I'm a photographer by trade and I've yet to find a method I'm happy with for archiving my work. Currently I'm looking at building a NAS server using OpenSolaris, so I can use ZFS. That way I can take regular snapshots and ship them to an offsite backup server.

A couple questions regarding such a setup. Let's say I get a "NORCO RPC-4020 4U Rackmount Server Case" (Newegg Item#:N82E16811219021) and three LSI LSI00151 PCI Express SATA / SAS Eight-Port Host Bus Adapter, is the performance going to be noticeably better or worst than if I get this "SUPERMICRO CSE-846TQ-R900B Black 4U Rackmount Server Case w/ 900W Redundant Power Supply" (Newegg Item#:N82E16811152124) and only one of the LSI adapters. I will probably start out with 8 2TB SATA hard drives and add them 8 at a time.

The Supermicro looks like it has a much better build, and it has redundant power supplies, but it has a SC846 SAS Backplane w/AMI MG9072 Chip which I'm not sure if it will help or hurt performance compared to connecting each drive separately.

The costs seem to equal out either way I go. Currently my online storage is about 6TB and constantly growing. Right now, they're all connected to my computer directly so it's still pretty fast to search, so going to a NAS device, I'm trying to not lose much performance.

I'm also up for any suggestions relating to this.

(It appears I'm only allowed to make one link, but I included Newegg Part numbers so it's easy to see what equipment I'm looking at.)


I built a similar configuration for my photography work. I went with a cheaper solution, but am also using OpenSolaris and ZFS.

In summary, even with modest disks (just a mirrored zpool of low-power drives) it's pretty much as fast as having local disks in a workstation. The bigger factor was getting quality Gigabit adapters and a good switch (The initial Netgear switch I used was a piece of garbage).

Remember that even with GigE, your max theoretical throughput is 128 MB/s over the wire, but realistically you'll likely get about 80% of that after you factor in a variety of overheads. Even on my cheap disks in a simple mirror I can get 75 MB/s sustained throughput. In a RAID-Z2 configuration with 8 disks you should be able to saturate the GigE link without any problem.

  • As most motherboards come with two gigabit ethernet ports, I was thinking of bonding them. I have a gigbit Dlink web managed switch. I would be interested in a few more details about your setup, and if you use any DAM software. – excederin Nov 26 '09 at 20:54
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    You also need a switch that supports bonding. These tend to be very expensive for a SOHO setup. – MDMarra Nov 26 '09 at 21:24
  • I've not tried it but there's an option for it on the switch I have. – excederin Nov 26 '09 at 21:34
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    @MarkM: You don't need switch support for bonding in general. You only need it for certain sorts of bonding (like LACP). – womble Nov 26 '09 at 23:16
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    A lot of simpler bonding schemes work on the basis of hashing source MAC addresses. In the case of communication between two machines, you'll have no benefit. heavypix: I'd be glad to tell you more about my setup, but this is probably not the forum to discuss the photo related bits. There is contact info on my website. In short, I use Lightroom with a local catalog backed up to the file server every run, and all the image files are stored there. – Kamil Kisiel Nov 27 '09 at 0:00

You seem to be linking to computer cases. What motherboard CPU and RAM are you planning to install?

  • If either of those turn out to be bottlenecks, the OP is doing something spectacularly wrong. – womble Nov 26 '09 at 20:26
  • Probably a Core 2 Quad CPU and 4GB of ECC RAM. I've not looked too closely at what's available there, as my main concern has been throughput. I don't plan to do RAIDZ, but mirror drives. – excederin Nov 26 '09 at 20:51

For your use case, it doesn't seem like it would make much difference. As I understand it, you're mostly looking for available capacity, not IO rate, so the backplane shouldn't get in the way.

  • well, I'm not sure what numbers I'm looking at getting but I would like the throughput to be fast, within reason. Capacity and redundancy are the most important, but it's not uncommon to have to thumbnail remote images. – excederin Nov 26 '09 at 20:49
  • For a small number of connections (I'm assuming you're not firing off several thousand thumbnailing processes in parallel), your bottlenecks will be the IO speed of the individual disks. – womble Nov 26 '09 at 21:17
  • The throughput shouldn't be an issue in this application. Will you be editing files in-place at all? Single or dual-bonded gigabit ethernet would work very well here. – ewwhite Nov 26 '09 at 21:41
  • I think I'd just thumbnail and select photos remotely, but the editing would be done on local drives. There won't be more than 3 or 4 thumbnailing processes simultaneously ever. – excederin Nov 26 '09 at 23:04

If you have additional money you may get LSI card with raid capabilities. You shouldn't use hardware raid because raidz on the modern systems is pretty the same but the card cache and sometimes ADRA makes a sense of using it. LSI 8708/8888 works pretty well under Solaris, 9260 is much better (but more expensive)

If you are planning to use SCSI transport in the future, as already someone wrote here, with a fast hard drives network will be a bottleneck - 2xGbE in bonding could give ~200Mbytes/sec transport while i.e. we have in production raidz with 8xSAS drives which can give ~450Mb/sec for write and 700-750 for read. To avoid the slow network you may buy a FC card, they are cheap - at this moment 4Gbit card cost about $600, just make sure it works as a FC-target with Solaris (i.e. Qlogic 23xx doesn't while 24xx and upper does).

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