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XW8600 Drive Support
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Posts: 11
Member Since: ‎02-20-2013
Message 21 of 27 (5,286 Views)

Re: XW8600 Drive Support

Well I can see this thread has been resurected a few times from the dead with other people trying to get large drives ( > 2TB) to work.  I have some more updates on it.


So since my initial post, I have upgraded from three 2TB WD RED drives to 4 2TB WD RED Drives to 6 WD RED 2 TB drives. At present my setup is as follows.  


Box: XW8600

Processor: Dual E5440

Ram: 24 GB DDR2 5300F ECC



1 x 160 GB OS Drive 

6 x 2TB WD RED Drives



Total Data Storage: 12TB

Usable: 9.1 TB


OS: FreeNAS 9.1.1


All in all I have 5.2 TB of space used across this RAID array.  I've tried using Windows 7, Server 2008, Ubuntu and CentOS to do the same thing, but the system doesnt recognize anything over 2TB of space.  For some reason, unknown to me, FreeNAS and only FreeNAS is able to see all space available on the drives even though its well over the 2TB limit.


I'm about to add four more drives (dont ask how, I'm not sure yet where they will sit within the chassis) to the system, all 2TB WD RED drives.  I have tried multiple times to connect these SATA drives to the SAS plugins but every time I do the system completly craps out and results in a kernel panic.  You CAN use the SATA drives in the SAS plugs so long as you dont use any of the SATA plugs, and vice versa.  But you cannot mix them.  


So I have managed to get my hands on three IBM M1115 PCI-E RAID cards (Not to be confused with the M1015 cards - different but almost identical and can be flashed into IT mode just like the M1015).  One of them will be put into the system and flashed to IT mode to allow support for up to 8 additional drives.  Heres to hoping this works.  This old workhorse of a work station seems to suprise me at every turn. I've been able to do things with it I've been told arent possible.  






Top Student
Posts: 6
Member Since: ‎01-22-2014
Message 22 of 27 (5,046 Views)

Re: XW8600 Drive Support

Thought I'd throw a comment or 2 in on this...

I have found the HP Smart Array p400 controller to work absolutely fantastic in my xw8600. It recognizes it as HP hardware and happily goes on about its business (it complains if you try to put it in a white box machine). Even the configuration & management software from HP works great (ACU).

This is a server grade controller (stock in proliant servers) and provides RAID 0/1/5/10 along with battery backed write cache and extensive configuration via ACU CLI. It is on the VMWare hardware compatibility list as a supported device. Best of all, it can be found on ebay for around $20 with the battery & 512mb cache.

You'd need 2 SFF-8484 32 Pin to 4 SATA 7 Pin fan-out cables as this is an 8-port card but those may also be found on ebay for around $8 each.

These saved me when I ran into that pesky 2 active array limit in the onboard LSI controller. That is a ridiculous limit (especially with 8 available ports) but then again, the 1068e is the bottom of the barrel LSI chip.

I have another p400 on the way to add more storage (I think they can even be chained to produce one massive volume if needed but I don't plan on using them that way).

This is probably the best option for hardware raid at a really good price for these workstations. And it's native HP hardware (someone mentioned above using a Dell perc - I wouldn't bother with that, especially when this works so well).

Anyway, just my 2 cents...
Posts: 55
Member Since: ‎03-15-2013
Message 23 of 27 (5,037 Views)

Re: XW8600 Drive Support

Doesn't P400 (and other HP server grade hardware) require HP drives? I.e. it might work but with limited functionality, e.g. with write-back caching disabled, to protect the user from severe consequences of using non-HP components?
Top Student
Posts: 6
Member Since: ‎01-22-2014
Message 24 of 27 (5,034 Views)

Re: XW8600 Drive Support

I attach probably the most eclectic collection of cheap sata drives to it and it runs flawlessly. 'Green' drives, laptop drives, etc. You'd be surprised what 'just works'. Cache works fine, diagnostics reprots work fine, etc.

I tend to specialize in 'budget' stuff...
Honor Student
Posts: 3
Member Since: ‎07-24-2014
Message 25 of 27 (3,802 Views)

Re: XW8600 Drive Support



Do you manage to use your P400 as the boot controller, and if so, what trickery within BIOS did you set?


Or is used just as a data store, with OS on the SATA?



Top Student
Posts: 6
Member Since: ‎01-22-2014
Message 26 of 27 (1,214 Views)

Re: XW8600 Drive Support

I do use one of the logical drives in the array to boot from. It wasn't straight forward but I can't remember the exact steps. I think it shows up in the bios as smaryarray p400 or something so you put that on top like you would expect but then in the config for the controller I think you have to set a flag on the first logical volume. I think it must be the first. Or maybe there isn't a flag on the volume, maybe it is just an overall enable boot flag or something and you just have to make sure you install the OS on the very first volume.

This is all very vague, I know, it's just been a while since I had to do this. But it does work, I promise. ; )

Keep fiddling with it. Google is your friend on this...
Honor Student
Posts: 3
Member Since: ‎07-24-2014
Message 27 of 27 (1,201 Views)

Re: XW8600 Drive Support

Thanks for the prompt reply.


I'm reassured that these boxes will boot from add-in controllers - just not my P410, believe me I've worn Google out:


Latest BIOS & F/W

Disabled all on-board controllers & NIC ROMs.

Different slots & timings/lane allocations.

Default BIOS & start over.


I've no problem accessing the P410 ORCA and setting the boot volume etc.


Consistently, there is never the option to set the P410 as the boot controller within the BIOS.


I've a glut of P400 & P800s, so will try one of those to just to eliminate the P410.



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