[svlug] Multi drive PCI SATA card or 6 port SATA motherboard

Marc MERLIN marc_news at merlins.org
Mon Mar 13 15:11:20 PST 2006

Thanks for all the replies.
In the meantime, I found more info

On Sun, Mar 12, 2006 at 09:38:27PM -0800, Scott Hess wrote:
> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16816116023
Seems to use some 2 for one connectors with special cables (4 connectors, 8
drives), and costs 12 times what 2 $20 4 port cards cost, it's also unclear
if it works with PCI or requires PCI-X

Right now, it looks like this is what I need:
along with a port multiplier, that was the magic:

The combo _apparently_ works with linux 

Ultimately, unless I replace the mobo (ATX) with something new which will
most likely require:
- New CPU
- New RAM
- New Video Card
- New power supply?
- Maybe new case? (even though I have a case with 6 5 1/4 slots, which allows
  for 10 SATA drives), plus 3 more in 3 1/2 slots
  New motherboards are incompatible with old ATX cases and power supplies,
  aren't they?

I think I'm stuck with one PCI bus, so anything beyond one PCI card seems
pointless bandwidth-wise (some Mobos have 2 or more PCI busses, so if you
put your cards in the right slots, you get more bandwidth, but I doubt my
workstation ASUS K7V KX133 Slot-A ATX board does that, actually it's pretty
clear it doesn't: http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.html?i=1214 )

So, one PCI card, with one or two port multiplier won't give me a lot of I/O
bandwidth, which I won't be able to get without replacing the entire system
anyway, but it'll get the drives plugged in, which seem good enough for me.

> I might be misunderstanding something.  I went to newegg, chose
> "Computer Hardware/Hard Drives", then "Controllers", which got me to
> http://www.newegg.com/ProductSort/SubCategory.asp?SubCategory=410
Thanks for that link, that's a useful way to search for cards
> $715 version of Adaptec card, with 16 cables :-).

Yeah, basically all those solution cost more for 12 ports than the PC itself
(I wouldn't mind as much if I could make use of the performance or raid, but
I won't be able to use eihter)

On Mon, Mar 13, 2006 at 09:14:42AM +0100, Ivan Sergio Borgonovo wrote:
> On Sun, 12 Mar 2006 21:38:27 -0800
> "Scott Hess" <scott at doubleu.com> wrote:
> > 8-port Adaptec card, again looks like it includes cables, again just
> > south of $500.
> Cables may make the difference... but the mobo I just bought (asus a8n-sli
> premium) has 8 sata II ports on board and it wasn't terribly expensive
> (less than 200$). It came with at least 4 cables; I remember more, but I
> can't check at this moment, I think at least 6 but maybe all 8 sata cables
> (data + power) + ports for connecting external drives.
> It shouldn't be hard to find a mobo with on board video.
If I can get a server mobo that is compatible with an old ATX case, and PS,
> The only drawback is most of these cards have 2 ctl (CPU chipset +
> additional sil ctl) to reach 8 ports. That means loading 2 modules.
I don't care about that.
> Performances doesn't seem particulary different between on board ctl and
> more expensive external "true" raid ctl, expecially if he is going for
> soft raid anyway.

Actually an new mobo will give me wire speed to each drive if all goes well.
My current solution will cap me at 150MB/s due to the single PCI bus

I'm struggling on which one I want to do, maybe I'll upgrade the mobo later, 
I just know that once I got that route it could take days to get compatible
parts together and I may have to replace a lot more stuff than I'd care to.

On Mon, Mar 13, 2006 at 09:49:45AM -0800, Ramona Howard wrote:
> If cost is not the consideration and your looking for a solid performing SATA 
> solution then go with the 3ware boards and look at the Supermicro line of 
> server boards.  Most of these server boards have the needed on-board video 
> and provide the separate buses for the controller/s.
I'll look at the supermicro boards, thanks.
> Check out our certified SATA solution that has been in the market for over a 
> year. (This is designed for high thruput and isn't the average server)
> http://www.spectsoft.com/wiki/RaveManual/Products/RaveHD/Xenon

I'd rather build my own, I can build a ten drive 4.5TB system for a bit less
than $4000 :)

> 3 ware by far offers the best Linux support and the new boards are kick ass 
> fast.

But I'd be paying for a complex raid card that I'd only ever use in Jbod
mode, kind of a waste.

> Hope this information helps you guys out a bit........

Yes, it did, thanks.

On Mon, Mar 13, 2006 at 10:42:01AM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> The 9550SX series (available in 4, 8, 12, and 16 port capacities)
> appears to be PCI-X, according to 3Ware's datasheet.  They do indeed have
> 12-port PCI cards, though:  Those are models 9550SX-12 and 9550SX-12MI.

On Mon, Mar 13, 2006 at 11:19:57AM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> Whoops!  Above (underlined) was a bad copy and paste.  I meant to type
> "9500S-12 and 9500S-12MI".  I might also mention the 8506-12 12-port,
> though that is from the older SATA-I series.

That's always good to know as a simple just plug it in solution
it seems to be 
or that:

"100 MB/sec RAID 5 sequential writes" is sad though, it's barely 2 drives'
worth of bandwidth. At $700 for the card, I don't seem the point when I'm
sure I can beat that with software raid.

On Mon, Mar 13, 2006 at 10:51:49AM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> Marc expressed a quite rational preference for the Linux-native "md"
> software-RAID driver, which has generally proven faster and more
> reliable than manfacturer-specific fakeraid schemes (such as Nvidia's
> NVRAID and Silicon Image's Medley), and usually competitive in most
> respects with genuine hardware RAID, too.

and by competitive, it's often even faster ;)

On Mon, Mar 13, 2006 at 09:58:12AM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> SATA is moving rapidly:  As you've probably found out, practically
> all of the 6+ port cards are current generation and thus PCI-X or
> PCI-Express.  
Which they should be to offer the required disk I/O. You can't do that with
> At bare minimum, I get the impression that Garzik's sata_sil driver is
> pretty solid, by this late date.  There are a _lot_ of people using SiI
> (and ICH5/ICH6) hardware with Linux, so you get the safety in numbers
> factor going for you.  On the other hand, Ramona's advice of sticking to
> 3Ware has much to recommend it:  Among other things, it's one of your
> few options for hot swap on ATA -- with the right hardware.

I don't really care about hotswap or hwraid, it's for my own system.

It looks like for now one $20 Sil 3124 with a couple of 5 port multipliers
will give me 12 ports for about $220, with the flexibility of moving the 
port multipliers to other systems as I need to move the drives around, and
while sticking to a simple PCI card (anything else would be a waste of
money since it won't be able to use the non existent MB I/O)
It's just slightly unclear how well the port multiplier works with linux,
but apparently, it's supposed to.

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