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Here is how I added USB 3.0 USB ports to my ML350p Gen8.

 
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Frequent Advisor

Here is how I added USB 3.0 USB ports to my ML350p Gen8.

One of the modern features notably missing on my ML350p Gen8 and other older servers is a set of USB 3.0 ports. I was able to add USB 3.0 functionality to my machine by installing a FebSmart 7-port USB 3.0 PCIe card. This card is readily available on Amazon. Based on what I read online, what makes this card compatible with older servers is the Renesas chipset. This chipset is truly plug-and-play. I did not have to install any drivers whatsoever for my copy of Server 2019 to recognize the device.

I began this project by measuring the speed of the current USB 2.0 port with a Kingston brand 16 GB USB 3.0 flash drive. The benchmark program I used is my beloved ATTO. Here is the performance of that USB flash drive on the front USB 2.0 port.

01_usb2.JPG

You can see read speeds plateaued at ~27.5 MB/s and write speeds flattened out at ~14 MB/s.

I installed the card in slot 9. This ensures the card is located as high as possible on the tower's rear profile. Installing the card on slot 1 would force you to root around near the floor when plugging and unplugging devices.

After installing the card inside my I checked the Device Manager to verify the ports were recognized. It should look something like this.

03_usb3.JPG

Remember, I did not install any drivers for this to appear and I did not see any messages about this card during POST. If you do not see the device appear then the documentation included with the card instructs you to manually install the drivers from the included disc. You can probably download the drivers too if you want to ensure you have the latest version.

I reran the same speed test using the card's USB 3.0 ports and I saw a large positive jump in performance.

02_usb3.JPG

Read speeds soared to ~168 MB/s and write speeds jumped to 31.6 MB/s!

The goal of this test was simply to ensure the card was recognized by the machine and works as advertised. I don't really care too much about the numbers themselves because I am using a low end USB flash drive I purchased from the local Walmart ages ago.

Other cards with the same Renesas chipset are available from other manufacturers, like StarTech. I chose FebSmart because the card was full height, didn't require external power connections, and has more ports than I probably need. The internal ports can be extended to a front faceplate for those crafty enough to put one together. If you feel daring you could also plug in a large USB flash drive and leave it there as permanent storage.

I remember seeing half height cards with the Renesas chipset but didn't pay too much attention to them. Those may be of interest to owners of the 2U high DL series.

I was surprised to see how often the question of USB 3.0 ports came up when I was Googling this myself so I wanted to post my experience here. Hopefully this information helps someone researching the same topic.

Thanks!


Boris
3 REPLIES 3
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Honored Contributor

Re: Here is how I added USB 3.0 USB ports to my ML350p Gen8.

Great Information.

Thank you.

Cali


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That was not planned in this way.
Highlighted
Occasional Advisor

Re: Here is how I added USB 3.0 USB ports to my ML350p Gen8.

Very helpful..thanks

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Frequent Advisor

Re: Here is how I added USB 3.0 USB ports to my ML350p Gen8.

@techinand @Cali - you're welcome!


Boris