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HW raid advice

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July 7, 2007 8:17:30 AM

Dear gurus,

I'm planning to setup a simple raid array. I will use it for rsync etc for my work laptop to get backups etc. Nothing mission critical, but anyway.

What I would like to have is my current linux box with HW raid card. I have been using SW raid with it, but somehow I don't prefer that. I'd like the idea that my linux would see only one disk, although it would be raid. My question is, can you recommend or give pointers to any reasonably priced HW raid adapters? Any hints that I should keep in mind when considering one? SATA would be preferred.

Other option would be just to by simple NAS (D-Link DNS-323 or something). I guess the performance is not that good, but that should be a pretty simple approach as well.

Thanks in advance!

More about : raid advice

a b D Laptop
a b G Storage
July 7, 2007 7:04:45 PM

Highpoint and Promise are good manufacturers of SATA RAID cards. I would recommend Highpoint first though, as their drivers allow for much better performance. With that though, also comes a higher price tag.
July 10, 2007 8:17:46 AM

Thanks for your response. One thing, comparing e.g. these two cards:

http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA/rr2210.htm
http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA/rr3220.htm

The latter contains:

Intel 80331 I/O processor
128MB DDR SDRAM W/ECC

So it is a real HW raid card, and 2210 is fake raid?

Another question, in case I have e.g. three drives in raid 5 and I add fourth, can it be added "on the fly", or do I need to recreate arrays or something? Or is this card depending feature?
Related resources
July 10, 2007 10:05:19 AM

Be carefull, those are PCI-X (64-bit PCI) cards; they will fit a 32-bit PCI slot, but will over-hang and will only run at the normal PCI bus speed.
a b D Laptop
a b G Storage
July 10, 2007 1:52:12 PM

Yeah, you are on the right track. Software RAID is only good create 1 larger storage volume out of a couple of small drives, does nothing for you performace wise.
July 10, 2007 1:55:30 PM

Still wondering how the drives will be added. In case I get e.g. four disks now, and want to add two more later, can I just plug them in without moving/losing data and rebuilding the whole array from scratch?
July 10, 2007 2:44:32 PM

i've used cards from both promise and highpoint, both have worked well. my latest creation is a 3 terabyte raid 5 array using western digital wd5000ys drives and a highpoint rocketraid 2320.

one thing tho, before you get everything put together, make sure you have the absolute latest drivers and bios AND firmware updates

Valis
July 10, 2007 2:45:33 PM

Still wondering how the drives will be added. In case I get e.g. four disks now, and want to add two more later, can I just plug them in without moving/losing data and rebuilding the whole array from scratch?

yes.

the card i'm using has 8 ports, i've already added two drives to the mix with no problems
a b 5 Linux
July 10, 2007 2:49:03 PM

I would recommend a PCI-Express ( 4x or 8x ) LSI, Areca or 3Ware hardware RAID controller.

All 3 have good Linux support.

A 32bit PCI controller is not worth it.

You cannot use 64bit PCI-X unless you have a really nice server or workstation board.

Good luck :-D
July 11, 2007 5:40:27 AM

The equivalent card from 3ware is 9650SE-8LPML. The price goes up a bit (it has double the memory for example).

LSI seems to be a bit heavy stuff for my needs. Areca has ARC-1220, which is in the same price range with 3ware. Has fan cooler, so adds noice a bit.

Each of the cards seem to have the drivers that I need. I will continue reading user experiences. It's a shame there are lots of complaints available, but not too much of happy experiences... SuperTrak EX8350 would probably be ok, the price is somewhat more user friendly.

Thanks for everybody so far!
a b 5 Linux
July 11, 2007 7:35:24 AM

This LSI supports 4 internal SATA drives and 4 external at $314

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The 3Ware 9650SE-8LPML is damn good but costs $514

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The areca 1220 is also nice but retails for $530

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Beware of inexpensive RAID controllers you do get what you pay for.


Oh yeah the 3Ware drivers and software tend to be virtually bulletproof, the LSI drivers are good and areca should also be good.

The quality of other drivers and software varies quite a bit some are terrible.
August 13, 2007 12:51:37 AM

Areca comes with a fanless heatsink too in the package. You do need reasonable airflow though else the card might overheat and that's not what you want. Any recent Intel IOP needs cooling though.
a b 5 Linux
August 13, 2007 1:06:49 AM

I suppose the fanless heatsink is intended for rackmount servers or desktops with a fan mounted on the side panel or damn good air flow.

Like you said you definitely do not want your RAID controller overheating.

:) 
August 13, 2007 1:39:14 AM

I use an Adapter 3805 which has the intel 80333 chip and 256mb ram SAS/SATA support for 8 drives. although its a PCI-ex 4x. Highpoint cards are mostly SW controllers. I would go with Adaptec, Areca, 3Ware and promise and out of those the cheaper ones are adaptec and promse.
!