HP SmartCache will work only with latest controller like P420i, P420, P421, P822, and P721m and the controller should have 1GB or 2 GB FBWC installed. The server should be installed with one or more SSD and you also need HP SmartCache license (SAAP v2.0).
Let me explain HP SmartCache in simple words. When HP SmartCache is enabled, the Smart Array Controller will cache frequently read data to a SSD and keep an index (meta data) in the FBWC module. Whenever the same data is requested, the controller will read the data from the SSD rather than reading from the normal HDDs. By reading the cached data from the SSD, the performance of Input/Output increased on the server.
If the controller has only 512MB of Cache (FBWC), you will not be able to enable this feature because HP SmartCache consumes some amount of memory from FBWC for keeping the meta data (index). So ensure that HP Smart Array controller is installed with 1GB or 2GB FBWC on your Server. Otherwise, this feature will not work.
HP SmartCache feature is available only with latest version of HP Smart Array Controller, so ensure that you update the HP Smart Array controller firmware to the latest version. With Smart Array controller firmware Version: 3.42 (19 Feb 2013), this feature is enabled. We also need to use the updated version of Array Configuration Utility (ACU) or need to use the latest HP Smart Storage Administrator.
If you are using good old Array Configuration Utility (ACU), then the minimum recommended version of ACU is 184.108.40.206. So ensure that both firmware and ACU is updated before you try this feature. If you are using HP Smart Storage Administrator, any version of HP SSA (Smart Storage Administrator) can be used to configure HP SmartCache. HP discontinued ACU and and now focuses on Smart Storage Administrator.
HP SmartCache is a licensed feature. You need to install HP SmartCache license for Proliant Gen8 Servers (replacement of older HP Smart Array Advanced Pack v.20) for this feature to work. Without the license, this feature does not work. If you are using HP Smart Array P822 Controller or HP Smart Array P721m Controller, then you do not need to buy the license separately because the license is already included with these controllers.
NOTE: If you would like to try HP SmartCache license for 60 days, HP is giving trial license for you. You can get 60 days trial license from this link.
Last but not least, you need SSD Hard drive to enable HP SmartCache. All the cached data will be stored in the SSD. You can use one or more SSDs for the cache purpose. If you do not install an SSD, then SmartCache cannot be enabled.
If you would like to learn more about HP SmartCache, then you can refer the HP SmartCache technology Whitepaper from this link. Now let us go ahead and learn how to enable and use HP SmartCache on your HP ProLiant Gen8 Server.
How to Configure HP SmartCache:
Here, I am using an embedded P420i controller installed in a HP Gen8 Server. I have also updated the controller firmware and ACU version to the latest. I have used the Intelligent Provisioning feature of HP Gen8 Server and launched ACU from these. You can also ACU within the Operating System to configure HP SmartCache.
NOTE: If you are using HP Smart Storage Administrator, the interface will be slightly different. But the steps and procedure remains the same.
1. Open Array Configuration utility on your Server. You can launch HP ACU or HP SSA (HP Smart Storage Administrator) from Intelligent Provisioning or from the Operating system (Windows, Linux etc).
2. Select the HP Smart Array controller from the drop down menu as shown below.
3. As you can see from the below provided image, the HP Smart Array Controller P420 is connected to four 300GB SAS HDDs and two 200 GB Solid State Disk (SSD).
4. Now let us create an Array using two SAS HDDs. To create array, click on Create Array button.
5. Select SAS, select the HDDs and click OK button as shown below.
6. Now the SAS Array A is created. Let us create a new Logical drive on this array.
7. Click on Create logical drive button to create a new logical drive.
8. Select the RAID and click on Save (Here, I have selected RAID 1).
9. Now you have successfully created the logical drive in SAS Array A.
10. Now I will create one more Array and Logical drive using the remaining SAS HDDs.
11. To Create another Array, Select Unassigned drives, then click on Create Array button.
12. Select SAS, select the HDDs and click on OK button as shown below.
13. Now SAS Array B is created. Let us create a new Logical drive in this array.
14. Click on Create Logical drive to create a new Logical drive.
15. Select the RAID level and click on Save button as shown below.
16. Now you have created a the logical drive 2 under SAS array B
17. Now it is the time to enable HP SmartCache on the Controller.
18. Click on the HP Smart Array Controller, then click on Enable HP SmartCache option as shown below.
19. Select the option Solid State SAS, click Save.
NOTE: When you create SmartCache, you are not creating any more RAID logical drives on these SSDs. So you do not have to specify any RAID levels here. Moreover, you could not use any unused space on the SSD to create an array or logical drive. In short, once you make a SSD for SmartCache, it cannot be used for any other purpose at the same time.
20. You will receive a warning. Click OK in the warning.
21. It will create a new SmartCache Array on your Server as shown below.
22. To assign a SmartCache to a logical drive, select the SmartCache Array C from left pane, click onCreate HP SmartCache logical drive button as shown below.
23. Now select the Logical drive for which you want to assign HP SmartCache.
NOTE: The recommended SmartCache is 10% of Logical drive as the first logical drive is 279 GB, it is recommended to set SmartCache size of first logical drive as 27.9 GB.
24. Click on Save button once you are done. Now you have successfully created a 27.9 GB of Cache for your Logical drive 1 (RAID 1 with 279 GB). Good Job
Now let us assign HP SmartCache for logical drive 2. You can repeat Step 23, 24, 25 and select Logical drive 2 to assign HP SmartCache for Logical drive 2. Here, you can try another method assign the HP SmartCache. Whatever the method you follow, the outcome is same.
25. To assign HP SmartCache for Logical Drive 2, here I will show you alternate method.
26. Click on Logical Drive 2 at the left pane of ACU window.
27. Click on Create SmartCache for Logical drive as shown below.
28. Select the Recommended size option as shown below.
29. Now you have successfully configured HP SmartCache for both Logical Drive 1 and 2
30. Congrats, you have successfully configured HP SmartCache on your Server.
You can notice that we have 316.6 GB of remaining HDD space on HP SmartCache Array C. This space can be used create more SmartCache for future logical drive that you might create. But you cant use this space for any RAID or storage.
If you would like to know more about HP SmartCache or if you have any doubts, you can always leave a comment here. I will try my level best to answer the questions left by you. Thank you for reading.