My office has been using a FreeNAS server that was built with desktop hardware. We use it for storing RAW photos (~50mb each). We have 3 workstations that access (browse, retouch, save) the files though the local network. We are interested in upgrading the system with a new motherboard for a few reasons, but there are also a couple of issues we foresee in switching to a newer board. Currently the server has an ASUS P5B Deluxe motherboard with 4GB of DDR2-800 memory.
Problems with the existing motherboard:
- they're getting harder to find. We already had to replace the board once about a year and 1/2 ago when the original board blew some capacitors.
- memory speed / capacity is limited at DDR2-800 / 8GB (4x2GB) and we understand XFS will require more.
- no onboard video, meaning we have to have a PCIe video card which is not needed for a system that sits in a closet with only power & network cables attached.
- SATA2 controllers (no SATA3...)
Our server chassis has (12) SATA 3.5" bays (not port multiplier backs). The first 6 bays are connected to the motherboards onboard SATA2 ports, and the rest are connected to (2) PCI SATA2 controller cards with (4) ports each. This gives us a total of (15) SATA2 ports - obviously more than the server needs.
We would like to upgrade the system to SATA3, with more memory, and run XFS file system. We would also like to use a smaller form factor board (e.g. Mini ITX) if possible, that has onboard video, can take up to 16GB of DDR3 memory, and can support at least (12) SATA3 ports without use of port multiplier boards.
Here's the dilemma: I have been looking up motherboards that meet the above, however they seem to have only (4) to (6) SATA6 ports at most. The smaller boards also tend to lack expansion ports - usually only having (1) PCIe 16x slot.
So, two questions:
- if we move to a Mini ITX board that has (4) onboard SATA3 ports, what would be the best way to get the other (8) bays connected to the board.
- considering that we are using 7200rpm "Green" SATA3 drives, is it even necessary for each drive to have an independent SATA3 channel or would port multipliers still allow enough bandwidth for the drives without bottle-necking.
If the answer to question #2 is "You don't need SATA3"...I was thinking of using something along these lines:
- A board like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157228
- With three of these port multipliers http://www.ioisata.com/products/Port-Multiplier/satapmh141-si.htm - each one connecting (4) drives. This would leave one onboard SATA3 connector unused, which is fine.
Thanks for your time and thoughts.