Older 3ware controller, was: [CentOS] Serial ATA hardware raid.

Fri Apr 15 23:48:23 UTC 2005
Bryan J. Smith <b.j.smith at ieee.org>

From:  Harald Finnås
> You seem to know what you're talking about,

Seems v. Knows is a whole new ballgame.
But I have been deploying SCSI on Linux since 1993 (Advansys, now owned by LSI, was the first vendor to formally support Linux),
SCSI RAID on Linux since 1997 (large ICP-Vortex),
through 3Ware's original FPGA ASIC designs in the AccelATA and Escalade 5000 series in 1999+.

For a more "concept-level" dissertation on:
- Software RAID via OS LDM/LVM
- Fake/Free RAID (FRAID) "dumb cards"
- Buffering Microcontroller+DRAM intelligent cards
- Non-blocking ASIC+SRAM intelligent cards
see my article "Dissecting ATA RAID Options in Sys Admin magazine (http://www.samag.com) 2004 April.
It's now dated, but the concepts still apply.

> One of my friends called me the other day regarding problems with centos 
> installation on 3ware 7810-8 controller.

I have several of that, same model -- 64-bit, 1MB SRAM

> According to him the driver loads just fine, he can see AND partition the drive from the console,
> but the installation program doesn't seem to want to use the array.

The system doesn't dual-boot with Windows, does it?
If so, it could be a LDM Disk Label (Dynamic Disc) which kernel 2.4.x supports,
but Red Hat Anaconda (which uses GNU Parted/GRUB) does not.

Also, consider upgrading to the latest firmware.
If you're booting RH3+ (RHL8/9/FC1, RHEL3), you should be at least release 7.7.x.
Otherwise there might be driver-firmware interaction issues.

> He says it works like a charm on
> mdk 9.2 beta.
> Any tips?

Boot with "linux expert" and hit Alt-F2 and run "fdisk -l /dev/sda".

> I haven't looked into the problem yet,
> and I don't even know what this old controller is. :)

_All_ Escalade 7000/8000 series controllers use the same 64-bit ASIC, FPGA (field programmable) ATA logic and firmware.
This includes a 7.5 (was it?) release that added LBA48 (ATA-6) addressing and UDMA Mode 6 (U133) speed support.
Again., getting to 7.7.x should be a top priority - the RH3 and, especially, RH4 kernels have drivers that match these much newer 3Ware firmware-driver-3DM releaases.

FYI:  For reference:  
7400/7800 = 33PCI64 full-length, 64-bit ASIC, 1MB SRAM, 4/8 channel
7410/7810 = as 7400/7800 but *half*-length
7450/7850 = as 7410/7810 but *2MB* 0 wait state SRAM
7500-4/8 = 7450/7850 merely renamed
7500-12 = as 7500-4/8, but with *4MB* SRAM and 12 channels
7506-x = as 7500-x, but 66PCI64 interface (ASIC clock doubled)