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SATA II RAID 5 Controller Card

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February 12, 2009 12:09:51 AM

I'm looking at getting a SATA II RAID 5 Controller card, but the only ones I seem to be able to find don't have an inbuilt cpu to handle all the parity and RAID sorta stuff. Does anyone know of a suitable card I could look up? This is only an issue as the machine the card is going in is a single core 1.9 GHz Athlon XP, so it's not exactly a powerhouse, and I don't want to create a bottleneck just because I didn't get a good controller card :) 
February 12, 2009 3:34:13 AM

If your not using the machine to do anything but be a file server the Athlon should be sufficient as long as you have 1GB of ram with it. A true Hardware raid card like this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Aren't cheap and the performance gain over the Athlon as a dedicated file server wouldn't be tremendous. However if you plan to have the Athlon do other things like running a torrent client or other such software it maybe worth the investment if you transfer, read, or stream allot of data off the array.
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a b G Storage
February 12, 2009 12:59:54 PM

Wolferine111 said:
I'm looking at getting a SATA II RAID 5 Controller card, but the only ones I seem to be able to find don't have an inbuilt cpu to handle all the parity and RAID sorta stuff. Does anyone know of a suitable card I could look up? This is only an issue as the machine the card is going in is a single core 1.9 GHz Athlon XP, so it's not exactly a powerhouse, and I don't want to create a bottleneck just because I didn't get a good controller card :) 



You can pick up a used 3Ware 8506-4LP or 3Ware 9650-4LP for anywhere between $75 and $225 on eBay auction. The 8 port versions are usually a few more bucks, but it is eBay and end price depends on how the auction goes.

The bigger question is, do you want this controller card to fit into a PCI-X or PCI-e slot? Controller cards with onboard procs that fit into PCI-e are more expensive than those that fit into PCI-X. Please note that PCI-X controller cards are compatible with and also with in a regular PCI slot.
a b G Storage
February 12, 2009 7:15:14 PM

Also ...

Areca:

http://www.areca.us/


Highpoint:

http://www.highpoint-tech.com/


Just remember, legacy PCI slots top out at 32 bits @ 33MHz ~= 133 MB/sec. MAX!

That's also the "133" in "ATA-133" as follows:

32 bits x 33 MHz = 1,056 Megabits per sec. / 8 bits per byte = 132 MB/sec.


If you're planning to use a PCI-E slot, another consideration
is the number of PCI-Express lanes which your chipset
assigns to each slot:

some x16 slots get assigned only x4 PCI-E lanes,
due to chipset limitations.

Thus, you might get disappointed if you invest in a RAID controller
with an x8 lane edge connector, but your chipset assigns only x4 lanes.


RTFM (Read The Fine Manuals -- not always "F"ine however :) 


MRFS
February 12, 2009 9:10:51 PM

The motherboard I will be using is the aBit NF7 v2.0 (one without inbuilt SATA), so I have to rely on the boards PCI slots for this controller card. I have bought the controller card now it is this one:

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/4-Port-PCI-RAID-5-Controller-SAT...

I'm pretty certain it doesn't have a cpu and stuff, but the other cards mentioned above are kind of out of my budget for now.

I will have 1 GB of RAM in this system for sure, ddr pc3200 of some sort, hynix rubbish I think, 2 x 512MB at this stage, might get 2 x 1GB later on if you think it might actually do some good for my system?

Also thinking about buying a Gigabit network card, as the NF7 only has a 10/100 Megabit network port.

I'm looking at doing a RAID 5 configuration with that controller card, with 3 x 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7100.11 Drives (ST31000333AS). What do you all think of that? Will that work within the bounds of the 2TB logical drive limitation with 32 bit Operating Systems? I'm planning on installing Windows XP onto this file server, probably have the OS running on a seperate IDE drive so as to keep the media on the array separate from the OS. I'm not too familiar with Linux or anything outside of windows (sad, I know) and from what I understand, a server OS would probably be running too many unwanted services, clogging up the system a tad more.

I was thinking about having some form of torrent application running, equip with RSS stuff so it automatically downloads new shows etc, downloading them to the IDE drive, and when the dl is finished, copying the file(s) to the RAID, then seeding from the IDE drive to a point, then deleting the file. Would that put too much strain on the poxy Athlon XP 2600+ ? Running at 1.9GHz

What do you all think of my plan so far? I have probably branched into multiple forum topics now, but eh, woops haha.

Thanks again.
a b G Storage
February 12, 2009 11:18:50 PM

Silicon Image make very good controllers.

When shopping for similar PCI controllers,
I also look for management software
included at the factory.

For example, the Promise TX4310 has
a really good "Media Patrol" utility
which saves an event log of all
detected errors:

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

You can run it interactively, in order to do a very
thorough test of each HDD; and it allows you
to toggle features like NCQ and S.M.A.R.T.

Just don't expect blazing fast RAID 0 performance,
because the PCI bus is shared among all other
PCI devices installed on that bus; and,
the entire bus tops out at 133 MB/second.

So, you're not likely to see any differences
between a RAID 0 with 4 x HDDs
and a RAID 0 with 2 x HDDs.

Assuming that each averages ~70MB/second,
it only takes 2 of such HDDs to nearly saturate
that bandwidth of 133MB/second.

There is also the issue of the controller's
overhead, which varies from one to the next.

Generally, such low-end RAID controllers
don't have much of any on-board cache either.


GOOD LUCK!


MRFS
!