SUMMARY: V880 third-party/big disk question

From: Stephen Edberg <>
Date: Wed Sep 12 2007 - 19:50:40 EDT

I have inherited a V880 (no service contract or warranty) with 6x36GB
drives. I have limited funds to expand storage space, so I cannot
purchase drives from Sun, nor can I add a second drive cage. I'd like
to replace some of the existing drives with larger ones, and I
checked the Sun-supplied models here:

My questions are:

(1) Has anyone successfully replaced Sun-supplied drives with
matching drives from a third-party vendor? I haven't found a good
answer to whether Sun replaces firmware; I did find a mention in the
release notes -

- that they required a certain minimum firmware level, but it's
unclear as to whether this is Sun or manufacturer firmware.

(2) Has anyone used third-party 300GB FCAL drives in a V880? For
example, the Fujitsu MAW3300FC, which is the 300GB version of the
MAW3147FC that Sun supplies.


I should have added for clarity that the V880 uses FCAL drives.
Of the systems mentioned below, all (E250, V440, and A1000) are SCSI.
I would think that good experiences with third-party SCSI drives
would carry over to FCAL, but certainly not 100% sure.


Thanks to:
Ric Anderson
Matthew Stier
Chris Hoogendyk
joe fletcher
Markus Mayer


My usual solution to this is get Sun badged drives from a
VAR that gets lease returns like
or some place similar.  The tricky part about microcode on
disks is that really odd hangs and other nasties happen when
the drives have differing microcode.  The only microcode upgrades I've
ever had access too came as Sun "patches" which booted standalone
and then reflashed all the drives.


(from a address)

Yes, since Sun Microsystems resells the drives with their own part
number on it, and since they do sell enough of them, drive manufactures
do work with them, and will ship drives to Sun with custom firmware
installed.  This "tweaked" firmware isn't intended to make the drives
proprietary to Sun, but is usually done to resolve some problem that Sun
Microsystems has detected between the drive and it's systems.

These tweaked drives can have problems in environments they were not
intended for.  One well known case, is some first generation 20GB drives
for the Ultra-10 had problems, and Sun Microsystems worked with Seagate
and tweaked the firmware.  The result, is a drive that would fine on all
non-Windows systems.  If used on a system running Win2k or WinXP, the
drive size function call would return the wrong value, and Windows would
think it was an 8GB drive.

Since you have no support on this system, you are free to do as you
wish, but only you will pay the consequences, and if you later choose to
place the system under some support contract, that will be between you
and your vendor.


We routinely get seagate cheetah scsi drives for our E250's. We have to
get a spud to mount them. We've found those relatively inexpensively

I don't have a V880 yet, but we are in line to inherit a couple of
hand-me-downs. I've already researched the seagate cheetah fcal drives
and found that they should work and that the same spuds should work.

We've had almost no failures of our drives in many machines over the
past few years.

We get our drives from Insight and get university pricing from them.


Should work fine. Not sure where you are based but in Europe have a word
with and they will sell you some nice cheap branded
drives in suitable carriers for a third of what SUN will charge you.


I can't talk for the V880, however from experience with a V440, putting in
larger third party disks was no problem.  We replaced our 73G disks with
146G disks and there was no problem.  Just remember to do a reconfiugure
reboot with the new disks, and devfsadm to clean the tree.  Additionally,
we have a E3500 with an A1000 where we did similar, again no problem.

RESOLUTION (so far):

I have a request in with DMGI for 4x147GB drives, but I suspect even
that might be more than what I can spend right now. As far as 300GB
drives, I don't want to push my luck with something Sun doesn't supply for
the V880, plus the 147GB drives are more cost-effective.

I'm currently leaning towards 4 147GB Fujitsu drives from a third party
(I already have the mounting hardware) and if necessary doing a firmware
upgrade. I verified that I can access the disk firmware patch for at least
the Fujitsu MAW3147FC drives I'm looking at. Hopefully, as Sun resells
that model, I'll have good luck and won't need to flash the drives. The
caveat from Fujitsu above mentioned problems with Sun-tweaked drives in
non-Sun environments, and since I'm on a V880 with Solaris 10, that
doesn't apply.

	- steve edberg

. Steve Edberg              .
. Computer Consultant     University of California, Davis .
.                                           (530)754-9127 .
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Received on Wed Sep 12 19:50:59 2007

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