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Need to find the best SATA RAID controller

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  • SATA
  • Controller
  • NAS / RAID
  • Components
  • Product
Last response: in Components
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October 4, 2006 8:16:12 PM

Im looking into building a NAS device that will take at least 4 SATA drives. I know there are some do it yourself articles here on THG but they are somewhat dated and don't really address a couple of issues.

Im looking for SATA connections, and I need the card for regular PCI slot not PCIe.

Any help is appreciated!
Thanks in advance


(for the hardcore haters, "Yes I did do a search of the forums and no I didn't find what I was looking for" :)  )

More about : find sata raid controller

October 4, 2006 9:46:04 PM

How much you have to spend on the best SATA raid controler?
October 4, 2006 9:57:06 PM

Well I would say I haven't got a fixed price, the top end cards that I have found so far are $500 or less but they are for PCIx and other bus types I dont want to use. I want to be able to use the PCI slots in an existing P4 box that I have.

If the controller itself goes much over $300 or $400 I might as well look at Infrants commercial product. But just for grins, assume I have three price ranges :)  $150 or less, $500 or less and $2500 or less :) 
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October 4, 2006 10:43:46 PM

If your going to put the controller card into a 32bit 33MHz pci slot, then just pick up a used 3ware or Highpoint SATA controller card...albeit these are made for a 64bit 66/100MHz PCI-X slot, but they are compatible with a 32bit slot...I suggest these due to the fact that most controller cards specifically made for a regular pci slot are lacking in features and mostly do not have a dedicated XOR processor or onboard RAM, which forces the load of any RAID array onto your cpu and system memory...I recommend anything 3ware, and the 3Ware 9500s-4LP would be an excellent choice...or the Highpoint RocketRAID 2220 is also be another great choice....good luck!
October 4, 2006 10:49:31 PM

He said the best, not the best for his situation. I was thinking at least a 450mhz onboard processor with 16 sata ports and 1gb of on board memory.
October 4, 2006 10:54:37 PM

Quote:
He said the best, not the best for his situation. I was thinking at least a 450mhz onboard processor with 16 sata ports and 1gb of on board memory.


Well instead of replying to me about how I didn't make a good suggestion, how about actually contributing something useful and provide links to something he can use...you dink...
October 4, 2006 10:55:52 PM

Thanks for the info Chunky.


However that 450Mhz processor sounds nice though I will probably not need more than a MAX of 6 or 8 ports....8 will be pushing...and there is no reason to have the extra drives sitting around chewing up trons for no reason....not to mention all those drives in my network closet would generate a decent amount of heat.
October 4, 2006 10:59:14 PM

Sorry. Since you mentioned wanting a sata raid control to run off the PCI bus, and wanted to spend maybe 350$,.... Just not practical.

Honestly Im in the same boat. I want a data server running 4x sata drives in raid 0/1. The problem is, my current mobo has only 2 sata drives, and if i buy a new mobo, I want it for my main machine. If I buy 2 mobos, im spending far more then what I want to pay. There is a 189$ mobo with great sata raid capabilities.

If you dont mind a new mobo, (cheaper then a very good sata raid controler) look at this one. GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5
October 5, 2006 12:33:34 AM

Which OS are you going to be running?
Which RAID level do you intend to use?
What's your NIC -- is it gigabit? Is it on-board? Is it connected via the PCI bus?
What's your MB/CPU/RAM ?
October 5, 2006 1:18:56 AM

Well,

The OS will be something minimal such as Ubuntu or some other CD based OS. This box will be strictly NAS.

RAID level 5

NIC will be PCI gigabit or possibly 2 depending on the performance results I get. havent decided on the make or model yet but not built in to the MOBO.

CPU is a 1ghz P4 (I think..or it might be 1.5 been a while since I have had that box out.

Memory 1gb.

I plan on plugging in 4 500GB SATA drives into this thing and basicaly nothing else that does not have to be in there. (key is keeping the wattage down and heat generation to as low a level as practical, don't want to burn electricity more than I have to.)
October 5, 2006 1:20:44 AM

I'll check out the gigabyte board but was really hoping ot use the existing board and cpu and memory. It pains me to have to have a monitor hooked up to this thing. :hee: If I could get away with a 4 line LCD Id give it a try ;) .
October 5, 2006 2:35:36 AM

With a PCI storage controller and a PCI GbE NIC, you're going to be sharing the bandwidth and limiting your max performance significantly. There's little point in spending a lot on a storage controller in this case.

Another point I'll bring up briefly and then drop -- "RAID is not a backup". It doesn't matter how good it is, you're better off with a "real" separate, offline backup. In general, I'd advise budgeting for some backup solution off the bat instead of assuming that RAID is going to do it for you. It won't. It won't protect you from user error, malware, controller failure, multi-drive failure, etc., etc. If you have a backup, then maintaining your RAID, expanding it, worrying about its quality and recovery tools, etc., becomes much less painful. For large volume storage, a backup solution could be an external HD or a separate server. You could just backup the critical / original stuff and not everything.

It sounds like you have a fairly old MB and CPU, etc., and are trying to squeeze the most out of it. I understand, but don't advise spending a lot on a nice PCI-X controller and having it stuck on an overloaded PCI bus.

I think you'd probably get better results overall if you dropped it, and went to a new MB (+ CPU, etc.) including (a) a nice onboard GbE NIC that doesn't go through PCI (b) several SATA ports, (c) a cheap (used) PCI video card or onboard.

Using Linux, you can use its software RAID on any recognized drives, therefore MB-supported SATA drives. It's not bad; better than on-board RAID 5, and comparable or just short of decent add-on RAID 5 controllers (which are limited by GbE anyways). Doing this with a decent NIC will very likely get better performance than trying to cram the controller and NIC on a shared PCI bus with a slower CPU.

There are lots of options for MBs + CPU + RAM meeting these requirements. Unfortunately probably few that are compatible with your old CPU (but new CPUs can be very cheap), but perhaps a few would be compatible with your RAM. Alternatively, you could forget about performance and build the server as-is, and later on use it as a secondary mostly offline backup.

There's an 8-port PCI-X SATA controller from SuperMicro that's recommended and could do the job for you (AOC-SAT2-MV8) -- it has no RAID, but this is no problem when you're running Linux, because its RAID 5 is fairly nice.

Down the road / for still higher performance and capability, a PCIe RAID controller would be recommended (unless you're willing to go to server boards with PCI-X support; but most consumers are better off going PCIe). This is another reason for not getting a PCIe video card -- if you have PCI / on-board video, you can use the video card slot for the storage controller.
October 5, 2006 2:45:01 AM

I have been looking at Infrants ReadyNas NV which seems to be very similar to the items in those links. I may just go for that, however I did want to see about the possibility of reusing spare parts I do have aroud the house, the MoBO, CPU memory, case monitor and keyboard I already have....thought I would price out the HD's and needed to find a good RAID Card for the job :) 
October 5, 2006 2:55:39 AM

THanks for the input Madwand. But one thing I do not...and would not reccomend for anyone to use unless they have tons of free time is Software RAID solutions.

Forget software RAID :p  I have had nothing but bad experiences with it and know too many other people who have too (By Profession Im a Unix SysAdmin)

The RAID setup Im configuring wis strictly for online storage so I can keep my gaming rig lean and mean with just the games and none of the assorted other bloat that comes with the games like patches and mods and custom skins and art, that I tend to like :)  (modders are the bane of my home storage space) while also having a fairly safe/reliable place for my Small business files.

Of course I will have the RAID backed up, but in 20+ years of being a Sysadmin, I have never had more than a single drive fail in a small RAID setup at any particular point in time. NOw I have had entire units trashed by lightning....hence my tape backups ;) . For my purposes though RAID is the solution that is right for me. I like Infrants X-RAID product (No Im not a company shill, I just like what I have read and heard about the product) BUt recent articles on THG made me think about all the hardware I have in the basement.....maybe I'll sell it off to help pay for the ReadyNAS NV :) 

Oh yeah....I may also be using this for streaming media for some technical demo's Im putting together for some clients.
October 5, 2006 2:55:43 AM

Consumer NAS boxes will typically be much slower than the DIY boxes I'd recommend. "Fakegigabit" is what I call them. There are a couple of rare exceptions that push the performance envelope a bit higher, such as the Thecus 5200 (it has a 600 MHz Celeron M IIRC).
October 5, 2006 3:00:27 AM

Yeah I have been looking at Thecus too...I think they just came out with a 5 drive unit.
October 7, 2006 10:18:41 PM

Well I wussed out :) 

I went ahead and ordered a ReadyNAS NV unit and 2 500gig drives, I can expand this later. I'll post my impressions once I have had a chance to play with it a while.
!