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Nov 27 2013

HP Smart Array P420 FBWC 1Gb 2-ports Int SAS Controller review

Finally it arrived ! A brand new HP Smart Array P420 FBWC 1Gb 2-ports Int SAS Controller for our HP ML310e Gen8 v2 server.

HP PartSurfer link : http://partsurfer.hp.com/Search.aspx?SearchText=631670-B21
HP Controller software : http://h20565.www2.hp.com/portal/site/hpsc/public/psi/swdHome/?sp4ts.oid=5193409

It arrived without any cables (Miscellaneous cable kit – Includes the front video adapter cable, embedded SATA cable, and Mini-SAS cable with straight connector to left connector (33-inches long), just with the DDR3 Flash and the SuperCapacitor and it’s powering cable)

Features :

  • PCI EXPRESS 3.0 (6GB/s) interface x8
  • 1 GB RAM DDR3
  • 2 internal SAS ports
  • RAID Levels 0,1,5,10,50
  • Flash Backed Cache (Super Capacitor)
HP Smart Array P420 Controller

HP Smart Array P420 2-ports Int SAS Controller

Below you can see an image of the HP Supercapacitor :

HP Supercapacitor

HP Supercapacitor

And another picture with a the HP Flash Based Write Cache (FBWC)

Flash-Based Write Cache FBWC

Flash-Based Write Cache(FBWC)

And finally a picture with all three of them :

HP P420 RAID controller with 1GB DDR3 and Flash Based Write Cache

HP P420 RAID controller with 1GB DDR3 and Flash Based Write Cache

The images aren’t too great : Iphone4 + low light.

The firmware it came with was 4.66. I couldn’t find this version on HP website.

I’ve upgraded it to 4.68, because of a problem i’ll mention below.

A few words about temperature of HP P420 :

  • It’ s hot ! The temperatures shown the first time were around 73 degrees Celsisus. The G8 server is in a room with 20 degrees Celsius all the time. After rearranging the cables and changing it to another PCI x8 slot, the temperatures reported (by ESXi 5.1 – HP customized) show 51 degrees Celsius.
  • The supercapacitor temperature is 21 degrees Celsius when the controller’s temperature is 51 and the ambient temperature is 20.
  • The cache Module temperature is normally 33 degrees Celsius

Details about my HP P420 FBWC controller problem :

In a few words : it’s not initializing after a cold boot. After powering on the server, it shows the detected onboard SATA devices ( one DVD-RW unit, SATA, in my case), the network interfaces, the ILO messages, and then tries to boot.
Update 19.09.2014 : I can now confirm that the issue is resolved by a firmware upgrade. See this post.
If I press F9 and enter bios I can see the controller listed, and set as the first boot device.

HP ROM based Setup Utility PCI IRQ settings

HP ROM based Setup Utility PCI IRQ settings

HP_ROM_based_setup_utility_boot_order

HP ROM based utility BOOT order

HP ROM based setup utility device enable disable

HP ROM based setup utility device enable disable

After I exit Bios, the controller is detected (after onboard SATA devices, network and ILO) and then the system boots fine.

I have attached 4 WD 500 GB 10.000 rot. harddrives to the port 1 of the controller, and created a RAID 10 array.

Things i’ve tried :

– update server BIOS from 2012.12.10 to 2013.08.24

HP_ML310e_Gen8_v2_bios_update

HP ML310e Gen8 v2 BIOS and HP Lights-Out firmware upgrade

– update HP Integrated Light-Out 4 from 1.13 to 1.30

– update controller firmware ( from 4.66 to 4.68)

Update firmware P420 from 4.66 to 4.68

Update firmware P420 from 4.66 to 4.68

– changing controller PCI-EX port (i’ve tried the PCI-EX 16x too, and the two PCI-EX x8, below)

– take out the Flash Backed Cache board, and reinserting it

– disconnect the Supercapacitor and connect it again

Things i haven’t tried :

– disconnect all harddrives, or leaving just one, or using other harddrives

–  use the controller in another server I’ve got another HP ProLiant ML310E with BIOS 11/08/2013. I moved the controller and harddrives on it and it’s behaving the same way. Updated server BIOS to 03/28/2014 and i still have the same issue. (Updated on 18.09.2014)

use another miniSAS cable The server above has it’s own cable. (Updated on 18.09.2014)

Things i’ve tried and didn’t succeed :

– update HP Intelligent Provisioning Online Update (from 1.40 to 1.50)

Other info :

When the controller is not initialised, if i open HP smart provisioning tools, it can see the controller but it doesn’t read all the info (like temperature). Also it doesn’t boot from it.

2013-11-14-13.19.392

The picture above was taken with the controller was inserted in slot 2 and was not initialised.

In the next picture, I have taken a picture when the controller was initialised.

HP P420 Array Configuration Utility

HP P420 initialised properly after a warm boot

Other pictures :

8 comments

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  1. Olaf

    Did you succeed? I have also the initializing problem. Bought a new 310e v2, p420 2gb and everything ran fine for over a week. Shut it down for 3-4 Days (Work related stuff, had no time to finish setup and didnt want to waste power – I dont get it for free ofc…)

    Now I tried like everything, doesnt work…?

    1. Bogdan

      It seems that HP released two newer firmwares 5.22 and then 5.42 : Link

      Fixes for 5.22 :

      • A rare issue that caused system fans to intermittently rev to maximum speed under certain heavy IO loads
      • The inability to create maximum supported size SmartCache
      • The logging of an invalid Smart Array controller failure following a kdump or kexec
      • The loss of redundant paths following an update of the HP D2600/D2700 firmware
      • Issues that prevented Smart Path from being enabled in certain scenarios
      • Several issues that could lead to cache being disabled

      Fixes for 5.42 :

      • The following issues are resolved with firmware version 5.42:
      • Communication between the HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) and the HP Smart Array controller may be lost resulting in an IML entry indicating a failed controller.
      • In some cases, incorrect drive temperatures were reported in an HP D2220sb enclosure, resulting in a system shutdown.
      • VMware might hang when a VM with 2 or more RDMs used a Smart Array controller to access an HP P2000 G3 or HP MSA 2040 SAN storage device.
      • Improved RAID 1 performance for small block random write workloads on SSD configurations.
      • A controller lockup could occur if the controller was configured with a SmartCache smaller than 8GB.
      • On some power cycles, the supercap would always report that it was charging, even though charging had completed.

      I didn’t have time to test it, but i hope it will resolve my issue. Please feel free to come back and post your results.
      I’ll update the site with the new info, soon.

      Thanks.

  2. Filipe

    Do you still have this Controller?

    Mine’s 85ºC of temperature… maybe a little too much…

    1. Bogdan

      I still have it. Right now it’s showing 64ºC.
      I agree that 85ºC it’s a bit too much. You need to cool it.

      1. Malchik

        What slot do you put it in? In mine it also always shows me 85° C. No matter if its 28° C in the summer in the room (AC once failed), or 15-16° C in the Winter with opened window in the cellar.
        Sometimes 86° C. It was brand new and always showed me this.
        Also mine has now the cache modul locked, because i needed to unplug the power 2-3x and now it thinks its broken. The module worked fine in a DL380 G8 LAB Server at work for 2 Weeks, no problems after some restarts and otherwise 24/7. Any idea how I could unlock this thing again? 🙂

  3. Ron

    We have a HP ML310e Gen8 v2 server with a P420 SAS controller, too. It’s running at 85ºC and in slot 3. The only other x8 slot is slot 4, which is the x16/x8 slot closer to the processor. This server has mysteriously crashed three times for no apparent reason. I’m wondering whether the temperature of the P420 might be the cause.

    Does HP have a PCI-based fan available to move more air across the P420 in the server?

    1. Bogdan

      I have no ideea about a solution from HP to cool P420 SAS. Just make sure you have no cables preventing the air flow from the front fan. Also try not to have other PCI-EX cards installed, and make sure you have the transparent cover in place. Also check the BIOS for thermal policy settings (fan speed vs noise).

  4. Bart

    Hi Bogdan, What slot do you put it in? In mine it also always shows me 85° C like someone above.

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