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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! I've been looking for a 16-port RAID card for my new server project, and could use some recommendations. I don't want to spend too much on it, so I've currently narrowed it down to 2 choices (1, 2) but am open to any other options in that price range.

I'm unsure which of the 2 is better, because the Tyan card has an XOR engine built in as well as cache RAM onboard, while the other card is 6GB/s like my hard drives and uses a PCI-E x16 interface, but lacks an onboard RAID engine and cache.

The 6GB/s isn't really useful right now since I'm using regular HDD's, but the upgrade path tu future drives is nice, as well as the extra bandwidth an x16 interface provides.

So, which one do you guys recommend? Or should I look at something else? Thanks for looking!
 

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Which cards? No links in your OP...

But I wouldn't recommend a 16-port card to be honest, especially on a budget - go for a 4/8 port card plus an expander (which gives much more future expansion), 2 8-port cards (much cheaper - PERC 6/i cards are ~$130 or so), or go with an HBA and go software (much cheaper, more options, more expandabillity, better security with high drive counts).

Most important question - what do you want to do with it? What hardware do you have? Without that info it's really hard to make any recommendations.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Quote:


Originally Posted by the_beast
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Which cards? No links in your OP...

But I wouldn't recommend a 16-port card to be honest, especially on a budget - go for a 4/8 port card plus an expander (which gives much more future expansion), 2 8-port cards (much cheaper - PERC 6/i cards are ~$130 or so), or go with an HBA and go software (much cheaper, more options, more expandabillity, better security with high drive counts).

Most important question - what do you want to do with it? What hardware do you have? Without that info it's really hard to make any recommendations.

Whoops
. Links added.

As I said, I'm open to other solutions, but I need to keep everything in one array, so unless I can do some sort of software JBOD to make 2 8-drive arrays act as one, then I have to stick to a single card. It was my original plans to get dual PERCs but I realized a single array would be much easier to manage.

Perhaps an expander, as you said, would be of use? Because I've noticed that price increases exponentially as port count increases on RAID cards.

The card will be going into an LGA1366 Xeon server (X5570) with 12GB of RAM that will be used as an online backup server and as a render box (along with other things), so ESXi will be installed and I'll be running Windows on most of them, with Linux for the backup part most likely. Because of the machine's other uses as a general server for my business, I'd like to keep things hardware and not have to resort to software RAID and use up system resources.

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Originally Posted by JedixJarf
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I would honestly recommend running an unRaid box, 100% software raid set up very similar to a raid 5. Also that way you dont need to buy raid controllers only sata cards.

Like I said above, I'd like to keep things hardware, and I need an OS present with the file system.

I'll be running RAID 5.
 

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@OP:

Given your options and your budget, I would pick the Tyan card, simply because it supports RAID 6. The fact that you're looking for a 16 port card tells me that you are going beyond 8 drives, and running RAID 5 on more than 8 drives is asking for trouble. Once you get to that drive count, RAID 6 is the sensible option.

As an aside, it might be worth contacting Tyan and asking them if their card supports SAS expanders. There may be a day when you'll want to move beyond 16 drives...
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by parityboy;14156357
@OP:

Given your options and your budget, I would pick the Tyan card, simply because it supports RAID 6. The fact that you're looking for a 16 port card tells me that you are going beyond 8 drives, and running RAID 5 on more than 8 drives is asking for trouble. Once you get to that drive count, RAID 6 is the sensible option.

As an aside, it might be worth contacting Tyan and asking them if their card supports SAS expanders. There may be a day when you'll want to move beyond 16 drives...
Alright then, Tyan with RAID 6 it is! I'd been leaning towards the Tyan because of the onboard RAID engine, and your idea for RAID 6 makes sense. I'll email Tyan and ask if they support SAS expanders like you said as well. Thanks for your help!

EDIT: Looking at the spec sheet on Tyan's site, it supports up to 122 hard drives using SAS expanders. Do you have any suggestions in case I do decide to get one?
 

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Uh... if you are running ESXi you are going to have some issues with that controller. ESXi is a major PITA if you are not running a server with iLO or other means of monitoring the raid array. You WILL NOT get an alert when you have an array issue with that card, unless the card makes and audible alert and you are near by enough to hear it.

I have been through this for 6 months with VMware, Adaptec, and LSI (whom supposedly supports remote monitoring with ESXi, but after 2 months were unable to actually get it working for me). In the end I had two options which I will break down for you here.

1. Create a VM that runs freeNAS or something with iSCSI targeting. Configure the Controller to PASSTHROUGH in ESXi to the freeNAS VM. Then connect the virtual switch inside ESXi to both ESXi and the freeNAS VM. Run your array from the FreeNAS and have ESXi point to it as an iSCSI target.

This is good and teh suck for a number or reasons:
Good - It works, you can monitor it, and most of the stupid storage issues with ESXi go away
Bad - Slower than a straight mount in ESXi, will consume significant CPU cycles when you are moving mass amounts of data, also still subject to the 2TB limit of ESXi.

2. Use ESX instead. Yah I know... but let me tell you... EVERYTHING WORKS with ESX. Drivers install, controllers are remote viewable... etc

Pros - Fast, everything works
Cons - Can be expensive if you dont have a key, and VM has stated ESXi is the future. (for their sake they better fix all the storage/management issues of ESXi before they go there)

Also another note. I am a huge fan of the adaptec controllers for large arrays... especially if you are considering R6. Adaptec has R5EE which provides the performance of 5 with the ability to lose up to 2 disks like R6. You can get their sata 2 series controllers at bargain basement prices for the performance.

Good luck... and feel free to ask questions. I spent months of my life going through a similar situation and wouldn't mind helping you avoid throwing a few of yours away.
 

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@OP:

With regard to the SAS expander, the HP one is the one to get. There's a wealth of information about it here.
 
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