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post #1 of 19 Old 07-25-2012, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I have several HTPCs that I use to play TV, Movies and Music from my media server.

I currently have the following setup:
Norco RPC-4220
Supermicro X7SPA-H-D525
4GB Mushkin SO-DIMM DDR3 1333
Corsair TX650 PSU
2x Datoptic SPM94 Port Multiplier
5x Samsung F4 2TB in RAID5 on one SPM394
5x Seagate XT 3TB in RAID5 on one SPM394
FreeNAS 8.0

I'm not a fan of FreeNAS, and I would like the server to do more of the heavy lifting with ripping, PlexServer, and some other goodies that will allow me to share my media across my network and devices. I will be using some version of Windows for the OS.

I plan on keeping the case and PSU, but want to replace the motherboard, CPU, and RAM.
I was debating between the Core i3-2120T and the i3-2100. I like the lower wattage of the 2120T, but I want to ensure that it has enough power for what I want to do with it.
I'm looking for suggestions on a motherboard. I liked the SuperMicro that I currently have has the two Intel Gigabit NICs so I can maximize the speed when I bound them together.

While I liked the Port Multiplier, and it was a good option at the time at the time, but I have purchased 7 more 3TB drives, and I don't want to have to but another port multipler, and I don't like losing 6TB by having multiple RAID5 arrays instead of one large RAID5. Ideally I'd like to fill all 20 bays, and I'd like to be able to add the drives one or two at a time (instead of 5 at a time).
I'd like suggestions for other raid options. I used to have a Highpoint RAID card (5x SATA) which I liked and never had issues with. I've hard mixed things about "FakeRAID", but the bottom line is that I need some protection (which RAID5 gives), and I do not need ultrafast performance or ultrafast rebuild times. If there is a reasonably priced hardware RAID card, then I'd be all about it, but at the same time, if a hybrid or "FakeRAID" is far cheaper but still more than enough performance for my needs, then I'd be up for that.

I do have a question about Hybrid or "FakeRAID" solutions. If I set up an array, and the OS craps out and I have to reinstall, do I lose my array? Or when I reinstall, will the array be picked up and all data still available? Similar question with Software like Windows Data Pooling, or FlexRAID. If I have to reinstall the OS, can I reinitialize the arrays without any data loss (as that is the point of a raid, to protect the data).

Lastly... I'm struggling with a Windows version. I WAS going to use Windows Home Server, but now that they are doing away with it, I don't know if I should wait until it's "replacement" is available (Windows Server Essentials), install Windows Server 2008 R2, plain old Windows 7, or maybe even give Windows 8 a try.

I appreciate any comments and suggestions!

Thanks!

Sean Hull

Denon 3808ci | PS3 80Gb | Harmony One | Toshiba XA2 | Samsung 61" PN60E6500EF | HTPC with HDMI

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post #2 of 19 Old 07-25-2012, 02:34 PM
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I use unRaid, and so far it has been working excellent for my media streaming purposes.


http://lime-technology.com/wiki/index.php/FAQ#What_is_unRAID.3F
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Media Server: UnRaid Server: 15TB of storage and growing :).

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8599

 

Home Theater Set Up:

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8597

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post #3 of 19 Old 07-25-2012, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GusGus748s View Post

I use unRaid, and so far it has been working excellent for my media streaming purposes.
http://lime-technology.com/wiki/index.php/FAQ#What_is_unRAID.3F

If I was just hooking up a bunch of drives to the Mobo that would be a consideration (FlexRAID as well). But I still need a way to connect 20 drives. So, do I get some kind of card to connect them all and use unRAID or FlexRAID, do I get a more expensive Hardware RAID card and use it to create a RAID5 array to present to the OS as a single drive, or do I use a Hybrid solution. I need suggestions of full solutions that I can then weigh the pros and cons of to make my final decision.

What do you suggest for connecting the drives? The case has SAS backplanes, so I can use SAS-to-SAS connectors. I also have reverse breakout cables to take on SAS backplane and connect it to 4x SATA ports (this is how I connect to the Port Multipliers).

Sean Hull

Denon 3808ci | PS3 80Gb | Harmony One | Toshiba XA2 | Samsung 61" PN60E6500EF | HTPC with HDMI

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post #4 of 19 Old 07-26-2012, 09:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I decided that I'm going to go with WHS 2011. They have support for another couple years, and by the time they quit supporting it, I'll be ready to rebuild again.

I still really need some suggestions for the RAID solution. That is my biggest concern right now.

Sean Hull

Denon 3808ci | PS3 80Gb | Harmony One | Toshiba XA2 | Samsung 61" PN60E6500EF | HTPC with HDMI

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post #5 of 19 Old 07-28-2012, 04:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzy49 View Post

Well I decided that I'm going to go with WHS 2011. They have support for another couple years, and by the time they quit supporting it, I'll be ready to rebuild again.
I still really need some suggestions for the RAID solution. That is my biggest concern right now.
you really should look at unraid...
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post #6 of 19 Old 07-28-2012, 11:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by streamerlover View Post

you really should look at unraid...

Still doesn't solve the issue of how to connect 20-24 drives to the motherboard.

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post #7 of 19 Old 07-28-2012, 11:27 PM
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I think you want one of those hot plug n play servers with 20 bays.
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post #8 of 19 Old 07-31-2012, 07:49 PM
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I've been looking at this thread for unraid builds. It also shows you how to make a 20 hdd server.

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=104489
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post #9 of 19 Old 07-31-2012, 08:39 PM
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For connecting 20-24 bays your probably going to have to look into a raid card or two. Meaning getting two raid cards that each have 10-12 ports and then bridging the two. I know areca (very expensive) supports it, and I "think" rocket raid has cards that do it as well, but I'd have to get back to you on that if your interested.
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post #10 of 19 Old 08-01-2012, 05:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaomiHikaru View Post

For connecting 20-24 bays your probably going to have to look into a raid card or two. Meaning getting two raid cards that each have 10-12 ports and then bridging the two. I know areca (very expensive) supports it, and I "think" rocket raid has cards that do it as well, but I'd have to get back to you on that if your interested.
I think if he can afford the 24 hard drives he can afford the required hardware to get it all working correctly! As stated there are a couple of cards that will allow you to hook up that any drives to your MB...
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post #11 of 19 Old 08-01-2012, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by streamerlover View Post

I think if he can afford the 24 hard drives he can afford the required hardware to get it all working correctly! As stated there are a couple of cards that will allow you to hook up that any drives to your MB...

Fair enough, but it seems that he has some of the hardware, from his post he has 10 HDD's already, plus 7 more that he just purchased and no budget listed, so just giving him a heads up that the card he might be needing will but upwards of 1K or more. Also he has experience for rocketraids hence the rocketraid suggestion. There are many ways to solve hooking up 20-24 drives to the motherboard.
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post #12 of 19 Old 08-01-2012, 10:39 AM
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I just recently completed an identical build. I went from WHS v1 to WHS 2011 because I got tired of adding enclosures to my small server. I also didnt this the duplication process in v1 was a good use of my hard drives. I know I could have changed the software raid configuration on WHS v1, but I figured it was also time to upgrade the CPU for better on the fly transcoding.

I went with FlexRaid for the software raid solution. It has it's pros and cons, but I am pretty happy with it. After getting most of the kinks and tweaks worked out, the server is very stable. Most of the kinks and tweaks were in WHS 2011, not flexraid. I have the same box you have but a slightly different Supermicor mother board. I use an LSI 9201 16i board that has 4 SAS ports that attache to the SAS backplane in the 4220. This gives me access to 16 drives. They make SAS to SATA cables as well if you dont have SAS connections on your backplace. When I add the additional drives down the road I plan on using the MB SATA3 ports. That solves my drive configuration so I can use all 20 drives.

If you want to find out more, PM me and I will be happy to help.
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post #13 of 19 Old 08-06-2012, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the heads up on the LSI 9201-16i. I kept going back and forth between the RocketRAID 2760A, and one of the LSI cards. Since I decided I want to use FlexRaid, I think the 9201 makes the most sense right now.
I was also looking at Supermicro AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 which has 2 SAS ports on it. I could get two of them for about $100 less than I could the LSI card. But, then I remembered that my Supermicro mobo only has a single slot, otherwise I think it would be a great option.

Now I just need to remember how to get my WDTV to map Windows shares :P

Sean Hull

Denon 3808ci | PS3 80Gb | Harmony One | Toshiba XA2 | Samsung 61" PN60E6500EF | HTPC with HDMI

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post #14 of 19 Old 08-11-2012, 12:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I got the LSI 9201-16i in record time (thank you Amazon), and the new SAS cables (thank you Monoprice) on Thursday.

The set up was incredibly easy, and the cabling of the server is so much cleaner now! I am able to use the 16i for the first 16 bays, and I used the reverse breakout cable that I used for my port multipliers on the last 4 ports and connected them directly to my motherboard. I had 6x SATA slots on the mobo. I'm using one for the SSD, 4x for the last for bays, and it still leaves me one if I want/need to add something later.

I think that once I approach the 20 drive point, I will consider getting an 8e card with one internal, and one external port. I can use the internal for the 4 bays, and the external I can use to connect to another box of drives biggrin.gif


Here are some before and after pics: Media Server

I looked at SnapRaid, then went back to FlexRaid. I am using Pooling with 2 Parity drives. I have 5x 3TB and 5x 2TB data drives, and 2x 3TB parity drives. I have two more 3TB drives on the way that I'll add as storage.
All in all, I have to say that it was a good move. Good flexibility and speed while maintaining data protection with a two drive tolerance.

Sean Hull

Denon 3808ci | PS3 80Gb | Harmony One | Toshiba XA2 | Samsung 61" PN60E6500EF | HTPC with HDMI

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post #15 of 19 Old 08-11-2012, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzy49 View Post

I got the LSI 9201-16i in record time (thank you Amazon), and the new SAS cables (thank you Monoprice) on Thursday.
The set up was incredibly easy, and the cabling of the server is so much cleaner now! I am able to use the 16i for the first 16 bays, and I used the reverse breakout cable that I used for my port multipliers on the last 4 ports and connected them directly to my motherboard. I had 6x SATA slots on the mobo. I'm using one for the SSD, 4x for the last for bays, and it still leaves me one if I want/need to add something later.
I think that once I approach the 20 drive point, I will consider getting an 8e card with one internal, and one external port. I can use the internal for the 4 bays, and the external I can use to connect to another box of drives biggrin.gif
Here are some before and after pics: Media Server
I looked at SnapRaid, then went back to FlexRaid. I am using Pooling with 2 Parity drives. I have 5x 3TB and 5x 2TB data drives, and 2x 3TB parity drives. I have two more 3TB drives on the way that I'll add as storage.
All in all, I have to say that it was a good move. Good flexibility and speed while maintaining data protection with a two drive tolerance.

Looks awesome. I've never looked in to Flexraid, I like the dual parity drive option. Something unRaid should look in to specially when you have a large number of drives. I've got a questions: 1) How fast are you transfer speeds?

Media Server: UnRaid Server: 15TB of storage and growing :).

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8599

 

Home Theater Set Up:

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8597

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post #16 of 19 Old 08-12-2012, 07:22 PM
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+1 Very clean setup. I have been using unRAID and love it.
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post #17 of 19 Old 08-16-2012, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GusGus748s View Post

Looks awesome. I've never looked in to Flexraid, I like the dual parity drive option. Something unRaid should look in to specially when you have a large number of drives. I've got a questions: 1) How fast are you transfer speeds?

The way FlexRaid works, the drives work independently, which is nice. I don't have 10 drives spinning at once. Help save on drive life.

When accessing my 3TB drives, I have a sustained read of ~115-120 MB/s. While accessing my 2TB drives my sustained read speeds are ~86-92 MB/s. Those are speeds I see when moving files from the storage pool to another drive on the same machine. When accessing across the network my speeds drop 10-15 MB/s on average.

Sean Hull

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post #18 of 19 Old 08-16-2012, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzy49 View Post

The way FlexRaid works, the drives work independently, which is nice. I don't have 10 drives spinning at once. Help save on drive life.
When accessing my 3TB drives, I have a sustained read of ~115-120 MB/s. While accessing my 2TB drives my sustained read speeds are ~86-92 MB/s. Those are speeds I see when moving files from the storage pool to another drive on the same machine. When accessing across the network my speeds drop 10-15 MB/s on average.

Yeah, I guess I should of been more specific, but I was interest in the transfer speed over network from PC to server. Transferring a 40 GB file from my W7 PC to my UnRaid server, I usually get 25 to 35 MB/s.

Media Server: UnRaid Server: 15TB of storage and growing :).

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8599

 

Home Theater Set Up:

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8597

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post #19 of 19 Old 08-16-2012, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GusGus748s View Post

Yeah, I guess I should of been more specific, but I was interest in the transfer speed over network from PC to server. Transferring a 40 GB file from my W7 PC to my UnRaid server, I usually get 25 to 35 MB/s.

No problem, I just checked. I copied 5x 4GB files over. My speed fluxuated between 55 MB/s and 66 MB/s with a couple spikes to 71 MB/s. They all went onto the slower 2TB drives since my 3TB drives are all full. I imagine that it would be faster there.

Also, I have a wired Gigabit network in my house that I use on both machines connected to a 24 port gigabit switch. The server has two gigabit connections to the switch that it uses as well.

Sean Hull

Denon 3808ci | PS3 80Gb | Harmony One | Toshiba XA2 | Samsung 61" PN60E6500EF | HTPC with HDMI

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