RAID 5 Card Advice

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by E-Clipse, Oct 7, 2006.

  1. E-Clipse

    E-Clipse Member

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    G'day,

    I'm in the process of constructing a new fileserver and want to introduce a bit of redundancy as I'm starting to grow paranoid over my data. I've decided to go with RAID-5 as it's the most economically viable choice, and will initially be populating my array with 4x 7200.16 320GB SATA drives.

    I know there are a plethora of existing threads covering the same/similar issues, however I'm after some advice specific to my situation.

    The machine will be a spare P4 2.4 with 1GB of C2.5 GEIL. The mobo is dodgy but supports PCI 2.2 (which I understand can make a difference with regard to throughput, however my readings suggest that the overhead of RAID-5 mean that this overhead will never be reached).

    I'm looking for some opinions and perhaps measured performance in the real world as to the cards below. My first dilemma is of course the hardware vs. software RAID issue. Cards with an onboard proc will obviously perform faster than their soft-based counterparts, however I don't personally know anyone who can inform me as to the difference being that great. The machine will be utilised as a fileserver alone and perform no other functions. My other conundrum is that when space requirements demand it I will be adding another 4x (whatever hard drive size is most economical at the time) and a card to go along with it. I'm concerned that having 2 software based cards might be taxing on write/read performance if both arrays are in use at the same time.

    There is also the concern that once I add another PCI controller card later the PCI BUS bandwidth will be greatly reduced (as it is shared). Buying an 8 port software based controller with online capacity expansion is potentially affordable, but an 8 port hardware based controller would exceed my allotted budget.

    In any case, I'm looking at the three cards below:

    Promise FastTrak TX4310 - ~$220
    I was considering the S150 SX4 as detailed in the slightly outdated Tom's Hardware article, as it is cheaper and has an onboard proc, however it seems the maximum amount of attached storage it supports is 1000GB. An unformatted RAID-5 array would be 960GB but I think it refers to the capacity of the drives themselves. If anyone has this card and can tell me otherwise I'd appreciate the input.

    Next, the Adaptec 2410SA - ~$430
    which has its own proc.

    LSI Logic MegaRAID 150-4 - ~$480
    Performance-wise this card is supposed to be a little better according to the Tom's Hardware benchmarks, however I probably wouldn't splurge the extra.


    In any case, it pretty much boils down to the choice between a hardware or software based card. As I stated, if anyone is able to provide me with some performance readings with the above cards using a RAID-5 array it'd help a lot, plus opinions on the 2 cards on the PCI BUS issue would helpful.

    Finally if anyone is able to provide me with cheaper prices on the above cards that'd help too. I've listed the cheapest I was able to find, and they are what I'm basing my decisions on currently. I would of course like to splurge for something better like a 3ware or Broadcom card, but that's currently out of the question.


    Thanks for your help,

    --E-Clipse
     
  2. infiltraitor

    infiltraitor Member

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    that LSI card is a little outdated, only sata150 and only 64bit/66mhz

    id recommend the Highpoint RR2220 which can be found at scorptec for $430
    it has all of the below features and more:
    8 channels PCI-X to SATA II host adapter
    PCI-X 64 bit 133/100/66 MHz
    Up to 3.0Gb/s transfer rate.
    RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 and JBOD
    Staggered Drive Spin up
    Online Capacity Expansion and RAID Level Migration(OCE/RLM)
    Quick and background initialization for quick RAID configuration
    64-bit LBA for over 2TB partition support

    one thing to note though, i believe it is a hardware assisted raid controller.. or something funny like that.. i understand it uses its cpu for raids 0/1/jbod but uses the computers cpu for raid5 calculations.

    ive had a RR1820A in a p4 3.2ghz with 1gb of ram and it barely did anything when transfering files.
     
  3. stalin

    stalin (Taking a Break)

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    I would go the Adaptec 2410SA IBM spec them on their low end servers. If its good enough for the biggest and the best, its good enough for me. Full Linux support also.
     
  4. ShaneHm2

    ShaneHm2 Member

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    i was originally for my filserver im building gonna grab the 2410SA, however the other day i saw this beauty being price checked and asked where to get it from
    its Intel SRCS16 64-Bit 6-Port SATA II RAID Controller Card available for $479 at Nintek from what i read in the manual and datasheets it will go into a standard pci slot and also its a good hardware based controller
     
  5. oli

    oli Member

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    If you're going to get the 2410SA keep an eye on eBay for a bit... I bought mine there. It was brand new and from an IBM package where it obviously wasn't required. Costed about $100...
     
  6. ShaneHm2

    ShaneHm2 Member

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    actually to tell you the truth there i have only seen 1 on ebay in about that last 3 months and it was 6months old and was going for $250~$280US plus about $30US shipping charges, so do u know of something other then 2410sa i can find em on ?
     
  7. oli

    oli Member

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    Maybe I just got lucky then. When I bought mine (probably about 8 months ago now) one seller sold a few at once. Maybe that is why the prices were relatively low...
     
  8. MatterHorn

    MatterHorn (Taking a Break)

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    I bought my 2410SA off ebay about 6 months ago for $200 delivered. It was from a guy in Sydney and he had 70 of them for sale. I think he only sold about 10-20 at the time which I thought was strange coz they were going for around $550 at the time. It was an IBM serveraid 7t adapter which is just a re-badged 2410SA.
     
  9. ShaneHm2

    ShaneHm2 Member

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    do u have a link to guys ebay profile ?? as i would like to contact him possinly
     
  10. MatterHorn

    MatterHorn (Taking a Break)

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    I've PM'd you the info - good luck :)
     
  11. ShaneHm2

    ShaneHm2 Member

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    yep just got it cheers for that
     
  12. fad

    fad Member

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    I have the intel SRCS16 currently in my raid array. It is a very good controller. I have had no issues. The management software is really good, it has BIOS and a web app to control it/check on its status.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    E-Clipse

    E-Clipse Member

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    Thank you for all the input. I am still as undecided as I was before, but you have given me more to consider.

    What RAID level were you running, and over how many drives? Also, what kind of transfer speeds did you get?


    If you have any luck (I assume you are trying to purchase a controller) please let me know also.

    That's good to hear. After ShaneHm2 suggested it I was strongly considering it, however I've been unable to find any meaningful reviews or indiciation as to what management is like. I would also ask; what type of array are you running, and on what system/OS?
     
  14. fad

    fad Member

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    Here are some screen shots of the web interface.
    http://rei.homeip.net/x/srcs16.doc

    Raid 5 200gbx6.
    Previous system, 2k3,1gb,Dual 800mhz Intel Server board
    Current system,XP,1gb,AMD 3200+ on DFI SLI Lanparty.
     
  15. albeeny

    albeeny Member

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    This will sound a tad obvious.... but I've gotta say it anyway:
    Make sure your server is powered\protected by a UPS.
    Late on Friday arvo, I was called to a client whose server had failed after a black out.... Turns out, he had been ignoring the "battery replacement" warning light on his UPS. The server didn't finish shutting down properly, the NTFS table in the array got all messed up - It took me hours to recover his data.

    Raid arrays suffer very poorly from power interruptions.
    But you already knew that...
     
  16. infiltraitor

    infiltraitor Member

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    i am running two RAID5 arrays consisting of 4 300gb 7200.8 seagate drives
    highest realworld transfer ive seen on them so far was 93MB/s
     
  17. Iceman

    Iceman Member

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    Promise FastTrak TX4310 - ~$220
    the Adaptec 2410SA - ~$430
    Intel SRCZxxxx

    I've used all of these cards before and a few from the same families.. Before you buy any of them. Do this:

    Read the manuals of the cards and KB articles. Ring their tech support, tell them your card is telling you the array is broken but the drives are fine. See what they say.

    Oh the fun time's Ive had with all of those companies.
    'Recreate the array, restore from backup' is without a doubt the most common response.

    (Fixed a lot of these issues by various methods of voodoo and upgrading or reflashing the firmware.)

    Buy an Areca. I can't say I've ever had to call their support.. never seen one of their arrays crash for no reason.

    By the way, RAID 5 DDP is a waste of money for a home file server IMHO. RAID ONLY protects you against hard drives failure resulting in down time at the cost of money and performance.

    Go for a well performing RAID 1. Your data will be mirrored for only twice the cost of the drives and performance goes up.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2006
  18. oli

    oli Member

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    Why do you class money as a negative aspect of RAID5 for a home file server, yet you proclaim RAID1 is better? RAID1 costs more, in particular if your home file server has many (6+ hard drives).
     
  19. cvidler

    cvidler Member

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    Hardware RAID does make a BIG difference.

    (My experience is SCSI, but the benefits are the same).

    LSI Logic 320U2 RAID card (512MB onboard cache), 7x 72GB 10KRPM SCSIs RAID5

    In hardware mode (using the card) I get a consistant ~300MB/s read AND write. The bottleneck I'm reaching is the PCI slot I'm using only a 64-bit/66MHz slot (ideally 500MB/s).

    The exact same config (even the same card), except using Windows 2000 Server's built in RAID5 software, drops those figures down to 220MB/s read, and a lazy 97MB/s write. While process utilisation went up significantly hovering around 18% (dual 2.4 Xeon with HT).

    I've recently added a Highpoint 2220 with 6x 320GB Seagte 7200.10s in RAID5 (using the 'card' ie. the driver on your CPU). Which while not stunning, appears better written then the Win2K builting RAID5, but definately can't hold a candle to the SCSI RAID card. But that's ok as it's just a large storage dump, where my DV camcorder downloads to before I start editing.

    In short if you want good performance you need to get a card with onboard processor. If you just want large storage, and don't mind about the speed, save yourself the $ and just get any old card that'll work. As you are planning to add another 4 drives later, get an 8 port (or more) card now.
     
  20. lavi

    lavi Member

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    you're spot on!

    I only use SCSI at work mainly HP Proliants and it's amazing the diference between proper hardware raid and software raid

    in PCI-e and PCI most raid cards even thou are "hardware" they actually run a kernel for software raid, like the nForce chipset, and the driver interfaces with that.

    I tried software raid in some workstations (via onboard hardware raid) and i wasn't too impressed with it, it's not bad in raid5 if you want some redundancy and a huge volume (500GB x 4 drives in raid5)

    I think there are a few true hardware sata raid cards from 3ware


    http://www.3ware.com/products/serial_ata9000.asp
     

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