Question re: SAS controller choice

Jim G

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 2, 2011
Messages
221
Hi guys.

Our business has a file server that has maxxed out its onboard SATA ports and we need more space... Our case has plenty of room for more HDDs and I'm trying to figure out the most cost effective way of getting some more terabytes. We are using Ubuntu Server 11.04.

We have one x16 PCI-E 2.0 slot free on the motherboard. We're comfortable using mdadm to manage the RAID10 and I'd like to stick to what we're familiar with unless there's a good reason to change.

We would like to hook up another 8 drives and would also like 6gb/s connectors in case we introduce some SSDs down the track.

If we pick up something along the lines of an LSi MegaRAID 9240-8i and hook up a bunch of drives in JBOD mode to RAID them using mdadm will we be at a performance disadvantage at all due to the lack of cache on the controller? This controller seems to be Ubuntu-friendly and reasonably priced, though I would much rather buy right the first time rather than cheaping out. What other options should I be looking at?
 

drescherjm

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
14,926
I recommend Intel sasuc8i cards on linux. I have several of them in use for my linux software raid 6 arrays at work. You should be able to get these for around $155 US depending on the vendor.

Edit:
We would like to hook up another 8 drives and would also like 6gb/s connectors in case we introduce some SSDs down the track.

Hmm, not sure if it supports 6gb/s SSDs.
 

thegtproject

Weaksauce
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Messages
126
I'll second the recommendation on the Intel SASUC8I. Great little HBA for very litte. Each port can breakout to 4 sata drives, giving you a total of 8 extra ports without an expander for ~$150. Use SFF-8087 MiniSAS to 4 SATA Breakout cables.

Flash the SASUC8I with LSI's I/T (initiator/target) firmware (instead of hardware raid) since you'll manage the raid in OS. Which is completely fine. The LSI firmware flashes over the stock Intel firmware with 0 problems and it is widely done with these cards. Been running mine like this for months.

The only downside is they are 3 Gb ports and can only see up to 2TB drives. But 8x 2TB drives gives you a quick 16 TB upgrade, I think you'll be fine.

Also if you're worried about performance and lack of cache in the future, it would then be time to start looking into Btrfs or ZFS which in almost all cases can be configured to run faster than any hardware raid solution you can throw at it for any reasonable price.
 

Jim G

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 2, 2011
Messages
221
I recommend Intel sasuc8i cards on linux. I have several of them in use for my linux software raid 6 arrays at work. You should be able to get these for around $155 US depending on the vendor.

Edit:

Hmm, not sure if it supports 6gb/s SSDs.

I'll second the recommendation on the Intel SASUC8I. Great little HBA for very litte. Each port can breakout to 4 sata drives, giving you a total of 8 extra ports without an expander for ~$150. Use SFF-8087 MiniSAS to 4 SATA Breakout cables.

Flash the SASUC8I with LSI's I/T (initiator/target) firmware (instead of hardware raid) since you'll manage the raid in OS. Which is completely fine. The LSI firmware flashes over the stock Intel firmware with 0 problems and it is widely done with these cards. Been running mine like this for months.

The only downside is they are 3 Gb ports and can only see up to 2TB drives. But 8x 2TB drives gives you a quick 16 TB upgrade, I think you'll be fine.

Also if you're worried about performance and lack of cache in the future, it would then be time to start looking into Btrfs or ZFS which in almost all cases can be configured to run faster than any hardware raid solution you can throw at it for any reasonable price.

Thanks guys - the responses are very much appreciated. At that price I can live with 3gb/s, I think - and I'll look into btrfs and ZFS :) That's less than half of the price of the other options I was looking at, which is good news.

Nobody in Australia seems to stock those cards so time to find someone who'll ship here for a reasonable price!
 
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