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Planning RAID 5 with four 1TB drives

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October 29, 2009 3:46:46 PM

Hello all. I am planning on building a RAID 5 array out of four 1TB serial drives (maybe four 1.5 or 2TB drives) with a Serial PCI RAID card. My motherboard is a GA-8KNXP motherboard. Am I going to have any issues regarding the Terabyte barrier? Or, will I come across any other issue you can foresee?
October 30, 2009 11:53:09 AM

So, I guess it should go ok. I'll give it a shot!
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a b V Motherboard
a c 127 G Storage
October 30, 2009 12:01:00 PM

PCI sucks, especially in RAID5; you will have very low performance, and generally these FakeRAID drivers are not very reliable. An onboard RAID solution is probably more reliable and at least alot faster (Intel ICHxR).

You can't boot arrays larger than 2TiB, and you can't use more than 2TiB without using GPT partitions, which only work in Vista and above. These are non-bootable, and don't work on Windows XP and such.

The RAID controller also needs to support arrays larger than 2TiB, called 64-bit LBA support.

So this isn't a simple "oh yes it'll work" -- make sure you don't buy stuff that doesn't suit your needs!
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October 30, 2009 3:00:00 PM

I am running Windows XP at the moment and I boot to one single IDE drive which I am ok with. I will only be using this array for data storage and I don't care to much about the performance. I'm planning on ripping my DVD collection to the array and I will be playing those DVDs across my home network to my media center PC. I have one RAID 5 array and three RAID 1 arrays currently and the speed of those arrays are fine for my needs.

Ok, 64-bit LBA support. I will look for that. I hope they make a PCI card with 64-bit LBA support because I don't want to upgrade my motherboard. That will be a whole other can of worms I can't get into right now. Do you or anyone else know if there are any PCI RAID 5 cards that support 64-bit LBA?

Thanks for your response.

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a b V Motherboard
a c 127 G Storage
November 1, 2009 11:50:22 PM

Drives larger than 137GB means larger than 128GiB which is the 48-bit LBA boundary. This usually means it does not support volumes larger than 2048GiB or 2TiB - which is the 64-bit LBA boundary. So i would make sure you are informed very well before you purchase a product that may not suit your needs.

Probably it won't support it. And Windows XP cannot use GPT so you cannot use volumes larger than 2TiB anyway. Isn't a NAS solution using a separate PC running FreeNAS a solution? That will support volumes larger than 2TiB and if you say performane is no issue the network speeds should surely suit your needs.
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November 2, 2009 1:13:05 AM

Yes, that's why I'm here. To get informed. A NAS that supports the space I currently have would be a lot of money I assume. I already have a case that supports up to 16 hard drives (W/ three 500GB RAID1 arrays and one 600GB RAID5 array) so I'd like to user that. I'm not opposed to getting the motherboard below since I already have a processor for it. The board description doesn't specifically say it supports 64-bit LBA but it is a newer board so maybe it does. I plan on doing more research on it. I'm also not opposed to getting Windows 7 or Windows 2008 to support the 2-6 TB arrays. Do you think the board below would support a RAID5 array with four 2TB drives? Could you recommend a 775 board that has at least two PCI slots and an onboard RAID chip that supports over 6 SATA drives?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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November 2, 2009 3:49:24 AM

I simply don't understand why you want to use PCI.

You have a high-end board, using the most advanced onboard RAID there is - ICHxR - and you want to use old crappy PCI chips like Silicon Image/JMicron/Promise and what not. If for any reason the onboard RAID is not sufficient, the only 'upgrade' would be PCI-express; not PCI. You will regret it.

Why don't you just simply use the onboard ports? If you're making a dedicated NAS machine, isn't something like FreeNAS useful to you?
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November 2, 2009 12:11:03 PM

lol I know. But it's because I already have two Promise 4060SX PCI cards in my current PC. One is a 600GB RAID5 and the other has two 500GB RAID1 arrays and I don't want to loose those.

FreeNAS is a dedicated Linux RAID OS. Right now is not the time to learn something new when I have five RAID arrays working. Maybe in the future though. I'm a computer tech for Honda in the day time so when I go home I just want things to work. I don't want another project right now and FreeNAS I'm sure has a learning curve and I'm running some Apps that require a Windows OS.

So, do you think that board above will support, lets say to be safe, a RAID5 array with four 2TB drives? Can I make one partition out of that array or do I need to partition it up?

Thanks sub mesa! I don't really want to use PCI either but I have to for now.
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November 2, 2009 1:51:13 PM

FreeNAS is setup in 5 minutes and requires virtually zero "linux" experience. Its actually not Linux but BSD, and all configuration is done via web-interface so its not that much of a learning curve. FreeNAS is a "just works" OS.

Promise FastTrak drivers are very bad and unreliable - do not trust this solution for any valuable or critical data. Even with 100% fine disks you might lose data with this chip.

Don't want to be overly negative and if it works for you then that's fine. But for alot of people it doesn't and they lose their data, and its not even because of a disk failure... so i'm not too positive about these FakeRAID controllers.. ehhh drivers.

I'm pretty sure they don't support 64-bit LBA too, which you need to use more than 2 terabytes. You need GPT partitions as well to exceed 2 terabyte boundary. That will never work with XP only with Vista and above. Really, try FreeNAS its so easy.
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November 2, 2009 3:19:03 PM

Thanks again for your time.

Yeah my promise 4060's have been working great. I check all logs almost weekly and everything has been working fine. I have about 8 IED hard drive with data on them so I will need those cards.

I can't run FreeNAS since I have programs that need a Windows OS to run. Ok, I'll look for a motherboard that specifically says it supports 64-bit LBA.
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November 2, 2009 3:51:14 PM

I hope i can join the debate here guy's. Unfortunately i had to much experience with raid troubleshooting in last 2 month, so i hope i can pass on some of that "wisdom".
I think i am missing something here...
At the moment you have file server based on old GA-8KNXP MB P4 based rig.
You have x2 Promise SX4060 with 3 arrays...
Now...you want to expand....and you want to get a new board...why 775 ? You have spare CPU and VGA cards? You can't use parts from the old rig, you know it right...
any way i don't think you will find drives for the SX4060 that will support XP/Vista/7 x64
So if you want to move on you will have to compromise and get a new rig.
If you describe full scenario i am sure it can help....
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November 2, 2009 4:13:59 PM

Well, I don't know what other options I have. I don't know if they make a PCI card that will support four 2TB in a RAID5 array. If they do, I'll take it. Please point the way. I know of a few cards I like but I can't confirm if they will support a RAID array that large.

775 because I have a processor not being used that is 775 PGA. Yes, I know I can't use most of my parts from the old 8KNXP system.

If you meant 'drivers,' I do have drivers currently for my Promise cards that are for XP. I was thinking of, cough cough, trying the XP drivers for my Promise cards with Windows 2003 SP1 or Windows 2008 OS if I where to do this.

The Scenario is, I have one 4060SX card with a RAID5 Array. One 4060SX card with two RAID1 arrays. I'm using the onboard GigaRAID chip with one RAID1 array and I'm also using the onboard SATA RAID chip in one RAID1 array. I'd like to add a RAID5 array to the system with at least four 1TB drives to rip my 400+ DVD's to. I thought about compressing those DVD's but I'd rather retain the quality. I've already experimented with converting the DVDs to AVI's using Xvid but I've decided I want to keep them as ripped DVDs.

So, that's where I'm at. Performance is not really an issue. I'm
more in it for storage. There seems to be enough performance from all these arrays that I'm able to play DVDs to my media cetner PC in my living room with no problems.
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Best solution

November 2, 2009 5:17:47 PM

Can you tell me what CPU you have? If you want to make partitions larger than 2 TB you have to install 64 bit OS. not every 775 CPU will support it.
OK You have few options mate:
1. live your old server a side and build a new one.
Find board with 6 or 6+4 sata ports...than install 64 bit OS Win7x64 works fine. I recommend 2 install it on a non raid drive. Than create your R5 array on Intel ports, and if you will buy MB with 4 non Intel ports you can use them 4 strip or spend.
2. use xp 32 and migrate your cards and raid.
Create your R5 on Intel ports, but you can't go over 2tb
3. buy NAS
few notes:
hard drive choice is important....make sure that the drive works with no issues in raid configurations. If you get non raid hard drive like wd black run the WDTLER utility before you creating the array.
Drivers: don't use the 8.9 Intel drives use the 8.8
I recommend 5 drives r5
Test and stress test your array, it can take you more than a week, but it worth the time.
What is your budget btw..
GL
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November 2, 2009 5:43:00 PM

The spare CPU is not a 64bit I believe. It's a Core 2 Duo t7700. I'd have to look it up to be sure. I've had it for a while.

I am realizing I need to upgrade my server if I want to do this. The GA-X48-DQ6 looked good but it's not 64bit. It had 8 Sata ports on it. I'm a little jaded when it comes to 64bit becasue so many programs don't work on it. I'll do research before I buy one and make sure my programs support 64bit.

Steps 2 and 3 are really not an option now. I see now that I need to upgrade my server.

I'd like to not spend over $800.

EDITED: Correction, looks like a t7700 is 64bit. Good to know.

This board below doesn't say 64 bits but it supports 16GB of memory so it may be. Supports 10 Sata drives and has two PCI slots. What do you think about it?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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November 3, 2009 5:35:51 AM

That is exactly what i had in mind :) 
Or ASUS P5Q Premium.
800? not if you planing to use 2tb drives.
Just remember not to use 8.9 Intel drivers and post your hard drives choice.

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November 3, 2009 2:57:04 PM

I'm a fan of Gigabyte motherboards. I'll look into the P5Q Premium as well.

I was asking about 2TB drive just in case I ever decided to use 2TB drives. I wanted to make sure they would work. They are pretty expensive so I'm sure I'll go with the 1TB Seagate 5900RPM or the Hitachi 7200RPM drive below.

Ok. I'll remember not to use the 8.9 drivers. Can you tell me why if you don't mind?

(Sort by lowest price)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Arkadi, thanks for posting. You've been great help.
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November 4, 2009 5:48:15 AM

Hmm I am somewhat skeptic with your HD choice mate.
Seagate had too many problems in past few years, and they are not my first choice any more.
I had really bad experience with Hitachi, so I can't recommend using them.
WD black's working grate for me, you can go with greens as well, if you want cooler and more efficient storage.
The good thing with WD that they have a tool, called WDTLER, that can limit time that hard drive attempts to recover R/W error. Non Raid addition drives can enter a long repairing cycle that will be recognized by Raid controller as time out and it will kick the disk from the array.
Intel 8.9 drivers drop drives from the array as well.
Sorry for repeating myself, but please stress test your new array before depending on it, oh and get 5 drives mate…
*note – if you will get non raid addition hard drive don’t expect to get support with raid troubleshooting from the manufacture.
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November 4, 2009 11:48:44 AM

I've been a fan of Seagate for a while but I only have a few 200GB and 250GB drives from them. I have heard about issue lately from Seagate. I would think they have been ironed out by now.

Damn, a lot to think about. I wonder if I will be able to adjust that timeout period on the RAID chip. Seems like a odd feature to have but I'm sure there is a reason for it.

So you said 8.9 drops drives from the array "as well." Are you saying even the 8.8 driver also drops drives?

I don't mind not getting support from WD. I've never really consulted anyone with my current RAID's and I've had them for a few years now. I've been through a few issue but those issues where when I was using software RAID. Going to hardware was huge difference.
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November 5, 2009 10:36:13 AM

- On Intel RAID you can't adjust timing.
- Yes 8.9 can make disk drop out of the array...google it.
- 8.8 works fine, up until now any way.
- For RAID issues you will not get support for non raid drives from all the manufactures.
- I had 2 RMA 2 out of 5 Seagate drives out of the box on "Smart" error at my office just last week. So it is hard for me to recommend them. My be it just bad luck.
- I have Black's working fine in my rig. That i can tell you.
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November 5, 2009 3:04:33 PM

Yeah I see on the Intel website that, in general, people are not having a problem with the 8.8 drivers but it looks like there are some. But sometimes it's not good enough roll back or reinstall an older driver. The true test if the 8.8 is stable is to reinstall Windows.

Yeah, like I said, I don't think I will need support. My data is critical but it's only for my media center PC in my living room. If I loose the data, I'd be sad, but I have the data backed up to DVD (my movies). I think I will take your advice and go with WD for my array.

Thanks again arkadi!
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November 8, 2009 5:38:57 AM

You welcome....don't forget the wdtler tool, if you want i can send you bootable image with the tool.

GL
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November 10, 2009 9:28:26 AM

The recommending setting for black's are 7/7. You can find bootable ISO that will do it automatically, оr i can send it to you.
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November 10, 2009 11:51:39 AM

I'll just download it when the time comes. Thanks again.
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