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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK I'm planning to set up a 6 or 8-channel SATA RAID 5 array and I have 2 main questions.


First, I'll be using a standard 32-bit/33MHz PCI slot for now, but in the future I may upgrade to a true server mobo with 64-bit PCI or PCI-X. If you had to choose would you invest in a PCI-X RAID controller or a 64/66 PCI controller? Either way it should be backwards compatible for now, just not at full speed, and I've seen vendors offering both interfaces. I think PCI-X is probably more prevalent, but those mobos are so expensive!


Secondly, since I'm using an old Athlon 700 to run this server, I need a hardware RAID card. I also need online capacity expansion or whatever a particular vendor may call that, but am not concerned with RAID level migration. Hot spares would be an interesting feature, but it's not necessary. Does anyone have a particular favorite brand that meets these requirements and they've had good luck with? I'm not particularly biased towards promise, highpoint, adaptec, or anyone else, so I'm looking for people's personal experiences and opinions.


Thank you for your suggestions. Unfortunately reseaching benchmarks and specifications can only get a person so far....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ah yes, thank you. I have actually looked at their products, just forgot them on my quick list up there.


So, do you have any personal experience w/ 3ware? (or anyone else for that matter)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This topic isn't getting a lot of attention it seems. I suppose I'll provide the information I have so far in the hopes it will spur someone into commenting.


Manufacturer...Part#........................# Ports....MSRP.......Interface

Adaptec..........2410SA..........................4.......$39 0.......64/66 PCI

Adaptec..........2810SA..........................8.......$62 5.......64/66 PCI

LSI Logic.........105-4............................4........$309.......64/66 PCI

LSI Logic.........105-6............................6........$389.......64/66 PCI

Promise...........FastTrack S150 SX4........4..........?...........32/66 PCI

Promise...........FastTrack S150 SX4-M....4..........?...........32/66 PCI

ICP Vortex.......GDT8546RZ....................4..........?...... .....64/66 PCI

ICP Vortex.......GDT8586RZ....................8..........?...... .....64/66 PCI


All controllers above support hardware RAID 5 and OCE.


Notable Exclusions:

* Highpoint and Broadcom/Raidcore: Software RAID not acceptable.

* 3ware: Currently does not support OCE, drivers are way behind for this.


Other Notes:

* The Adaptec controllers also support full disk capacity, so your array is not limited to the size of your smallest drive. This could be very useful if it works in RAID 5 mode....?

* The 8-port ICP Vortex controller supports "hot spares", but I'm not too concerned about this.

* The only difference between the Promise controllers is that the -M has 64MB cache built in, the regular card you must supply your own memory, up to 256MB.


So hopefully this will spur someone into commenting about the different products involved. The LSI 6-port looks like the best value based on the info I have.... does anyone have experience with this card? Also if anyone can find an MSRP for the ICP and Promise I'd appreciate it. Thank you!
 

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I've had good luck with both Promise and Adaptec.


As for spending the extra $$$, I guess that depends on what you're gonna use it for. For a music server, hell no. No way you need it.


As for different sized disks working in RAID 5, don't think that's gonna happen - sorry.
 

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I haven't had a problem with my Raidcore/Broadcom card since the exchange took place. I know there is some evidence for offloading the XOR calculations to the CPU, but I haven't seen a bad performance hit. When you combine the decent performance with a nice set of features and a reasonable price, I think you might want to reconsider excluding it from your list....


Otherwise, 3ware is usually considered the cream of the crop, but I know they've had problems with their 9000-series drivers coming out.


FWIW, 3ware & Raidcore both have Linux drivers, too....


Best,

Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
bspachman: Originally when I thought I was going to build a new machine to be the server I was planning on a software RAID solution, with the Raidcore being my first choice. I've since decided to save money and use an old Athlon 700 system, which has me worried that software RAID would be too CPU intensive.


bpape: I'm confused what you meant by spending the extra money. Did you mean the extra for Adaptec over Promise? 8-port over 4? Or just for RAID in general over JBOD? If it's the first question, what would you expect a Promise card to cost me?


As far as usage the purpose of this server is to store all my DVDs, CDs, and maybe recorded TV (both HD and SD most likely). All it needs to do is share 2 video files at once, or a video and music, no real big deal. I'm not looking at RAID for the performance, but for the small measure of redundancy associated with RAID 5. I'll have to invest a lot of time copying all my media, and if a drive fails I'd like to be able to rebuild. If a catastrophe happens (2 failures) and all data is lost I'll always have the master media to start over from....


Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far. Anyone have anything to say about the LSI card? It's so much cheaper than the Adaptecs.... :confused:
 

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I am using two 3ware cards in a 933mhz PIII motherboard under Linux and they rock! I am using the older IDE based 7504 card with four drives each. I can share 2 HD streams at the same time plus this server is my web, email and ftp server. So far, no complaints.
 

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Don't get me started on this subject.

I have wasted close to 6K Dollars on building a 3ware 12 channel SATA controller 9500 RAID Array.

The total space "WAS" 2 TB - 12 or 14 drives.

The RAID controller kept failing and I kept losing my back ups.

Considering it talkes so long to rip each DVD I got tired of troubleshooting it and re ripping the DVD's.

I still have the media server which now I am using to write this mail.

a total waste of time and Money for the little convenience.

And guess what - when HD DVD comes out it will become totally useless as you will be able to put only 8 or 9 of those on a 250 gig drive.

Sorry - but I had to vent!!

My single most important advise: Go to a web site such as Tom's hardware and make sure you use a raid card, MOBO etc which someone has used tried and tested. I have a feeling I went wrong there big time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yikes! I'm sorry to hear about your misfortune with 3ware cards, though I've heard that in most cases they are top of the line. I'm not considering one personally because the single most important feature for me is OCE which they do not currently support, even after months of promising new drivers.


I would like a card with _6_ channels, as opposed to 4 (too few) or 8+ (too expensive! - and overkill). OCE is a must as I intend to start with 200 or 250GB drives to make an array of ~1TB. In the future as 400GB drives come down in price a 6x400GB RAID 5 would max out the 2TB limit on all the RAID cards I've seen. Obviously OCE is necessary for me to do this without losing data.


I really don't want to wind up in your situation which is why I'd like some positive feedback on the LSI solution before I drop my money there. The 4-port card tested well on Tom's, and they make the only 6-port card I've been able to find. Everything points to this card as fitting my needs perfectly at a resonable price, but other than the Tom's review I've been hard pressed for information....
 

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I built my work's server using a Raidcore card with 4 74gb Raptors hooked to it on a Supermicro motherboard and dual xeons. There have been 0 problems with the entire setup. Been going strong for 6 months and has never been turned off. There are 14 clients. I have to say the raidcore is a great product. I am pretty sure the card I got was the 8 port SATA one. I have been curious to try taking out one of the drives to see what happens in the RAID5 config, but I am too scared of messing around with someone that works so flawlessly.


The other option was going to be the 3ware card. But i read a lot of good stuff with the way the Raidcore works. PLus it benchmarks well, for whatever thats worth.


So thats my opinion on what I buy when my boss says we need a server and gives me the credit card.


Are HD DVD's going to be larger than transport stream HD movies??? It's hard to imagine better copies of movies than the stuff thats shown on HBOHD. I am sure when they actually come out 500gig drives will be very common and not evry expensive.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Magius
I would like a card with _6_ channels, as opposed to 4 (too few) or 8+ (too expensive! - and overkill). OCE is a must as I intend to start with 200 or 250GB drives to make an array of ~1TB. In the future as 400GB drives come down in price a 6x400GB RAID 5 would max out the 2TB limit on all the RAID cards I've seen. Obviously OCE is necessary for me to do this without losing data.
IMHO, that's not a good reason to use OCE. IMO, OCE is best used when you want to start with say 3 drives, and add on till you fill an 8-12 port card. In your situation, I wouldn't worry about OCE since it sounds like you plan to fill the card right away. In that case, OCE won't do you much good. Later when you want to upgrade you'll have to throw away 1TB of storage (you won't be using that drive) to OCE it. A better way IMO, would be to just buy a new card at that time to go with the HDDs.
 

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I myself, just built a fileserver with the 3ware 9500 12-port and have had no problems with it. With the notable exception that I now have 3 brand new WD RAID Edition drives waiting for the new drivers to add to my 1.13TB RAID-5 array. It has been up and running only a couple months but it's been solid and the performance is great. I've got it running on a supermicro P4SCT+II board with a prescott P4 and 2 additional 600GB RAID-0 arrays (1 for music and 1 for recorded tv).


According to a recent email form 3ware support, the OCE drivers are expected in November. I'm crossing my fingers, since I'm down to like 150GB on my RAID-5. The only downside to the card I found was the IDELED connectors are not directly compatible with the backplane from my Supermicro SC933 3U chassis. I had to run 15 single wire cables to the appropriate pins to get the LEDs to work.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Ash Sharma
Don't get me started on this subject.

I have wasted close to 6K Dollars on building a 3ware 12 channel SATA controller 9500 RAID Array.

The total space "WAS" 2 TB - 12 or 14 drives.

The RAID controller kept failing and I kept losing my back ups.

Considering it talkes so long to rip each DVD I got tired of troubleshooting it and re ripping the DVD's.

.....
How often does this happen where the controller goes bad and you lose your data? I was planning to implement a raid array so I could significantly reduce the chances of losing my data. this doesn't make me feel any better. Are particular forms of RAID (e.g. 1 vs 5) more or less resistant to controller failures? That is, am I less likely to lose my data in a raid 1 set-up if the controller goes bad?
 

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I used an adaptec 2108 (8 channel SATA) controller and have been pretty happy with it. I'm currently host 8 300GB drives (2TB). I did run into problems when I went from 4 to 8 drives (migration didn't seem to work too well), but I only had a handful of DVDs ripped and it was going to be a lot faster to just recreate the array (which is what I did).


It's been very easy to setup and manage and has been rock solid for 4 months now.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Magius


* 3ware: Currently does not support OCE, drivers are way behind for this.

[/b]
I asked about this recently, they said it is currently planned to be available around Thanksgiving.
 

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My advice: go software RAID. See post # 4732363 or my look at my post history (sorry to post this link in a roundabout way; I'm not a 5 posts veteran yet so I can't post even an avsforum URL) :rolleyes:


to reiterate my post there: I have access to a free Win2003 license so I'm not running hacked WinXP (though I'm sure that'd work fine) and I have a fileserver running with 4 x 200 GB Seagate drives, and it works perfectly. Absolutely no reason to purchase the hardware RAID solutions if you aren't so concerned about bleeding edge enterprise class performance (some graphs in that tom's hardware article on this) when streaming data off that RAID volume. I use this computer as my main gaming machine as well and it works great - though I don't run or install anything on the RAID volume, it's strictly for DVD image/ music storage.


Note that once you have created the volume you CANNOT add storage/drives to it without destroying the data contained therein.


Hope this helps.


rr
 
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