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 Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H 
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Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 8
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Post Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H
Running ESXi 4.0U1-208167

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H (rev 1.0) BIOS F6a > OK

AMD 4850e 2.5Gig 45w Dual-Core Athlon
4X A-Data DDR2-800 "Red" 5-5-5-18
1X BroadCom NetXtreme BCM5721 Gig-E PCI-e 1x NIC >VM Network
1X Intel Pro/1000GT Gig-E PCI NIC > Management NIC
1X LSi SAS3041E 4 port SAS controller PCI-e 4X Mirroring Drive Controller
2X WDC Caviar "Black" 750GB drives in RAID-1 Mirror

Booting from SanDisk 2GB Compact Flash card connected to on-Board AMD750 southbridge SATA controller using SATA <-> CF adapter

Notes:

Motherboard is picky about booting USB keys. Originally I wanted to boot ESXi from a flash drive, but doing so resulted in a partition table error right after the BIOS finished loading. Windows 7 & 2008 install keys and even some linux pen drive distros booted fine, but ESXi was a no-go. I solved this problem with a SATA to Compact Flash adapter connected to the SouthBridge SATA controller, now it boots fine.

The drive controller is an LSI SAS3041E-HP that I got off Ebay. It is an OEM LSI controller that does RAID-0, 1 & 10 (simple mirroring card) that I flashed the latest LSI firmware on. I created the mirror in the card's BIOS and did some benchmarking with Atto under 2008 installed onto a third drive connected to the on-board SATA ports. I forgot to copy the results off to a flash drive before I rebuilt the system to ESXi but I remember a few things from the results. First was that I was pushing over 200MB\s on the 8m read test, so it appears that the card reads from both drives. The second thing was that there is big performance to be had by enabling the cache policy on the controller.

While I was in 2008 I loaded up the LSi MSM utility for windows. In that utility under the disk properties there is an option to enable the cache policy on a per-virtual disk basis. The LSi card is a pretty simple device that doesn't have any on-board memory of it's own, what that setting does is enable the cache on each of the individual drives, so be sure you have a UPS connected and a reliable way of shutting down the ESX server when the power goes out!

I selected the Western Digital Caviar "Black" WD7501AALS drives for use in my mirror. The choice was down to either the Black 750's or the Green 1Tb drives...was it worth about 50 IOPS and 2 years of warranty for the extra 250Gb to go green? A NewEgg shell shocker deal on the 750's for $65 each on the day I ordered made the choice for me, and I'm glad I went for the Black series now that I know how important the drive cache is with the RAID card.

Overall the system is performing far beyond my expectations.

Please feel free to ask me anything about my setup!

-Will


Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:00 pm
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Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:27 am
Posts: 25
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Post Re: Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H
Boot Linux and plug your USB key in.

fdisk /dev/sd* - USB key

choose az x => extra functionality (experts only)
choose a f => fix partition order
choose a w => write table to disk and exit

And be happy!

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VCP4


Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:46 am
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Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 8
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Post Re: Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H
Ice,

Thank you for that tip!

I installed ESXi to a usb key, followed your steps and am now running off that instead of the compact flash in the CF to SATA converter.

-Will


Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:00 pm
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Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:15 pm
Posts: 14
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Post Re: Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H
Sorry to ressurect a dead topic, but Ice, can you explain these commands? I'm using Karmic Ubuntu and I don't see a "z" command either on the regular menu of fdisk or the expert menu. Also fdisk won't take more than one command at a time, ie az x gets read as "a". Thanks for the help!


Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:15 am
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Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:27 am
Posts: 25
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Post Re: Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H
VMWnoob wrote:
Sorry to ressurect a dead topic, but Ice, can you explain these commands? I'm using Karmic Ubuntu and I don't see a "z" command either on the regular menu of fdisk or the expert menu. Also fdisk won't take more than one command at a time, ie az x gets read as "a". Thanks for the help!


blabla:~ # fdisk /dev/xvda

The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 1958.
There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024,
and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time (e.g., old versions of LILO)
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
(e.g., DOS FDISK, OS/2 FDISK)

Command (m for help): m
Command action
a toggle a bootable flag
b edit bsd disklabel
c toggle the dos compatibility flag
d delete a partition
l list known partition types
m print this menu
n add a new partition
o create a new empty DOS partition table
p print the partition table
q quit without saving changes
s create a new empty Sun disklabel
t change a partition's system id
u change display/entry units
v verify the partition table
w write table to disk and exit
x extra functionality (experts only)

Command (m for help):

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Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:29 am
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