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Cheap HDD stack solution

Last response: in Storage
November 14, 2011 2:19:22 PM

I have an HP xw6000 workstation where I'm currently at the limit of HDD capacity.

I put in an PCI SATA card, took out the floppy drive and have managed to get 3 SATA HDDs permanently inside, and fit a hotswap HDD tray onto one of the 5.25 bays for remaining HDDs I tend to access. I've got a couple of external ICY Boxes I connect using external SATA and the remaining HDDs are hotswapped.

I've read about RAIDs and NAS units....but was wondering what would be the cheapest option for me to somehow get a stack of my terabyte SATA HDDs and access quickly from my xw6000. Buying another CPU unit to act as a network server seems a bit over-the-top for my needs....since I don't really have a network at home. It's just through the wireless ASDL router. RAID seems a bit too complicated for my simple mind :$

Are there any other cheap techie options I have? Maybe some sort of mini-tower type external HDD enclosure that connects via external SATA? Would rather buy bits off ebay and build it myself to save costs.....
a c 289 G Storage
November 14, 2011 4:31:38 PM

What do you consider to be cheap? There's always something like this, with no RAID but a port multiplier. NOTE that you need an SATA controller that supports port multipliers, or it won't work.
November 14, 2011 8:08:08 PM

Something under £100?

Apart from a port multiplier supported PCI SATA card...anything else needed to make that work?
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a c 289 G Storage
November 15, 2011 12:14:16 PM

Nope. This is the best solution that I can think of, other than a homemade one I will mention in a minute. The SATA protocol supports port fan-out up to five drives from a single SATA channel. Of course, the aggregate throughput of the drives is limited to the speed of the single channel. A hardware port multiplier is required to fan out the one connection to five. Most basic SATA controllers do not support port multipliers, so if attached to such a device they will not see the drives, or see only one.

You could, in theory, take an empty case with a power supply, install drives, and put it REALLY CLOSE to your computer and run the SATA cables from the controller in your machine to the drives. Not something that I would want to depend on.

You could go a lot more expensive and increase your bandwidth with an Infiniband link between your base machine and the storage stack, but that's clearly not your priority.
a c 289 G Storage
November 15, 2011 12:20:37 PM

It's going to cost. Here's the cheapest port-multiplier controller I found, with no guarantee from me as to it's quality: . That's 45 US dollars, plus an empty four-bay unit for, say, $120.

I would probably buy a package of five-bay unit plus controller. Here is an example for US $170, almost in your price range: .

A thought: Can you replace the drives in your machine with much larger drives, increasing capacity that way instead?