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Using the BIOS Container Configuration Utility

Dell™ PowerEdge™ Expandable RAID Controller 3/Di INSTALLATION GUIDE

  Creating a Container

  Assigning Container Properties

  Managing Containers

The Container Configuration Utility (CCU) enables you to create, delete, and manage containers from the PERC 3/Di BIOS. A container is a logical disk created from freespace and made up of partitions on one or more physical disks. Refer to the Flexible Array Storage Tool User's Guide for more information on containers. You can use CCU to create a bootable container for the server. We recommend that you configure the server to boot from a container instead of from a single disk to take advantage of the redundancy and performance features of containers.

Note that the CCU is a BIOS utility. It does not have the same breadth of functionality as the controller management software because the operating system is not running and not accessible to the BIOS.

Dell also ships a version of CCU on a separate distribution that runs outside the BIOS as a stand-alone program. Note, however, that unlike the CCU in the BIOS, the stand-alone CCU utility does not contain SCSISelect or the Disk Utilities.

Note: If you are changing the configuration of a server that is already in use on a network, log all users off the system and shut it down in an orderly manner before you start the CCU.

To select a CCU menu option, move the cursor to the option with the and keys, then press Enter. In some cases, selecting an option displays another menu. You can return to the previous menu at any time by pressing Esc.

Creating a Container

Before creating containers, make sure the disks for the container are connected and installed in your server (or enclosure). To create a container you select the disks to be used in the container and then assign the container properties.

To select one or more disks to be used in the container:

  1. Shut down and reboot the server.

  2. At the BIOS prompt Press <Ctrl><A> for Configuration Utility! press Ctrl-A.

  3. Select Container Configuration Utility from the menu.

  4. Select Create Container from the CCU menu.

  5. Use the Left/Right arrow keys to select a bus.

  6. Select the disks for the new container and press Insert. CCU displays the largest usable freespace available for each disk. You can use available freespace from multiple disks for the new container. To deselect any disk, highlight the disk and press Delete.

Note that the number of drives used for each RAID level cannot exceed 32 drives. Note also that the CCU does not reliably find disks or enclosures that were powered up after system power-up.

Note: Any disks with DOS partitions, disks with no usable space, or uninitialized disks appear dimmed and cannot be used for creating a new container. See Initializing a Disk Drive.
  1. Press Enter when all disks for the new container are selected. The Container Properties menu displays.

    If you install a controller into a system that has been powered down, on startup the BIOS will announce the detected configuration changes. If the system does not consider that these changes are risky, the system will present a confirmation prompt and will auto-confirm if there has been no operator input in 30 seconds. If the system considers that the changes are risky, you will be prompted for further action.

Assigning Container Properties

Note that you cannot change container properties from the CCU once the container is created. You must instead use FAST or Array Manager.

To assign various properties to the new container:

  1. In the Container Properties menu, select a container type and press Enter. Only container types available according to the number of disks selected displays. Your possible options are

Note: Volume and RAID 0 containers do not store redundant data; if any disk in the container fails, all data is lost.

See the documentation for your controller management software for more information about selecting a RAID level.

  1. Type in a label for the container and press Enter.

  2. The CCU automatically displays the maximum size of the container that can be created from the selected partitions. To specify a different container size, type the size and select the unit of measure (MB or GB) from the drop-down list. If the aggregate size of the selected partitions is greater than the container size you specify, the excess disk space is returned to the freespace pool for use in other containers.

Note: On a Windows 2000 system, a basic-disk container is usable only if its size is greater than 16 MBytes; otherwise, the container type must be dynamic disk. For information about modifying the container properties of an existing container, see the documentation for your controller management software.
  1. Select the container chunk size. Chunk size is the amount of data written to one partition in a RAID 0 (stripe set), RAID 5, or RAID 0/1 container before the I/O data stream switches to the next partition.

The allowable chunk sizes are 8, 16, 32 (the default), and 64 KBytes. The default chunk size gives the best overall performance in most network server environments.

  1. Specify if you want to enable read caching for the container.

This option should always be enabled to optimize performance, unless your application is doing completely random reads, which is unlikely.

  1. Specify if you want to enable write caching for the container.

Note: Some controllers by design do not allow the use of write caching. In such cases the controller will not activate write caching, regardless of the container's write cache setting. If this is the case with your controller, you will see a message that tells you the settings have been recorded but have no effect.

Write caching options (if supported) consist of the following:

This means that the controller enables the container's write cache only if a battery is present and its status is OK.

This means that the controller enables a container's write cache even if there is no battery or if the battery is bad.

Caution: If you select this option, you may experience data loss in the case of a power loss.

This means that the controller disables a container's write cache.

  1. When finished, select Done.

Managing Containers

With the Manage Container option you can view information on containers, initialize containers, make a container the boot container, or delete containers.

CCU can display and manage a maximum of 24 containers.

Viewing Container Information

To view information on an existing container:

  1. At the BIOS prompt, press Ctrl-A.

  2. From the men, select Container Configuration Utility .

  3. From the CCU menu, select Manage Container.

  4. From the List of Containers dialog box, select the container you want to view information on and press Enter.

The Container Properties dialog box appears, showing detailed information on the container. The physical disks associated with the container will be displayed here.

Note: To identify the physical disks associated with a member of a RAID 0/1 container, highlight the displayed member in the Container Properties dialog box and press Enter.
  1. Press Esc to return to the previous menu.

Initializing a Disk Drive

If an installed disk does not appear in the disk selection list for creating a new container or if it appears grayed out, you may have to initialize it before being able to use it as part of a container.

Caution: Initializing a disk overwrites the partition table on the disk, and essentially makes all the previous data on the disk inaccessible. Since the partition table is overwritten, if the drive is used in a container, you may not be able to use the container again. Do not initialize a disk that is part of a boot container! The boot container is labelled as 00 in the List of Containers dialog box.

See Viewing Container Information for information on determining which disks are associated with a particular container.

To initialize a drive:

  1. At the BIOS prompt press Ctrl-A.

  2. Select Container Configuration Utility from the menu.

  3. Select Initialize Drives.

  4. Use the Right/Left arrow keys to select the bus with the disk you wish to initialize.

  5. Select the disk you wish to initialize and press Insert.

  6. Press Enter.

  7. At the warning message, press Y.

Making a Container Bootable

You can make a container bootable so that the server can boot from the container instead of from a stand-alone (single) disk.

To make a container bootable, the container number must be set to 00 in the boot order.

Note: The server will always attempt to boot from any installed non-SCSI disks (for example, any IDE disk drive at drive C). You must disable or remove all non-SCSI disks if you want the server to boot from a SCSI disk or container.

To make a container bootable:

  1. At the BIOS prompt press Ctrl-A.

  2. From the menu, select Container Configuration Utility.

  3. From the CCU menu, select Manage Container.

  4. Select the container you wish to make bootable and press Ctrl-B.

Note: You cannot make a non-00 container bootable if any container is in the process of scrubbing, clearing, or reconfiguring.

Refer to the Flexible Array Storage Tool User's Guide for information about scrubbing containers.
  1. Reboot the system.

Caution: The controller always uses the lowest numbered container as its bootable container. If you delete container 00 for any reason, the next highest numbered container will become the bootable container. Use the Ctrl B option to mark the correct container as the bootable container (by making it container 00).

If you want to boot from a stand-alone (single) disk drive, first create a volume container on the desired disk.

The system BIOS provides additional tools to modify the search order for bootable controllers. For more information, refer to your system documentation.

Deleting Containers

Caution: Back up the data on a container before you delete it. All data on the container is lost when you delete the container, and you cannot restore a deleted container.

To delete an existing container:

  1. At the BIOS prompt, press Ctrl-A.

  2. From the menu, select Container Configuration Utility.

  3. From the CCU menu, select Manage Container.

  4. Select the container you wish to delete and press Delete.

  5. At the Container Properties screen, select Delete again and press Enter.

  6. Press Esc to return to the previous menu.

Repairing a RAID 5 Set

To repair a RAID 5 set:

  1. At the BIOS prompt, press Ctrl-A.

  2. From the menu, select Container Configuration Utility.

  3. From the CCU menu, select Manage Container.

  4. If the BIOS has detected a parity error in the selected RAID 5 set, the following help message is displayed at the bottom of the screen.

<Ctrl+R> Restore/Enable RAID 5

  1. To repair the selected RAID5 set, press Ctrl-R and follow the prompts.

Caution: Be careful when restoring RAID 5 data sets, since the containers went off-line as a result of some problem. Data on these sets should not be trusted until the data has been checked and verified.

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