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Upgrading from PERC 6i... Need suggestions...

post #1 of 2
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I'm currently using a DELL PERC 6i controller for a RAID-6 array with eight drives (max for the PERC 6i). I'd like more storage but SAS expanders don't work with the 6i so I need to upgrade. I've also purchased the NORCO 4220 that I need to fill...

I can't afford a lot for a new RAID controller so I'm debating between purchasing a PERC 6e or moving to software RAID (ie. ZFS).

Here's what my options are:

1) Buy new RAID controller + expander (PERC 6e + HP SAS expander)

2) Buy SAS HBA + expander + ZFS or other software RAID...

First off, would my hardware work for a 16-20 disk RAID-Z2 system? I have an AMD 2.7 GHz single-core system (AMD Sepron) with 2 GB of ECC RAM.

Second, I know that you can't expand RAID-Z2 volumes but there seems to be other ways to setup your disks so it's easier to expand?

Besides ZFS, what other options are there? Hardware RAID is great but I sometimes worry about what happens if the controller card fails. I'm not using RAID as a backup (ie. I have my really important stuff actually backed up), but I still don't want to lose all the data on my array.

Thanks for any advice...
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post #2 of 2
For maximum data integrity, ZFS is obviously the best option, but as you rightly point out, it has limitations in terms of flexibility. In terms of the hardware performance needed, look here and here (start at the bottom of the page).

For the sake of continuity, the most attractive option would be PERC 6/e + SAS Expander. You'll be able to import your configuration from your existing array, and if the card fails it's easy to find another one, so it's nearly as flexible as software RAID.

Another option is Linux's MD-RAID + LVM. MD-RAID supports RAID levels 0,1,4,10,5 and 6 and of course you can nest levels in your own way. LVM allows you to grow your storage according to your needs, although you can simply run MD-RAID by itself and grow the array disk-by-disk.

Be aware that Linux's ext4 filesystem is limited to 1EiB by design and 16TiB by its tools. You can create a system > 16TiB but forget administering it (for the time being, anyway). However, other filesystems exist such as JFS and XFS. I use JFS on a 5TiB array using MD-RAID and LVM.
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