Guide To Building A Media Storage Server - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by odditory View Post

As I mentioned in my build log thread, "been there/done that" with ZFS - too many limitations and issues to make it viable for the application we're talking about here which is media storage.

Have to agree with you on excluding Solaris. I tried it for a couple of days (that felt like a year to most humans) and the limitations just drove me nuts.


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Originally Posted by odditory View Post

The first word that comes to mind when thinking of ZFS on an Apple O/S is "limitations". I guess that hunch is based on running into brick walls when I've tried adding any more than a few drives to a Mac Pro or Xserve externally. Areca are STILL practically the only company bothering with raid cards that work with Macs, and Apple's own overpriced 8port card isn't worth considering.

I wouldn't rule out Mac OSx server as a mediaserver for households that are all or mostly Mac clients. Things will just play together more 'nicely. I have a close friend that runs Mac server and for the most part it's impressively stable, fast and easy to use.

Both Areca and Highpoint have extensive Mac support.
You can read up on specific raid HBAs Mac performace reviews here;
http://www.amug.org/

At this time Mac doesn't support BD playback, which may be a problem for some but this is 'expected' to be added to Snow Leopard. There may be other limitations too. I'm not a mac expert tho.
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post #92 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by eToolGuy View Post

Yep, I'm in CA also... but I have "kindof" a big house... and for really bad people, they make you pay. So to be a better person, last year I installed 200 solar panels (45kw!), and with 0 net usage my bills went from $2000/mo to 4$. (4$ is basically a fixed fee that you can't get out of.) Anyway, I really want to keep it this way... while still being able to play with my eToys... hense my goal to keep my systems as efficient as reasonable.

Better not let my wife read this. It'll just give her more ammo to leave every single TV on in the house !
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post #93 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by odditory View Post

Before buying anything I would make sure you cost-compare those ciprico cards to true raid cards. While I understand why kapone runs them (he gets them for dirt cheap), for anyone else I don't see the benefit given the price. If you're looking for inexpensive multiport cards to run software (CPU) based raid, then Supermicro makes a PCI-X 8-port SATA card for $95 as I keep mentioning. If you want to make an investment and step up to hardware-based Raid6 so you can sleep better at night, then get a 12, 16 or 24 port Areca card and leave all the tinkering and complexity behind.

Because kapone sells his extra Ciprico cards on eBay for cheap. He sold a bunch of RC5152-08's for $110 a piece, free shipping. Factor in shipping for the Supermicro controller and the Ciprico card wins. I'm waiting for him to get the 5400 series 16-port cards before I snap one or two up.

If I have to pay retail prices though, I'd likely just go with an Areca.
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post #94 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by kapone View Post

I stopped spining down a while ago.

With 20 drives, let's say, when they are spinning, they are pulling in about 200w - 240w. And that's when they are being accessed actively, if they are just sitting there, powered on, but not really being accessed, it's more like 160-180w.

At $.15/kwh, that's approx, $.03 per hour or $.72 per day or about $21 per month "extra" that I'm paying in electric cost. I can live with that.

Not having to worry about, what to play, when to play, no delays, less stress on the drives, less stress on the power supplies...priceless.

Don't be that way
Al Gore would be mighty disappointed. You know Al Gore right? He invented in the internet

In all seriousness tho. There's absolutely no reason not to use spin down if your hard/soft controller supports it.

I have the Areca 1261 set to spindown after 30 (or was it 60mins)..of inactivity and staggered spinup enabled. It works perfectly, saves lots of energy and keeps my system nice and cool when it's not in use, which is afterall about 18hrs a day. It spins up mighty fast when I access the array (wake up) never more than a couple of seconds and stays awake until I'm not using it anymore. Quite seemless actually.

These new generation drives have no problem going into standy and waking up. They're desktop drives, with very nice bearing systems that are made exactly for this purpose - think sleep and hybernate on pc's and notebooks. This shouldn't be a concern in the least.
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post #95 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by eToolGuy View Post

Yep, I'm in CA also... but I have "kindof" a big house... and for really bad people, they make you pay. So to be a better person, last year I installed 200 solar panels (45kw!), and with 0 net usage my bills went from $2000/mo to 4$. (4$ is basically a fixed fee that you can't get out of.) Anyway, I really want to keep it this way... while still being able to play with my eToys... hense my goal to keep my systems as efficient as reasonable.


I know what you mean. I also have a large house, and went into band 5 a couple times, which was very costly. I have a 6 KW solar system as well, and it pretty much eliminated by electric bill. Since you don't get back a credit for generating more power than you use, you may as well add a few more servers... :-)
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post #96 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiBz View Post

Don't be that way
Al Gore would be mighty disappointed. You know Al Gore right? He invented in the internet

In all seriousness tho. There's absolutely no reason not to use spin down if your hard/soft controller supports it.

I have the Areca 1261 set to spindown after 30 (or was it 60mins)..of inactivity and staggered spinup enabled. It works perfectly, saves lots of energy and keeps my system nice and cool when it's not in use, which is afterall about 18hrs a day. It spins up mighty fast when I access the array (wake up) never more than a couple of seconds and stays awake until I'm not using it anymore. Quite seemless actually.

These new generation drives have no problem going into standy and waking up. They're desktop drives, with very nice bearing systems that are made exactly for this purpose - think sleep and hybernate on pc's and notebooks. This shouldn't be a concern in the least.

That's only true if you don't do staggered spinup, and if you don't then you are putting a much bigger load on the +12V rail than you need, which leads to oversizing the PSU and running the PSU almost all the time at a much lower efficiency, which means you eat in to any savings you get from the spinup/spindown. I still don't think it makes sense or saves any money when you compare it to a well sized 24/7 system.
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post #97 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by odditory View Post

Nice! When will the panels pay for themselves? 2098? Only kidding, but 200 panels sounds expensive! The idea of solar for the house is extremely attractive and hopefully prices fall within grasp of more people as time goes on.

When we decided to put the panels in, we were at .19/kwh, and with installation costs being about $200k, the payback would have been 16 years or so. With an expected panel lifespan of 25 years... that ends up being 9 years of free electricity, so it made good financial sense for us. But with this latest rate increase to .33kwh, payoff is now 8.5 years. If rates keep going up, it will be even shorter. That said, the main reason we did it was to have a smaller carbon footprint and not feel so guilty about all my etoys.

To try to protect your thread and get us back on topic: do you know of other ways to provide a staggered power up sequence than a good RAID card like the areca 1280? I just got a few WD10EACS 1tb drives and they have a jumper on them that allows them to power up in standby mode. Their data sheet also says they "consume less current during startup allowing lower peak loads on systems as they are booted." If this isn't just marketing speak, maybe staggered startup isn't so important? I don't know about the 1.5tb Seagate drives though. What do you think?
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post #98 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

That's only true if you don't do staggered spinup, and if you don't then you are putting a much bigger load on the +12V rail than you need, which leads to oversizing the PSU and running the PSU almost all the time at a much lower efficiency, which means you eat in to any savings you get from the spinup/spindown. I still don't think it makes sense or saves any money when you compare it to a well sized 24/7 system.

Hey Mike, thanks. I had no idea that running 20 drives and not spinning them down would use the same power as using spindown/spinup.
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post #99 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by MiBz View Post

Hey Mike, thanks. I had no idea that running 20 drives and not spinning them down would use the same power as using spindown/spinup.


It depends on the duty cycle (if they are up only 10 mins during the day, then it definitely will be cheaper to spin them down!).

But if they are up a fair % of the day, the greater inefficiency of running a much larger PSU out of the sweet spot in it's efficiency curve will hurt. Note that if you keep it up 24/7, and don't use staggered spinup, and then go with an oversized PSU, that will be the worst of both worlds. Tol max out efficiency, you want to make sure the PSU is the most efficient in the typical power consumption the server uses most of the time.
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post #100 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 05:09 PM
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Greetings to all, this is my very first post on avs. I have great respect for all of you, most of this is all GREEK to me. Most of you all seem to be network administrators for companies and I apologize if my questions seem basic, I actually run a flight department and have very little exposure to computers in the building realm.
I have interest in putting my ever growing collection of 1500 DVDs on hard disc and keep them safe and easy to access. Right now I am estimating my drive space needs somewhere in the area of 10Tb and I would like to be able to expand. My question are many but first I am interested in general costs. It looks like to me that for a large space needs as mine the new 1.5Tb Seagate Barracuda drive seems to make sense. If I were to get 10 of these that would cost me about $1900. To compare apples to apples the Seagate 1Tb is $140 and 15 of those would cost me $2100. With the NORCO RPC-4020 at $290 that would put me at about $2200 without all of the rest of the stuff I need.
My questions are what do you think of the 1.5Tb drive? Should I wait for prices to drop more? How much would the rest of the components cost? I have a computer friend to help me build this but do you think that I being a pilot should even try to do something like this?
To give you just a bit more information on my system I will as of now not see me ever needing to stream to more than one or two computers. As of right now I am using just DVD’s but plan to go to BD as soon as I have something like this running. Also while I am not a computer guy, I was also not a home theater guy and am now finishing my home theater with a Panasonic Projector, small 24” HD Dell Monitor, Onkyo Receiver, Klipsch speakers, and a PS3 BD. Please help…
Thanks...
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post #101 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 05:12 PM
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Oh and I also know that I will need a HTPC...
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post #102 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Because kapone sells his extra Ciprico cards on eBay for cheap. He sold a bunch of RC5152-08's for $110 a piece, free shipping. Factor in shipping for the Supermicro controller and the Ciprico card wins. I'm waiting for him to get the 5400 series 16-port cards before I snap one or two up.

If I have to pay retail prices though, I'd likely just go with an Areca.

uh..huhh...please don't make long term storage decisions just because something is available on flebay today. Those were just some leftovers I wanted to let go.
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post #103 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by fly4christ78 View Post

Greetings to all, this is my very first post on avs. I have great respect for all of you, most of this is all GREEK to me. Most of you all seem to be network administrators for companies and I apologize if my questions seem basic, I actually run a flight department and have very little exposure to computers in the building realm.
I have interest in putting my ever growing collection of 1500 DVDs on hard disc and keep them safe and easy to access. Right now I am estimating my drive space needs somewhere in the area of 10Tb and I would like to be able to expand. My question are many but first I am interested in general costs. It looks like to me that for a large space needs as mine the new 1.5Tb Seagate Barracuda drive seems to make sense. If I were to get 10 of these that would cost me about $1900. To compare apples to apples the Seagate 1Tb is $140 and 15 of those would cost me $2100. With the NORCO RPC-4020 at $290 that would put me at about $2200 without all of the rest of the stuff I need.
My questions are what do you think of the 1.5Tb drive? Should I wait for prices to drop more? How much would the rest of the components cost? I have a computer friend to help me build this but do you think that I being a pilot should even try to do something like this?
To give you just a bit more information on my system I will as of now not see me ever needing to stream to more than one or two computers. As of right now I am using just DVD's but plan to go to BD as soon as I have something like this running. Also while I am not a computer guy, I was also not a home theater guy and am now finishing my home theater with a Panasonic Projector, small 24 HD Dell Monitor, Onkyo Receiver, Klipsch speakers, and a PS3 BD. Please help
Thanks...

Expense and complexity greatly depends on what you want to achieve. For your requirements, unRAID seems like a good fit. It's probably one of the least expensive options, too. The only problem I see currently is that unRAID limits you to 15 hard drives worth of storage. As for buying hard drives now, it seems with technology (unlike gas), prices always go down. One of the nice things about unRAID is you can buy what you need now and just keep adding or replacing drives as you go. It's also possible to mix and match hard drive sizes without losing space.

unRAID Pros
relatively inexpensive
mix and match hard drives
can sustain one hard drive failure
if more than one hard drive fails, you only lose data on failed hard drives
in case unRAID installation fails, data on hard drives is still accessible (e.g. via Linux LiveCD, etc)

unRAID Cons
requires a separate system
picky about hardware
max 17 hard drives (15 usable storage, 1 parity, 1 cache)
relatively slow (but it's plenty fast enough for your usage)
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post #104 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by kapone View Post

uh..huhh...please don't make long term storage decisions just because something is available on flebay today. Those were just some leftovers I wanted to let go.

Lol, I was kinda hoping you'd have some leftover 5400's once those are released. I'm not planning on building it right away so I can wait. If not, as mentioned, the backup plan is to go with the Areca 1280ML (or Areca 1680IX, pending drive compatibility issues).
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post #105 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Lol, I was kinda hoping you'd have some leftover 5400's once those are released.

That may be on hold for a LONG time. Since Ciprico is in chapter 11, they are selling all of their IP assets to Dot Hill systems, and the decision to release the 5400 or not, will now be made by Dot Hill. The card as such is in production, and they are using it in one of their MediaSmart servers, but it's not available as a standalone card as such.

My supplier has an open order for 3-4 cases of them, if they ever get released.
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post #106 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 07:22 PM
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We need to find a cost efficient way to add SATA ports via PCIe.

Any of you guys have some pull with Supermicro to get their 8 port PCIx version ported to PCIe ?

/me inconspiciously looks over at kapone ...
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post #107 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 07:39 PM
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Sorry, already had those discussions with a LOT of manufacturers (which kind of brought my attention to Ciprico...and then they had to go file a bankruptcy...duh..). Supermicro seems to have made a "corporate" decision to focus on their UIO slot for RAID. Most of their PCI-E versions are for the UIO slot. I guess, at some point they might release one, but I'm not holding my breath.
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post #108 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by fly4christ78 View Post

My questions are what do you think of the 1.5Tb drive? Should I wait for prices to drop more? How much would the rest of the components cost? I have a computer friend to help me build this but do you think that I being a pilot should even try to do something like this?

Thanks for your reply but I am still interested in my questions. I understand that things can cost as much as you want them to but can you give me an idea of a basic cost for everything minus the HD's and the case. The limit of 15 HD's is no problem, 15X1.5=22.5 that should be more than enough. I will only get the drives as I need them.
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post #109 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by fly4christ78 View Post

Thanks for your reply but I am still interested in my questions. I understand that things can cost as much as you want them to but can you give me an idea of a basic cost for everything minus the HD’s and the case. The limit of 15 HD’s is no problem, 15X1.5=22.5 that should be more than enough. I will only get the drives as I need them.

Probably around $200-$300 in hardware, a few hours to build it, a lot more hours for you to understand various aspects of the system (since you won't be the one building it, and by your admission you don't know a lot about these things), a fair amount of hours to maintain it, and a boatload of hours and lots of cursing to fix things, when something goes wrong.
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post #110 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:26 PM
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Does anyone have a 1280ml connected to drives in an external enclosure?

If so, what combination of cables and adapters did you use?
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post #111 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 12:05 AM
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Thanks for your help kapone, I look forward to seeing this thread mature, and I am waiting for a suggested parts list. A list that someone has bought built and tested. My friend suggested that I wait for you guys to get a good working rig and copy it. I wish I understood this more but I will continue to search this site and others and learn what I can. This is almost a stupid question but can you guys suggest any reading for someone of my level to try to understand this process and the “Greek” terms that everyone keeps using. I have tried to search for a book but everything in this field seems to change so quickly that it would be out of date by the time it hits the selves.

Another possibility for me due to my inexperience would be to just buy a system someone else built, but since these sound maintenance intensive I am afraid that if I didn’t build it I couldn’t fix it. Anyone in the Pittsburgh area that would want to build me one? No hurt in asking, I guess…

Oh I found this link, great pictures…
http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/...d.php?t=202201
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post #112 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by fly4christ78 View Post

can you guys suggest any reading for someone of my level to try to understand this process and the Greek terms that everyone keeps using. I have tried to search for a book but everything in this field seems to change so quickly that it would be out of date by the time it hits the selves.

Here are a couple of basic HowTo Build links that may be useful:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2327934,00.asp
http://static.tigerdirect.com/html/PCbuildingTips.html
There are probably better ones, but I haven't really tried to look.

As far as terms go, most of what you see here will be defined in the specs and manuals of the products we discuss. When odditory posts his system profiles he may include a related glossary the way Renethx did in his thread, but he also may not have time. Outside of that, Wikipedia is a pretty good site for general technology and product descriptions. (RAID, SATA, Windows Home Server, XBOX, etc.)
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post #113 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fly4christ78 View Post

Another possibility for me due to my inexperience would be to just buy a system someone else built, but since these sound maintenance intensive I am afraid that if I didn't build it I couldn't fix it. Anyone in the Pittsburgh area that would want to build me one? No hurt in asking, I guess

Lime Technology sells systems, but the max it can accomodate is 15 hard drives.

If you're going with unRAID, it's not really maintenance intensive. The only time you have to mess with it is when you need to add or replace hard drives.

Now an HTPC is a different proposition.

In a hurry right now, but will post my build (and a few more I'm planning) as soon as I get the chance.
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post #114 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 09:16 AM
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Sample unRAID builds (hard drives not included):

my current unRAID server build
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Antec 300, $60 - *sigh* Should have gone with the Centurion 590 or Antec 900.
Abit AB9 Pro, $85 - 9 SATA ports, has been tested by a lot of people with unRAID, but it's old and doesn't seem to support Wolfdales, possible successor is the MSI P43 Neo3-F.
Intel Celeron 430, $40 - TDP 35W
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB, $35 - Good, inexpensive RAM.
ATI Rage XL 8MB, $10
Corsair 520HX, $100 ($80AR) - I could have gotten the 750TX for $100 shipped but I wanted modular and I was only anticipating a max of 9 hard drives.
iStarUSA T-5-SA x3, $45 ($15ea)
Sandisk Cruzer Micro 1GB (non-U3 version), $10
unRAID Server Pro license, $75 - I bought the 2-pack so it's discounted and I have an extra unRAID license for a new build.
TOTAL $460

Note:
Price quoted is the amount paid at the time of purchase.

jason4207
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MSI Neo3-F P43 board open box - $60 + s/h
E5200 - $85 shipped
Cooler Master Hyper 212 - forum, $20 shipped (optional)
4GB of DDR2-1000 CAS5 RAM - $48 shipped AR
Cooler Master Centurion 590 - eBay, $65 shipped
4 Yate Loon fans - Petra's (Out of Stock)
ATI XL 8MB PCI - eBay, $8 shipped
Silverstone 560W Zeus single 38A rail PSU - on-hand
Antec 900 3-3 HDD cages - on-hand


*edit: heavily condensed

my new build, tentative parts list

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post #115 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 09:41 AM
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Did some digging early this morning in my quest to find a low cost 8 port PCIe SATA controller, which I think will be very useful for WHS, Unraid and Software raid Media server builds.


Here she is in all her glory;


http://www.supermicro.com/products/a...C-USAS-L8i.cfm

It's based off an LSI LSISAS1068E chipset, 8 port SAS/SATA interface, PCI-e and retails for $125.


LSI has drivers galore for this chipset ranging from all Windows flavors including Windows 2008 server, Vista, XP 2003, OSx, Linux, Solaris and even SCO.
http://www.lsi.com/storage_home/prod...index.html#EFI

Supermicro also has a low profile version as well;
http://www.supermicro.com/products/a...USASLP-L8i.cfm



LSI also sells the same card with their own brand, but seems to be more pricey at $225;
http://www.lsi.com/storage_home/prod...1er/index.html
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post #116 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 09:50 AM
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I believe the USAS designation means compatible with UIO slot only.
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post #117 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 10:49 AM
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Are any inexpensive solutions out there yet for setting up a network RAID in a home environment?

Network RAID allows you to tie multiple RAID 5/6 chassis together (let's say each is running a 24 * 1TB RAID6). It then allows you to span a single virtual volume across multiple chassis.

So if I have 10 chassis, each with 22TB of effective storage, and I set them all up as a network RAID5, I would end up with 198TB of storage.

The beauty is that I could loose not only up to 2 drives in any one chassis, but I could loose an entire chassis and my data would still be intact.

Another benefit is that there is no limit to how large I can grow my array. Just keep adding drives to the last chassis in the chain until it is filled up, then add another chassis and begin the process over.

LeftHand Networks is one company that offers this type of SAN (using 2U 12 drive chassis) in an iSCSI configuration. Not that it matters in a home environment, but as you add chassis, the performace increases as well since the data is striped across all the drives in all the chassis.
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post #118 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Because kapone sells his extra Ciprico cards on eBay for cheap. He sold a bunch of RC5152-08's for $110 a piece, free shipping. Factor in shipping for the Supermicro controller and the Ciprico card wins. I'm waiting for him to get the 5400 series 16-port cards before I snap one or two up.

If I have to pay retail prices though, I'd likely just go with an Areca.

Good to hear that a card is coming out with 16 ports that's not an array controller. If it's not disproportionately costly (relative to the 8port cards, and relative to 16-port raid cards), it may well be a "game-changer" given the other people like me that don't like the idea of cluttering a build with two or three 8-port cards (not to mention not all motherboards have three PCIe slots of minimally x4 or x8 speed).
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post #119 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Did some digging early this morning in my quest to find a low cost 8 port PCIe SATA controller, which I think will be very useful for WHS, Unraid and Software raid Media server builds.


Good finds - I'd actually been looking at those myself on Ingram Micro. As I've been compiling the parts lists for the recommended systems and trying to determine an ideal card for the lower-priced of the two systems built on WHS, something was rubbing me the wrong way about recommending a legacy PCI-X card to people for a modern build.

Only thing that worries me right now is that these Supermicro 8port cards are in seeming short supply and I'm not sure if that's because they're new or another reason (both the regular and LP versions). As for the LSI chipset they're based on, I would expect it to be solid since LSI is one of the biggest OEM suppliers for the raid cards that companies like HP and Dell put their logo on, i.e. the HP Pxxx series cards. One concern I have is whether they will allow JBOD (non-striped) operation or not for purpose of unRAID/WHS/etc, so I've got one of these cards on order to test it.
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post #120 of 7891 Old 10-02-2008, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Greetings to all, this is my very first post on avs. I have great respect for all of you, most of this is all GREEK to me. Most of you all seem to be network administrators for companies and I apologize if my questions seem basic, I actually run a flight department and have very little exposure to computers in the building realm.
I have interest in putting my ever growing collection of 1500 DVDs on hard disc and keep them safe and easy to access. Right now I am estimating my drive space needs somewhere in the area of 10Tb and I would like to be able to expand. My question are many but first I am interested in general costs. It looks like to me that for a large space needs as mine the new 1.5Tb Seagate Barracuda drive seems to make sense. If I were to get 10 of these that would cost me about $1900. To compare apples to apples the Seagate 1Tb is $140 and 15 of those would cost me $2100. With the NORCO RPC-4020 at $290 that would put me at about $2200 without all of the rest of the stuff I need.
My questions are what do you think of the 1.5Tb drive? Should I wait for prices to drop more? How much would the rest of the components cost? I have a computer friend to help me build this but do you think that I being a pilot should even try to do something like this?
To give you just a bit more information on my system I will as of now not see me ever needing to stream to more than one or two computers. As of right now I am using just DVD’s but plan to go to BD as soon as I have something like this running. Also while I am not a computer guy, I was also not a home theater guy and am now finishing my home theater with a Panasonic Projector, small 24” HD Dell Monitor, Onkyo Receiver, Klipsch speakers, and a PS3 BD. Please help…
Thanks...

Greetings. If I were "buying new" into a large number of harddrives, I'd probably standardize on 1.5Tb due to their surprisingly good cost-per-gig ratio (you also can't go wrong with Seagate's 5-yr warranty). "Waiting for prices to drop more" in reality means never buying, for being perpetually stuck on the fence. What you can do, to take advantage of falling costs, is just start out with 4 to 8 drives and then add more each time the pooled storage is 80-90% full. Prices aren't going to fall 'like crazy' so if waiting 3 to 6 months to buy harddrives saves you $20-$40 per drive, does it really matter relative to all the other costs?

The most labor intensive part of all isn't even the storage server, but getting all those DVD's transferred. I had many 400-disc binders filled with DVD"s to transfer to soft-storage and I attacked it by building two systems with 5 x DVD-RW drives each (total of 10 drives) and then just having five DVD Decrypter instances per system ripping to VIDEO_TS folders, then ejecting upon completion. I was able to rip through a 400-disc DVD binder in a few hours with this approach (5-6 minutes per disc, 100-120 discs per hour). There are cases that have 10 x 5.25" slots (I think CM makes one?) so in retrospect I could've also used a single computer for all that ripping. The cost of the extra DVD-RW drives saved me more in time than they cost ($40 each? big deal). I ripped straight to my storage server across gig ethernet without the ethernet bottlenecking the collective rip speed.

Lastly, as to your question of whether you should even do it, there's no reason NOT to. Aside from the fact "you only live once", with that many DVD's in your collection and given your apparent interest in home theater, you can't go wrong. Start by accepting that all the new acquisitions and upgrades to your media storage and home theater are a gradual process and won't be done overnight or by any deadlines. The soft-storage of hundreds to thousands of DVD's, and now BD, is something totally foreign to most people, so even being interested in this means you're ahead of the game.

Don't be scared off by acronyms being thrown around - we use them to seem more important and to cover up for the fact we spend way too much time on all this and have no life. j/k. If you have a friend to help with the build then that's great, and you can ask questions here too.

By this weekend I will have the recommended parts lists up for two different media storage servers, with all the major guesswork having been removed for people.

Lastly, you should expect that the HTPC is going to be the more time-intensive of the two builds to nail down - Vista Media Center + MyMovies + Arcsoft TMT or PowerDVD for BD playback are as bleeding edge and 'fiddly' as it gets - especially to take advantage of the new HD uncompressed audio tracks on BD's! I'm warning you now since "sooner accepting means sooner overcoming" It's out of the scope of this thread, but make sure to pick your HTPC motherboard carefully: one with an HDMI output that supports 8 channel LPCM. renethx's threads are great and he keeps up on the latest hardware that supports 8 channel uncompressed audio.
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