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What is the difference between online and parallel drive firmware upgrades for E-Series?

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Applies to

  • E-Series Controller Firmware 7.xx
  • E-Series Controller Firmware 8.xx

Answer

Drive firmware controls the low-level operating characteristics of a disk drive. Periodically, drive manufacturers release updates to drive firmware to add new features, improve performance and fix defects.

Each firmware image file contains information about the drive type on which the firmware image runs. The specified firmware image can be downloaded only to a compatible drive. Different firmware download methods are available depending on the type and state of the volume group or disk pool to which that drive belongs as described in the following list.

Online: If the volume group or disk pool supports redundancy and is optimal, use the Online method to download the drive firmware. The Online method downloads firmware, while the storage array processes I/O to the associated volumes using these drives. You do not have to stop I/O to the associated volumes using these drives. These drives are upgraded one at a time, to the volumes associated with the drives. If the drive is not assigned to a volume group or disk pool (or is a standby Hot Spare), then its firmware might be updated by the Online or the Parallel method. System performance might be impacted when you use the Online method to download drive firmware.

Parallel: If the volume group or disk pool does not support redundancy (RAID 0), or is degraded, use the Parallel method to download the drive firmware. The Parallel method will download firmware, only while all I/O activity is stopped to the associated volumes using these drives. Stop all I/O to any associated volumes using these drives. If the drive is not assigned to a volume group or disk pool (or is a standby Hot Spare), then its firmware might be updated by the Online, or the Parallel method. With the Parallel firmware update method, you can select up to four different drive firmware files, and download them to the storage array’s drives at the same time.
The following drives can be updated using only the Parallel firmware update process:

  • Drives in non-redundant volume groups
  • Drives in a disk pool or volume group that is degraded
  • Drives in SSD cache
  • Drives where all host I/O to the volumes associated with the drive has been stopped

All: You can select All to download firmware to all the drives included in the selection list, regardless of the state of the volume group or disk pool. The selection list can contain a mixture of redundant and non-redundant volume group, or disk pool drives or SSD cache drives. Therefore, the system downloads firmware to all these drives using the Parallel method. All I/O to the volumes using these drives must be stopped before the firmware download begins.

Guidelines:

Adhere to the following guidelines when you update the drive firmware to avoid the risk of application errors:

  • Perform downloads only under the guidance of your technical support representative.
  • If you are using the Parallel download method, stop all I/O to the volume groups containing the drives, before starting the download.
  • Do not make any configuration changes to the storage array while downloading the firmware.
  • Firmware on RAID 0 volume group drives can be updated only using the Parallel method.

Additional details regarding Online and Parallel drive firmware upgrades can be located at SANtricity® Storage Manager 11.20 System Upgrade Guide.

Note: E-Series products normally support both online and offline (parallel) drive firmware updates.

Note: If heavy I/O is occurring on array and online drive firmware upgrades are desired it is recommended that a smaller amount of drives be selected instead of upgrade all the drives at once. Online drive firmware upgrades do impact performance.