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Installing Fibre Connect HBA on DAS Server

We are going to start with the easiest part, configuring the PCIe QLogic FC HBA in our DAS server. We are starting here because we are going to need the Port Name / WWN of the adapter to configure Openfiler as a SAN. We’ll then install our second HBA in Old Shuck.

Remember these cards are used, you have no guarantee that the settings are in a known state, it’s probably a good idea to reset both them to their factory settings. You can do this at boot-up, once you see the banner for the QLogic card hit Control-Q, there you’ll find a BIOS menu selection for restoring the card to the default factory settings.

There are no real hard requirements for the DAS server, dedicating a machine is not necessary. But it goes without saying that the more capable the box, the better a gateway it’ll make performance-wise. Gigabit network and at least 2 GB of memory with a multicore processor would be a good start. 

We are using BlackDog, our mainline Windows desktop, a homebrew AMD Phenom II Black X3 720 with the fourth core unlocked and overclocked to the point that it emits a small subsonic tortured whine that every electric company loves. Effectively an X4 965, with 8 GB of memory and a SSD for paging, running Windows 7 x64.

You will need to get QLogic’s SANSurfer from their site. Select your model HBA to get a list of downloads - don’t worry about the driver, since Windows will automatically install them for you, all you need is the FC Manager. If, like us, you are on Windows 7, there isn’t a version for it, just grab the version for Vista, it’ll do the job.

Before installing the software, go ahead and shut down, then gently insert the HBA into your PCIe bus.

After bringing your server back up, Windows should recognize the card and install the driver. You now need to install SANSurfer, choose the manager GUI and Windows Agent (Figure 2).

SANSurfer Install

Figure 2: SANSurfer Install

The Windows Agent acts as the initiator, and the manager allows us to configure the card. Once installed, go ahead and run it.

First, you’ll need to connect to the HBA. From the toolbar, hit Connect, you’ll get a pop-up offering to connect to localhost (figure 3). Check the auto-connect box and hit Connect.

SANSurfer connect

Figure 3: SANSurfer connect

You should now see your HBA listed in the left hand pane (Figure 4), with everything marked Good. If not Good, drop to the QLogic BIOS, available at boot-up, and reset everything to factory settings, then try again.

HBA Status

Figure 4: HBA Status

From the manager GUI, select “Port 1” and from the top bar select Wizards -> General Configuration Wizard (figure 5).

HBA Configuration Wizard

Figure 5: HBA Configuration Wizard

Write down the Port Name field value, we are going to need it when we configure Old Shuck. Select the HBA and hit Next, skip past the informational page, and go to the connection settings page.

On this page set Connection Option to 1-Point to Point Only and the Data Rate to 4Gbps on the associated pull-downs (figure 6). 

Connection Settings Pulldown

Figure 6: Connection Settings Pulldown

Now, skip to the end by clicking Next, and confirm the configuration by clicking Finish on the last window. You’ll be prompted to save the configuration - this requires a password, the default password is config.

You should now see the status screen with all the details of your card (Figure 7).

Completed Configuration

Figure 7: Completed Configuration

Leave this up and connected for now, we’ll be coming back to it.

Installing Fibre Connect HBA On Old Shuck

I next powered down Old Shuck and installed the HBA in a free slot. Comparative benchmarking showed that the best performance can be had with the HBA in Slot #3, the 133 Mhz slot. This indicates that the HBA is a bottleneck, not our 3Ware card. 

Installing the 3Ware card in the faster slot, as we mentioned, does require disabling the onboard SCSI, otherwise you’ll see a resource conflict. What was surprising is not the problem, but Supermicro’s excellent support. We contacted them by email with a problem on a five year old motherboard, and within two hours they had responded with the correct solution. How many other vendors support even their current products so well? In comparison, on previous builds, real problems with both AMD and Asus saw no resolution, or more often no response at all. Impressive, and kudos to Supermicro!

After installing the card, boot the machine with one hand on the keyboard, when the QLogic BIOS banner appears, hit Ctrl-Q to enter its BIOS. We need to verify the Adapter Settings (Figure 8), since we want our two cards agreeing on settings. These three settings are:

Frame Size: 2048 (default)
Connection Option: 1 (Point to Point)
Data Rate: 3 (4Gps)

QLogic BIOS, Adapter Settings

Figure 8: QLogic BIOS, Adapter Settings

If there are odd values, or you have problems later, the QLogic card can be reset to factory defaults from the main BIOS screen. Once the values are set, go ahead and complete the boot up of the SAN server.

Take a moment now, once the card is in, to make the cable run between the DAS server and the SAN server. The cable has a nice snap to it, doesn’t it?

The QLogic card is now ready to be paired with our initiator. We just have to configure Openfiler, first for our SAN storage, and then associate that storage with our new HBA.

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