FORUMS: list search recent posts

Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions

COW Forums : RAID Set-Up

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
Petros Kolyvas
Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Jul 17, 2011 at 5:13:00 pm

Hi folks,

I'm doing some research to upgrade some of our storage.

I was originally looking at a Proavio Studiorack S8MS (diskless) to start which would mate to an ATTO R680 HBA. However, I noticed that the backplane (hope I'm using the right terminology here) combines 4 disks per port and so the system would not be easily expandable in the future.

Some enclosures use 8 drives per port and have an expansion (secondary port) to daisy-chain enclosures if need be.

I was interested in Sonnet's gear but much of it isn't available diskless, is out of stock, discontinued and is almost all 3Gb SAS. I could be wrong about much of this however and have had very positive experiences with their products.

Are there any other options people might suggest I look into?

Many thanks,
PK

UPDATE: We're most interested in Sans Digital's EliteStor 6G SAS enclosure line of products, but have been having a hard time finding them in Canada.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


Return to posts index

Alex Gerulaitis
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Jul 17, 2011 at 10:27:54 pm

IStoragePro IT8SAE6G. They also have a 3G 16-bay version available, not sure if the 6G version is shipping yet. About $1400-1500.

Alex (DV411)


Return to posts index

Petros Kolyvas
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Jul 17, 2011 at 10:34:58 pm

Thanks Alex, those look very good.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


Return to posts index


Alex Gerulaitis
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Jul 17, 2011 at 10:39:45 pm

Let me know if you'd like to order one, ag at dv411 dot com.

Alex (DV411)


Return to posts index

Petros Kolyvas
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Aug 24, 2011 at 1:37:33 pm

Hi Alex,

In the end, I decided to build my own 20-disk 6Gb SAS enclosure (https://plus.google.com/photos/104019828057277999380/albums/5643923770500610449).

I do think that if I had to buy an diskless enclosure, ready-made, the iStoragePro 6G enclosure was the best option, so thanks for taking the time to respond.

Take care,
PK

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


Return to posts index

Alex Gerulaitis
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:37:22 am

Thanks for letting me know Petros - and congrats on your setup.

The G+ photo you referred to does not seem to be public or otherwise accessible - even after I added you to my circles. :)

Would you mind making it public (or posting it here - whatever is easier) - so I could take a look at your setup?

Thanks!

Alex (DV411)


Return to posts index


Petros Kolyvas
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:31:45 am

Hi Alex,

Thanks for pointing that out - I am still learning the G+ ropes. I made the photo album public (but I also added you to my Production and Post circle ;) ).

While I learned a lot doing this DIY project, like any DIY projects there are caveats; the most important of which is how much one's time might be worth. In this case, I did it for fun as much as utility, as well as to learn as much as possible about SAS direct attached storage and enclosures. But if you add up all the hours troubleshooting and waiting and testing the cost rises dramatically.

Additionally, anyone looking at these photos considering doing something similar should know that there are a lot of enclosure management features included in products like the one you suggested which are much harder to duplicate in DIY projects (and I did not duplicate any of them here) - things like enclosure temperatures, drive tray fit, finish and quality and font-panel feedback like disk location routines and drive failures.

The other important issue is that you'd use the same disks for the DIY model vs. commercial solutions and that means the same high prices. The RAID-5 array consists of RE4-GP drives so there's no money to be saved since those drives would be used in something like the iStorage Pro as well.

I certainly would encourage anyone so-inclined to have a go, but conversely they should at least be aware of the what they aren't getting in the DIY model when compared to commercial solutions - which for many end users include features that are dramatically more important in mission-critical or time sensitive workflows.

Despite the disadvantages, the two DIY advantages I can see are:

1) DIY allows for each dollar spent on the enclosure to have a high disk ratio. The Norco case I used was bottom-of-the-barrel cheap; thinner construction, and lacking really nice finishing, but for the price of an 8-disk enclosure (ProAvio S8-MS) I get 20 disks instead of 8 and it only eats up one of the SAS ports on my R680 instead of both. There are enclosures at twice the price which are far nicer builds. Few however, compare to any of the ready-to-go SAS enclosure offerings from companies like JMR, Sonnet, Promise, CalDigit, etc. I think this is simply a value proposition; the service and builds these companies offer is often excellent. The service for DIY is a lot of individual hardware vendors that couldn't care less.

2) Noise levels. I replaced all the chassis fans and used a nearly silent power supply. About a year ago I purchased a Sonnet D500P (port multiplied eSATA enclosure.) It was billed as silent. I forget what marketing rhetoric can mangle "silent" into. But the first thing I did when I received it was replace the case fan with a true "silent" fan. The same goes for this unit. The chassis shipped with 6 ultra-high speed, ultra-high airflow, ultra-noisy fans. There were swapped out for switchable speed fans that run from silent to moderately noisy depending on the setting. The unit has been running in "quiet" mode for two weeks without issue. If you look at the pictures the 20-disk enclosure is as quiet as the 5-disk Sonnet enclosure on top (because Sonnet uses a small power supply with a tiny, high-speed, fan.)

Anyway, I can't believe I wrote all that up. It was fun, and I'd do it again but I have no illusions that any number of off-the-shelf solutions would be as good, if not better (putting aside upfront costs) for many/most professionals.

Here are the links that made it happen for me:
http://www.servethehome.com/sas-expanders-build-jbod-das-enclosure-save-ite...
http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1548839
http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1484614
http://forums.servethehome.com/showthread.php?148-Intel-RES2SV240-24-port-S...
http://forums.creativecow.net ;)

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


Return to posts index

Alex Gerulaitis
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Aug 25, 2011 at 5:18:57 am

This is nothing short of an amazing DIY project - congrats Petros!

Alex (DV411)


Return to posts index

Chris Gwynne
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Sep 5, 2011 at 3:12:17 pm

Fantastic DIY! Bravo!!!! But don't let others on the COW see this, you'll get alot of CAPS LOCK YELLING.

Curious though, as I also checked out your recommendation for the iStoragePro, assumed it was the 8 bay tower 6g? Sure are nice looking but I can't understand why that has only 1 SAS port and not 2 for 8 drives?

Wouldn't that cut bandwidth in half?

Also curious, as I'm in the market for an 8 or 16 bay enclosure myself, but what extra are you getting at this price level compared to something like a $600 Stardom Sohotank. I'm curious because I was considering the Sohotank, but now I've read 2 threads on the COW were people are having drive issues and it's unclear if it's the controller, enclosure or the drives they choose.


Return to posts index


Petros Kolyvas
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Sep 5, 2011 at 6:14:36 pm

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the props. It was a lot of fun, and a month in the unit is working really well; fast, reliable and quiet like I'd hoped for.

Regarding the physical connections on the back of units (it was the rack-mounted 8-bay 6G but I believe they're the same except for form factor), the fact that 8 drives are connected via a single physical link was what made it one of the ready-made solutions that interested me most.

Now, before I go any further, I should say that as with anything on these-here-internets, what I'm about to say is based on what I've studied and learned throughout the project (coupled with some previous knowledge of SCSI from the days of Ultra SCSI), but is by no means definitive, so I would anyone that knows more and/or better should chime in as needed.

SAS ports are not physical. So, for example, the ATTO R680 I'm using has two external physical connections, but is actually an 8-port card. Each SAS port (a link from initiator to target) runs at 6Gb/sec. So one physical cable carries 6Gb/s x 4 ports of bandwidth.

From what I understand, these "ports" are more or less managed by the SAS host bus adapter. On the command line, for example, I can see that the four ports at connector A are "up" and connected to the Intel SAS expander at 6Gb/s so that one physical connection can carry a maximum theoretical 24Gb/s when we're talking data streaming across a possible 4 ports.

How this works in practice is still fuzzy in my mind, but (back to your original question) for me having to use up two physical connectors for a single 8-disk enclosure seemed wasteful to me and probably a choice of lower-cost design.

I believe the iStorage Pro 6G units (for example) use the well-regarded Areca 6G SAS expander. (http://www.areca.com.tw/products/sascableexpander.htm). The same Areca unit is used in the 24-disk Norco (http://www.norcotek.com/item_detail.php?categoryid=8&modelno=ds-24e) and many many others - so you can see the vast possibilities for just a single physical SAS connection.

In regards to your Stardom question; I don't really have enough experience with Stardom to really know - we have a single Stardom product here (a ProDrive Mac Pro RAID-0 "Tray" in an older Mac Pro) and while it works fine, the build quality isn't spectacular. Having said that it was incredibly cheap for such a niche product and Stardom did respond to support requests.

So far, every manufacturer we've dealt with was reasonably responsive, including Stardom, Sonnet (though lately they haven't answered a single message), iStoragePro, and ATTO. Each step up though, has resulted in more personalized service and much more clear willingness to help without cookie cutter solutions.

Here's to hoping you find exactly what you need!

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


Return to posts index

Jack Johnson
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Apr 20, 2012 at 8:23:17 am

Super impressive! A few questions for you:

- was this a matter of build plug and play or did you have to get into coding/programming something?
- who makes that rack?
- What size battery backup are you using on the rack?

Thank you so much for sharing. Well done!


Return to posts index

Petros Kolyvas
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Apr 27, 2012 at 2:12:55 pm

[Jack Johnson] "- was this a matter of build plug and play or did you have to get into coding/programming something?
- who makes that rack?
- What size battery backup are you using on the rack?"


a) No programming whatsoever. A few questions and some help (from members here) getting the arrays configured properly. Disks are key of course.

b) Do you mean the ISOBox Post the unit is in? It's made by Sound Construction. http://www.custom-consoles.com/Isobox-post-production.php

c) We use a cheap(ish) RS1500 from APC for each Mac Pro workstation. We test them regularly. The one attached to the large disk array only offers about 10 minutes of runtime but it's more than enough to initiate the save and auto-shutdown of any projects. I'm noise-crazy and we had originally had a much larger unit but due to poor firmware the fans would spin up, regardless of load, and make a crazy racket.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


Return to posts index


Jack Johnson
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Apr 27, 2012 at 12:37:41 am

I've posted a similar topic on the boards, but I'm wondering why you didn't go with the Areca 8026 expander. Wouldn't that have eliminated the motherboard you used in your build?


Return to posts index

Petros Kolyvas
Re: Diskless SAS 8 or 16 drive enclosure suggestions
on Apr 27, 2012 at 2:06:20 pm

There were two reasons:

1- I was already committed to the headless montherboard/expander route when I tried to use the HP SAS Expander, which didn't work with the R680.

2- Chasis to fit it in: much easier to find an ATX-ready chassis than a DIY one ready for the Areca.

While having done this once, and enjoyed it tremendously, I'd probably buy a diskless ready-made solution using the very same Areca adapter in the future.

We have found a small benefit to our setup, we want to dual-link to the host adapter, and add more disks and a few additional simple array enclosures, in our case it's as simple as dropping a second Intel expander in the chassis, linking it up and moving along; but I don't think this new benefit of the motherboard-style setup outweighs the simplicity, and reliability of all-in-one Area.

All this to say, I think the direction you're heading is a better one.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


Return to posts index

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
© 2017 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]