Our SunFire x2100 application servers, running Windows 2003 R2, are configured with Nvidia RAID system (built into the motherboard) to mirror the pair of SATA drives in each servers. Two of these servers keeps losing the mirrors, but a third, and a SunFire x2200, do not. When this happens Windows hanging - not good in a server.

We have had a support call open with Sun and swapped bits of hardware, but it keeps happening. During the support calls we discovered that the Nvidia RAID is not true hardware, but a ‘software trick’. So not a great step up from letting Windows do the mirroring itself.

To try to isolate if we have a hardware problems (motherboard, disk etc.) or a driver problem we decided to move from the Nvidia RAID to Windows software mirroring. This was not as hard as I had expected, even though you have to load a special driver for Nvidia RAID, it does not the standard SATA  built into Windows.

So the process is:

  1. Boot to BIOS setup (F2)
  2. In the integrated peripherals, disable the Nvidia RAID
  3. Boot to Windows (may take a couple of reboots to get to a login prompt, not sure why this is)
  4. When logged in you should now see two drives, copies of each other
  5. In the Admin Tools | Computer Manager, select the Disk manager and convert the two drives from basic to dynamic drives (this needs a reboot or two)
  6. When this is completed go back into the disk manager and delete the partition on the second drive
  7. Select the partition on the primary drive right click and add the second disk as a mirror

And now you should be done, at least when the resysnc completes, which took about four hours for our 500Gb disks which are only about 10-20% full.

It goes without saying to make sure you have a backup before you start.

Lets see if this fixes our problems