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OpenVMS Hobbyist Program | Integrity Systems Forums | Integrity Hardware Forum
Author Smart Array P600 and rx2600
R Price

Posts: 36
Location: Canada
Joined: 09.12.10
Posted on November 02 2011 01:57
If anyone can offer any insight or a simple solution here I'd sure appreciate it.

I have an rx2600 with a P600 RAID controller. I'm currently running OpenVMS 8.4 with Update 500, whatever that includes, though I have also tried 8.3-1H1. I've been trying for a couple of weeks to make the controller work with OpenVMS so I can use 1 or 2 TB drives with my system.

When I boot into the EFI shell and execute "devices" the card is listed as a device, labeled "P600" so I know it is compatible in a basic, low level sort of way.

I have the appropriate cable to connect 4 eSATA enclosures. When I boot the system I can run the card's setup utility and create logical volumes with the 3 hard drives I have connected in eSATA enclosures.

I gather different SATA hard drives may or may not be compatible with this setup, and/or with OpenVMS. The 5 drives I have tried are all different brands and sizes, a Seagate 1 TB, a Samsung 1 TB, a Seagate 2 TB, a WD 2 TB and an OCZ 120 GB SSD. The SSD is very twitchy via eSATA, even with Windows and the P600 really fights with it so I've given up on that one; it has a microUSB connector and OpenVMS is perfectly happy to use it as a USB device on the AlphaServer or the Itanium machine so that actually works out well for me. The controller recognises and allows me to create logical volumes on each of the 4 spindle hard drives.

I'd like to be able to use it with OpenVMS. I have followed the instructions in this thread and added the following to my otherwise empty SYS$SYSTEM:SYS$USER_CONFIG.DAT file:

device = "Smart Array P600"
name = PK
driver = sys$pkrdriver.exe
adapter = PCI
id = 0x3220103C
boot_class = DK
boot_flags = HW_CTRL_LTR, UNIT_0
flags = CISS, PORT, BOOT

OpenVMS now lists 2 PK devices, PKA0: and PKB0:. There are no DK devices to correspond with the any of the hard drives attached to the card.

If I run SAS$UTIL it cannot find any compatible controllers.

In an ideal world I would have liked to be able to use an SSD as the boot/system volume for obvious performance reasons. Alternatively, booting from a 1 or 2 TB spindle drive would be nice. In the real world I expect booting from any drive connected to this controller will never work and the best I can hope for is to be able to use big drives for my user account, backup, etc. This is fine and I will be very happy if I can accomplish that much.

So, am I missing something silly and obvious like a simple formatting error in how I typed the lines into the SYS$USER_CONFIG.DAT file?

Or do I maybe have a different revision of the card which may have a different ID from the one listed in the linked thread, and if so how do I find the ID for the card I have in order to test that theory?

Or is the whole whole project simply not feasible and I should just settle for connecting a big hard drive via USB?
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 464
Joined: 15.04.08
Posted on November 03 2011 03:15
There have been some posts on the ITRC forums of people successfully configuring the device. A search engine should find them for you easily.

I am not familiar with the SAS$UTIL utility. It does remind me of the SCSI$UTIL utility that I was the original author of. Several others have enhanced it since then.

The SCSI$UTIL utility looks for Smart array family controllers. Internally these controllers speak protocols known as CISS and BMIC. Those protocols describe how to communicate with the PKnn devices.

The Linux driver sources are available at http://cciss.sourceforge.net/ and there is a link on that page for documentation of the CISS/BMIC protcols.

You should be able to configure volumes using the a configuration utility booted from the BIOS if the actual controller is not recognized by SCSI$UTIL or if SCSI$UTIL can not configure volumes on it.

Typically the Smart Array family requires that you run a configuration utility to bind one or more physical volumes into a logical volume.

There are slight variations in the Smart Array's implementations of BMIC and CISS, so if a controller has not been certified on a platform, there is a significant risk that there may be problems, so once you get the volumes configured and recognized, keep good backups.

As this could be an economical way to add a large amount of storage to a hobbyist box, I am sure that many will be interested in your progress. I would tend to keep the logical volumes under 1TB unless you really need larger. Smaller logical volumes are easier to backup, archive, and restore.
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600
R Price

Posts: 36
Location: Canada
Joined: 09.12.10
Posted on November 03 2011 04:37
Thanks for the info. It gives me some ideas for things to look for and/or try.

The only info google turned up for me was the thread on comp.os.vms I linked. With the info you provide I should be able to refine the search and hopefully get more results. I'll try Bing and Alta-Vista as well since they often turn up things google doesn't, and vice-versa.

For a hobbyist SAS/SATA looks like the only feasible way to add lots of storage. I just cannot imagine a hobbyist paying for SCSI enclosure and a wheelbarrow full of SCSI drives to get multiple terabytes of storage. I wouldn't, at any rate.

I don't really "need" terabytes of storage on the VMS machine as the eSATA drives work fine with my Windows machine for backup. But I have the card in the Itanium system so I'd like to get it working if I can, simply for the kicks of making it work. If I do get it to work then I'll start in with SAMBA/CIFS and use the VMS machine as a server. Again, I don't "need" a server and certainly not the sort of high end, enterprise level server you'd expect to to see running VMS. But if I can get it to work then I'll make use of it, if for no other reason than to justify having spent the time and effort to make it work. Of course that won't change the fact it would still be much simpler just to have the eSATA drives connected directly to the Windows machine but where's the fun in that?
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600
R Price

Posts: 36
Location: Canada
Joined: 09.12.10
Posted on November 05 2011 10:44
I've tried everything I can think of with this card. I can create logical volumes with the firmware setup utility so I know the card and drives are OK. I've double checked the info I added to the SYS$USER_CONFIG.DAT file half a dozen times so I'm sure I didn't mis-type anything there. Neither SAS$UTIL nor MSA$UTIL can even see the card. I tried SCSI$UTIL but I don't have it on my system. Other than this thread I could find no reference to SCSI$UTIL anywhere so no go on that front.

Anything involving driver source code is so far beyond my skill level it isn't even funny. I'm sure there is lots of useful info there but I just don't know enough to recognise if I see it.

I found nothing at all on the HP forums. Maybe there is some info buried in there somewhere but I came up empty.

At this point I am 99.99% sure the card I have is just not compatible with OpenVMS. I know the P600 is not officially supported at all on OpenVMS. I gather it is a crapshoot when you try one of these cards - if you have the right revision or firmware it may work, if you have the wrong revision or firmware it won't work. I'm assuming this is my problem. I cannot think of anything else to try except get another card, hope it is a different version and hope that works. But I'm not going to start buying random P600s just to see if I can find one OpenVMS likes. If I come across one for free somewhere that's fine, but for now I'm shelving the P600 project. It is fall and I have a lot of work to do getting ready for winter, stuff in the yard, put the winter tires on the cars, prep the snowblower, and a bunch of other stuff.

Thanks for the suggestions and info but as they say, sometimes you eat the bear and sometime the bear eats you. I guess the bear got a nice bedtime snack before hibernation this year.
Edited by R Price on November 05 2011 10:48
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 87
Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 28.03.10
Posted on November 12 2011 04:53
Let me say that I'm very sad to hear about your troubles! What is the P600 controller based on, the LSI 1068 chipset by any chance?

Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 464
Joined: 15.04.08
Posted on November 13 2011 05:17
I do not have a P600 to test with, but like you, even if I did, I do not have the time currently.
The fact that the PK devices show up show that it is slightly compatible with the driver, but I do not know why none of the volumes that you have created show up. If the specification with the Linux driver is correct, a utility could be written that communicates with the PK device to query what is going on with it.

What I am planning on doing, but not yet had time is to set up a SimH instance in a Linux VM and have it join a VMS cluster primarily for serving disks. I have not yet determined if I can get usable performance from that configuration.
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600
R Price

Posts: 36
Location: Canada
Joined: 09.12.10
Posted on November 17 2011 01:05
eMGee wrote:
Let me say that I'm very sad to hear about your troubles! What is the P600 controller based on, the LSI 1068 chipset by any chance?

I did note the reference to the LSI 1068 chip in the link I originally posted.

There are 2 ARM branded chips on the board, labeled "LSISAS1064 A2" - not LSI 1068. So maybe that is the problem. Perhaps a different revision/batch of the P600 would have 1068 chips and that would work, I don't know. Something to keep in mind if I do stumble upon another P600 or some other SAS controller with a 1068 chip.

malmberg wrote:
The fact that the PK devices show up show that it is slightly compatible with the driver.

I initially thought so but I have removed the P600 from the system, commented out the modifications to the SYS$SYSTEM:SYS$USER_CONFIG.DAT file and the devices PKA0: and PKB0: still show up. In a moment of clarity I realised these must just be the two channels of the on-board SCSI controller so of course they are there and it was just wishful thinking which led me to believe VMS might be seeing the P600.

Oh well, c'est la guerre. I'm not giving up, just taking a break. I really would like to make this idea work. If I find another P600 and it has LSI 1068 chips or if I find any sort of LSI1068 based controller I'll give it another try.
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600
R Price

Posts: 36
Location: Canada
Joined: 09.12.10
Posted on December 17 2011 15:05
I have had some success. I salvaged a nameless PCIX LSI 1068 SAS card/cables and it works fine.

The only configuration necessary was to edit the SYS$SYSTEM:SYS$USER_CONFIG.DAT file as indicated in my original post. I did not see any sort of firmware configuration during the boot procedure and the controller just shows up as PKC0: once OpenVMS is booted. Connected drives show up as the expected DKC* devices and initialize as normal.

All in all a pretty slick operation, the only trouble coming from a balky ATX PSU I modified to power the drives in a re-purposed printer cart I'm using as a computer stand and now also as an external drive enclosure. Once I swapped out the dud power supply everything just worked.

There is no brand info marked on the controller but there is a label "Board Name/Assembly/Revision" which says "SAS1068X-R". A quick google indicates it is most likely an LSI SAS 3080X-R. With the connectors/cables included I can hook up 8 SATA drives, if prices ever come down and/or the need ever arises.


Device PKC0:, device type HP LSISAS106x SAS, is online, error logging is

Error count 48 Operations completed 21
Owner process "" Owner UIC [SYSTEM]
Owner process ID 00000000 Dev Prot S:RWPL,O:RWPL,G,W
Reference count 0 Default buffer size 0
Current preferred CPU Id 1 Fastpath 1
Current Interrupt CPU Id 1
SAS Address 5006-05B0-0008-63E0

There are lots of listings for these boards on the web and some are branded HP so maybe it an LSI generic/reference design which HP also sold under their name? Whatever, it works, at least with the 1 TB and 2 TB spindle drives I have.

As the error count of 48 indicates, the 120 GB OCZ Solid Series SSD refuses to cooperate. I'm beginning to understand why someone disposed of this drive - it is useless as a SATA device and refuses to cooperate with any controller I connect it to. Good thing it has that mini USB connector so it works fine as a flash drive.
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 464
Joined: 15.04.08
Posted on December 20 2011 07:47
I found this link

Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600
R Price

Posts: 36
Location: Canada
Joined: 09.12.10
Posted on December 20 2011 12:36
I found that link linked via the link I linked in my original post. What a horrific sentence that was; I'm glad it is over. That is where I got the idea a generic LSI 1068 card might work.

Like the poster of that link I cannot boot from a drive connected to the controller. I have no problem getting OpenVMS to install but near as I can tell booting fails at the point where EFI hands off the OS, complaining about not being able to find something. It is not a big deal.
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 87
Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 28.03.10
Posted on December 20 2011 14:35
Did you try a conversational boot?

Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600
R Price

Posts: 36
Location: Canada
Joined: 09.12.10
Posted on December 21 2011 09:18
No, I've never tried that so I'd need to spend some time reading the documentation and experiment with the procedure. I've got chemo this week so that occupies some time, saps energy, and makes the hands and feet tingle annoyingly enough to limit the time I can spend sitting and/or typing.

I've got family coming for Christmas too so I've got to focus on priorities other than hobby stuff. Not a problem - as much fun as it playing with VMS the computer isn't going anywhere but I only get to see my brother and sister-in-law 3 or 4 times a year. And I like my family more than my computers so there is no real choice to make.

Next week things should settle down a bit so I can play with the toys a bit more. This is just a hobby for me so I'm not in a rush and can take time to enjoy the experience of learning new stuff at a pace which gives me time to appreciate that part of it.
Edited by R Price on December 21 2011 09:19
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 63
Location: bristol,UK
Joined: 23.03.07
Posted on January 01 2012 04:36
Hope all went well for you and goes well for you and the other hobbyists over the coming year.

I've just managed to get my first RWAST state for a process on my Alpha v8.3 when trying SCSI_INFO.exe in (.UNSUPPORTED - should have known). Anyway went to the shop/store on a rickety bike ridden by a rickety rider, to get some victuals and returned to find the RWASTed proc had gone - must be a good omen for the year smiley

OpenVMS V8.3 on node ALPHA1 1-JAN-2012 12:33:15.76 Uptime 1 02:03:59
Pid Process Name State Pri I/O CPU Page flts Pages
00000287 _FTA7: RWAST 6 96192 0 00:00:15.90 5107 150
$ sh sys/state=rwast
$ dir sys$etc
Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 87
Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 28.03.10
Posted on January 06 2012 05:19
Dave Somers, have you tried with V8.4 already?

Author RE: Smart Array P600 and rx2600

Posts: 1
Joined: 08.01.12
Posted on January 08 2012 07:00
Be aware that the firmware is the newest one for OVMS.

There is a efi-program called saupdate.efi.

The program loads the file p600-204.pak (FW 2.04).

You'll find both files on a HP webpage.

Hope this helps
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