esSJae's Virtualization Blog

Virtualization and other IT topics

3Ware 9650SE with ESXi 5.5

Posted by essjae on March 3, 2016


This is definitely an edge case, but if you’ve got a bunch of old 3Ware 9650SE RAID cards laying around, they will work in ESXi 5.5.  You’ll need to either create a custom ISO or add them via SSH after the install.  Adding them post-install is easier for me than making another custom ISO.

I’ve set up 2 ESXi servers (old x58 chipset MBs I had laying around) to do some clustering.  I picked up 5 9650SE RAID cards off of eBay for $55, including cables, and cobbled together some RAID volumes from the stacks of HDDs I had laying around.

I set up my ESXi boxes with a custom ISO I’d created previously that has the Realtec NIC, Intel NIC, and Intel SATA drivers (that’s another post, or look up ESXi-customizer). I was able to get the cards up and working with minimal issues (after I updated the firmware to the most current version…was a puzzle as a couple cards were updated and just worked, then I got stuck with some others and they wouldn’t work at all until the FW was updated)

I then replaced one of the ESXi boxes with an x79 system and could not get the RAID card to work with the existing drivers I had.  Hours and multiple reboots, driver uploads, I found another driver that works from Avago (direct): http://docs.avagotech.com/docs/12349232

You can find it here: http://www.avagotech.com/ –> Support –> Support Documents and Downloads –> Legacy RAID controllers –> 3ware 9650SE-xxxx –> Search –> Driver –> VMware ESXi 5.0 Update 1 for 9650SE/9690SA

Connect to your ESXi server via SSH (you’ll need to enable this first) and use the command:

localcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/datastore-name/scsi-3w-9xxx-2.27.08.036-1OEM.500.0.0.472560.x86_64.vib

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