Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saving a Dell PE 2950 from the graveyard by turning it into an archive server

The Dell PE 2950 came with a Perc 5/i raid controller that supports up to 2 TB single disks.  It has 6 hot swap bays for a total of 12 TB, it does not support raid6 and a raid5 is not recommended with large disks.  A raid10 would bring the usable storage to 6 TB, much less than what we need.  After some research I decided to upgrade the Perc 5/i to a Perc h700 that can support 4 TB drives and a raid6, which will put us at ~16 TB usable.  This post is NOT instructions on how to install a PERC H700 in a Dell PE 2950, if you are going to do this you do so at your own risk, and wear an anti-static wrist strap!

The humble PERC 5/i and the area we are going to be working with: 
no battery :-(
SAS cables removed:

5/i removed:

Two screws hold the 5/i onto the caddy, the blue clip had to be removed:

The blue clip would not fit because of the heatsink on the h700.  Earthquakes are not an issue in this part of the country so it should be ok.  It fit into place firmly enough.  1GB of ram and a battery:

I had to buy Mini-SAS SFF-8087 to SFF-8484 cables, 18 inch was the shortest cable I could find and as you can see they are too long.  BE CAREFUL when routing these, take it slow and bend slowly.  The SAS-B (right side) on the backplane is gracefully bent because of the cd-rom drive is in the way:

This is a good sign, however disks 4&5 show up as 6&7.  Weird, but consistent with the research I have read:

Raid6 is preferred over raid5 nowadays, raid10 would be overkill for a static archive box:

We should be good: 

If you look carefully the lights on 4&5 (6&7 now) on the very right do not light up.  Once again weird, but consistent with what I have read:

14902GB C: drive? Can't because there is no UEFI on the Dell 2950:

After installing Server 2012 I formatted the storage space:

And here is what Dell OpenManager Server Administrator is saying about the disks:

Openmanage is showing disks 0-3 being members of 'connector 0' and disks 4-5 being members of 'connector 1':