HighPoint RAID drivers

Isaac Levy isaac at diversaform.com
Mon Dec 13 13:45:02 PST 2004

Hello All,

I've been pointed over this way from the NYC*BUG talk list, as I have  
an interesting 'driver situation', and am looking to perhaps help the  
right committer put some existing drivers into the FreeBSD source for a  
RAID card(?).

Here's the summary:

1) A vendor just sold me a server with a 'HighPoint RocketRaid 1640', 4  
channel SATA RAID.

2) The HighPoint folks support FreeBSD, distributing drivers and  
management tools

3) Doing the driver install when installing on boot volumes totally  
BITES, it's very time consuming and tricky, and I don't even have  
floppy drives on my servers any more... (/me wails and gnashes teeth)

4) The RAID card is much like similar 3Ware stuff, (it presents itself  
more like a scsi device to the OS- From the manual: "if you have no  
other SCSI device, the first device is /dev/da0, then /dev/da1, etc."   
Another thing that looks good about the card is that it's got sysctl  
calls for management, e.g.:
# sysctl hpt374.status
# sysctl –w hpt374.status=“hpt rebuild a,b,0”

5) The RAID card is known to be quite solid, and the vendor who sold it  
to me has loads of them out there- so, I concluded that it would be  
really sweet if the driver were in the FreeBSD source- these cards are  
pretty inexpensive (around $100), and would allow more people to use  
RAID in places they would never have before, IMHO...  I think it would  
be great if these drivers were there much like the aac drivers for  
Adaptec RAID stuff.

More details are below with regard to my take on the situation, but I'd  
really love to hear yall's thoughts on this.  I'd love to see the  
driver reach the FreeBSD source trees, but I'm not close enough to  
committers to know if this is sane or relevant...

Thanks, and happy holidays all!


On Dec 13, 2004, at 12:57 PM, Isaac Levy wrote:

> Details:
> --
> ((SPECS))
> The Raid card is the 'HighPoint RocketRaid 1640'
> http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA/rr1640.htm
> It's a 4 channel SATA card, and they're fairly inexpensive.  With  
> that, HighPoint actually states FreeBSD support on their website,  
> PROVIDES DRIVERS, and both 'CLI' and 'GUI' management tools- all fine  
> and dandy (they can't be any clunkier than aaccli eh?).  Right now the  
> card hovers around $100- very accessible, very replaceable.
> http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA/bios_rr1640.htm#FreeBSD
> There is online access to the card's drivers from the manufacturer,  
> and they have actually gone to considerable effort to support FreeBSD  
> through 4.x and 5.x (as well as Linux), though I have not yet seen any  
> clear license concerning driver redistribution etc... (excepting a  
> general copyright header in the manual), so I'd assume that with a  
> little prodding even, HighPoint could be convinced to slap an MIT or  
> BSD style license in there, so we can have the open inclusion of the  
> driver or source in *BSD/*NIX source.  Someone within FreeBSD may have  
> tried this already and failed, but I haven't been able to find  
> anything about this online.
> Installing the drivers, ESPECIALLY during a system install, is a real  
> manual pain in the tail.  The instructions provided by HighPoint call  
> for a sequence involving:
> + booting from FreeBSD install CD
> - pausing before the kernel loads
> - loading the driver off a floppy
> + One then proceeds with a standard FreeBSD install
> - and at the end, one has to instal the HighPoint drivers on the fresh  
> system
> - Then one manually has to add the driver to boot.load on the fresh  
> system, so it bloody loads at boot time.
> The install sequence is documented in a PDF, in the tarball of stuff  
> that comes with the driver images:
> http://www.highpoint-tech.com/BIOS%20+%20Driver/rr1640/FreeBSD/rr154x- 
> bsd-v112s.tgz
> Driver install takes a inordinate amount of time, (hardware RAID being  
> something I use, for one, because it SAVES me time).  In addition, I  
> have no floppy on this system- and don't plan to install one, so  
> getting this to work involved a 3rd disk, then copying the install,  
> and driver, etc... to the RAID once it was working.  Now, thinking  
> foreword to a time when there is some sort of critical problem with  
> the system, I shudder to think what kind of boot-ballet I'll have to  
> deal with, should I need to boot from emergency repair media- seeing  
> as whenever that kind of thing happens, it's always under time  
> pressure, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
> I could create my own install/repair CD's based on the minidist  
> releases, but this is a loosing proposition as well- seeing as I  
> currently will be supporting 1 of these buggers, and what the heck  
> happens when there is some Zero-day system exploit, where I'll need to  
> do some major upgrades within hours.
> ))
> It's simple- All of the above install issues for boot volumes  
> disappear for this card.
> IMHO, this enables all of us to use fast and inexpensive RAID in  
> places that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive (slap RAID in that  
> little dev box in your closet).  I'd personally start using the cards  
> all over in clusters of redundant servers, where fast/cheap  
> replacements are key for me...
> For advocacy purposes, this is the kind of situation that I think  
> creates bad perceptions about Open Source- and BSD- HighPoint folks  
> really are putting effort into supporting FreeBSD, but I'd hate to be  
> a newbie who just bought a HighPoint card for my first FreeBSD  
> install!!!
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