Flash a Dell SAS6i/r to IT Mode

After buying a refurbished R710 on eBay for my lab, I ran into some issues with the included SAS6i/r.  The first issue was that the original card was completely DOA.  I had that replaced under warranty, and then the real fun began.

Once the card was replaced, I was able to get into the BIOS configuration utility for the card.  It was here that I found out the SAS6i/r only supports RAID0 and RAID1.  Fuck that!  I have six one-terabyte drives for this machine, and planned on using them in as RAID6 configuration, giving me a total of four usable terabytes (that should be more than enough for my VMs, as I’m only running on a little more than 500 gigs of storage now).  I started to look for information on flashing the card to IT mode, and found little information scattered about.  The most relevant information I found in this Reddit thread.  This was enough to get me started, but there was one missing piece of information that had me stumped.  When I was trying to flash the card with the command

 sudo ./sasflash -f 3081ERB3.fw -b mptsas.rom

I kept getting an error that the vendor / model verification had failed.  I don’t know the exact cause of this error, but I can speculate that it has something to do with flashing a Dell card to LSI firmware.  I did find the solution, which I will explain here for simple reference.

Notes

  • I am only providing the following instructions as a basic guide.  Precautions should be taken in ensuring the correct firmware and BIOS image is flashed to your card and machine.  Failure to select the correct firmware could brick your card and completely fuck up your machine.
  • Shoutout to Redit user bahwhateverr for posting the comment on the above linked thread that provided most of the information to me to solve this problem.
  • I have been told in this Reddit thread that the SAS6i/r does not play nice with SSDs
  • I don’t think the SAS6i/r supports drive in excess of 2TB.  While unfortunate, the card probably gets the job done just fine for someone like me who just needs a basic HBA.
  1. The first step in flashing your Dell SAS6i/r card to IT mode is to obtain the necessary files.  To do this, go to this page.  The product Group is “Legacy Products”, and the Product Family is “Legacy Host Bus Adapters.”  The Product Name is “LSI SAS 3081E-R”.  Click “Search”.
  2. On the downloads page, expand the “Firmware” section.  There are two things you are going to need to download here.  The first is “Installer_P21_for_*” (where * is your operating system.  For the purposes of this example, I am going to use Linux as that is what I use.  If you were using Windows, you would select Installer_P21_for_DOS_Windows).  While you’re here, you also need to grab “SAS3081ER_Package_P21_IR_IT_Firmware_BIOS_for_MSDOS_Windows” regardless of what operating system you’re on.  This contains the mptsas.rom, firmware, and another basic guide on how to flash the card.  
  3. Hop on over to the machine on which you plan on flashing the card with the two archives, and unzip both.  The Installer_P21_for* contains different binaries for different system architectures.  I am running on 64 bit Intel Xeons, so I chose the sasflash binary in the “sasflash_linux_i686_x86-64_rel” directory.  Bring that into your workspace, and from the other archive, grab the mtpsas.rom file, and 3081ERB3.fw  (That three on the end may be different depending on the card, but I think it corresponds to the B* on the LSI chip on the front of the card, so check that before you flash).
  4. The first command will probably fail, but we are going to use it to determine if we are using the correct version of the firmware.  The vendor isn’t going to match, but the card should.  To start, run the command
    sudo ./sasflash -f 3081ERB3.fw -b mptsas.rom
  5. Expect an error along the lines of “the vendor / model verification failed.  If that is the case, you are ready to proceed to step six.  If you received an error saying something like “the firmware is for x model card, but you have only a y model card installed, ” you have chosen the wrong firmware image.  Try again with a different firmware file.
  6. If you receive the vendor/model match error, you should (hopefully) have the correct firmware image.  If this is the case, we are going to add a flag to the command that will tell the software to ignore the vendor check and flash this firmware anyway.  This is very dangerous if you are not certain that you have the correct firmware.  Proceed at your own risk!  The good think is that these cards are very cheap on eBay, and bricking one of them is not a massive financial loss.  To ignore the vendor check, we need to use the -o flag, like so:
sudo ./sasflash -o -f 3081ERB3.fw -b mptsas.rom

If this worked, reboot your system and you should see all of your SAS or SATA disks.  Note that you must delete all RAID arrays before the individual disks show up in your OS.

 

Good luck!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *