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RAID Card Suggestions


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#1 Brian M.

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 21:06

Hi All!

I'm on the lookout for a RAID card for my server. I'm a Mac guy usually, so I'm kind of out of the loop when it comes to this sort of stuff :p. I basically need:

- PCI-e
- Raid 5
- 4 Drives (I'll be using 4 x 4TB drives)
- Mini-SAS

Budget wise - it's not really a performance server, so ideally as low as possible :p. Any suggestions?

Thanks!


#2 airedwin

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 21:11

What operating system will you be running?

#3 OP Brian M.

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 21:20

It's running ESXi.

#4 airedwin

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 21:25

It's running ESXi.

You're gonna have to get a very expensive one if you want some performance. I am running ESXi on http://www.newegg.co...N82E16816118130 and it's performance is pretty bad because ESXi does not support write-cache and it will not allow you to enable write-back on that controller since it doesn't have a battery. http://communities.v...message/2012333

#5 OP Brian M.

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:35

You're gonna have to get a very expensive one if you want some performance. I am running ESXi on http://www.newegg.co...N82E16816118130 and it's performance is pretty bad because ESXi does not support write-cache and it will not allow you to enable write-back on that controller since it doesn't have a battery. http://communities.v...message/2012333


Ah awesome - didn't know that! Well that's going to bump the price up a bit then! I've been recommended the HP P410 - which you can get (occasionally) with 256MB cache for just under £100, and the battery is around £60.

#6 n_K

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:40

Yes I'd recommend the HP smart cache P410 which is what I'm using.
The 256MB cache will be utter crap, I'd recommend the 512MB or the 1GB if you can find/afford it, I've got the 1GB and it runs smooth as hell, when extracting packages on a linux VM it's just like extracting them into RAM (which I guess is actually what is happening, extract to the RAID RAM and it slowly moves it to the hard drives).
Anyway, it is very good but ESXi still lists it as not hardware accellerated or something, I've given up with ESXi's rubbish meaningless error messages.

#7 OP Brian M.

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 19:36

Yeah, I gave up on ESXi's error reporting long ago. For a home server, I'll use common sense with it - if it's working, I'll ignore it :p. I may take more notice in a production environment though.

In theory, I could get away with a P400 as opposed to the P410 (which would be considerably cheaper), but I would have to pull off a cabling miracle to get it all connected, whereas the 410 will connect straight to the mini-sas backplane that's already wired up (and there's not really room to be running additional cables around in there).

#8 n_K

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 22:18

I bought 2 cables that change from mini-SAS to the large SAS connector (used in the dell poweredge 2950) if one of them would help?

#9 OP Brian M.

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 22:53

To be able to use the P400 without having to rewire the entire innards I would need a female mini-SAS (SFF-8087) to 2 x SFF-8484, which I've not been able to find.

The alternate is to just run an individual cable to each drive, bypassing the backplane, but it's going to be fiddly and I think I'd rather just spend a little bit more for some convenience :p.

#10 n_K

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 00:21

You mean like these 2 cables I've got lying on my desk? ;)
Posted Image
Wrong gender I think.
if you run a cable to each drive (SATA cable) then the drives won't run as they'll be missing the SAS connectors on the back, you'd need to get the proper SAS drive cables.

#11 SirEvan

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 00:26

I'd get an LSI 9260-8i. I bought mine on ebay for ~260$ (NEW) and then went with an Intel RES2SV240 24 port SAS expander. One port on the LSI card goes to the sas expander, the other 5 ports on the SAS expander go to 4x 5-in-3 supermicro hotswap backplanes in my case, so I can run 20 drives, and I still have one channel left on the RAID controller to run to an external storage box if I want, so that I can cascade even more drives.

The Intel card was around 170$, so ~400 Total, and I can push 500MB/sec+ to consumer drives in RAID 5

#12 Praetor

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 00:41

i thought that 512MB cache is the minimum for enabling RAID 5.

#13 n_K

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 00:44

"RAID5 is available on the SA P420/P420i with a minimum of 512MB cache"
"RAID5 is available on the SA P410/P410i with a minimum of 256MB cache and battery"

#14 Praetor

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 00:46

"RAID5 is available on the SA P420/P420i with a minimum of 512MB cache"
"RAID5 is available on the SA P410/P410i with a minimum of 256MB cache and battery"


oh, didn't know that, thanks.
on a side note: yeah 256MB for cache is insufficient.

#15 OP Brian M.

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 18:10

Just thought I'd update this thread in case it helps out anyone else on a budget (couldn't justify like £2-300 on a raid card when the box itself only cost £100 (HP Microserver)).

I picked up a HP P400 (not the 410) with the 512MB cache unit, and BBU on eBay for £42. Had to be quite careful as I needed one with the ports on the back, which was seemed to be rarer. This, combined with an £8 (again, eBay) SFF-8484 to 4 x SATA cable and some ridiculously hard cable routing works perfectly.

ESXi performance is about right - re-used some of the existing cabling to move the ESXi boot + VMs to an SSD while I was in there too.