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I am currently building a large (20 TB) online data store and my first attempt has gone a bit awry. The use case for this storage is to have a non-backed up repository of data for a set of users to access. I/O speed is not the primary concern as this array will act as read-only data store.

My first attempt to build the array utilized the following hardware.

  • RocketRAID 2302 (2 eSATA, 2 SATA ports)
  • 2 10-bay 4U drive arrays with Sil3726 port multipliers (plugged into separate power supplies)
  • Intel S3210 server board running Windows Server 2008
  • 20 2TB Seagate Drives

The actual hardware installation went fairly well. The RAID card recognized all 20 drives and we were able to set up a RAID 10 array with each half of the mirror placed on a separate 10-bay unit (to prevent failure if one power supply failed)

However, after running it for a couple of days, I have noted several deficiencies.

  • very slow I/O to the array (2 MB/s read or write)
  • very slow rebuild of empty drive sets (>30 hours per drive)
  • general hardware instability
    • one half of the array did lose power and the server locked up requiring a hard reset
    • the server refused to boot with the array plugged into the RAID card
    • plugging the the array after boot sometimes requires the array to be re-initialized

Based on these issues (I/O speed being the most important). I would like to replace the RocketRAID with a higher-end card. I have been considering something along the lines of the 3ware 9850 card. I would like to keep the price around $500 for the card, but can go up to $1000 to guarantee compatibility.

Thus, I have two questions for the community:

  1. Is there a higher-end RAID card that is officially compatible with the Sil3726 port multipliers and the seagate 2TB drives running in a RAID 1+0 configuration?
  2. If there is not a viable RAID card that works with our current hardware, what is an alternative for setting up a high-capacity/low-speed DAS?
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3 Answers 3

Adaptec confirmed that their hardware does not support the SIL3726, so I would not go with that card. I myself is having a similiar issue as the OP, by the looks of it, the highpoint 27xx series seem to be the only "high" end manufacturer that states on their website support for PM. It is such a nice technology that I whish more high end raid controllers will support it.

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For the best - alo in maintenance- go to the Adaptec 5805Z... ;) Or a higher level (the Adaptecs can have a LOT of ports).

Grats on buying crappy hardware. ESata port multiplier.... ;) I did the same, but I use SAS backplanes, so the card CAN go to 200 drives if i need.

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You are right on the sketchy hardware. I certainly didn't appreciate the difference between port multipliers and SAS expanders when I started. Live and learn, I suppose. ;) –  Lucas Aug 26 '10 at 10:43

Have you considered the 3ware 9650SE-24M8? I believe it supports 2 TB drives but am not sure about Sil3726 compatibility. You should read some reviews on it especially since it will run you about $1000.

Also two 12 port cards may be less than one 24 port card and may give you better performace, too.

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I don't think this card is quite right for our needs, because we cannot directly attach each drive to the controller. The 10-bay arrays have internal port multipliers (10 drives, 2 eSATA ports per enclosure), so the RAID card needs to support eSATA and be port multiplier aware. –  Lucas Aug 26 '10 at 2:26

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