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Has anyone had any success at all with any PCIx SSD cards around the 200GB+ mark under FreeNAS 8 or OpenIndiana? Specifically either of these platforms because of ZFS support for which we'd be using it as a L2ARC cache.

I can confirm with FreeNAS that the OCZ RevoDrive 3 seems to be a no go, but there may be other cards that do work.

I should point out that I'm not interested in brand recommendations. I just want to know what chipsets are supported under either or both of those platforms. And ideally if you've tried it.

The reason for this is that I'm needing a cache, and I don't have any spare places to mount SSD drives. However, I can slot in a card and I thought the extra performance would be ideal for a L2ARC. Google search for me hasn't turned up anything positive and the major manufacturers have not specifically provided such support.

Another option for which I haven't found a product for (or I am not searching on the right thing)... is there perhaps something that allows me to use the free space where PCIe cards would go to securely mount an SSD drive or two instead? This is a 1U server and all 4 front slots are filled with drives already.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Well, I'm curious what your zpool setup looks like. As nice as L2ARC cache is, it does not seem like you have a robust pool design since you only have four disks. Another key is to determine if your workload could even benefit from L2ARC. How much RAM do you have in the system?

The path of least resistance is to use an approved/tested SSD for L2ARC. I recommend the STEC, Pliant and Seagate Pulsar line. The next option would be to max your RAM. Depending on the class of server, this would be a good solution as well. In the end, this is really a case for using the appropriate hardware and building around your requirements. However, if you must have cache in PCIe form, FusionIO is still an option. Also see a similar set of suggestions from the NexentaStor forum.

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Yes I'm aware of there only being drive bays. It's a setup that is optimised for reads as data is mostly static. If we loose the whole array it's less of an issue. I'll have about 64-128GB ram or more assigned for L1ARC cache. Thanks for the hints and links. – Matt Apr 3 '12 at 7:31
Maxing the RAM is a good option, but it is still significantly more expensive than many PCIe SSD's with more capacity when you go for the 16GB sticks. – Matt Apr 3 '12 at 7:42

I did find one option. It's something called a velocity solo which may do the trick.

Not as fast as the PCIe option though so I'd love to see a list of supported cards.

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Although it's a marvel based chipset so it's still unclear whether it's supported. When searching for this I was really looking for something that I could use to mount a drive and plug it into the onboard sata interface. – Matt Apr 3 '12 at 0:51

I really dont see the point of adding PCIe SSD. If you like to have a low latency device for SLOG and you need to have it on PCIe then I believe the only option is DDR-Drive. Adding more RAM will only do it if you set your pool to sync=disabled which is something that I really don't recommend.

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