Rajahal

SATA Controller Cards

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Many unRAID servers use one or more SATA controller cards expand the number of SATA connections a motherboard can support.  Some of these cards have a few special settings or tricks needed to get them working properly.

 

8 Port Cards

 

Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8

 

Requirements: PCIe x4 or faster slot (PCIe x16 works fine on most motherboards)

 

Cables:

  -To connect the card directly to a hard drive or SATA drive cage, you need Forward Breakout Cables (4 ports per cable), such as these.

  -To connect the card directly to a miniSAS backplane such as those used in the Norco 4220 and 4224 cases, you need miniSAS cables (4 ports per cable) such as these.

  -When searching for these cables, search for the phrase '8087' and you'll find plenty of them.  Beware that the Reverse Breakout Cables are only used in Norco cases, they DO NOT work with these SASLP cards.

 

Where to get them: Superbiiz (generally cheaper), Newegg

 

Special Instructions:

First off, always disable the INT13 function on these cards.  During boot, hold ctrl-m at the appropriate time (the screen that lists all the drive's serial numbers), then go to the second BIOS menu and disable INT13.  If you have more than one of these cards, you need to do this for each card (they share the same BIOS menu, so just select the second controller and disable INT13 for that one as well).

 

Newer versions of this card come with a BIOS version ending in .21; this version introduces some RAID functionality to the card that can interfere with the motherboard's ability to boot from unRAID.  If you are having trouble booting into unRAID with one or more of the SASLP cards installed, you have two options:

 

1) Modify the firmware using a built-in utility to disable the RAID functionality. Here's how: Disabling RAID from AOC-SASLP-MV8 firmware .21 (thanks to TheWombat for posting this tutorial!)

 

2) Downgrade the card's firmware to the BIOS version ending in .15.  Here's how (thanks to joshpond for this tutorial):

 

http://thepcspy.com/read/bootable_usb_flash_drive/

1) Download the HP USB Flash Drive format tool

2) Extract

3) Run the exe file to install HP tool

4) Insert USB (will delete data)

5) Open HP USB tool

6) Format, select USB drive, FAT (quick is fine) Create DOS start-up disk, select files

7) Select/browse to the extracted folder and there is a DOS files folder

8) Download the .15 firmware from here.

9) Extract firmware .15 to usb

USB is now ready to boot off (select HDD on motherboard)

Boot off USB, at prompt type:

smc-n.bat

Set mobo to AHCI and it all works fine.

 

 

IBM BR10i

 

Requirements: PCIe x8 or faster slot

 

Cables:

  -To connect the card directly to a hard drive or SATA drive cage, you need Forward Breakout Cables (4 ports per cable), such as these.

  -To connect the card directly to a miniSAS backplane such as those used in the Norco 4220 and 4224 cases, you need miniSAS cables (4 ports per cable) such as these.

  -When searching for these cables, search for the phrase '8087' and you'll find plenty of them.  Beware that the Reverse Breakout Cables are only used in Norco cases, they DO NOT work with these BR10i cards.

 

Where to get them: Server Supply, eBay

 

Special Instructions: Currently limited to 2T drives, requires unRAID 5.0b6a+

 

 

 

4 Port Cards

 

Adaptec 2241000-R PCI Express x4 SATA II (3.0Gb/s) 1430SA SGL

 

Requirements: PCIe x4 or faster slot

 

Cables: Standard SATA (1 port per cable), such as these

 

Where to get them: Newegg

 

Special Instructions: None, should be plug'n'play.

 

 

HighPoint RocketRAID 2310 PCI Express x4 (x8 and x16 slot compatible) SATA II (3.0Gb/s) Controller Card

 

Requirements: PCIe x4 or faster slot

 

Cables: Standard SATA (1 port per cable), such as these

 

Where to get them: Newegg

 

Special Instructions: Need to disable "INT13" and "Reallocate EBDA" by booting to DOS disk and flashing with latest BIOS. Only when Flashing do you get the option to change these settings. Afterwards, it will work fine. You can also simply hit the END key when the cards BIOS screen comes up, but have to do that each time.

 

 

2 Port Cards

 

SATA2 Serial ATA II PCI-Express RAID Controller Card (Silicon Image SIL3132)

 

Requirements: PCIe x1 or faster slot

 

Cables: Standard SATA (1 port per cable), such as these

 

Where to get them: Monoprice

 

Special Instructions: None, should be plug'n'play.

 

 

SATA2 Serial ATA II PCI-Express RAID Controller Card (JMicron JMB362)

 

WARNING: There have been a few cases of certain motherboards not POSTing with these cards installed.  See this thread for details.

 

Requirements: PCIe x1 or faster slot

 

Cables: Standard SATA (1 port per cable), such as these

 

Where to get them: eBay

 

Special Instructions: None, should be plug'n'play.

 

 

 

 

 

This is far from an exhaustive list.  If you would like to add other cards to the list, please list them in a reply to this thread and send me a PM, then I'll add them to this first post.

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Couple cards to add to the list:

 

IBM BR10i - x8 8 port card (limited to 2T drives currently, requires unRAID 5.0b6a+) available on eBay and and HERE

 

Adaptec 1430sa - x4 4 port card HERE

 

Thanks!  Added to the first post.

- Raj

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Can you explain the purpose of these breakout cables? I figured it'd be a one-to-one from the port to a SATA connection.  Like the Norco SS-500, has 6 SATA ports on the back, so I'd imagine doing 6 SATA cables from 6 of the 8 ports on the first card listed, to each on the Norco. 

 

What am I missing? :)

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Some controllers, instead of having SATA ports, have larger "SAS" connectors.  Each of the SAS connectors can drive 4 SATA drives.  In order to hook up 4 SATA drives to 1 SAS port, you need a breakout cable.

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Any cheap and good recommendations for a 4 Sata PCI Card, I noticed the one on Monoprice  http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10407&cs_id=1040702&p_id=2667&seq=1&format=2 was not one of the ones you recommend. Any particular reason? I ask because I want to build a 9 Drive system with the biostar board you recommend with 6 sata onboard. So to get 3 more sata I would need to add at least 2x the 2 sata card you recommend but the board only has one PCIe slot. Help? Thanks

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Can you explain the purpose of these breakout cables? I figured it'd be a one-to-one from the port to a SATA connection.  Like the Norco SS-500, has 6 SATA ports on the back, so I'd imagine doing 6 SATA cables from 6 of the 8 ports on the first card listed, to each on the Norco.  

 

What am I missing? :)

 

Here's a nice explanation of the various types of breakout cables:

 

SAS to SATA cables: Forward or Reverse Which, Where, Why

 

Also, the Norco SS-500 has 5 SATA connections, not 6.  For that cage you would want to use two forward breakout cables (4 ports on the first, 1 port on the second).

 

Any cheap and good recommendations for a 4 Sata PCI Card, I noticed the one on Monoprice  http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10407&cs_id=1040702&p_id=2667&seq=1&format=2 was not one of the ones you recommend. Any particular reason? I ask because I want to build a 9 Drive system with the biostar board you recommend with 6 sata onboard. So to get 3 more sata I would need to add at least 2x the 2 sata card you recommend but the board only has one PCIe slot. Help? Thanks

 

The card you linked should work fine with unRAID, BUT be aware that 4 ports on a single PCI slot will introduce a significant bottleneck to your server.  PCI only has the bandwidth to handle 1 or 2 drives before things start to slow down.  In day to day operation you probably won't notice the bottleneck, but you certainly will during a parity check or rebuild from parity.  For this reason, it is generally advised to avoid PCI cards and use PCIe cards instead.  Using the Biostar A760G M2+ board that I recommend, you could easily get to 10 SATA slots with just two of the 2 port PCIe x1 cards listed above (one in the motherboard's PCIe x1 slot and the other in the x16 slot).  That's a much better option than a single 4 port PCI card.

 

Does the AOC-SASLP-MV8 do staggered spin up?

 

There are options for staggered spin up in the card's BIOS, but I have never enabled them nor used them.  In general staggered spin up is of no use in an unRAID server as your power supply needs to be able to handle every drive spinning up at once.  That will occur every time you shut down the server, run a parity check, or emulate a failed disk.

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If you can use two of the pcie cards on the biostar board why do you not rccomen that in your budget build? You reccomend two different 2xsata addons? Thanks

 

SATA Expansion Cards:

2 port SATA2 Serial ATA II PCI-Express RAID Controller Card (Silicon Image SIL3132)

2 Port SATA Serial ATA PCI RAID Controller Card - Silicon Image (only use 1 port on this card)

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...  In day to day operation you probably won't notice the bottleneck, but you certainly will during a parity check or rebuild from parity.  For this reason, it is generally advised to avoid PCI cards and use PCIe cards instead.  ...

 

I wanted to clarify this.  The bottleneck on the PCI bus will only occur with multiple simultaneous accesses to disks on the PCI bus.  So it is less about "noticing" and more about "not happening" during normal use. ;)

 

You are 100% correct about it slowing down parity checks.

 

I actually think it is a bit of snobbery that we exclude PCI cards.  I used to run with 5 or 6 of them, and survived the lengthy parity checks (of course drives were smaller then).  If a user knows this going in, and is willing to sacrifice parity check speed for extra sloits, PCI is a viable option IMO. 

 

There is an 8 port PCIX card (that is compatible with PCI) called the SuperMicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 that would provide all of the PCI ports you could stomach.  Of course if you have a server motherboard with PCIX slots, this is a very fast card and you will not experience these bottlenecks.

 

But I'd say 5 is about the limit before things start to seriously degrade.  If I recall, it was the 6th that really broke the camels back for me.  If you put the cache disk on the PCI bus, it doesn't impact parity speed, so that would be an extra disk on the PCI bus without a parity check penalty.

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HighPoint RocketRAID 2310 PCI Express x4 (x8 and x16 slot compatible) SATA II (3.0Gb/s) Controller Card, 4 SATA Ports

 

Requirements: PCIe x4 or faster slot

 

Cables: Standard SATA (1 port per cable)

 

Where to get them: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816115027&cm_re=rocketraid-_-16-115-027-_-Product

 

Special Instructions: Need to disable "INT13" and "Reallocate EBDA" by booting to DOS disk and flashing with latest BIOS. Only when Flashing do you get the option to change these settings. Afterwards, work fine. You can also simply hit the END key when the cards BIOS screen comes up, but have to do that each time.

 

Thanks!  Added to the first post.

- Raj

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If you can use two of the pcie cards on the biostar board why do you not rccomen that in your budget build? You reccomend two different 2xsata addons? Thanks

 

SATA Expansion Cards:

    2 port SATA2 Serial ATA II PCI-Express RAID Controller Card (Silicon Image SIL3132)

    2 Port SATA Serial ATA PCI RAID Controller Card - Silicon Image (only use 1 port on this card)

 

You are quite correct.  At the time I created those builds, the PCI card was significantly cheaper than the PCIe card, so I recommended it to save money.  With only one drive on the PCI bus, there won't be any bottleneck issues.  Still, the PCIe card is a better investment.  I'll update my builds, thanks for pointing this out.

 

 

...clarification on PCI bus limitations...

 

While of course you are right about all of this, I'll bring up two counterpoints:

1) 5 drives on a single PCI bus seems a bit much to me.  I don't have the exact numbers to back this up, but I know that when I used the Promise TX4 in the past, I saw a noticeable parity check speed increase when I went from 4 drives on the card down to 2.  For this reason, I will no longer put more than 2 drives on the PCI bus.  Maybe I had a slow PCI bus...I don't remember the bandwidth.

 

2) Parity check speed isn't terribly important as most of us let it run overnight and it doesn't impact server performance much anyway.  However, rebuild-from-parity speed after a disk failure is far more critical.  The longer that rebuild takes, the longer your server runs without parity protection.  It seems well worth it to me to invest a few more dollars in PCIe cards and avoid using the PCI bus with rebuild-from-parity speeds in mind.

 

3) If you use unRAID just for the drive concatenation benefits and don't use a parity disk, then running many drives on the PCI bus is perfectly fine.  I don't think many people do this, but it is still worth mentioning.

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If you can use two of the pcie cards on the biostar board why do you not rccomen that in your budget build? You reccomend two different 2xsata addons? Thanks

 

SATA Expansion Cards:

    2 port SATA2 Serial ATA II PCI-Express RAID Controller Card (Silicon Image SIL3132)

    2 Port SATA Serial ATA PCI RAID Controller Card - Silicon Image (only use 1 port on this card)

 

You are quite correct.  At the time I created those builds, the PCI card was significantly cheaper than the PCIe card, so I recommended it to save money.  With only one drive on the PCI bus, there won't be any bottleneck issues.  Still, the PCIe card is a better investment.  I'll update my builds, thanks for pointing this out.

 

 

...clarification on PCI bus limitations...

 

While of course you are right about all of this, I'll bring up two counterpoints:

1) 5 drives on a single PCI bus seems a bit much to me.  I don't have the exact numbers to back this up, but I know that when I used the Promise TX4 in the past, I saw a noticeable parity check speed increase when I went from 4 drives on the card down to 2.  For this reason, I will no longer put more than 2 drives on the PCI bus.  Maybe I had a slow PCI bus...I don't remember the bandwidth.

 

2) Parity check speed isn't terribly important as most of us let it run overnight and it doesn't impact server performance much anyway.  However, rebuild-from-parity speed after a disk failure is far more critical.  The longer that rebuild takes, the longer your server runs without parity protection.  It seems well worth it to me to invest a few more dollars in PCIe cards and avoid using the PCI bus with rebuild-from-parity speeds in mind.

 

3) If you use unRAID just for the drive concatenation benefits and don't use a parity disk, then running many drives on the PCI bus is perfectly fine.  I don't think many people do this, but it is still worth mentioning.

 

I think that if a user has a PCI-e option to expand their array, they should use it.  But if PCI-e is all used up, and the option is expand using PCI or buy a new motherboard / CPU / memory / controller, then putting some drives on the PCI bus would not be such a terrible choice.  As I said, 5 drives is about the max I could handle then, might be less now.  Your limit might be one.  It depends - how much do you need the space vs how important is a fast parity check / restore?

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http://cgi.ebay.com/PCI-Express-SATA-II-4-Ports-Controller-Card-PEX40008-/230610037095?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b16de967

 

Rajahal your thoughts? I would be willing to toft if you believe this is a viable option. Bottleneck with 4 sata over pcie? Thanks

 

Looks to be the same as this card on Newegg.  Should work...but I don't believe it has been tested yet (so I won't add it to the first post until it has).  You should search the forums for the chipset (Sil3124) to see if others have had any success with it.  Also, I believe that running 4 drives on a single PCIe x1 slot will impose a small bottleneck, but not a very significant one (definitely far better than running 4 drives on a PCI bus).

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Yea looks like im going with the 2x 2 sata pcie from monoprice, no bottleneck plus its cheaper. But hey I wonder how can the Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 work off a pcie slot and not have a bottleneck with 8 sata going into it? Thanks

 

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Yea looks like im going with the 2x 2 sata pcie from monoprice, no bottleneck plus its cheaper. But hey I wonder how can the Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 work off a pcie slot and not have a bottleneck with 8 sata going into it? Thanks

 

The SASLP card uses a PCIe x4 slot, not a PCIe x1 slot.  The card therefore has four times the bandwidth to use, and can run 4 times the number of drives (8 instead of 2) without bottlenecks.

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Ordered the eBay SATA II for now.  Takes a few weeks, but for half the price of Monoprice shipped, how could you go wrong? :D

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Okay - we have several great / cheap sources for PCIe x1 2 port controller cards.

 

Does anyone have a source for cheap 2 (or 4) port PCI cards that are compatible with unRAID.  I need 2 more ports.

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Okay - we have several great / cheap sources for PCIe x1 2 port controller cards.

 

Does anyone have a source for cheap 2 (or 4) port PCI cards that are compatible with unRAID.  I need 2 more ports.

 

For PCI it's hard to get much cheaper than monoprice.  I know that 4 port card works. 

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4 Port Cards

 

Adaptec 2241000-R PCI Express x4 SATA II (3.0Gb/s) 1430SA SGL

 

Requirements: PCIe x4 or faster slot

 

Cables: Standard SATA (1 port per cable), such as these

 

Where to get them: Newegg

 

Special Instructions: None, should be plug'n'play.

 

Just ordered one of these on buy.com

 

A little cheaper than newegg and free shipping.

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