Today we are going to work on an HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen9 server. After the initial installation, I was using an SD card as boot media but I still had some Delock SATADOMs laying around from my older lab servers that were replaced. So it was time to improve the performance of the boot media in the servers. In this blog post, I am explaining in detail the SATADOM installation in an HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen9.
So what are the advantages compared to an SD card:
VMware ESXi boot time about 50% faster
VMware ESXi upgrade time about 70% faster
Inventory performance (very noticeable when clicking through the VMware vCenter or VMware ESXi web GUI)
The overall stability of the host, this because of the “high” failure rate of the SD card.
The summary of advantages is based on my own comparison between SD cards en SATADOMs in my ESXi Hosts in my Home Lab.
Delock SATADOM Specifications
Here are the specifications of the Delock Satadom devices I am using for both HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen9 servers. Here are some tips about what I have learned so far… I bought them in 2018 so they are not brand new anymore:
Buy them a little bit bigger because of the future proof > minimal 32GB I would suggest.
Verify before buying if you need the vertical or horizontal model (rack model server go for horizontal / tower model server no really important).
So now it is time to install the device on the server. Of course, it is a little more complicated in a small half-size rack server. For example, there are no Molex power connections available by default. So in the end the cable kit is almost more expensive than the device itself. The preferred option should be to find an HPE cable kit, not sure which one you will need. So after some thinking and looking into the server I came up with the following solution to just plugin the SATADOM.
At first, I needed to find a SATA port on the motherboard. Both ports are available in my case but I used the one that is normally used for the DVD ROM drive number 14 (see the image from the HPE manual).
The storage device itself can be placed in the space of the storage controller battery pack. Both of my machines do not have the expensive storage controller option. Only the onboard default controller. So the space is completely empty and an easily accessible location for the SATADOM.
The power is the most difficult one. I ended up with converters to into the power connection from the storage backplane (keep in mind my server has no internal storage except the boot device (the SATADOM in this post…) If you have your storage filled with SSDs or HDDs you need to figure out a new solution where to get the power from. I have read something about a power kit for the DVD ROM for example. I have never seen it on a picture or in a server so I do not know which connectors are in that cable kit but it might be an option.
To make some more sense and pictures explain more than words… Here is a gallery with some pictures of the SATADOM installation:
DL20 Gen 9 BIOS Settings
After the physical installation, it was time to set up the BIOS. To be honest it was quite easy compared to the HPE Gen8 where I had a lot of problems because of the ports and bios settings.
Here are two screenshots. The first one is the activation of the internal storage controller. Note: make sure you power cycle the machine before the SATADOM is detected. After the power cycle, the VMware ESXi installer should detect the SATADOM when trying to install VMware ESXi.
After this point, the SATADOM installation is completed. Just continue your normal procedures and put your host into production when you are done.
So that is it for today…! I hope it was useful for other people and interesting to read. Keep in mind this blog post was focused on the HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen9 but I think the procedure will be quite identical to other HPE Gen9 servers. The most difficult part will always be the cabling and after that, the BIOS settings to get the device detected correctly.
So far my hosts have been running for about 40+ days without any issues and are working perfectly fine. If you got additional questions or remarks please respond in the comment section below. Thanks for reading my blog post and see you next time.
In this blog post, I am talking about the HPE ProLiant ML10 v2 home lab servers that I have been using for the last three years. I had some performance issues related to the processor with the number of virtual machines and containers running on the little ML10 v2 servers. So it was time for a CPU Swap!
On the internet, there are a lot of speculations on which CPUs are supported in the HPE ProLiant ML10 v2. So that is why I did this blog post.
The servers were originally bought with Intel® Pentium® Processor G3240 CPUs. This was the smallest CPU available at the time. At first, I was looking at the Intel Xeon E3-1220 v3 CPUs but I decided to buy the Intel® Core™ i3-4170 Processor on Ebay.com for a couple of bucks. The choice was related to the pricing difference and the amount of power usage.
I can confirm that both HPE ProLiant ML10 v2 servers detected the i3-4170 CPUs without any issues. The systems are running 24×7 and the CPU temperature is around fourth to fifty degrees with the fans running on their lowest operating mode.
As you already figured out the G3240 is a slow CPU compared to the i3-4170. So it was a well worth invested upgrade it for about 40 euro’s for both CPUs in total.
The hypervisor (VMware ESXi) and workload performance improved drastically. Because of the additional instruction sets like AES-NI and clock speed. So it was a good investment at least in my opinion.
Here are some screenshots of one of the HPE ML10 v2 server that was upgraded with the new CPU. As you can see the screenshots are from the HPE Integrated Lights-out or in short (iLO). The first screenshot is of the new CPU that is detected, the second one is the memory configuration and the third screenshot is the operating temperatures after running a couple of days with the workload.
As you can see the Intel i3-4170 CPU is working without any issues in the ML10 v2 server. Currently, they have been running for about 100 days without any reboot. So I can confirm they are stable and do not overheat! The CPU swap is successful!
This time I decided to do a blog post about the HPE Smart Array RAID controllers with their wonderful ssacli tool. The tooling of HPE is very powerful because you can online manage a VMware ESXi host and migrate for example from a RAID 1 volume to a RAID 10 without downtime or change the read and write cache ratio.
So far as I know I haven’t seen an identical tool yet from the other server hardware vendors like Cisco, Dell EMC, IBM, and Supermicro. The main difference has always been that the HPE tool can perform the operation live without downtime.
So far as I can remember it has been there for ages. It was already available for VMware ESX 4.0 and is still available in VMware ESXi 6.7. So thumbs-up for HPE :).
Let’s talk about controller support. The tool supports the most HPE SmartArray controllers over the last 10 to 15 years, for example, the Smart Array P400 was released in 2005 and is still working fine today.
Here is an overview of supported controllers:
HPE Smart Array P2XX
HPE Smart Array P4XX
HPE Smart Array P7XX
HPE Smart Array P8XX
HPE SSACLI – Location
In case you are using the HPE VMware ESXi custom images. The tool is already pre-installed when installing ESXi. The tool is installed as a VIB (vSphere Installable Bundle). This means it can also be updated with vSphere Update Manager.
Over the years the name of the HPE Storage Controller Tool has been changed and so has the location. Here is a list of locations that have been used for the last ten years for VMware ESXi:
I have collected some screenshots over the years. Screenshots were taken by doing maintenance on VMware ESXi servers. The give you an idea what valuable information can be shown.
HPE SSACLI – Abréviation
All commands have a short name to reduce the length of the total input provided to the ssacli tool:
- chassisname = ch
- controller = ctrl
- logicaldrive = ld
- physicaldrive = pd
- drivewritecache = dwc
- licensekey = lk
### Specify drives:
- A range of drives (one to three): 1E:1:1-1E:1:3
- Drives that are unassigned: allunassigned
HPE SSACLI – Status
To view the status of the controller, disks or volumes you can run all sorts of commands to get information about what is going on in your VMware ESXi server. The extensive detail is very useful for troubleshooting and gathering information about the system.
# Show - Controller Slot 1 Controller configuration basic
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config
# Show - Controller Slot 1 Controller configuration detailed
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show detail
# Show - Controller Slot 1 full configuration
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show config detail
# Show - Controller Slot 1 Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 show status
# Show - All Controllers Configuration
./ssacli ctrl all show config
# Show - Controller slot 1 logical drive 1 status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 show status
# Show - Physical Disks status basic
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status
# Show - Physical Disk status detailed
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 pd all show status
# Show - Logical Disk status basic
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld all show status
# Show - Logical Disk status detailed
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld all show detail
HPE SSACLI – Creating
Creating a new logical drive can be done online with the HPE Smart Array controllers. I have displayed some basic examples.
# Create - New single disk volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=2I:0:8 raid=0 forced
# Create - New spare disk (two defined)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 array all add spares=2I:1:6,2I:1:7
# Create - New RAID 1 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2 raid=1 forced
# Create - New RAID 5 volume
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 create type=ld drives=1I:0:1,1I:0:2,1I:0:3 raid=5 forced
HPE SSACLI – Adding drives to logical drive
Adding drives to an already created logical drive is possible with the following commands. You need to perform two actions: adding the drive(s) and expanding the logical drive. Keep in mind: make a backup before performing the procedure.
# Add - All unassigned drives to logical drive 1
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 1 add drives=allunassigned
# Modify - Extend logical drive 2 size to maximum (must be run with the "forced" flag)
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify size=max forced
HPE SSACLI – Rescan controller
To issue a controller rescan, you can run the following command. This can be interesting for when you add new drives in hot swap bays.
### Rescan all controllers
HPE SSACLI – Drive Led Status
The LED status of the drives can also be controlled by the ssacli utility. An example is displayed below how to enable and disable a LED.
# Led - Activate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=on
# Led - Deactivate LEDs on logical drive 2 disks
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 ld 2 modify led=off
# Led - Activate LED on physical drive
./ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=on
# Led - Deactivate LED on physical drive
./ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd 1I:0:1 modify led=off
HPE SSACLI – Modify Cache Ratio
Modify the cache ratio on a running system can be interesting for troubleshooting and performance beanchmarking.
# Show - Cache Ratio Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=?
# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 25% / write: 75%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=25/75
# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 50% / write: 50%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=50/50
# Modify - Cache Ratio read: 0% / Write: 100%
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify cacheratio=0/100
HPE SSACLI – Modify Write Cache
Changing the write cache settings on the storage controller can be done with the following commands:
Viewing or changing the rebuild priority can be done on the fly. Even when the rebuild is already active. Used it myself a couple of times to lower the impact on production.
# Show - Rebuild Priority Status
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rp=?
# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Low
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=low
# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to Medium
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=medium
# Modify - Set rebuildpriority to High
./ssacli ctrl slot=1 modify rebuildpriority=high
HPE SSACLI – Modify SSD Smart Path
You can modify the HPE SDD Smart Path feature by disabling or enabling. To make clear what the HPE SDD Smart Path includes, here is a officialstatement by HPE:
“HP SmartCache feature is a controller-based read and write caching solution that caches the most frequently accessed data (“hot” data) onto lower latency SSDs to dynamically accelerate application workloads. This can be implemented on direct-attached storage and SAN storage.”
Today a blog about my Home Lab. At the end of 2017, it was time to replace the old Dell PowerEdge R710 servers with something new. Currently, I was running two R710 servers for my lab environment.
These servers are ‘powered-on for a couple of hours a week to test new products and learn for certifications. My other environment described on this page is running 24/7 is providing a full set of infrastructure services.
Because of the price and I’m very familiar with the DL360 G8 it was a no brainer. Over the last couple of years, all my virtualization projects were based for 75% on the DL360 Gen8… so we have a lot of history together ;).
Technical specifications – HP DL360e Gen8:
Chassis: Small Form Factor (8-bays)
CPU1: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430 v2
CPU2: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2430 v2
Memory: 128 GB (8x 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz)
Disks HDD: 2x Seagate Constellation SAS 1TB
Disks SSD: 4x Samsung EVO 850 250 GB
Storage controller: HP SmartArray P420 with 1 GB FBWC
NIC: 4 port 1 Gbit
Rack mounting kit, cable arm, and security front bezel
The spinning drives provide “safe” storage because they are configured as a mirrored volume. The SSD drives are configured as JBOD drives for performance without data protection (if I want protection I just create a virtual machine back-up to one of my storage arrays).
In 2018, I did a full write-up of this server on this page: link
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