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just brew it!
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LSI SAS9211-8i

Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:12 am

Looks like Amazon has some pretty good deals (via 3rd party sellers but "Fulfilled by Amazon" and with Prime shipping) on LSI 8-port SATA/SAS controllers:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002R ... UTF8&psc=1

Couple of things to keep in mind... they have high-density SAS connectors onboard, so you'll need some special breakout cables to connect to standard SATA drives (you'll need two of these if you want to use all 8 ports):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018Y ... UTF8&psc=1

You'll also need a free PCIe x8 or x16 slot...

If you've got a lot of drives you need to hook up, this is a much better bet than off-brand SATA add-in cards.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:17 am

70 bucks for 8 hilariously fast SATA ports. Nice.

This card and my FreeNAS machine may have a date in the near future.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:35 am

just brew it! wrote:
Couple of things to keep in mind... they have high-density SAS connectors onboard, so you'll need some special breakout cables to connect to standard SATA drives (you'll need two of these if you want to use all 8 ports):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018Y ... UTF8&psc=1


I like that you chose the Cable Matters cable over the cheaper StarTech cable that Amazon also suggests.

Having dealt with StarTech KVMs and other cables in the past... the extra $5 is worth it, especially for a storage system.
 
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:22 am

Just did the same on FreeNAS 11.

Jumped on TR's finding of 4x4TB HGST for $400 a couple weeks ago. Now running a 6x4TB RAIDZ2 for ~15TB usable. R/W exceeds 1GbE links.

Install was stupid simple, as I bought a pre-flashed IT mode card. FreeNAS saw it immediately.

All in all, happy with the results.
 
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:48 am

A lot of ebay sellers also list on amazon now, fairly normal price for awhile. If you dig a bit can find variations with same lsi 2008 controller under 50. I grab 3008 cards now under $100, breakout cables cost a little bit more but pcie 3.0 and they will be ready to accept the future glut of used SAS3 ssds.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:51 am

Well with stuff like this dropping below $70 I see absolutely no reason to buy craptastic Rosewill, Syba, etc. HBAs any more when I run out of SATA ports.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:06 am

This reminds me of the flood of discarded Westmete Xeons that could easily work any of 1366 boards out there. They were also unlocked on top of that.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:15 pm

While I have bought these controllers for FreeNAS and other uses as well, please be aware that fakes exist, just like Intel NICs. Those heatsink pushpins don't look right to me (mine are brass bolts+nuts), and often the low-res photo is to hide those details. Sometimes the fakes work fine, as they are just unsanctioned midnight production runs. Sometimes.
Be careful on inserting this (or any G34 chip) into the socket. Once you pull that restraining lever, it is either a good install or a piece of silicon jewelry.
 
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:36 pm

MOSFET wrote:
While I have bought these controllers for FreeNAS and other uses as well, please be aware that fakes exist, just like Intel NICs. Those heatsink pushpins don't look right to me (mine are brass bolts+nuts), and often the low-res photo is to hide those details. Sometimes the fakes work fine, as they are just unsanctioned midnight production runs. Sometimes.

The pic on Newegg's site appears to have the same style pushpins, FWIW. Doesn't prove anything, but if that's a sign of a counterfeit card then Newegg's selling them too.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:03 pm

just brew it! wrote:
MOSFET wrote:
While I have bought these controllers for FreeNAS and other uses as well, please be aware that fakes exist, just like Intel NICs. Those heatsink pushpins don't look right to me (mine are brass bolts+nuts), and often the low-res photo is to hide those details. Sometimes the fakes work fine, as they are just unsanctioned midnight production runs. Sometimes.

The pic on Newegg's site appears to have the same style pushpins, FWIW. Doesn't prove anything, but if that's a sign of a counterfeit card then Newegg's selling them too.


1) Sorry, didn't mean to get too tangential to a good find.
2) I'm not as good at spotting LSI fakes as Intel fakes.
3) If you DO know exactly what you're looking for (and looking to avoid), sometimes eBay is actually the best option for stuff this far into the lifecycle, if only for more detailed pictures.
Be careful on inserting this (or any G34 chip) into the socket. Once you pull that restraining lever, it is either a good install or a piece of silicon jewelry.
 
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:04 pm

Didn't say you were necessarily wrong, or that Newegg couldn't get duped with counterfeit cards themselves. Counterfeit cards are certainly a possibility, and something people should be aware of. I was just pointing out that the plastic push-pins aren't necessarily a red flag.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:14 pm

I have three of this card (two in my FreeNAS server, one flashed for RAID duty) and one of the PCIe 3.0 version of this card card (well, in IT mode, the hardware is the same) in my desktop. They work pretty nicely, though I added a larger heatsink to mine since it got pretty darn toasty in a non-server case without direct airflow. A small fan pointed at it would probably alleviate any heat concerns. Mine all had plastic pushpins.

They're awesome cards either way, the only reason I upgraded the one in my desktop was for more bandwidth.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:29 am

I've been testing one of them in my "smoke test" box for a couple of days. So far so good. Debian 8 (Jessie) recognized it with no futzing required. Firmware's a little old, debating whether to flash it or just leave well enough alone. Will be swapping it into my file server at some point...
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:34 am

I recommend bumping the firmware if it's easy in your environment, there are a few known bugs on older (pre version 15) firmware that are possible to hit in somewhat normal use. Error recovery from misbehaving drives is much better in my experience with the newer firmware revisions as well.

FreeNAS will complain if your firmware version doesn't match the running driver, too. :P
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:43 am

Waco wrote:
I recommend bumping the firmware if it's easy in your environment, there are a few known bugs on older (pre version 15) firmware that are possible to hit in somewhat normal use. Error recovery from misbehaving drives is much better in my experience with the newer firmware revisions as well.

OK, will look into flashing the firmware over the weekend.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:28 am

Flash to IT mode for any kind of software raid (the best kind) and try to use a version recommended by the driver if any (mostly a thing in *BSD) as sometimes you can be "too new".

If you don't need to boot off any drives on the card, you can also flash it without adding the option rom. Posts faster and one less thing to go wrong particularly with multiple cards, you can always flash it back in later if needed. Unlike some stuff I wouldn't worry about bricking, there are a lot of ways to recover these cards with full wipes etc (no jtag burner needed) you can even change the SAS "MAC" address etc.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8

Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:36 am

Bauxite wrote:
Flash to IT mode for any kind of software raid (the best kind) and try to use a version recommended by the driver if any (mostly a thing in *BSD) as sometimes you can be "too new".

If you don't need to boot off any drives on the card, you can also flash it without adding the option rom. Posts faster and one less thing to go wrong particularly with multiple cards, you can always flash it back in later if needed. Unlike some stuff I wouldn't worry about bricking, there are a lot of ways to recover these cards with full wipes etc (no jtag burner needed) you can even change the SAS "MAC" address etc.

I support this - I remove the BIOS on all of the cards I own and run at work. It speeds up boot by quite a bit.

The process of swapping from the IR firmware to the IT firmware isn't straightforward, though, so if you can acquire them with the IT firmware already in place, do so! Don't flash the IR firmware unless you're committed to leaving the card that way or spending a few hours at minimum trying to flash back to IT mode in the future.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8i

Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:14 am

Quick update to this: Apparently there is no longer a firmware download page specifically for the SAS9211-8i; near as I can tell, it got "disappeared" in the Broadcom/Avago acquisition. However, the 9211-8i is essentially the same card as the 9210-8i (only the connector placement is different?), so the 9210-8i firmware images are compatible. I just successfully flashed to the latest firmware, using the 9210-8i images. Left it on the IR firmware, since I'm not worried about boot time on a server that gets rebooted maybe twice a year.

Something else that caused me a little confusion -- the OS-specific (e.g. Linux) firmware update downloads are just the installer tool that is compatible with your OS, without the firmware. I guess you are also supposed to download the Windows/DOS firmware update package and extract the firmware image files from that.

I updated both the firmware and the card's BIOS.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8i

Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:51 pm

The Avago and Broadcom buyouts of LSI certainly made their site confusing.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8i

Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:14 pm

Waco wrote:
The Avago and Broadcom buyouts of LSI certainly made their site confusing.

Yeah, no kidding. I spent a couple of hours this morning figuring out that it was kosher to use the 9210-8i firmware image, and wondering why the installation package was just a copy of the sas2flash tool with no firmware. :-?
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8i

Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:28 am

I've found the only real thing you need to match up is the controller type - it won't let you flash something incompatible in general, and as a rule, they're pretty amazingly easy to re-flash even if you screw up entirely. I've wiped the card firmware/BIOS completely clean to recover from errors (which would normally scare me) but apparently they retain enough of a base image that they are recognized by the flashing tools when in the wiped state. Even after a power cycle you can still flash new firmware to a "blank" card.
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8i

Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:36 am

Waco wrote:
I've found the only real thing you need to match up is the controller type - it won't let you flash something incompatible in general, and as a rule, they're pretty amazingly easy to re-flash even if you screw up entirely. I've wiped the card firmware/BIOS completely clean to recover from errors (which would normally scare me) but apparently they retain enough of a base image that they are recognized by the flashing tools when in the wiped state. Even after a power cycle you can still flash new firmware to a "blank" card.

That's good to know in case I ever decide to re-flash it to IT mode.

Maybe they've rigged something up that allows them to drive the flash programming directly from the PCIe interface, without the cooperation of any existing firmware on the card?
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Re: LSI SAS9211-8i

Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:52 am

That's my assumption - I was able to revert back to very old firmware revisions by wiping the card completely (which you need to do to switch between IR and IT modes in some cases).
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