Apple Fibre Channel Card vs. LSI Technologies Cards (PCI-E)?

Xmax's picture
Forums: 

Hi all, am new here, so please be kind.

I have searched this site, Apple's support forums, and good old Google, etc., however, I am still in the dark...

    The question that I have is wether or not the LSI Technologies cards (in particular a [b]LSI7404EP/b) are identical (hardware/firmware) to the Apple "branded" fibre channel cards?

    If not, will a LSI card slot straight in work without firmware upgrades (boot not required, but knowledge is always welcomed)?

    If not, can it be flashed/firmware upgraded to work?

    If so, how do you do it, etc./list

    Background...

      1. Had a pair of G4 Xserves and Xraid connected by an Apple dual fibre channel 2gb PCI-X card that were on their way out... 2. Updated the two G4's with the 2006 Intel Xserves, checked Apple support & forums where it was claimed that this same card worked with a PCI-X riser instead of the supplied PCI-E riser.
      3. Well it did not work, at least with OSX Lion Server that was installed. The system prefs pane sees the fibre channel card, however, no LUNs or drives, etc. appear in Disc Utility, Xsan, or anywhere else, so...
      4. I presume I need a new FC card to work in these boxes.
      5. An LSI7404EP-LC can be picked up on fleabay for ~100 each, and the cheapest Apple "branded" ones are over $250./list

      Any help would be greatly appreciated, it just seems that this is an area that Apple has just dropped dead cold, and that there are few in the community who know/care/share... Cheers

JSamuel's picture

Xmax wrote:
Hi all, am new here, so please be kind./quote

Welcome!

Xmax wrote:
I have searched this site, Apple's support forums, and good old Google, etc., however, I am still in the dark.../quote

http://bit.ly/14zk8eU
Haha, sorry... I'm just being mean :wink:

From an Apple KB - http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1769 - the LSI card you listed is the MB843G/A; MA465G/A & MB356G/A.

Xmax wrote:
An LSI7404EP-LC can be picked up on fleabay for ~100 each, and the cheapest Apple "branded" ones are over $250./quote

The -LC means it's a kit, and has 4 SFPs with the card. You will want to ensure your transceivers are used in exact pairs, and Apple list (same KB, at the bottom) the transceivers they have tested/approve. Whether you go approved SFP or find some OEMs with the same spec - just pair.

Xmax wrote:
Any help would be greatly appreciated, it just seems that this is an area that Apple has just dropped dead cold, and that there are few in the community who know/care/share... Cheers/quote

Just pop the card into the right PCIe slot and away you go :D

Sharing is caring :wink:

Joel Samuel.
/thirtytwo - Apple Consultancy & Direction
Proud sponsor of Xsanity.com

All contributions are my own personal opinions - not those of any entity I represent.

Xmax's picture

Thanks for the reply J,

No you weren't being mean, :oops: :lol: just did not explain that is about the only info Apple provides on the FC cards, even those that are still available for sale with 2012 MacPros in their web store.

I had seen the ht1769 article before and have the LSI7202XP card from the G4's, which this article suggests not to use, however, I had seen in the apple forums that others had used these successfully until Lion Server changed the FC interface. But the Intel Xserves came with OS X Lion Server.

What I am still not sure about is wether the LSI Technologies LSI7404EP card is the same as Apple's MB843G/A; MA465G/A; & MB356G/A cards. They look, for all I can tell, identical physically, can not even see if Apple is printed anywhere on the cards or stickers.

Back to the info form the apple forums... there was a couple of posts suggesting the apple had its own firmware for the cards that differs from LSI's, and LSI's support pages does not list OS X as a supported operating system, hence the need for some community confirmation.

BTW I have ~12 pairs job lot of the LC to SFP transceivers, the Finisar FTLF-8524-P2BNL-LS recommended in the Apple ht1769 article, just as the Apple branded cards do not come with these for $250+ and the LSI branded ones do (four of them) for <$100:!:

I am hoping that I can get pair of 'generic' LSI7404EP and stick into one of the PCI-E risers and use SFP copper cables to connect to the XRAIDs without having to flash or upgrade the firmware. Not that I can even find anywhere that has the firmware available.

abstractrude's picture

Xmax the Apple cards do have their own firmware. Although not documented they handle multi-pathing differently. I recommend an ATTO card for the most compatibility.

-Trevor Carlson
THUMBWAR

xsanguy's picture

It's not clear wether the LSI standard and LSI Apple 4gig cards have different firmware, or wether Apple (OSX) actually flashes the card when you stick it into a mac.

I agree with abstractdude - go ATTO if you can, and install the most current drivers (even though 10.8.3-4 ships with ATTO drivers, they're old)

Xmax's picture

Thanks for the replies all, much appreciated.

As I have Scottish heritage, I have been looking at fleabay again looking for the most economical ways to get the new Xserves purring...
2/4Gb Dual & Quad channel PCI-E cards:
• ATTO cards are $250+
• Apple "branded" cards are $250+
• LSI cards are $100+ (no Mac OS X drivers readily available)
• QLogic Cards have been going from $20 (these have Mac OS X drivers available).

Presuming from your comments and from the prices asked that the ATTOs are the choice card here, but does anyone have any comments on the QLogic cards which are made in Mexico (I think).

Cheers

xsanguy's picture

I'd try the unbranded LSI7404EP-LC, I've had success with those. OSX seems to flash apple firmware to them (though, not if they're very old.)

cinedigital's picture

QLogic FC HBA drivers don't support OS X newer than Leopard, so LSI cards will be your best bet and should work identically to an Apple branded one as xsanguy says (useful to know that, thanks)

xsanguy's picture

It's remotely possible that all the 7404EPs I've bought have been Apple cards, but I don't think that's the case...

TRANSIT's picture

Were you able to get this to work? I just bought a bunch of LSI7402EP and put them in Sonnet Express SE enclosures. I can see it in System Profiler and system prefs but the Xsan wont mount the volume. It just says No Visible LUNs. The firmware on this 1.03.24.00 and it doesn't have an EFI firmware.

xsanguy's picture

Can you see link on the cards' ports in the Fibre Channel section of System Preferences?

TheLT's picture

Can anyone use LSIUtil on an Apple Card to download the 1.03.23 firmware and flash it to the LSI card? Maybe this will work?

TheLT's picture

I've managed to get the LSI cards working by flashing Apple firmware into them. Alas, the only Apple cards I've got have firmware older than 1.03.23. (1.03.20) Can anyone dump 1.03.23 firmware and throw it at me?