LSI SAS9201-16e DAS/NAS question

Discussion in 'RAID Controllers and Host Bus Adapters' started by cthetoy, Jan 28, 2019.

  1. cthetoy

    cthetoy New Member

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    I've been reading several builds and a little confused. I'm trying to build a 16 drive DAS. Reading a DIY one poster built DAS with an LSI SAS9201-16e. Sounds easy but he installed the LSI SAS9201-16e on his PC that is running Windows. FreeNas and Unraid can not be ran under Windows. Id rather not use the RAID that is built into Windows 10 unless there are better Windows software RAID options. So my questions are:

    Use LSI SAS9201-16e for my Windows 10 PC and connect 16 drives and use Windows raid. Cheapest and easiest. Not sure if Windows 10 built in RAID is good or not which is why I'm not leaning this way.

    Use LSI SAS9201-16e, Build with FreeNas or Unraid. Now its a NAS. How do I make it to a DAS as well? Do I purchase another LSI SAS9201-16e place it to my Windows 10 PC and connect the two cards together? Do I connect via the SFF-8088 between two cards? IF I do that then I will have one less SFF-8088 meaning I will have only 12 drives with the remaining 3 SFF-8088.

    Goal is to run a 16 (2tb) drives RAID setup. Wanted to be DAS since I will be editing videos/photos and need the speed that will be quicker than NAS. 10Gbe cards costs too much.
     
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  2. EffrafaxOfWug

    EffrafaxOfWug Radioactive Member

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    You can't have a DAS and a NAS co-existing, they're tqo distinctly different things from the POV of your client machine. DAS means directly attached to your (windows) computer and talked to via a protocol like SAS; if you build a box to turn into a NAS, the only way you could connect it to your windows box is over the network via CIFS or iSCSI (or over fibre channel as well if you want to get technical but FC is practically unheard of in the home sphere).

    Which one's right for you depends on what you're wanting to do with it really - if this is all to be local storage then direct attached makes the most sense, using either hardware RAID (in an LSI or other-brand card) or windows' inbuilt softraid (I don't use it so I've no idea). I'm assuming you mention DAS because your workstation enclosure isn't equipped to handle 16 drive bays?
     
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  3. WeekendWarrior

    WeekendWarrior Active Member

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    OP: you covered a lot of ground in your original post but some of what you write requires us to read between the lines to fully understand your goals, knowledge, and pain points. So, let's lay a foundation for those issues and build on that.

    As you and most people know, NAS is a computer dedicated to storing data and communicating that data through a network to a separatte computer. DAS is also a computer dedicated to storing data and communicating it to a separate computer but the DAS communicates through a non-networked interface such as a SAS cable.

    Agreed also that the prevailing wisdom is that you don't want to run a storage system within a VM; e.g., FreeNAS running in a VM under Windows. Whether the prevailing wisdom is correct/appropriate depends on who you ask. But, most people seem to avoid doing so because the cost of losing data is so high (even if you can recover the data with expending effort and time).

    The LSI SAS9201-16e HBA could support either approach. That HBA is inexpensive because it's SAS2 and because it presents an external interface - rather than internal interface - for its SAS cables. I have one and it is easy and cheap - you pay more for cables but less for the adapter. If you pursue a DAS, you would need to put the LSI SAS9201-16e in your Windows PC and run its SAS cable to the DAS computer that could operate as a JBOD. Alternatively, you could use the LSI SAS9201-16e HBA within a NAS but you'd need to route the SAS cable from the external connector back into your case (a little kludgy but it works as I can speak from experience).

    You haven't expressly stated how important minimizing cost is to your project. Although everyone wants that, generally, some prioritize it higher than others. Your mention of a LSI SAS9201-16e leads me to believe you prioritize cost because that's the cheapest relatively robust path to a 16-port SAS2 solution right now. Additionally, you mention that using 10GBe is too expensive. Further, you're running 2TB drives, which are probably 5 years old at this point. I mean no disrespect, because I run 3TB drives that are also a little long-in-the-tooth, but I do mean to understand your priorities.

    Assuming I've interpreted your comments correctly, I would consider the following approach: have one dedicated computer for your storage, using the LSI SAS9201-16e if you prefer, using FreeNAS or your preferred storage OS and a separate Windows PC for editing your video/photos. Connect your Windows PC to the dedicated storage computer through a SFP+ 10G adapter and a direct-attach cable. My understanding is that a SFP+ to SFP+ connection through a DAC works without an intervening switch. The price of Mellanox SFP+ adapters is very low and the DAC is also very inexpensive. Windows and FreeNAS should have no problem recognizing the Mellanox card and you'll have communication speeds comparable to your SAS2 DAS option. The SFP+/SFP+/DAC expense is probably less than what you paid for the LSI SAS9201-16e - FYI. You may also find this to be an inexpensive intro to SFP+ networking.
     
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  4. cthetoy

    cthetoy New Member

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    Thanks for the prompt reply. Never knew DAS/NAS can not coexist. I will be getting the Rosewill 4u enclosure for the 16 drives. Connect the LSI controller on my main PC with four SFF-8088 4x splitter for 16 drives that are in the 4U. The Main PC and 4u enclosure is next to each other. I can shared the DAS folders on my Windows PC for a cheap NAS solution. Not the best way and my PC has to be on 24/7 unless someone else can chime in their solutions.
     
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  5. cthetoy

    cthetoy New Member

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    Thanks for the well crafted response. Yes I am new at all this. I only started this just 24 hours ago researching and reading as much as I could.

    I have 21tb worth of photos and videos as photography is my side job. 4k videos from 4 cameras = massive GB per show. Currently I have all my photos/video on different drives, Drobo, internal and external 6tb drives. I want to keep and organize all the photos/video in one area vs different drives. I have everything backed up to the cloud as well (yes 21tb) Once in a while I will need to go back and preview/edit a 4k video or browse RAW 30mb images and transfer speed is important. 16 drives in JBOD is a easy to setup but want some sort of RAID setup for redundancy as downloading tb of data from the cloud is time consuming and you are right - these are about 5 year old 2tb drives pulled from a file server.

    LSI SAS9201-16e was what I've been reading because its $45 new or $25 used. Ill pay more if there are better HBA cards out there that will make my configuration easier.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  6. EffrafaxOfWug

    EffrafaxOfWug Radioactive Member

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    Just to clarify the semantics - a NAS box can have direct attached storage itself, but - being a NAS - the presentation of that storage will be through a network protocol (i.e. not through SAS/iSCSI). Similarly, if you have your windows box with the DAS attached and expose the storage over the network it technically becomes a NAS as well. But NAS and DAS won't co-exist from the perspective of the client machines - it can only talk to storage either by direct or network routes.

    When you say a rosewill 4U, do you mean a standalone 4U box (which is suited for a NAS) or a 4U JBOD (which is suited for DAS)? If you plan on using direct-attached SAS to your windows box then you're likely better off buying a dedicated JBOD unit which is basically just a series of hot-swap drives and some SAS ports. Because they don't have or need a motherboard they're often a fair amount shorter than a standard 4U server case and will interface directly with the ports on a card like the LSI 16e.

    Here's an example of a 3U one:
    InWin IW-RJ316-04

    Otherwise if you want to connect the external ports of an LSI HBA to the internal ports of a SAS/SATA backplane you'll need some non-standard cables and a hole in the case (and I'm not sure how you'd wire up a PSU in such a scenario). If you're set on such a scenario though it's possible it might be easier to consider switching to a server/workstation case (probably rackmount-only if you want 16 or more drive bays - the largest workstation chassis I know tops out at 12x3.5" bays) that can encompass your entire motherboard + storage requirements.

    Keeping all that storage online at any one time is expensive though. It depends entirely on your workflow and preferences but I'd certainly consider looking into keeping a minimal amount of "in flight" data direct attached on your workstation and keeping archival material on a server (which doesn't necessarily have to be powered on 24/7). You could work off it directly for idle stuff and, if you find your IO limiting, transfer it to your local workstation storage for faster operation (although I'm surprised you find yourself limited by 1GbE as I'm CPU-limited in my video work aeons before that).
     
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    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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