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I currently have a system with 25 hard drives - 24 for data and one for OS.

This machine is built on a budget, featuring a cheap Gigabyte motherboard (GA-990FXA-D3), a four port LSI SAS controller, a two port LSI SAS controller, a dual port gigabit Intel network card and an nVidia 520 graphics card.

The current problem that I face is that if I have more than eight of the SAS connected hard drives connected at once, the motherboard will freeze after POST, and will not proceed to the OS (I have tried leaving this overnight).

This issue is controller independent, with the problem manifesting with hard drives connected to either controller.

The current case uses SAS backplanes with SFF-8087 connectors for hard drives, so connection of the 24 data drives to the onboard ports is not possible (not that there are enough onboard ports anyway).

In the past, I have worked around this problem by creating circuitry to turn on 16 of the hard drives after the OS has started booting. Unfortunately, this creates problems for airflow and load distribution, most prevalent during RAID resyncs, where drives may drop off due to insufficient power.

My question then, is does anybody know of a consumer level motherboard that will play nicely with 24 hard drives connected via SAS controllers? I'd like to know before I start spending money.

I don't care if it is Intel or AMD based, but it needs to support the following:

  • Support for 32GB of DDR3 RAM.
  • x16 PCI-E slot for graphics card.
  • x16 PCI-E slot for 4 port SAS controller.
  • x8 PCI-E slot for 2 port sas controller.
  • x4 PCI-E slot for network card.
  • Maximum ATX form-factor.

Alternatively, has anybody had any luck getting AsRock motherboards to play nicely in similar situations?

For clarification: The system has a 650W Corsair supply, and I've tried swapping in a 1kW Corsair PSU, which has made no difference. The only direct power related issues appear to have been caused by my switching circuitry (workaround), which I have since removed.

Additionally, I believe a commercial NAS is unsuitable for this system, as storage is not its only purpose. The large amount of RAM makes it useful for large data processing tasks.

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closed as off-topic by HopelessN00b, kce, MadHatter, Iain, Zoredache Mar 11 '14 at 8:07

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." – HopelessN00b, kce, MadHatter, Iain, Zoredache
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Just buy a proper NAS server, FFS. –  HopelessN00b Mar 11 '14 at 3:27
By the way, my best guess from your description of issues and mitigations that you've tried is that your current issue is power supply. You're pulling ~25 x 15W (375W) on boot just_for_drives. You might find that a much better power supply solves your problem, saving you a motherboard purchase. –  Slartibartfast Mar 11 '14 at 3:53
I've clarified my requirements, as well as steps taken to investigate potential power issues. Thanks for your input. –  nibbler Mar 12 '14 at 5:17
I've now resolved this issue thanks to some friends with the same socket motherboard. After some experimentation, I've found that a cheap AsRock motherboard was a suitable replacement within my price range. Unfortunately, I've had to sacrifice the dual port network card due to lack of slots. I did note, however, that the new motherboard featured EFI, whereas the old one did not. Perhaps this is a contributing factor? –  nibbler Mar 23 '14 at 23:00

1 Answer 1

I'd love to know why some people downvoted this question, and what people think a "proper NAS server" is - ie why it should not be a PC. I think its a valid question.

In researching my belief that this is what some of the "the big boys do", I discovered that the Backblaze Storage Pod is essentially a 4u server with heaps of cheap drives, and probably the answer to your question - as they have opensourced the hardware details.

They use SuperMicro MBD-X8SIL-F-B motherboards with 45 3 TB drives in a custom 3U case. Have a look here for more details. Similarly their third generation POD uses a MBD-X9SCL-F - both these boards are substantially less then US$200.

Its probably worth closely investigating exactly what they do and how they do it to iron out the gotchas - but certainly they have a enough knowledge and stats to have a pretty good idea of what works cheaply and reliably.

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I've had SuperMicro hardware (SAS controllers) in the past, and with the exception of fragile connectors, they seem to be fairly reliable. I'll have a look at this later. Thanks. –  nibbler Mar 12 '14 at 5:21
I haven't voted on the question either way, but I'm guessing it was downvoted because it reads an awful lot like a shopping/product recommendation question and those are explicitly off-topic. –  RobM Mar 12 '14 at 8:18
There are tons of people in the industry who hate cheap charlies. I always use 3 year old server hardware from EBay for big data processing and i get the look whenever i tell people about it. –  Lothar Mar 14 '14 at 17:30
Unfortunately, I've found that a suitable Supermicro motherboard is prohibitively expensive when taking shipping to Australia in to account. –  nibbler Mar 23 '14 at 22:58

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