Searching for an affordable RAID card that can also function in MIXED mode (RAID + JBOD)

Discussion in 'RAID Controllers and Host Bus Adapters' started by adn2377, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. adn2377

    adn2377 New Member

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    Hello,

    I am a 40+ years old guy but very recently started to dabble into the "SAS RAID Controller" world.

    I have created sort of a home server (in name), where I would like to use such a card. In the beginning I bought a Dell Perc H200 card (without knowing what I buy exactly), my initial desire being to have additional SATA ports and - maybe - also create a small RAID.


    From that moment on I have spent many hours on the internet reading things. I learned that usually a card such as these will NOT function simultaneously with RAID and non-raid drives (to my deepest sorrow) and I managed, following some guides found on the net, to flash my card to IT-mode. I am not sure how to change back to a RAID mode if I wanted to now, but for the moment this seems a good use for the Dell Perc 200 - just additional SATA ports.

    I borrowed from a friend a HP P420 card that was unable to boot with its own BIOS active (I had to disable Storage boot Option ROM) and then my Windows 2016 Server boots and also directly sees the card. Found out that a Windows utility exists for that HP, I install it and see that:

    - I can change from RAID to HBA and vice-versa from it (reboot needed);

    - I can make all the management to my RAID arrays if I wanted any (and I do now)

    - I found a mention of an additional MIXED mode (beside RAID and HBA), that should allow (in my understanding) to simultaneously present to the OS both RAID arrays AND single drives (No Raid) but have no option to switch to it. BINGO!

    After my following search, I found out that such a feature is only active on the newest Gen10 SAS Controllers from HP. And of course, tough luck! They are all very expensive...

    So I turned my attention towards LSI-based cards again. Is there anything comparable possible with an affordable LSI? I saw a few mentions regarding LSI 3108, but those are also kind of new and - of course, also EXPENSIVE. Searching if this is possible using (for example) a LSI 2208 card left me with a couple of hours spent and no clear conclusion...


    What I would search for in such a card:


    - To have the option to present to the OS, in the same time, both RAID array(s) and single drives (NOT drives with RAID-0, but directly physical drives);

    - To have of course reliability in that configuration;

    - To be able to be configured from a Windows environment, not only from Bios/boot (Like I said, I currently use a W Server 2016)

    - To have all RAID modes available (inclusive RAID 6, 60).

    - To not be very expensive (not over ~~100 Eur when bought from China for eg.)


    Otherwise I probably should look for another HP P420, since (without mixing) seems ok with the rest of my needs.


    Please tell me if I could find something like this between the LSI cards...


    Thank you!
     
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  2. Myth

    Myth Member

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    Adaptec controller cards can pass through drives is you leave them uninitialized (RAW). Don't know the cost of used cards though.

    P.S. I'm not sure how your age is relevant.
     
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  3. darklight

    darklight New Member

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    P.S. I'm not sure how your age is relevant.

    This part is definitely true

    LSI 3108 This one might be your best shot so far. Not that expensive and will do the job.
     
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  4. adn2377

    adn2377 New Member

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    Well, searching for a 3108 card I found cards that ARE expensive.
    I have a DYI server, so no DELL or HP components for example and need something to work with my hardware. What specific card would you recommend?

    For example, would a Dell Perc 730 be able to function properly without Dell components?
     
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  5. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

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    Well I am not sure if such card exists but you do know that you can use 2 cards at onece?
    One as full raid and ine as hba.
    Hba will jusy present disks to the system directly and raid card will work with raid arrays.

    If interested I have an Adaptec 12 port sas cotnroler for sale.
    Is 80$ cheap enough for you?
    It will work as full raid for sas or sata disks. And does have a raid and jbod mode to pass single disks as well but it us not a raw disks.
     
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  6. adn2377

    adn2377 New Member

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    Well, I could use two cards at once IF I had the needed slots... This was my first option of course, but it would require to change my current setup:
    - Gigabyte AB350M-Gaming 3 motherboard (Micro-ATX)
    - Ryzen 1600 CPU with NO embedded graphic
    - 2 x PCI-e x 16 slots
    - 1 x PCI-e x 1 slot

    Since my graphic card has to occupy the first slot, there is no space left for a third card that needs more than one x1 connector...

    Thank you for your offer, I will first have to find the proper model for me, one that would comply with the things I wrote in the initial post. I am not sure I understand very well your phrasing: "...does have a raid and jbod mode to pass single disks as well but it us not a raw disks". What does this mean?
     
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  7. gea

    gea Well-Known Member

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    Expect the following

    - If you buy a hardware raid 5/50/6/60 (expensive)
    you will not find a pure HBA mode or a bad implementation (Raid-0 from one disk)

    - if you buy a HBA (best are LSI based on 2008/2308/3008 chipsets) you get a cheap controller with a perfect HBA mode and IT firmware or raid 1/10 with IR firmware (even with this firmware you can use them for an HBA)

    - If you buy Adaptec instead LSI expect a poor driver support outside Windows (and Linux)

    Id you can use software raid (superiour with newer filesystems like ZFS regarding data security and performance) use a pure HBA. Use hardwareraid mainly for Windows and ntfs
     
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  8. adn2377

    adn2377 New Member

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    Do you want to say that - for example - implementations of LSI 3108 (albeit expensive) does not have a good implementation for what I want (RAID + JBOD at the same time, without the need to declare single disk Raid-0 arrays)?

    For example I was looking at Dell Perc H730, but I can't find anywhere if it will work properly on a desktop computer or not...

    As I wrote, I already have that Dell H200 that I purchased in the beginning, that is now flashed to IT-mode and is functioning greatly as HBA... but since I don't have more available slots on my main-board, I was thinking of finding another, smarter controller :)

    I currently use a Windows Server 2016 OS. For Adaptec, I am not sure which card family to search for my needs, until now I have looked at LSI-flavours and HP...


    Thank you for your input!
     
    #8
  9. gea

    gea Well-Known Member

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    1. controller mode
    There are two problems. One is that different controller modes (if available like with Intel M1015 where you have the option for a IT, IR or raid-5 firmware) require a different driver. Even if the drivers is available on your OS, they may be not equal regarding performance and stability.

    If you want an HBA, look for a controller with an IT firmware, not one with full raid functionality where the driver offer only the single raid-0 workaround and a search for an IT firmware without the full raid functionality that use the mainstream HBA driver is in vain.

    2. smarter controller
    Think first if you need a truck or a family car and buy then the car.
    It is not optimal if you try to find a car that suits both use cases.

    If you can use a modern software raid with a current filesystem like btrfs, ReFS or the leading ZFS, add another LSI or LSI oem HBA like the H200 or a LSI 9305 with up to 24 ports (or an SAS expander). If you need hardware raid example Windows + ntfs then best is a LSI BroadCom one. If you care about data security you must use one with cache + BBU/Flash to be protected against the write hole problem (corrupt filesystem/raid on a crash during write).

    "Write hole" phenomenon in RAID5, RAID6, RAID1, and other arrays.

    3. Brand
    Years ago (when I was forty) I always bought Adaptec as they were the number one. Nowadays I would buy LSI/ BroadCom or oem models from Dell, IBM or HP or nothing.
     
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  10. kapone

    kapone Active Member

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    A side note about this kind of decision.

    Some of the things I take into consideration when selecting a RAID/HBA card are:

    - Target OS - There are cards that work/not work, work better/worse depending on which OS they are going to be deployed in.

    - "Expansion" functionality - If all you're looking at is mirrored storage or something simple, that's one thing. But if you're looking at parity, the decision to use an HBA vs a hardware RAID card becomes more complex. Is a parity array as easy to expand using OS/software RAID or does the card offer easier/better/more flexible expansion options? Are the OS tools as easy to use as the card tools?

    - "Failure" scenario - Disks will fail. Accept that. When they do...same thing as above. Does the OS offer tools to recover from that and are the tools any better/worse than the tools that the card may offer?

    Then there are tertiary considerations.
    - If using software RAID and an HBA, your memory speed/bandwidth, CPU architecture, CPU speed/load all play a factor. In general, multiple HBAs is not an issue as they are dumb devices.

    - If using hardware RAID, your cache/BBU/port count/multiple card support all play a factor.

    To the OP - You have a single slot available. That restricts your choices to a single card. Have you worked out port counts, port type(s), cabling considerations etc? They will have a fairly big impact on your choices.
     
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  11. adn2377

    adn2377 New Member

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    Thank you for your input.

    - Target OS - Windows Server 2016

    I am thinking to add a RAID-6 array using 4 x 4 TB drives and also have another (up to) 4 drives presented directly to the OS (pass-through).

    A 2xSAS port card (= up to 8 sata drives) is ok for the number of ports.

    Since the LSI 9361-8i seems to be even pricier, does anybody knows if Dell PERC H730 (the one with PCI-E connector, of course) would be suited for this and function with my 3'rd party mother-board? Even if booting with it would not be possible, I guess it might be configurable via Windows - app...
     
    #11
  12. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

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    None of the sas/sata cards I have seen can do a true passthrough of disks. I just recently whent through a similar process but in my case I needed an opposite of raid card I trully needed an hba with port expander. That is how i ended up with the Adaptec card. Des option said jbod mode. But in reality you have to initialize each disk and create a virtual volume on it. And that volume is presented to the OS. In my case it wouldn't work as I need the smart data and want to use zfs.
    So, after weeks and weeks of research and hounding a bunch of forums, I found an HP card flashed into IT mode that did just that. A simple HBA. Connect a disk and pass it to the system as is.
    Now, I get the raid6 for windows,
    But why do you want disk passthrough?
     
    #12
  13. kapone

    kapone Active Member

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    The Adaptec 7/8/onwards series can do RAID and RAW passthrough at the same time. No need to initialize the RAW disks.
     
    #13
  14. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

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    Didn't know that. Mine is
    P/N: 2268100-R 51245 16 port.
    12 internal 4 external.
     
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  15. adn2377

    adn2377 New Member

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    Thank you for that useful information!

    After searching a lot yesterday, I have found mentions that, indeed, also Adaptec cards Series 7 is able to do this, form a certain firmware version forwards - since Series 8 is way to expensive yet.

    I looked on Ebay and did not found any 7805 cards, but I DID found many 71605 cards - and in Europe (my location) and at some ok prices. So I settled on this card that I have ordered from Germany a few moments ago.
     
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  16. adn2377

    adn2377 New Member

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    In case anybody else is (or will be) looking for this, I am glad to report that I have succeeded in my endeavor.

    More exactly: My Adaptec 71605 card functions very well under Windows Server 2016 in RAID Mode with RAW disks sent directly to the OS.

    This means that no mode change is necessary to switch between HBA and RAID, they are both directly available and can be mixed however you like. When you connect an OS-formatted drive, it will be seen as RAW and passed through automatically to the OS. Then, if you want, you may INITIALIZE the drive, and that will write meta-data to it and transform it from RAW to READY, and once it is ready you are able to include it in any raid configuration - or even "Single volume" - what I believe is that kind of Raid 0 with a single disk.

    I have a few RAW HDD and SSD connected, and also created a RAID 6 array from 4 x 4TB disks.
     
    #16

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