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Unread 07-03-2009, 01:02 PM   #1
Joe
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Join Date: Dec 1999
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Default Bit of a Storage upgrade (Maybe even a review?)

So in the last few months I have been running out of storage in my main media/VM server here at home. So I started planning to find out what I could to do expand and limit costs where possible (and where reasonable).

The server is based on:
Antec P182 case
Antec NeoHE 500 watt PSU (I think)
Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Mobo
Intel Q9300 @ 3Ghz
16GB of OCZ DDR2 800 Ram
Cheap PCI vid card (as to not eat up a valuable PCIe slot)
Running Windows 2008 x64 (soon to be R2)

My server before had this disk layout: (all SATA Ports used in the machine)

Onboard SATAII (Intel): (single Disks)
320GB OS
320GB Data
VM Disk 1 (250GB)
VM Disk 2 (250GB)
Nightly Backup Disk (500GB)
DVDWriter

Gigabyte Onboard SATAII (single Disks):
VM Disk 3 (250GB)
VM Disk 4 (250GB)

Adaptec 4 Chan SATA II RAID card:
2TB (2x 1TB) App/File share RAID 0
2TB (2x 1TB) Media share RAID 0 (which had ~ 100GB free)


So after looking at what I had in the server I came up with these goals:
  • Expand the media share to 4TB and keep it blistering fast.
  • Implement some fault tolerance on the OS and critical data on the server
  • Keep the OS and data volumes fast as possible
  • Enable the use of some external eSATA connections
So after looking around at my options and seeing how I had NO available disk slots in the chassis I had to become inventive to not replace the case. (which I like a lot).

So first thing was I decided to ditch the DVD rom, I can use a USB one if I need, but for the most part there isn't much use for an optical drive on a server ones its loaded. Then I noticed the P182 had an unused 3.5" bay (for a floppy) that I can use also.

Now the fact I am using up all of my current SATA ports, and I need to increase storage space and implement some fault tolerance meant there was some big purchases coming up.

So what I did was, I mapped out how many disks it would take to do what I want, and then counted the onboard and RAID controller ports needed to get where I needed to go. What I came up with was a number nearing 20. 20 ports and almost as many disks.... in a case that natively can hold 10 drives total.

I already have an Icy Dock 5x 3.5Disk cage that takes up 3x 5.25 bays. but I needed more.


So Here is what I bought:
  • Startech 4x 2.5" SAS/SATA tray that replaces my DVD Rom
  • Athena Tech 2x 2.5" SATA tray that goes in the 3.5" Floppy position
  • Areca ARC-1230 12port SATA II RAID controller (8x PCIe) w/ Battery backup and 1GB of cache
  • 2x Seagate 7200.12 1TB disks
  • 6x Seagate 7200.4 Momentus 2.5" 250GB disks
It was an expensive order... but worked out. The new disk layout would be:

Onboard SATAII (Intel): (Configured as AHCI)
VM Disk 1 (250GB)
VM Disk 2 (250GB)
VM Disk 3 (250GB)
VM Disk 4 (250GB)
Nightly Backup Disk (500GB)
eSATA Header Port 1

Gigabyte Onboard SATAII (single Disks):
(Disabled)

Areca ARC-1230 12Port RAID card:
750GB OS / Critical Data RAID 10 array (6x 250GB Disk in a RAID 1+0 Config)
2TB (2x 1TB) App/File share RAID 0 (using the new 7200.12 disks)
4TB (4x 1TB) Media share RAID 0 (using the 4 older known good 7200.11 disks)

The Areca card is fully loaded handling the 1 big RAID 10 array and the two RAID 0 arrays. I am not worried about the data on the RAID 0's since there are monthly backups and if I lose some media I downloaded in the last couple weeks I can always go get it again. The important data that is key for my wife's schooling and my work are on the RAID 10.

Another thing that was also implemented was EFS and certificates to encrypt data on the Data partition.

Attached are pics of the setup. Any time you have 17 disks in one server there is a lot of wire. The wire is pretty clean considering the length of the runs that were sent with the Areca card. and there is extra slack on some of them so I can remove the drive cages without needing to disconnect everything. Also notice... the stocker Intel HSF (that was originally for my E6600 and I put it on my Q9300 since it was bigger than the stocker originally sent with the Q9300)

I may write up a review of the Areca card... its my first non work experience with a pretty high end piece of hardware like that (I work with top shelf SAS RAID controllers and SAN/NAS devices daily as part of my job... but its different when its your home system). Part of the reivew may be about how to successfully migrate a WIndows vista/7/2008 load from an onboard drive to a RAID card without reloading the OS. Its pretty slick and I had to test quite a few things before doing it... but I have a process down pat for that move now. I didnt lose anything moving from having the OS and boot drive being on an Intel onboard AHCI SATA port and disk, to being on a partition riding on a 750GB RAID 10 array on a PCIe card.

Something I know may be odd... but the 2.5" disks. Yes they are slightly lower performance than a run of the mill 3.5" 7200 RPM drive. But in this configuration they are brutally fast. ITs hard to benchmark the drives on this card due to the massive cache, everything comes back at 600 - 800 MB/Sec, but I think for raw transfer this config is multiple times faster than it was before on one disk.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg P7030003.jpg (183.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg P7030004.jpg (137.9 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg P7030005.jpg (139.8 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg P7030009.jpg (134.4 KB, 2 views)
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Last edited by Joe; 07-03-2009 at 01:18 PM.
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Unread 07-03-2009, 01:08 PM   #2
Joe
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Join Date: Dec 1999
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Default Re: Bit of a Storage upgrade (Maybe even a review?)

3 things to note:

1 of the seagate 7200.12 disks failed 2 days after installing it... already have the replacement in hand from Seagte... but that was unfortunate.

The Areca card uses some fancy electronics to do the Global activity LED... if your case LED isnt of the right electronic spec, it wont detect it right and just light up solid or not at all. I had to replace one of the Blue LED's in the case with a green one from another case to get it to work right. Areca said the card isnt meant for consumer cases and is meant more for full out server cases which I guess dont use blue LEDs. They claim there is a known issue with those and this card. I even tried putting some 1K Ohm resistors in line with the LED to see if that helped.

Other than that the Areca card is bad ass. Ohh yeh and it dropped in price by $100, the DAY after I had it delivered. Grrr!!!

And the Antec case... had something fall on the front of it... which is why in the pic you can see that the top ledge of the case plastic is cracked in half and the bottom peice is busted... I am talking to Antec to try and buy a new front part of the case.
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Last edited by Joe; 07-03-2009 at 01:30 PM.
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