LSI Internal PCI-Express SAS/SATA HBA, 9211-8I, 8-Port 6Gb/s Controller Card
About this deal
After finding some PDFs with various bit of info on LSI’s range of host bus adapters (HBAs) I thought I would bring them here to help anyone looking at using one. LSI HBA cards are great way to add fast storage beyond the motherboard supplied SAS and SATA ports. A LSI HBA is a simple disk controller and is great for adding well supported, reliable and low cost SAS and SATA ports to a server. One additional benefit of the LSI HBA line is that you can pass disks directly through to the OS, without needing a RAID layer. This is important for advanced storage systems such as ZFS where you do not want hardware controllers to interfere. These LSI HBA’s often come in configurable Firmware options ie IT for JBOD only, or IR mode for simple RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10.) Another key benefit is that the LSI HBA lineup tends to be very popular with OEMs such as IBM, HP, Dell, Oracle, Fujitsu, Intel, Supermicro and others, so driver support is generally strong regardless of the OS you are using. Just to be clear, I didn't say they quit making them in 2011. It's just that there was a heavy influx of them in a certain period. Since SAS 12Gbps wasn't introduced until recently, I'm sure they continued to make them. The command will put the card into advanced mode again -o and then flash with firmware -f 2118it.bin and bios -b mtpsas2.rom. Well, maybe good idea for some applications, especially with frequent reboots. NAS is rather less impacted.
How-to: Flash LSI 9211-8i using EFI shell - TrueNAS How-to: Flash LSI 9211-8i using EFI shell - TrueNAS
Partly it’s because I have enough GPU’s to fill every one of these computers and still have spares, and I want them running a Folding Farm. However, since the entire Folding Farm’s CPU’s and GPU’s are going to be part of the same chilled water loop, there’s PLENTY of air cooling for hard drives…. That, and older CPU’s (anything older than C2D/A64X2) won’t be Folding, they’ll be dedicated to their server 🙂 If you want to keep using the IR-mode and are happy with the firmware's version then you don't have to do anything. Disclaimer & warning Took me 6 hours to understand how to boot into the UEFI console and to flash that damn firmware from IR to IT mode but I hope that with these instructions you'll be able to do it within max 10 minutes (once you manage to boot it will take 30 seconds to perform the flash).
I was able to figure it out. For others, if you have more than 1 card you can either simply not flash a boot bios onto any card if you don't want or need the boot bios or choose to write to just one card the boot bios while the rest you don't need to. IR: Integrated Raid. The card itself writes extra proprietary informations to the devices => such devices can therefore be read only by compatible HW. I honestly have no idea what LSI card is equal to what, I am guessing that LSI 9211 = IBM 9200 = SAS2008 chip. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
LSI 9211-8i P20 Firmware - Linus Tech Tips LSI 9211-8i P20 Firmware - Linus Tech Tips
The 9211-8i is plenty capable of running a ton of drives. Each SAS channel is 6Gbps and the card has 8 of them. So effectively, there is 8GBps available in the card. PCI-e 2.0 8x cannot even handle the full bandwidth of the card. Given that a spinning rust hard-drive might give your 130MBps at the best of times, then, with PCI-e 8X, you need to have 30 HDDs at full bandwidth to saturate the bus. For any home based system, you will likely not have an issue. You need the absolute latest firmware (mid-June, version 10, I believe) to enable proper communication between the 9211-8i and the HP SAS Expander.I need to install ZFS filesystem on this server, so I have to use the controller in passthrough mode, and JBOD. No Raid is required at all. To do this, I need to have the card flashed in target mode, by using the IT firmware. I actually was wrong about what model it was, so I probably would have messed it up. Seems like its an IBM M1015 already crossflashed... Currently the whole system is working, but it only detects drives during BIOS, and drives passed through to FreeNas works, except HotPlug/ Hotswap is not working... I personally used to use a single 9211-8i with an Intel SAS expander for 34 HDDs in a single chassis and had no issues:)