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How to expand RAID cards (various posts read) ?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

1 year ago, i setup a Dell PERC 6/i card.

Month after month, my setup was growing :

RAID1 to RAID5, RAID5 to RAID6, etc...

When buying this card, i knew it "supported 32 physical drives", but didn't wonder how to as my setup started with only a few drives biggrin.gif...

Now, time to the next step has arrived biggrin.gif...

My actual setup :

PERC 6/i with 2 cables (SFF-8484 to 4*SATA) plugged to the 2 internal SFF-8484 connectors.

I read a lot of posts, articles about the expanding but still have some doubts smile.gif ...

Unless i'm wrong, i have to replace the cables actually used by a specific one (like "SFF-8484 to SFF-8087" one) linking the RAID card to a SAS expander.

Am i right ?

Now consider the easiest case : i've enough place to put drives on my actual case biggrin.gif.

Is it then enough to plug the additional hard drives to the SAS expander via a specific cable (like "SFF-8087 to 4 SATA") ? (It really makes me consider the SAS expander as an "lane amplifier" biggrin.gif...)

Next, consider the second case : i have to stock all the drives out of my case smile.gif ...

I have to use a card (still a SAS expander ?) to connect the RAID card to an external enclosure (chassis-like) ?

So it means that all these drives will be seen by the PERC 6/i as if they were directly plugged to it ?

Finally, any advice/feedback about a "package" of hardware models ?

I read, in other posts, about HP SAS expander model... But i'm considering the LSI SAS expanders...


Any advice for a cheap >8 SAS/SATA drives external enclosure ?

Thank you very much smile.gif .

Sincerely,

XZed
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post #2 of 42
As far as I know it goes like this:

You connect one of the SFF-8484 to one of the mini-SAS connectors on the HP expander - doesn't matter which one - using one of these. Then you buy a mini-SAS-to-4x SATA cable, like the one here (I think), and connect that from the expander to the SATA drives.

The PERC 6/i will see all of the drives. Make sure you get the latest revision of the expander (for the HP it's 2.02 I believe). For more data on the HP SAS Expander, look here. I know you want the LSI one, but it'll give you a general idea of what's what from what's not.

As for external SAS/SATA enclosures which are "cheap" - there aren't any. tongue.gif They all seem to come with with a price premium, for example this. It has a SAS expander on-board, so in your case you would connect the SFF-8484 on the PERC to a PCI bracket with an external SFF-8088 mini-SAS connector (or dual connectors), the get a SFF-8088-to-SFF-8088 cable to connect from the PCI bracket to the external box. As you can see from the description, you can chain together the boxes.

If you just want the one box, you could consider one of instead. You can connect to it via dual mini-SAS like above. I think one mini-SAS will support 4 SATA drives, so for 8 you'd need 2 connectors and 2 cables.

Third option:

1) Get a mini-SAS PCI bracket for the PERC 6/i, and connect it up.

2) Get a Norco 4220 and a cheap motherboard and power supply unit. Install the SAS expander onto the motherboard. You don't need CPU or RAM or anything else. Install all of your drives into the chassis and connect them to the expander via appropriate cables (SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 I think).

3) Connect from the PCI bracket mini-SAS to the external port on the SAS expander via an SFF-8088 external mini-SAS cable.

Once the power supply in the Norco is turned on and all of the drives spin up, the PERC will see them all. The Norco serves as a (very big) disk box.
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post #3 of 42
The only problem is that the PERC 6/i doesn't support 32 physical drives - it supports 32 virtual drives. It will only see 8 physical drives even with an expander (unless some firmware update has changed things in the last few weeks).

The PERC 6/e will work though.
post #4 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much parityboy for these complete and accurate answer biggrin.gif !

I read all your links : perfect smile.gif !

About my preference (LSI) : the HP card is very very interesting (features/price)... just a doubt : i read, on a previous post, that it had some incompatibility issues with some brand of raid cards... but after reading your detailed link about the HP card, i think it was due ton earlier fw versions....

By the way, my actual motherboard, only has a PCI-E 1x left so this card can't be added :/...

So, i really consider your third option that is very interesting biggrin.gif (indeed, i read the reasons about the needs of a motherboard even without cpu/ram : just ton "power on" the HP card...).

By the way, i found a sort of..."fourth" option :

A HP-card like but powered by a power connector instead the PCI port :

http://www.pc-pitstop.com/sas_expanders/A33606-PCI.asp

(PCI only used to "plug" the card).

But after reading all of these, i admit that the HP one seems to be like a very good way to "start"/"learn" the expand biggrin.gif

(I'm actually thinking about a "detail" : a group of 4 drives has to move (the group actually plugged to one of the SFF-8484 connectors)... even replugged on the SAS expander : i suppose that the huge RAID volume will be broken frown.gif (the drives being plugged at different location)... confused.gif)

To conclude : thank you very much biggrin.gif

Then : thank you very much too, the_beast biggrin.gif

I read again and again and it seems to be "physical drives" and not virtual drives....

Summary specs

Detailed answer

I tried to consider all tiny details about virtual / physical drives supported considering each RAID level but it seems to be 32 physcal drives ...

Can anyone confirm before I buy a bunch of hardware biggrin.gif?

By the way, thanks for considering this important detail biggrin.gif
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post #5 of 42
according to those specs it should work - but it doesn't work with the HP or the (discontinued) Chenbro expander. Check the thread ParityBoy posted - it is mentioned in there. It may work with an MD1000 or other Dell kit, but I wouldn't buy an expander to use with it myself.

If you don't need RAID there are other cheap options that will work - what are you intending on using the array for?
post #6 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast;11888209 
according to those specs it should work - but it doesn't work with the HP or the (discontinued) Chenbro expander. Check the thread ParityBoy posted - it is mentioned in there. It may work with an MD1000 or other Dell kit, but I wouldn't buy an expander to use with it myself.

If you don't need RAID there are other cheap options that will work - what are you intending on using the array for?

Oooh frown.gif...thank you ... indeed, i searched over the pages and found it...

Well, i understand that i have to make the same research work i did when buying PERC card (due to using the PERC on non-Dell systems) biggrin.gif...

Well, i had to rename my thread "Which SAS expander is compatible with PERC 6/i card" lol...

(By the way, i'll search on forum in case one already asked it smile.gif ... ).

Concerning the RAID feature : it's one of my pre-requisite sorry biggrin.gif...

Well, thank you very much, i'm going to search about compatible SAS expander smile.gif ...

Thank you,

Sincerely,

XZed
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post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast;11888209 
according to those specs it should work - but it doesn't work with the HP or the (discontinued) Chenbro expander. Check the thread ParityBoy posted - it is mentioned in there. It may work with an MD1000 or other Dell kit, but I wouldn't buy an expander to use with it myself.

If you don't need RAID there are other cheap options that will work - what are you intending on using the array for?

Yeah now that you mention it, I remember. I think Dell did that deliberately to force you to buy the PERC 6/e...I'm surprised they don't have an exclusive deal with Western Digital to sell "RAID-certified" hard drives too...tongue.gif
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post #8 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by parityboy;11891778 
I'm surprised they don't have an exclusive deal with Western Digital to sell "RAID-certified" hard drives too...tongue.gif

Lol biggrin.gif...

Well, i'm actually waiting for an answer from Dell about what is specified (32 physical drives) on the Dell site...

But i'm afraid about the answer (after having a stupid first answer like "anyway why more than 8 drives ?" ...mad.gif ..)...
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post #9 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast;11888209 
If you don't need RAID there are other cheap options that will work - what are you intending on using the array for?

I've read a lot of posts, meanwhile. And found some posts telling that PERC 6/i is lacking support of SAS expander (i'm still waiting for Dell answer about : "So, how could it support up to 32 drives ?")...

Was you thinking about SATA port multipliers ?

(Bandwidth, RAID usage ?)

Thank you
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post #10 of 42
Port multipliers are pretty crappy, and are inferior to SAS expanders but cost similar money. Huge waste of time, cash and effort.
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