Friday, February 05, 2010

3ware 9650SE support experience

I recently bought a RAID card and new drives for video editing:
3WARE Pci-e 9650SE RAID card with Battery Backup
four Western Digital 1.5 TB Green SATA 32MB Cache Hard Drive

I setup a RAID5 array with the four 1.5TB drives and installed Fedora 12, x86-64 on top. The RAID array is the boot drive and I've setup a GPT partition. However, I have a slight problem as the boot times on my Dell SC1430 have increased to about four minutes! This is an unacceptably long time for a boot sequence to finish.

Update 2011/10/24
The long-boot problem I experienced was because during the process of the 3ware install, I had to move the GPU (NVidia 8800GT) to a different PCIe (PCI Express) slot (the second one from the end).  For some reason, the Dell SC1430 that I have slows the boot time considerably when using that slot for the video card.  Moving the 8800GT from the second slot to the first PCIe slot resolved the boot time issue.
*** end update ***

Online Chat System
I opened a ticket with 3ware support via their online chat and after an hour of waiting, an engineer finally got on the chat and told me that I need to upgrade my controller card firmware version and Linux driver version to the latest and greatest. The online chat system was OK; however, I waited an hour, stepped away for five minutes and in those five minutes, the engineer responded to my query and promptly dropped off the line.

Luckily, there is a feature to have the chat session emailed to you. I did that and saw the response from the engineer. So that was good. But here's a note for 3ware..if your engineer's are too busy to leave their chat session open for more than five minutes, either retrain them to keep the session open for at least fifteen minutes or hire more support engineers!! It is frustrating for the customer to be dropped like that.

Secondly, I need confirmation about the availability of an rpm for F12, x86-64, so I hopped on the online chat again and waited 45 minutes. After waiting, the online chat just dropped me altogether without any answer from an engineer. Frustrating. 3ware needs to work on this system.

Multiple Software Versions
In any case, I needed to find my current driver version and controller card version. Just finding this information was a task in itself. The support information on 3ware's site is all is just a big task just wading through it all. Also, there seems to be a lot of redundant and confusing information in the Linux section.

Here's another suggestion for 3ware..for 3ware newbies, there should be a simple introduction to the product explaining that the product includes multiple software versions:
-the firmware on the controller card
-the operating system driver
-the command line interface software version
-the software api version
-the web gui version

Basic Install on Linux
You want to install just two items:
1) the command line interface (tw_cli)
2) the 3DM2 GUI

As of this writing, the most recent install packages are these:


You'll unpack those files (tar xvf ).  If you run any flavor of Linux, that 3DM2 installer will drop a "setupLinux*.bin" file in the unpack directory.  You'll want to "chmod a+x setupLinux*.bin" and then execute that file.  In my case:

Here are some screens to help you see the process:

Web GUI Gotcha
One of the other gotchas is that once you install the web GUI (3DM2), you'll need to set a browser exception of "localhost".  If you don't do that, you'll get "Webpage is not available" when you login to https://localhost:888.

Good Information from the Command Line client
9650SE controller card firmare version
[root@ogre ~]# tw_cli
//ogre> show

Ctl Model (V)Ports Drives Units NotOpt RRate VRate BBU
c4 9650SE-4LPML 4 4 1 0 1 1 OK

//ogre> /c4 show

Unit UnitType Status %RCmpl %V/I/M Stripe Size(GB) Cache AVrfy
u0 RAID-5 OK - - 256K 4190.92 RiW ON

VPort Status Unit Size Type Phy Encl-Slot Model
p0 OK u0 1.36 TB SATA 0 - WDC WD15EADS-00P8B0
p1 OK u0 1.36 TB SATA 1 - WDC WD15EADS-00P8B0
p2 OK u0 1.36 TB SATA 2 - WDC WD15EADS-00P8B0
p3 OK u0 1.36 TB SATA 3 - WDC WD15EADS-00P8B0

Name OnlineState BBUReady Status Volt Temp Hours LastCapTest
bbu On Yes OK OK OK 255 06-Feb-2010

//ogre> /c4 show firmware
/c4 Firmware Version = FE9X

9650SE controller card serial number
[root@ogre ~]# tw_cli
//ogre> /c4 show serial
/c4 Serial Number = LXXXX10A9420XXX

9650SE Linux driver version
[root@ogre ~]# cat /sys/class/scsi_host/host4/stats
3w-9xxx Driver version:
Current commands posted: 0
Max commands posted: 29
Current pending commands: 0
Max pending commands: 0
Last sgl length: 2
Max sgl length: 32
Last sector count: 24
Max sector count: 256
SCSI Host Resets: 0
AEN's: 0

9650SE application software version
[root@ogre ~]# tw_cli
//ogre> show ver
CLI Version =
API Version =

Ticketing System
Also, there is a separate system for ticketing (Siebel CRM provided by so you have to create two logins, which is dumb:
-one login for the support site
-one login for ticketing

They need to fix this.

I will update this post when I have further information and hopefully, a solution to my problem.

3ware Resources
3ware Support Contacts
3ware Software Version Checker
3ware Software Download Center
Direct Downloads for all 3ware products
Direct Downloads for the 9650SE
Online Support Ticketing System

Other Resources
Common 3ware /var/log/messages

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