepts a SATA PSU connector)
- Seagate 6TB SAS drive (new: ST6000NM0054)
- Various other Seagate 3TB - 6TB SATA drives (test purposes)
Problem / troubleshooting so far
This is a new server being set up, so all components are new, although some have been tested already before now.
On booting, the HBA didn't recognise or report the 6TB SAS drive (either via the main BIOS or via its own OROM -> SAS topology) and the 6TB drive was cold and not spinning up. No other drives were connected. The rest of the system works fine, so on the face of it the issue is limited to one or more of bad HBA, bad cable, or bad drive.
Troubleshooting steps so far:
- Connected 6TB SAS drive using different terminator on the quad cable, and the quad cable to both 8087 ports. No change - implies the issue isn't one specific terminator or port.
- Connected various Seagate 3TB-6TB SATA drives using same cable (same manufacturer and similar modern range to eliminate subtle compatibility issues if any). All recognised, reported, and spun up perfectly as normal on boot, on both 8087 ports and on all 4 terminators, and over multiple reboots - implies HBA and cable both work fine, at least for SATA. (Would be odd if they worked perfectly for SATA but not SAS.)
- Kept identical connections but replaced SATA drives by 6TB SAS drive, not changing anything else. As before, 6TB SAS drive wasn't recognised or reported by HBA, and wasn't spun up.
- Tried exactly the same with a different card and platform m- LSI 9260-8i RAID controller on an ASUS based desktop. Again all SATA drives immediately recognised and spun up, but 6TB SAS drive isn't/doesn't.
- Reluctantly concluded that however unlikely, the most likely issue was 6TB SAS drive DOA and RMA'ed it. ("Reluctantly" is because I've never actually had a DOA before, the drives are usually reliable, and if it is dead then by far more usual/expected would be that it's at least recognised but non-functional. I just couldn't figure a more likely issue than complete DOA.)
- Just received the warranty replacement - and getting exactly identical symptoms with the replacement as well: (a) When the 6TB SAS drive and any SATA drive are connected to 2 terminators and the system boots, the SATA drive is immediately recognised, reported and spins up, while the 6TB SAS drive stays cold and still. (b) When the 6TB SAS and any SATA drive are connected to the 9260-8i RAID card in the other ASUS desktop the SATA drive is likewise immediately recognised but the 6TB SAS drive stays cold.
- As a last step, re-re-read the 9211-8i HBA user guide in case I missed anything first time, and re-checked the BIOS. Can't find anything that would seem to explain this, or any statement that SAS drives will not be recognised unless/until <some action/content>.
Didn't really believe it was DOA first time. Definitely don't believe it's a DOA now. But if not, then what is it, and what can I be missing?
I've tested everything (AFAIK) in the component chain, the HBA just doesn't have much OROM interface that can go wrong, or any options to recognise SATA/SAS/both, or anything like that, and the main PC/server in both cases just leave detection to the HBA/RAID card. I've tested on two completely different platforms, with two different models of controller cards, with SAS vs SATA drives, and I'm utterly stumped.
(Note: I'm slightly limited as I'm starting to transition from SATA to SAS, with the intent being to replace SATA by SAS as they wear out, so at the moment I don't have any other SAS disks or cables to test with, which I would otherwise have done too. But I think I've probably covered that by testing the cards+cables while varying SATA/SAS)
Updated for more accurate title to help others, now more info obtained. See answer.