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How to expand RAID cards (various posts read) ? - Page 2

post #11 of 42
Agreed, even the el cheapo Addonics Port Multipliers are stupidly priced for what they do....and they don't very much, let's be honest here. tongue.gif

@OP:

I'll be blunt. Your main problem is that you run Windows. If you ran Linux or FreeBSD, you could easily employ the native software RAID on those systems in concert with a plain Jane 8 port SAS HBA connected to a SAS expander. Software RAID on those systems is just as robust, and in many cases just as fast, as a modern hardware RAID card. Depends on the use case though.

However there are a couple options still open to you.

1) Buy a PERC 6/e. This would probably be the safest option since you'll know that it will work with greater than 8 physical drives. I'm now convinced that Dell crippled the 6/i deliberately to protect the 6/e's market.

2) Try flashing the 6/i with 6/e firmware. Obviously this carries an element of risk - it'd be worth asking if anyone has done this successfully.

3) A better option might be to flash the 6/i with the appropriate LSI firmware (can't remember which one works for the 6/i, if any). Read through the PERC 5/i thread here on OCN - it's a long thread but definitely worth a read. Things like this should not be rushed.

Out of all those three, I think buying a PERC 6/e off of eBay would be the best option, since it's likely to give the least amount of grief.

Question:

Do you need all of the drives (or more accurately the storage they give) accessible directly via SAS/SATA (i.e. at maximum speed)? For your situation it might be better to build a server box running FreeNAS or OpenFiler and have it accessible over GigE via SMB or even iSCSI. All you'd need is a large chassis, cheap CPU & memory & motherboard, a cheap SAS HBA and an expander.

Sure, you'd be limited to GigE speeds (~100MB/sec), but at least you can put some distance between you and the disks. tongue.gif
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post #12 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast View Post
Port multipliers are pretty crappy, and are inferior to SAS expanders but cost similar money. Huge waste of time, cash and effort.
OK, short and clear advice !

Thank you
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post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by XZed View Post
OK, short and clear advice !

Thank you
No problem.

When I mentioned other options, I was referring to cheap HBAs (ie non-RAID) that do work with expanders (like the LSI SAS3042E or similar from eBay).

Regarding the PERCs BTW - I guess I wasn't really clear about how they don't work with expanders. It's not actually that they don't work, but they won't recognise more than 8 drives. So you can hook up a 32-port expander for a total number of 32 SAS/SATA ports, but the PERCs will recognise just 8 drives. Hence the reason why the guy in the PERC thread said he could use 1 expander but not two - he was using the Supermicro 8*2.5" hotswap bay with inbuilt expander, and so could only hook up 8 drives before he had problems.
post #14 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
@OP:

I'll be blunt. Your main problem is that you run Windows. If you ran Linux or FreeBSD, you could easily employ the native software RAID on those systems in concert with a plain Jane 8 port SAS HBA connected to a SAS expander. Software RAID on those systems is just as robust, and in many cases just as fast, as a modern hardware RAID card. Depends on the use case though.
In fact, this was the longest question i tried to answer initially : hw or sw raid ?

Remembering some sw raid issues i had in the past, i choosed hw raid.

(To be honest : i trust in Linux sw raid and used it many times in small setups but i had so ICHxR issues that i fear the sw raid in general (even if ICHxR differs from Linux sw raid)...).

But after reading about BackBlaze , it made me reconsider about sw raid ...

Quote:
However there are a couple options still open to you.

1) Buy a PERC 6/e. This would probably be the safest option since you'll know that it will work with greater than 8 physical drives. I'm now convinced that Dell crippled the 6/i deliberately to protect the 6/e's market.
I think too after obtaining such an answer from Dell ...

At first, i was mainly thinking about extending the actual RAID volume present on the PERC 6/i.... As the 2 PERC aren't linked, i'll had to migrate the RAID volume to the external storage... Well, if needed, i'll do it lol ...

Quote:
2) Try flashing the 6/i with 6/e firmware. Obviously this carries an element of risk - it'd be worth asking if anyone has done this successfully.

3) A better option might be to flash the 6/i with the appropriate LSI firmware (can't remember which one works for the 6/i, if any). Read through the PERC 5/i thread here on OCN - it's a long thread but definitely worth a read. Things like this should not be rushed.
Indeed i read something about 6/e fw on the 6/i card but can't remember where/how...

For the LSI firmware, i read about flashing the 8888ELP on the 6/i to unlock limitations (and enable expanders support)... but had to be confirmed...

1 year ago, i read quite all the thread you quote : the best thread i read on my life ... Since this time, i try to read the last posts but can't remember all the posts lol ....

Quote:
Out of all those three, I think buying a PERC 6/e off of eBay would be the best option, since it's likely to give the least amount of grief.
Well, i'll consider this...

Quote:
Question:

Do you need all of the drives (or more accurately the storage they give) accessible directly via SAS/SATA (i.e. at maximum speed)? For your situation it might be better to build a server box running FreeNAS or OpenFiler and have it accessible over GigE via SMB or even iSCSI. All you'd need is a large chassis, cheap CPU & memory & motherboard, a cheap SAS HBA and an expander.

Sure, you'd be limited to GigE speeds (~100MB/sec), but at least you can put some distance between you and the disks.
Indeed, it worths to be considered... I considered, one time, to use iSCSI w/ OpenFiler... As storage quantity is privileged on bandwidth speed, GbE bandwidth is enough...

F**k... all your advices (the_beast and you) make me consider again my initial setup ...

Thank you, i'll think about it ...
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post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast View Post
No problem.

When I mentioned other options, I was referring to cheap HBAs (ie non-RAID) that do work with expanders (like the LSI SAS3042E or similar from eBay).

Regarding the PERCs BTW - I guess I wasn't really clear about how they don't work with expanders. It's not actually that they don't work, but they won't recognise more than 8 drives. So you can hook up a 32-port expander for a total number of 32 SAS/SATA ports, but the PERCs will recognise just 8 drives. Hence the reason why the guy in the PERC thread said he could use 1 expander but not two - he was using the Supermicro 8*2.5" hotswap bay with inbuilt expander, and so could only hook up 8 drives before he had problems.
Oh, holy s**t ... Thanks for clearing the explanations...

By the way, i'm still waiting for Dell answer after asking them to read that :

T710

PERC 6/i plugged to 16 * 2.5" drives w/ 1 channel ...

(Plugged to a backplane with SAS Expander (surely LSISASx36 based one))

On the other hand it states that the PERC needs to use two channels to plug to 8 3.5" drives ....

(They seem to cheat with 2*2.5" drives plugged on one 3.5" carry....)

Finally, your and parityboy's advices, it seems that better solution is sw raid with non-raid hba...

Thank you

But i'm so afraid about data loss (after such bad surprises) that i can only sleep when using at least RAID6 lol ...

(Don't worry, for me it's clear : RAID isn't backup ... Backup it's also setup ).
Edited by XZed - 1/7/11 at 2:09am
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post #16 of 42
When it comes to RAID (of any kind) it's all about the implementation. Even hardware RAID isn't perfect (it's very robust though ). FakeRAID systems like the ICH10R are not so robust and should really be avoided.

I myself have been using Linux software RAID for many years, and the only time I ever lost data was when a on-board SATA controller went bad - nothing RAID can do about that.
Edited by parityboy - 1/7/11 at 6:30am
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post #17 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by parityboy View Post
When it comes to RAID (of any kind) it's all about the implementation. Even hardware RAID isn't perfect (it's very robust though ). FakeRAID systems like the ICH10R are not so robust and should really be avoided.

I myself have been using Linux software RAID for many years, and the only time I ever lost data was when a on-board SATA controller went bad - nothing RAID can do about that.
Well i think my bad experiences w/ FakeRaid induced me to avoid any type of non-hardware raid lol

But i'll consider this again

Thanks
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post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by XZed View Post
Well i think my bad experiences w/ FakeRaid induced me to avoid any type of non-hardware raid lol

But i'll consider this again

Thanks
You can be sure that there are many great software RAID implementations, and they can easily be the match of top-of-the-range hardware RAID. As an example, Sun Microsystems offered software RAID exclusively for many years on their high-end servers.

It's worth mentioning that just because it's hardware RAID doesn't make it great either...
post #19 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast View Post
You can be sure that there are many great software RAID implementations, and they can easily be the match of top-of-the-range hardware RAID. As an example, Sun Microsystems offered software RAID exclusively for many years on their high-end servers.

It's worth mentioning that just because it's hardware RAID doesn't make it great either...
Well, let me ask something :

Your advices about :

- software raid : any Linux/Unix/BSD distro or a particular one (OpenFiler-like) ? (I mainly used Debian sw raid until now ... Well, some projects make me reconsider software raid )
- which FS ? XFS or ZFS or another one ?

My needs : mainly file storage (GbE speed is enough so easily reached by RAID performance ).

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Edited by XZed - 1/7/11 at 4:53pm
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post #20 of 42
Software RAID:

Your options are

a) OpenFiler. I believe this is a GNU/Linux based distribution. It supports software RAID as well as any RAID or non-RAID HBA supported by the Linux kernel.

b) FreeNAS. This is a FreeBSD distribution, which also supports software RAID, as well as many RAID and non-RAID HBAs.

c) NexentaStor . This is an OpenSolaris-based distribution, which also supports many RAID and non-RAID HBAs, as well as the Solaris software RAID. Hardware Compatibility List for the OpenSolaris kernel is here.


Filesystems:

For Linux based systems like OpenFiler, I would recommend JFS or XFS. ext4 is very nice and stable but while the filesystem itself supports huge volumes, the tools that administer it can only support volumes up to 16TB.

For FreeNAS, I suppose you could use UFS. However, I would seriously consider ZFS instead. It's a very good filesystem which has software RAID and volume management built in to a single set of tools. It also has checksumming which can correct for a variety of errors when reading and writing data.

In the case of NexentaStor, I would use ZFS. ZFS was originally developed under Solaris, and so will always be ahead of the FreeBSD version. However the NexentaStor Community Edition is limited to 12TB (says 18TB on the download page) of managed storage. However, you can get around this using virtual machines (I assume).
Edited by parityboy - 1/8/11 at 9:48am
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