Controller and drive upgrade advice (ESXi Guest)

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I'm running UnRAID 6.8.3 as a Guest OS on ESXi 6.7.0.  It's been running well for years, but I have a very old disk controller that can't handle drives larger than 2 TB.  I've recently purchased a new controller and new (larger) drives.  

What is the recommended approach to migrate from the old controller and drives to the new controller and drives?  "New" controller (not that new of a product, but new to me) is an LSI SAS9220-8i.  The whole controller is passed through to the UnRAID VM.  

It looks like I might be able to attach all the old and new drives to this (8 connectors) but not sure if my motherboard can power 8 drives...

I'm in no hurry, but looking for suggestions.



Edited by JohnO
added passthrough info
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I would just connect the new drives to the new controller, leaving the old ones connected to the old controller (why move, they're temporary anyway).

Next step would be to replace the parity drive(s) (needs to be the largest one(s)), and rebuild parity. If you have dual parity you'd perhaps want to do it one by one (to remain protected throughout). Then, add the rest of the new ones to the array as data drives, move the data over (you can either spread the the files manually, or play with share policy, or use one of the balancing plugins - latter probably best). Then, once the old drives are empty, you can remove them from the array. There are procedures for every step mentioned.

Your PSU should have sufficient SATA power plugs. If it doesn't, no worries - get a SATA power splitter (such as this or this depending on available power ports). As long as you don't chain tens of drives, you should be fine in terms of power budget.

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Thanks @Doron -- that does sound like a great approach.  Now to see if I have a spare PCI port of the appropriate type to have both disk controllers active!  The system has been running smoothly for a few years now, so I haven't had to crack the case for a couple of years.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sadly -- my first attempt did not go well.  I installed the new controller card (without any drives attached), and restarted the system.  The system saw the controller card on boot, and gave the message about no drives found, and said to press any key to continue -- but no keyboard input was allowed.  I shutdown, removed the card, and booted up again.  This time around the system saw the old controller, but first started to boot to my unRAID USB stick.  I shut down, removed the unRAID stick, and it started up again, but graphics came up on the wrong video card.  ESXi started to boot this time, but would hang just after 'iodm loaded successfully'.  I could connect to ESXi from the web interface even though the ESXi console still shows "loading" for the remaining drivers, but ESXi didn't see the passthrough controller, nor the video card that was previously set for passthrough!

Not sure where to go next.  I'm tempted to start from scratch with the new controller card, and just rebuild everything...  But that is always more work than I think it'll be...

Any ideas?  Could this be as simple as the BIOS is confused?



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Ok -- crisis averted.  Thank goodness for my note taking!  I had a similar issue in 2016, in that something caused the BIOS to reset to defaults, and by default, it selected PCIe over PCI for graphics card, (I have one of each) and it turns OFF IOMMU, which means none of the passthrough devices (the PCIe graphics controller and, more importantly the SAN controller) were seen by VMware ESXi.  Resettings those two settings and restarting the machine fixed my issues!

So -- this leaves me back where I started -- not sure if there is a conflict not allowing the old and new disk controllers to be active in the machine at the same time?  Motherboard is an: ASRock 970 Extreme4 AMD AM3+



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  • 1 month later...

After more attempts, I'm starting to believe I can't use this M1015 controller board (at least, with current firmware) with my ASRock 970 Extreme 4 motherboard.  It continues to hang at the same spot.  Unfortunately, I don't have any other machines to use to try to swap the firmware.


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With the M1015 installed (and all other PCI-e cards removed) the boot process never gets as far as allowing keyboard input from the USB keyboard.  With the card removed, the system boots as expected (or -- with everything removed, gives the expected message about inserting boot media).

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1 hour ago, jonathanm said:

Does the motherboard have a round 6 pin PS/2 keyboard connector?


Also, on some boards only a few of the USB ports are initialized for early I/O, and that can be controlled with a BIOS setting.

Yes the motherboard has a PS/2 keyboard connection.  I've got a note out to some local friends to see if they have a PS/2 keyboard I can borrow.  I did also try every USB port on the machine - just in case.

Thanks for you ideas. I appreciate it.


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