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SOLVED Dell T110 ii - Struggling to work out the way forward

Western Digital Drives - The Preferred Drives of FreeNAS and TrueNAS CORE

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
Hi,

I've got a Freenas FreeNAS-11.2-U3 system running on a Dell T110 ii server. The server has 16GB ECC memory and whilst its not the biggest and fastest, it's been an interesting build getting it going. The intention is to understand more about ZFS, and work out the best way for the FreeNAS server to handle light home use.

We're all Mac at home, and as part of the testing, I can create directories and we can have fun running Blackmagic over them to see how it all works.

At the moment the server has nothing of value on it, it's got three 1TB drives for playing with and if it all fell over tomorrow there is zero loss as it's not a production system.

There are limits on the Dell T110 ii server. It only has 5 internal SATA, it only has five power cables. I hadn't realised quite how difficult Dell makes things for their customers. If I was buying a server, I wouldn't touch Dell at all, however I digress. The server was basically free, spending £1,000 is not an option as the CFO has made it quite clear :)

Using various calculators I reckon I need around 4-5TB of space to backup all our photos, films and other 'stuff' that we have accumulated over the years. As I have a maximum of five power cables and five SATA ports, thats the maximum number of disks I can put in. I think I could put a second controller card and have more SATA slots, but I can't easily add more power cables and daisy chaining them isn't really a good idea in my book.

Looking at the various calculators around on the web, it seems a pretty simple calculation, I have a maximum of five disks, the less risk, the more parity disks.

5 x 2TB disks running RAID-Z1 gives 7TB of disks, but only one parity disk
5 x 2TB disks running RAID-Z2 gives 5TB of disk but I now have two parity disks and less chance of a pool failure.

5 x 3TB disks running RAID-Z1 gives 10TB of disks, but only one parity disk
5 x 3TB disks running RAID-Z2 gives 7.8TB of disk but I now have two parity disks and less chance of a pool failure.

I recognise that given the limitations of the server, I cannot run a hot spare.

My preference would be larger (>=3TB) disks BUT I understand the Dell T110 ii has a limitation of 2TB disks.

Q1. If I put a second disk controller card in, a M1015 flashed, would that get around the 2TB limit, my working assumption is that it would but the only way I can check is to buy a larger disk, or repurpose and older 3TB disk and get a card. I can't see any reason why not, but I'm not as familiar as people here on disk cards. I have checked many of the forums and questions, but I suspect my questions is so stupid that nobody has asked it before. I can handle stupid :)

Q2. If I pulled my 3TB disk out of my mac where it's doing backups and shoved it into the FreeNas server to test the reading capability, how could I tell if the system read it as a 2TB disk or a 3TB disk? Would I need to pull the other disks out and create a single disk system. At the moment it boots off the USB key and doesn't boot off any hard disks. I don't have a Windows license (or software), though I could download Ubuntu and test that, but thats yet more hassle. I've never tried to do this before and I'm not sure I know enough to test.

Any help welcomed (even if it's to say I'm an idiot).

Thanks

Rob
 
Last edited:

rvassar

Neophyte Sage
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May 2, 2018
Messages
686
I wouldn't worry too much about daisy-chaining 4 pin molex power plugs. Yes, it's ugly. But...

That standard dates back to the days of 5-1/4 inch full height drives pulling 75+ watts. The pins are rated at 11 amps each, and with standard 18 AWG wire, capable of 10 amps @ 60/C... With modern drives, you'd need to do a lot of daisy chaining.
 

HoneyBadger

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Joined
Feb 6, 2014
Messages
3,340
I have several T110-iis although only one is pretending to be a ZFS host right now. They're good small-business VMware hosts if you can get your hands on those expensive 8GB UDIMMs.

Q1: Yes, adding a SAS HBA will absolutely get around the 2TB limit. The Dell H200 or H310 will also work great for this. For the onboard SATA, I haven't tested personally, but I thought the C202 controller on the motherboard was capable of seeing beyond 2TB when it was in AHCI mode - just not booting from them.

Q2: If you plug it into the onboard SATA, you should just be able to query it with smartctl or gpart show and see what size the hardware and OS "thinks" the drive is.
 

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
Thanks for both the replies. I didn't know about the standards, but if I'm pulling 11amps down due to a disk, I think something is wrong.

I will try and add the 3TB disk I have spare (ish) and see what it does. I'm assuming I can just query it from Freenas on the command line. I'm far happier there than in a graphics shell :)

I suspect the answer is to go to five 4TB NAS Red assuming that the onboard controller handles the > 2TB drives. That gives me 10TB at RAID-Z2. You only feel the pain once when you buy the drives :)
 

HoneyBadger

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Feb 6, 2014
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Five drives is a bit of an odd configuration; personally, I'd bring in a reflashed LSI card and find a way to string a sixth drive in there; that way if you decide to move to a larger unit (eg: a 12-bay rackmount) you can easily have six drives there and then add a second six-drive vdev.
 

tfran1990

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2017
Messages
286
Five drives is a bit of an odd configuration; personally, I'd bring in a reflashed LSI card and find a way to string a sixth drive in there; that way if you decide to move to a larger unit (eg: a 12-bay rackmount) you can easily have six drives there and then add a second six-drive vdev.
can you explain why 5 drives is odd?
I have 5 drives in my pool which i think is just 1 vdev.
is there something i missed?
 

rvassar

Neophyte Sage
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
686
can you explain why 5 drives is odd?
I have 5 drives in my pool which i think is just 1 vdev.
is there something i missed?
He's just thinking about future expansion. But I suspect its kind of common, given that most small motherboards only offer 6 SATA ports.
 

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
Thanks for the comments,

@HoneyBadger 1, I already have a VMWare host with 32GB with an i7. It runs very large databases and map servers for my business. OpenStreetmap servers can be huuuuge.

@HoneyBadger 2, the reason for five disks is thats all the internal SATA ports I have. I can add in a second graphics card, but I'd only get a couple more ports. I'm assuming that I can have a pool that has disks on different cards. I'll look at the costs of the cards AND the cables which seem to be often sold separately.

I've pulled the 3TB disk out and shoved it in the box and am trying to query it now.
 

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
Ok, It looks to me that the internal controller can see the disks. I can see the 2.7TB disk, it has a couple of Apple partitions on it which is about right.

So I don't need an external controller unless I move to six or more disks.

Decisions, decisions, decisions... :)

Code:
[root@freenas ~]# gpart show
=>        40  1953525088  ada0  GPT  (932G)
          40          88        - free -  (44K)
         128     4194304     1  freebsd-swap  (2.0G)
     4194432  1949330696     2  freebsd-zfs  (930G)

=>        40  1953525088  ada1  GPT  (932G)
          40          88        - free -  (44K)
         128     4194304     1  freebsd-swap  (2.0G)
     4194432  1949330696     2  freebsd-zfs  (930G)

=>        40  1953525088  ada2  GPT  (932G)
          40          88        - free -  (44K)
         128     4194304     1  freebsd-swap  (2.0G)
     4194432  1949330696     2  freebsd-zfs  (930G)

=>        34  5860533101  ada3  GPT  (2.7T)
          34           6        - free -  (3.0K)
          40      409600     1  efi  (200M)
      409640  1998992608     2  apple-hfs  (953G)
  1999402248     1531680     3  apple-boot  (748M)
  2000933928  3859337056     4  apple-hfs  (1.8T)
  5860270984      262151        - free -  (128M)

=>      40  30031792  da0  GPT  (14G)
        40    532480    1  efi  (260M)
    532520  29491200    2  freebsd-zfs  (14G)
  30023720      8112       - free -  (4.0M)
 

HoneyBadger

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Feb 6, 2014
Messages
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@HoneyBadger 2, the reason for five disks is thats all the internal SATA ports I have. I can add in a second graphics card, but I'd only get a couple more ports. I'm assuming that I can have a pool that has disks on different cards. I'll look at the costs of the cards AND the cables which seem to be often sold separately.
As @rvassar correctly guessed I was referring to future expansion possibilities when suggesting you start with a six-drive vdev. Once you've created a vdev, you can't add or remove drives from it, and while five drives works it doesn't multiply nicely to occupy a traditional 12-drive rackmount chassis if you decide to go that route down the road.

Pools can absolutely be made across different controllers (it's sometimes encouraged to use multiple controllers if you have high-bandwidth SSDs) and even migrated from one to another without issue, provided that both the original and new controller are HBAs that don't insert any manner of RAID in the middle.

Cost-wise I would estimate about USD$50 for a flashable HBA and USD$10-$15 for each set of SAS-to-4xSATA forward breakout cables but you might be able to do better in quantity. Be careful on eBay and avoid the "genuine LSI HBAs" that originate from overseas. I'd be much more comfortable re-flashing a genuine used PERC H200/H310 or IBM M1015 than getting a "new in box" unit that could be fake.
 

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
@HoneyBadger Thanks for the advice. I see the logic of a 12 drive chassis. It's unlikely I will ever need to go there unless my sideline business actually takes off.

I was just looking on eBay for a M1015 card. based on your advice I'm better off looking for a genuine used IBM one than a fake "new in box". I may come back for a 2nd opinion if I may be so bold.

I've learnt a lot just in this single thread, so thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you ever want to know about GIS and maps feel free to ask :)
 

tfran1990

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2017
Messages
286
@rwillett on 3/29/2019 i ordered a dell H310 from storagetekpro ebay store, they didnt have that in stock so they gave me a real LSI 9211. you might get lucky and have the same thing happen to you.

There shipping is fast and if you have any questions they respond within the same day.
Give them a try.
 

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
The problem wit that is that they are US based and I'm in the UK. Shipping is basically the same price as the card itself :)

Its no big deal, there's no rush.

Rob
 

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
One very last set of question if I may, I see most of the eBay cards such as H200, H310 and M1015 cards advertised. Very few of them come with cables. Some of the connectors appear to look like they might fit but they are advertised as SAS or SATA and seem very inconsistent in their description. They all seem to ignore the cables and show the card itself, which is frustrating.

I can see where they connect to the card but the end where they would connect to the hard disk is usually black, is usually wrapped up and taken with a rubbish pinhole camera on a black background. <rant off>

Some cables seem to have a cable with what appears to be an integrated data and power connector which looks like it might fit a SATA disk. I think this is an older SAS connector but since I've never has SAS I can't say. Every SATA data disk I have ever used has had a data cable and a separate power cable. Google seems to be vague about whether these integrated all in one cables fit (or they are vague to me).

I also started looking at separate cables and discovered how expensive they are. Often greater than the card itself.

Q1, Are these cables with an all in one disk connector compatible with SATA? I don't think they are but I don't know they are.

Q2. is there some secret place where sensible priced data cables are sold, e.g. less than twice the price of the card :) A bit like Zaphod Beeblebrox's second hand pen emporium.

Thanks again,

Rob
 

HoneyBadger

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Feb 6, 2014
Messages
3,340
A SATA drive can be plugged into a SAS cable/controller, but not vice versa. On a SAS drive, there's only a single connector in order to physically prevent you from plugging in the "split" SATA/power cable combination, but you can put a SATA drive into an "all-in-one" cable designed for a SAS drive.

You might be able to hunt down the OEM cables for your Dell unit (part 233TD) which has the advantage of being the exact right length you need, and only needing to be powered by 2x SATA power cords. Search for the bolded part number and you might find a decent bargain on eBay.
1554746429173.png
 

rwillett

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
37
@HoneyBadger

Thanks again for the help. That simple statement "A SATA drive can be plugged into a SAS cable/controller," was all I was after. Its surprising how vague people are about it.

UK eBay seems significantly more expensive than US eBay. Also the costs of shipping from the US is eye wateringly expensive. Shipping from EU countries to the UK is sometimes cheaper than shipping in the UK. Go figure.

My plans are to look for a H200 or H310 or M1015 with cables to suit as a job lot. There is no mad rush as I also need to get disks and some personal issues mean my focus is slightly elsewhere. It's a nice background job to have though.

Best wishes.

Rob
 
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