Thunderbolt Motherboards connectivity

Hi there,
I'm looking to build a 6 disc raid 5 server with a single parity drive (as the server will also be backed up to a DroboFS) using the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5-TH Motherboard.

Do I need to buy a dedicated hardware raid controller to do this or can I span the raid over the 4xsata3 + 2xsata6 using the motherboards software raid? (I'm aware of the differences between hardware and software and still prefer the mobo software option if it will work)

I'm looking at using WD 3TB Caviar Greens (open to suggestions here) because of the size and price AUD$150 at the moment.

The deciding question is - the Thunderbolt ports are specified in the "Onboard Graphics" part of the data sheet on the Gigabyte website.

Will I still be able to connect the server to an iMac via the Thunderbolt port and have access to read/write from the raid as close to thunderbolt speeds as possible (ie: as fast as the discs can saturate the IO)?

Also, are there any bottlenecks I have to look out for or is it simply the quality of hard drives I put in the raid?

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More about thunderbolt motherboards connectivity
  1. Raid 5 stripes the parity across all drives, not just one. I believe raid 3 does save all parity to one drive, but its rarely supported or used anymore. Not sure why you would want that setup anyway.

    You can not mix the drives on different controllers and have them in the same raid set.

    Do not use WD drives unless you go the Red or RE edition in a raid set with parity. Seagate, samsung, pretty much whatever else you can use their consumer line of drives in raid sets with parity, but not WD.

    I'm not certain on the thunderbolt question, but I kind of doubt you could even connect your imac to that port on your pc. If you are trying to have storage that pc/macs can view make sure you format it properly.

    There is properly something else about this idea that i'm missing, but hopefully someone else will add a bit more. Just getting my first coffee of the day in.
  2. Thanks tomatthe, and good morning to you.

    The raid question is one that I have not come to a solid decision about yet but it's a bummer about the lack of raid across the 2 controllers.

    The macs can access ntfs formatted partitions that are formatted using Tuxera NTFS drivers and MacFuse. This enables read/write privileges as normal on the mac on what is essentially a windows server. (I had also considered making it a Hackintosh)

    I want it to serve as a DAS (SAS is too expensive and NAS is not required) for video editing and audio work. Whilst the actual editing can be done on the mac itself, large file sets need to be moved back and forth relatively quickly and Thunderbolt appears to be the fastest solution. The machine will also be used for 3d Studio Max work as it runs like a pig on Parallels on the mac.

    Thanks for the advice on the drives - I was also seriously considering the WD Reds or the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 (6gb/s) drives. Shame they don't come in at the same kind of price point as the WD Greens. That said - cost isn't the point here. I'll gladly spend several $100 more on the right solution.

  3. Who said that WD green wont work in RAID5 hardware?!!

    I have 20x drives running over 2yrs now...
  4. Hi FireWire2 - I don't think it's a question of whether they will work but more if they have a fast enough spindle speed when put in a striped array like raid5 to saturate the I/O. I have them in my DroboFS and I'm certain it is a contributing factor to it's tragic slowness.

    I will go for 7200 rpm drives like the Seagate Barracuda 3tb as they have pretty good comparative specs for about the same price as the Greens.

    Anyway, after a little more research it appears that even 2 macs connected by thunderbolt (one in traget disc mode) yields very poor results. I posted the same initial question to Gigabyte support desk and this was part of their response "Meanwhile, Thunderbolt does not support to transfer data by two PC. ". I'm assuming this is because it is not a network protocol as such, but instead a peripheral connection.

    I think I will have to opt for Gigabit ethernet - but now your post (nice one thanks!) has me thinking if I need to reconsider the whole thing.
  5. Given these Green Drive does take time to spin up/down...
    Once it runs... there is NO speed problem. Each of WD green can easily transfer 80MB/sec so 3x drives 240MB/s

    With hardware controller that I use, 5x drives can transfer 235~250MB/s. There is NO slowness, only spin up/down wait time

    Drobo's slowness has nothing to do with the HDD. Drobo is just a slow system
    I look at the video they post in their site. They not eve post how fast this New 5D box transfer rate... I bet you it is slow :-)
  6. "I don't think it's a question of whether they will work" It is actually that. Search these forums you will find lots and lots of people having issues running wd drives which are not RE/Red series in raid sets using parity. They seem to be working fine for firewire which is great, but personally I would never put those drives in a raid set with parity if I cared about the data.

    They are not supported by WD in anything other then Raid 0/1 which I understand people aren't going to pay attention to what WD states, but in this case there is good reason for them not supporting it.

    Clearly this isn't an all or none case as firewire is an example of them working great, but that's just not something I would put to chance if I was building something.
  7. I think I'll stick to the Seagates then. I've been wanting to try brands other than WD for a while now anyways.

    Been looking at the impressive unRaid box that FireWire2 built (see and I've gotta say it is way outside what I was initially thinking but it is exactly what I'm after. I have other platforms to do my 3DsMax work on (eg. bootcamp on the iMac) and the unRaid software sounds great. Headless is a good option too as desk space for monitor, etc. is at a minimum.

    I have a Thermaltake server case with an MSI 975X Platinum PowerUp Edition mobo, 550W PSU and Core2 Duo Processor with 4Gb ram left over from a previous build.

    @FireWire2 - I like the SPM394 and I'm thinking 2 of these that will give me (10 x 3TB) - 6TB (parity) = 24TB. I'm guessing as they present as 2 drives that I can get away with using the free version of unRaid (not adverse to paying for a copy if needed) to join as one single drive. These controllers though - will the read/write speed be really poor on a Sata2 mobo connection?

    If so, would there be better performance from an internal Raid card(s) that is on the PCI Express x16 slot? ie: is the 3Gbps Sata2 speed governed only at the Sata2 mobo ports and the PCIe card is not limited to this speed - or is it governed by the mobo chipset and Sata2 speed is the max the board will do? Something like this perhaps -

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