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SATA RAID Controller or HBA: questions and request for recommendations

Last response: in Storage
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September 3, 2012 8:00:03 PM

I am looking to get a RAID controller or HBA. Current setup:
Asus Rampage IV Extreme x79
3930k
This motherboard has the following onboard SATA controllers:
Inte: two 6G ports and four 3G
Asmedia: two 6G ports, complete junk (performs worse than INtel's 3G, when I benched it).

I am looking to expand my SSD RAID0 from two drives to a large quantity (for space and speed), such as 4 or more. Possibly Raid5 for parity/redundancy, but not a requirement right now (more of a "nice to have").

So I am thinking about a first-time purchase of a SATA controller or HBA. If I stick with RAID0, then my understanding is that HBA would be a reasonable option since SW RAID can handle RAID0 fine. Budget: prefer in the 300-400 range, but could go up to 550 if the value is there (And future proofing, since I bet i will eventually want to go to 8 SSDs).

Question 1. I see the models typically include ##i notation, which I think is the number of ports. For example, 9260-16i is 16 ports. However, I see that it only has 4 connectors (which I think are SAS). Does that mean that I need to use 1x SAS to 4x SATA cables to wire up 16 SATA Drives to it? Are there any bandwidth or volume setup restrictions per each of those 4 connectors, or are all 16 ports treated the same way regardless of how I hook them up? FOr example, is there a difference between using all 4 SAS connectors on the card and having one SATA drive per connector vs using just 1 SAS connector with a 1-to-4 cable and all 4 drives just one that single cable/connector?

QUestion 2: with such controllers or HBAs, is it possible to set up multiple RAID volumes? FOr example, 9260-16i has 16 ports. Could I have, say, 8 RAID volumes, of 2 devices each? What about JBODs in addition to RAID? Should I expect performance to drop when the card has more volumes to deal with? I am thinking the real-life scenario I would be interested in is 4x (for now) SSDs in RAID0, one or two more secondary speedy drives (I have some old gen SSDs), and one or two HDDs for storage. Can i put all of them on the single controller? And the old-gen SSDs could benefit from a RAID0 as well (in addition to the PRIMARY SSD RAID0 utilizing my best SSDs).

Question 3.Are these controllers designed to have their IO Resources constrained to specific PCIE lanes? For example for an 8i controller with x8 PCIE, is it exactly one port per one PCIE lane, or is the entire payload distributed evenly across PCIE lanes somehow? Just wondering with that 16i card, which is only PCIe 2.0 x8.. If i start using more and more ports, I will saturate the x8 PCIe bandwidth (e.g., if i use nothing but SSDs with 500 MB/s transfers, then I expect to saturate the PCIe bandwidth with 8 SSDs, so adding any more on top of that will only slow down the original 8). So I am thinking PCIe 3.0 might be the way to go for future proofing.Part of the reason why I ask is because i tihnk PCIe 2.0 is max 500MB/s per lane already, and if i Have SSDs that can do higher than that (granted only sequential), then I dont want a single PCIE lane to be restricting SSD's potential.

Q 4. Any specific recommendations? I was thinking LSI 9260 series, maybe the HBA 9207 (PCIe 3.0)..

THanks.



a c 84 G Storage
September 3, 2012 8:19:10 PM

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