LSISAS3442E-R BIOS and Firmware v1.28.02.00 and ESXi 3.5u5

This is partly a continuation of a previous post which I described my Esxi 3.5u5 I/O problems. Since that post I’ve searched google and read in the vmware community forums for any known performance issues with Raid 1E in a four drive configuration compared to Raid 10, checked if there was a known problem with the controller card itself I’m using (LSI SAS3442E), and also proper disk alignment with virtualization which is something I’ll probably revisit once other matters are taken care of.

A point I didn’t mention in my previous post is that when I first purchased the raid card I checked the firmware and updated it as people should. This was around the first of the year and was version 1.26 of the firmware and version 6.24 of the bios, LSI Logic packages them together for ease of upgrade for the user. Good job to LSI on that one. A couple days ago I went back to their site to check for any updates and I happily saw there was, firmware v1.28.02. I’m not sure of what the new bios version is since I didn’t write it down from the screen after flashing and it’s not readily available from LSI’s support site, but since as I mentioned packaged together it’s in with the firmware download. Anyhow, v1.28.02 came out May 5th and scrapping bottom as to what to do I wasted no time in downloading it and prepared for the update.

I created a standard dos boot disk from windows on one floppy and put the firmware files on another. I don’t have a floppy drive in the server but I do use a handy usb based floppy drive. I plugged it in, updated the boot options in the motherboard bios and it was up and running. It did error a couple times on not finding the ‘’ file on the firmware disk but I negated that by copying the one on the dos boot disk to the c:\ drive that gets created in memory. Then when the error came up I could leave the firmware disk in the drive and reference the file on c:\ drive. A couple adapter/chip selections and confirmations later and the new firmware is loaded.

Upon the server booting I find the nearest file on my windows home server virtual machine that’s somewhat sizable to copy to my local machine just to see if there is any noticeable gain. I find a 1GB file and see the MB/sec in the windows transfer window be about 25-35MB/sec. A smile instantly comes to my face. Checking the network utilization that’s hovering around 45% on a gigE adapter. About half way through the file the speed drops to a piddly 2-3MB/sec. I think it has something to do with my local machine since the hard drive light was still ticking pretty steadily. I cancel the transfer and move onto something a little more scientific.

I booted up a separate vm I use for software testing, which is an XP SP3 x32 build set to use an LSI Logic controller type within the vm settings. I re-run the same tests (again referencing my previous post) and for ease of reference below is the before results, taken from the previous post, and after results which are currently the latest.


Test Name Total I/O/sec Total MB/sec Avg IO Resp ms Max IO Resp ms % CPU
Max Throughput 100% Read 12,392.23 387.26 4.598 291.9839 36.33
Real Life – 60% Rand, 65% Read 358.07 2.8 162.0115 1,115.5989 9.73
Max Throughput – 50% Read 243.33 7.60 240.3390 2,361.3908 8.71
Random 8k – 70% Read 390.20 3.05 147.6751 927.4924 9.53


Test Name Total I/O/sec Total MB/sec Avg IO Resp ms Max IO Resp ms % CPU
Max Throughput 100% Read 3,119.41 97.48 1.0043 150.996 23.23
Real Life – 60% Rand, 65% Read 347.95 2.72 162.15 394.88 9.51
Max Throughput – 50% Read 240.38 7.51 240.24 628.91 9.61
Random 8k – 70% Read 387.74 3.03 146.42 442.96 12.66

The first thing the jumps out at me is the ‘Max Throughput 100% Read’ test with how much it dipped. The others are about equal and since I did only run these once (I don’t have time to average out 3 5min tests on each) it could be within the margin of error for these. I do know one thing, and so far within the real world test of transferring files the difference is as clear as day in the direction of being a great improvement.

I’ll give it a little more time and general usage before I fully make up my mind on this but I am very hopeful. I think the next change would be upgrading to ESXi vSphere 4 (aka ESXi 4.0), I think the LSI Logic drivers have used have been updated.

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