I have a shuttle SP35P2 (Vista 64 ultimate) and have been told that its ESATA ports do not support port multiplier. I am currently looking for a home for the 4 WD 2TB blacks that I aquired on BF from target, and am unsure what the best box would be.
I am going to use it to put massive amounts of media files onto, then hook it up via USB to my argosy media player via USB.
The two I have seen that might work would be
Free HD with it
Many people say it REQUIRES port multiplier support (Even though its hardware raid)
Non-existant tech support
SANS DIGITAL TowerRAID TR4UTBPN
Tech support contacted me and said that as long as my OS and controller support large drives it will work in all but JBOD mode
More reliable brand
Has anybody have any experience with these on a NON-port multiplier sata controller?
I had/have the Mediasonic 4-bay, and I gotta say: Crap. It died on me 2 months in.
In any case, I would say to absolutely buy a port multiplier controller card for e-sata. USB was WAY too slow when I used it (before I got the port multiplier card). I bought a cheap card for around 20-30 bucks (no RAID support) and the difference was astounding.
Just to give you some numbers, I built a soft-RAID-5 array with those 4x1.5TB drives, and while formatting over USB, it was set to take 2-3 WEEKS. On e-Sata, it was done within hours.
No experience with the Sans-Digital. I'm wary of it all now.
As for your question about Non-port multipliers, it's as simple as this: Your computer can only communicate with ONE of the four drives without a port multiplier. It will likely try to form the RAID array, but then only be able to address part of it (Mediasonic's forums and my own experience both include stories of mysterious 2.2 TB non-communicating storage arrays). It simply will not work (by way of e-sata)
Couple of updates:
1) Turns out if the box has RAID built-in, you don't necessarily need a port multiplier. Seems to be a case by case basis, depends on the box.
2) Mediasonic has turned out to have phenomenal customer service. I'm still irritated the box died within 2 months of ownership, but they responded within two HOURS of my email, and have shipped me a replacement - no charge (not even S&H!)
I ended up buying the Sans Digital due to the amount of good reviews for the company. When I got the box in, it was harder to get the hard drives out of the WD external cases(I got them at target on BF) than it was to open the raidbox case with three thumbscrews and secure each one of them with two thumbscrews. I set the dip switches correctly, and held the reset button when I powered it up. I then plugged the unit in to my computer, and LO AND BEHOLD my computer saw it as one (raw) drive. After going to disk management and formatting it for GPT I had myself one massive drive. I installed the monitoring software, and off I went.
A few people experienced errors on shuttles after copying over 2tb worth of data on the drive, but I think they formatted their boxes as MBR...which has problems over 2 tb.
The only con for this box, and I knew it because of researching the technology is that I cannot use it for a BOOT drive which requires MBR......YET. With new bios technology coming up this might change.
Overall the speed is amazing. I copied an .iso file from my kingston SSD boot drive and it sustained 220+ copy speed.
The only thing left for me to do is to install a PCIe Minicard on my shuttle that supports USB3 so I can test the speeds there.
Overall, for you shuttle SFF guys out there....the Sans Digital HARDWARE raid system is a valid mass storage option via ESTATA. I did not include any words about USB2...let it suffice that USB2 performance was flawless and a slow 30Mbps.