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Fast access to RAID on another computer.

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Sometime this year I will being building a new computer and will be using my old computer for storage and running some game servers. Is there a way to connect the two computers with a speed of about 4Gbps without spending a grand or more on PCI fiber cards? I would really like to take full advantage of 6 drive RAID50 read speeds without having a RAID card taking up space on my new computer.

I am looking at the duality cases from mountainmods.com so it would not need to go very far, and I am not concerned about other computers on the network having access at full speed. I saw this page http://www.conniq.com/FAQ/DCC-USB-cable-bridge.htm which would be perfect if they made a USB3.0 version but I could not find any mention of one. If I can easily get 10 or 20 Gbps I would maybe try for a 15 drive RAID50.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
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post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 
Looking now at RAID cards with external SAS but not seeing much. Not seeing any cards with external eSATAIII and more than 4 internal SATAII either.
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post #3 of 15
Are you looking to share disk access between the two systems, or are you just looking to physically house the disks in one box while the other box has exclusive access?
post #4 of 15
Unless you're planning on using Fiber I think you're stuck to Gigabit ethernet. There is 10 gigabit ethernet, and the cards are relatively inexpensive, but it's the switches that are several thousand.

I'm not 100% sure but you might be able to use 2 10Gb cards with a crossover cable.

It's relatively easy to do, but you'll be stuck to 1Gb speeds. Maybe it's worth a try, it's hardly slow.
post #5 of 15
10G ethernet adapters, SFPs, cables, and ports are all ungodly expensive once you add everything up. You could do FC-AL for something approaching reasonable prices via eBay without having to drop a Brocade in the middle. SAS also supports multi-initiator configurations but it's tricky to get right and I haven't seen any whitebox solutions implement this for LUN sharing (not that it's not possible, I just don't work on whitebox solutions often).

However, all of this is moot if the intention is to be able to share the storage between multiple systems. In order to have two systems access the same LUNs, you're going to need a cluster aware filesystem. NTFS now can do Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV), but it's only supported for Hyper-V VHDs and nothing else. If you want file access, you will have an active/passive arrangement and it will require Server Enterprise licenses on all hosts. Otherwise you're looking at third party solutions like Veritas Cluster Server which is also quite expensive.

If sharing files is what you're trying to accomplish the answer is to use CIFS. If you want more bandwidth, you can implement LACP which will require network cards with LACP driver support (as Windows will not do it natively) along with an ethernet switch capable of supporting LACP. If you're using Linux you can do LACP out of the box.
Edited by luma - 2/23/12 at 8:15am
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am looking to house the drives on one box and just be able to read and write to them from another.

What is the point of external SAS connections on RAID cards?

EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by luma View Post

10G ethernet adapters, SFPs, cables, and ports are all ungodly expensive once you add everything up. You could do FC-AL for something approaching reasonable prices via eBay without having to drop a Brocade in the middle. SAS also supports multi-initiator configurations but it's tricky to get right and I haven't seen any whitebox solutions implement this for LUN sharing (not that it's not possible, I just don't work on whitebox solutions often).
However, all of this is moot if the intention is to be able to share the storage between multiple systems. In order to have two systems access the same LUNs, you're going to need a cluster aware filesystem. NTFS now can do Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV), but it's only supported for Hyper-V VHDs and nothing else. If you want file access, you will have an active/passive arrangement and it will require Server Enterprise licenses on all hosts. Otherwise you're looking at third party solutions like Veritas Cluster Server which is also quite expensive.
If sharing files is what you're trying to accomplish the answer is to use CIFS. If you want more bandwidth, you can implement LACP which will require network cards with LACP driver support (as Windows will not do it natively) along with an ethernet switch capable of supporting LACP. If you're using Linux you can do LACP out of the box.

So what you're saying I should either just get a bigger board and setup RAID on the computer that I want to have fast access or just deal with Gbit transfer rates. What about some sort of 4x 1Gbit setup with load balancing?
Edited by TheBatman1337 - 2/23/12 at 8:20am
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post #7 of 15
So you just want another case to physically house the cards in? Then have the SATA cables routed through the side-panel of your case? I can understand that, i'm using all 6 of my HDD mounts in this case.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyboyd View Post

So you just want another case to physically house the cards in? Then have the SATA cables routed through the side-panel of your case? I can understand that, i'm using all 6 of my HDD mounts in this case.

Not quite. I was looking to have the RAID array setup on another machine in order to free up PCI ports/lanes but still be able to take advantage of the speed gain. Doesn't matter if it's just a mapped drive, I just want it fast, I've become used to the reads from my 4 drive RAID0.

I'm looking at a "duality" case like this http://www.mountainmods.com/ascension-duality-mirror-black-powder-coat-original-top-p-463.html so space inside the computer is not really an issue.

Hard drive prices are kind of getting me down on this project though, stupid flooding. I got my 640s for 70 a piece and now a 750 is in the 125 to 150 range. I'm not going to spend 2 grand on hard drives but I would really like to hit the 10TB mark for storage, I am tired of having to throw stuff out to make room.
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post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBatman1337 View Post

What is the point of external SAS connections on RAID cards?
That's for attaching external SAS disk shelves, or connecting into a SAS switch fabric to access disks presented over the fabric.

When dealing with storage, a controller can typically act as either a target or an initiator, but not both at the same time. An initiator talks to disk devices, a target presents disk devices to an initiator. A SAS controller you put into your computer to talk to SAS disks will be an initiator. Some SAS controllers can optionally act as a target, so what you would do would be to install one SAS card to control the disks, and another SAS card to present those disks to other SAS initiators, along with software to handle the presentation (something like this), and finally another SAS card acting as an initiator in the second PC. This isn't something that is simple, nor would it make much sense in your case.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBatman1337 View Post

So what you're saying I should either just get a bigger board and setup RAID on the computer that I want to have fast access or just deal with Gbit transfer rates. What about some sort of 4x 1Gbit setup with load balancing?

That's what LACP does, which is why I recommended it above. Again, you need driver level support for this to work, and you might see it referred to as NIC teaming or 802.3ad. Intel and Broadcom have good drivers for LACP that works under Windows and Linux has LACP support baked in the kernel. You can get 4 port 1gbit cards like this which would work. You then need an LACP-capable switch to plug everything into.
Edited by luma - 2/23/12 at 12:24pm
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have have no idea what your background is, luma, but I must say I am pretty impressed with your knowledge. I think the LACP option sounds pretty good.

I wonder how easily I could mount the switch inside the case since only the two machines would be using it. I doubt they make drive bay mountable switches.

Do all of the LAN ports need to be on the same card? Would a dual port mobo and a dual port card work together nicely?
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