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SATA RAID controller recommendation

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January 16, 2007 5:09:27 PM

I am looking for a recommendation for a PCI express or PCI x SATA Raid controller card for a nonprofit group I am helping. The received a brand new server but it only came with one 73GB SCSI drive. We want to run RAID 1 and need at least 160 GB drives for storage/OS. I figured we could add in a SATA controller card and get the drives for the price on one high capacity SCSI drive. So does anyone have a recommendation for a card/drive combination that is relatively fast but also affordable (around $400 or $500). Is having cache on the card really important?

Thanks in advance.
January 16, 2007 6:10:50 PM

For what you want to do, no, having cache and a pocessor isn't very important, but would be if you wanted RAID5.

A typical PCI 32bit/33MHz card would work but will be lower performance, I suggest a 4 (instead of 2) port SATAII PCI Express card, one of the most popular chipsets (brand does not matter, necessarily) so IF you ever had the card fail, you can get another easily enough (even though almost always, a failed card doesn't break either independant copy of the data, they just wouldn' be deemed a logical array by another chipset and the array would need rebuilt from one drive to the other after the two are assigned members of the newly created array (IF you ever did this, be SURE you dont wipe out both drives' data in the process, it is a common user mistake).

SO a random suggestion would be to see what's avaiable at your favorite larger web store, perhaps something with a Silicon Image chipset or Promise. I haven't looked up prices in the last few days but the range would be about $35-75, with the Promise cards more expensive for no particular reason except the name.

As for the drives, get some. What do you like? Grab a pair of whatever, SATAII. Since this is a server we can (hopefully) presume the drives will already be assured good cooling and power so all that's left is to figure out what you want to budget. Given your requirements I think I'd go with a couple 7200.10 generation, 400GB Seagates, since they have the 5 year warranty and by staying at 400GB or less you have only two platters in them which cuts down on wear and heat slightly. Plus that's a reasonable price break-point, the total for the three parts could be around $270. Put remaining funds into a removable backup, if you dont have one yet.
January 16, 2007 8:10:57 PM

what sort of server is this?
HP/DELL...? or a custom built server?

youll need to know this before you go plunking down money for hardware that wont work in your system.
Related resources
January 16, 2007 9:26:31 PM

Ah, good point. This is an IBM xSeries 226 8648 - Xeon 3 GHz. Decent machine, just the HD capacity of the 73 GB SCSI is not enough (IMO) to run SBS 2003 (with shadow copies and My Docs syncing - for 25 users). Would like to put at least a couple 250GBs in there. Any card/drive recommendations for this server would be greatly appreciated?
January 17, 2007 12:39:04 AM

A page with a lengthy list of SATA options for your server
http://www.superwarehouse.com/IBM_xSeries_226_8648_2.8_GHz_SATA-150_Server/864800U/p/431561
here is a 4 port sata controller
http://www.superwarehouse.com/IBM_ServeRAID-7t_SATA_Controller/71P8648/p/424875
4 of these drives in raid5 will give you 240GB
http://www.superwarehouse.com/IBM_80GB_SATA_7200_HDD/25R6902/p/657266

roughly $600

To be honest
With 25 users it would be best to stick with the SCSI drives. Much better performance and throughput than SATA, although at greater expense.
Would pick up 3 more 73GB SCSI drives, which would give you 219GB.

A list of options for the SCSI version is here.
http://www.superwarehouse.com/IBM_xSeries_226_8648_2.8_GHz_SCSI_Server/864834U/p/643257
The SCSI controller for raid is here.
http://www.superwarehouse.com/IBM_ServeRAID-6i+_SCSI_Controller/13N2190/p/387943
Their are two sets of SCSI drives. One for 10K and one for 15K. Youll need to match them with the current drive speed that is in your case now.

roughly $1000

This is just an example site. Use it to find the part numbers you need and shop around for best purchase price
Superwarehouse is great I also use Sillworks regularly.
January 17, 2007 1:12:06 AM

Quote:
Ah, good point. This is an IBM xSeries 226 8648 - Xeon 3 GHz. Decent machine, just the HD capacity of the 73 GB SCSI is not enough (IMO) to run SBS 2003 (with shadow copies and My Docs syncing - for 25 users). Would like to put at least a couple 250GBs in there. Any card/drive recommendations for this server would be greatly appreciated?


Hmm... now, this SCSI drive, is it on a backplane or is it like in a hard-drive bay connected to a port on the mobo? If it's connected to the mobo then you have your controller right there and can just buy a different cable and some extra SCSI drives. Now, if the controller fails you may have a bit of a problem, but that doesn't happen often.
January 17, 2007 1:43:32 AM

the IBM xSeries 226 8648 has a backplane I believe. Should be a 6 drive cage.
January 17, 2007 2:05:04 AM

Well, then couldn't he just add drives to that? I mean he might have to set up a separate RAID array, but I guess that would work?

@ the OP. Would you be ok with adding more SCSI drives or are you dead-set on a SATA controller?
January 17, 2007 2:08:38 AM

yep you can just add drives, although the on-board controller that comes with these setups typically does not support high level raid functions, if they even support raid functions at all.

would need more info from the OP about that. could save some money that way.
January 17, 2007 9:37:31 PM

Just trying to save money, so that is why we arent going with SCSI drives. I realize speed is much better that way, but for the cost of one 140GB SCSI drive, I could almost get a card and two 250GB SATA drives...
January 17, 2007 11:14:10 PM

This is very true. Hm... I could you by chance use some smaller SCSI drives and just get a few of those? I know you can find some cheap ones on eBay, and yes it's safe- I got my SAS controller off of there.

EDIT: Now if you're STILL adamant on getting a SATA controller then here's one in PCI-X. Bear in mind that this controller can handle a LOT more than just RAID 1 but it's a good card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

And here's one in PCI-e

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Couple either of these with some SATA drives and you have a nice rock-solid setup.
January 18, 2007 1:08:22 PM

unfortunately you got a SCSI server with a scsi cage. if you go sata, where are you going to put those drives? probably have to mount them in the 5.25 in the top and they will probably run hot as the air circulation is going to be poor.

other than that you will have to replace the SCSI drive cage and that will essentially defeat the savings of going sata. (if its possible)

well, good luck with it.
January 18, 2007 1:48:15 PM

I'd suggest going with more SCSI drives as your server will have a drive cage with an SCSI backplane. You'd have to remove that and get an SATA one if you wanted to go SATA. That would negate your cost advantages of using SATA, unfortunately.
January 19, 2007 9:38:13 AM

Since it was already expressly stated that SATA were desired, it really doesn't make sense to second-guess that unless you know something the OP doesn't, which you might if there's no way to get the space behind the drives for the power and data cable

It also might not be of benefit to pay a premium for SCSI drives unless they're 10K+ RPM and the low latency is really needed.

I admit I don't know what the spacing is in the drive cage, but am wondering if it is still possible to go with SATA, no backplane necessary. Frankly if there is any chance of expanding to more drives later, I'd still go with an SATA backplane if the cost equalled out, as the next time drives are added it is then cheaper overall, and personally I'd replace the drives within the lifetime of the system just for prevention's sake.
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