HPE B110i Software SATA RAID Controller

  • The HP Enterprise (HPE, formally HP) B110i SATA RAID controller is a SATA-only software RAID and firmware RAID set embedded on some HP servers but is disabled by default. This is an entry level non-enterprise controller for use in special cases and would generally be avoided for production use. Common use cases where this controller would be appropriate would include:

    • Labs
    • For boot OSes on cluster nodes where critical data is stored externally
    • For hypervisor installation when installation to SD card is impossible or impractical (some Hyper-V use cases, for example.) Also where data is stored externally.

    Hot Swap: The B110i does support hot swap of SATA drives but not by default. The HP Smart Array Hot Plug Advanced Pack for B110i has to be purchased and applied before hot swap is enabled. This makes the B110i dangerous in poorly managed or not highly technical shops as it is visible and physically impossible to identify when hot swap is available or not. A system racked in a datacenter or used by less knowledgeable staff would be at risk of drives being removed blindly causes data loss, a known issue.

    The B110i and this style of RAID controller is not, as is commonly believed, a low cost hardware RAID card alternative but is a feature for advanced uses with highly knowledgeable staff to be used intentionally with knowledge aforethought rather than as a cheap option for small businesses trying to cut corners. This is one of those common cases where trying to be cheap by staff that does not research or understand the ramifications of their attempted cost cutting can be very dangerous. Often these "cards" are used by staff or companies thinking that they can get away without understanding software RAID, knowing the software in question and without spending the recommended money on a quality enterprise hardware RAID controller as they generally look at checkboxes (terms like RAID) rather than examining the solution (seeing it if really meets their expected needs and ignoring general recommendations.)

    As a software RAID device, all RAID functionality is in a sofware driver and requires OS support for the drive. The B110i is supported by Windows, RHEL and Suse Linux.

    The B110i supports a total of only two arrays (logical drives) and only striped and mirrored RAID types, no parity. So the potential RAID options are:

    • RAID 0
    • RAID 1
    • RAID 10