I need to assemble a high density storage server for as cheap as possible.
It's been a while for me and the last systems I integrated didn't even have Sata yet...
Finally I choose Norco cases as the way to go.
My eye is set on the RPC-4020, which is a 4U 19" Rackmount case with 20 Hot Swap 3.5" SATA/SAS Hdd trays (Backplanes included) and room for two 2.5" OS drives as well as a Slim Line CD-Rom. The backplanes connect with a single SATA port for each drive, so there are 20 internal SATA ports to to be connected. They also have redundant power ports which I think is quite nice. The cheapest price I have found is 290$ + 40$ shipping. In europe the cheapest unfortunately is 370€ (500$) + 40 € shipping...
A nice alternative would be the RPC-4224 which has SFF-8087 Mini SAS connectors that bundle 4 SATA trays each. But it doesn't seem to be available in Europe (where i am) anywhere.
So here comes my problem:
What Mainboard/Controller to choose to connect them for as cheap as possible while still having nice data rates? I have to say that the server is intended as a Storage server with 1gps connectivity and the data transfer will be distributed very evenly across all drives. I also don't require any raid functionality. This is all done at application level, I just need JBOD.
So for example if I go for the RPC 4020 Model I need to connect 20 Storage + 1 OS + 1 CDROM Sata ports.
I searched a bit and stumbled across this very low priced controller:
They sell it for 115 € here and the specs say it can control up to 122 hard discs and has 4 Mini SAS connectors.
So I would use 4 Mini SAS 36pin - 4 SATA 7pin cables to connect 4 SATA drives to each port and choose a Mainboard taht has 6 SATA on board (for example this one) and hurray, I can connect my 22 SATA devices for as low as about ~ 220 EUR (cpu, ram, psu, case not counted)
Question: WOULD THAT WORK? And if not, why?
2nd Question: If I go for the 4220 or 4224 Model, I have internal Mini SAS connectors. Am I right in assuming that the backplane than acts as a "SAS Expander"? And can I just plug these SAS connectors into any SAS port I can find on my controller / mainboard or are there certain requirements? I know that SATA port multipliers only work with controllers that are ready for that. But isn't this expansion already implemented in the SAS standard?
I am sorry that this is a very broad question, but I really spent the last week reading up and it seems to be not so clear! Especially all the controlling hardware specifications!
3rd Question: A lot of hardware specs feature "internal channels" and "internal connectors". The connecors are the physical numbers of places where I can plug a cable in. I got that. But are the "internal channels" always the maximum numbers of physical drives that can be used in the end? Or can I enhance this further by Expanders/Fanouts?
4th and last question: What do you think about the setup so far? Do you know any good alternatives? Maby I am completely going the wrong way and some DAS would be way better? Are there any comparable chassis available in europe? Please feel free to say whatever you think is relevant to the subject!
For all of you who are intersted in what I finally came up with:
1 x Codegen 4U-500 Case / ~65€
1 x MSI 760GM-P33 Board (6 onboard SataII) / ~40€
3 x DeLOCK 70137 2xSataII / PCIe controller / ~15€ per piece
1 x Evertech ET-3612 2xSATA / PCI controller / ~15€
1 x Athlon II 2x3GHZ / 65w CPU / +50€
1 x Standard ATX PSU / +20€
3 x HDD 3.5 -> 5.25" spacers / ~2€ per piece
1 x 2 GB Ram / ~15€
I read some bad review about the Delock controllers and the delcok website also said they needed patching to support Jbod, so I decided to buy only one for testing. But they all worked like a charm. Also booting from them was no problem at all.
The case itself has room for 10x 3.5" drives, additional 3x5.25 make room for a 4x3.5" hdd cage witha ctive cooling. Makes a total of 14 drives which is perfectly served by the 6+2+2+2+2 ports. System setup fast and easy per USB, no need for an optical drive theese days.
What I did however to save some money was not to use an HDD cage inside the 5.25" bays but to use standard spacers to fit in 3x3.5" drives. They have a lot of space between them and with two nice rear fans dont need extra cooling. The one drive that wont fit is mounted on the carrier with the slot lockers that you can see here (i is "dangling" from top, only fixed on one wide with two screws but thats fine):
The mainboard is only Micro ATX so there would be enough room for two drives on the side but i dont have sata ports for that. I could have used one 4 port controller but the value is not so good then.
My OS drive is an internally mounted USB stick.
I needed some power splitter and sata cables which i had lying around but all in all we are looking at a complete system for about 260 € that makes room for 14 drives.