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Would anyone kindly recommend a Non-Raid PCIe 3.0 card for 4 and/or 8 SATA III ports?

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

uoR

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Feb 23, 2019
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11
Hi,

While I'm actually not a FreeNAS user, reading around the forum, I thought maybe this community would have some suggestions. Or should I ask at, say, unraid forums? I'm a bit overwhelmed and would be very appreciative of your suggestions.

Probably I have some basic confusions: I <think> I want neither JBOD nor RAID nor IT mode, but just additional ports directly connected to WIN10 (hopefully I'll also use same pc/hardware on a non-Windows OS in the years to come). Having searched here and around the Web, looked at a lot of specs and charts, I'm unable to find what I want. I'm also unable to always be certain of the technical context of the info I'm looking at, in terms of seeking non RAID SATA ports.

I was about to get this x8 slot card: LSI Broadcom SAS 9300-8i 8-port 12Gb/s SATA+SAS PCI-Express 3.0 Low Profile Host Bus Adapter, but I am unable to buy with any confidence.

Is it really so unusual to want 14-18 hdd/sdd drives each operating at full SATA III bandwidth in a non-RAID system? All drives are GPT storage drives except the OS which is MBR so I'm not UEFI mode booting. Currently have 2 multi TB hdd's and 8+ ssd.

System:
Win10pro x64 | Asus X99 Deluxe II (BiOS v1802, not modded) (Intel X99, Wellsburg-X chipset) | CPU = i7-6900K Broadwell-E Socket R3 (LGA2011-3), 140 W, 40-Lane, 8 core, L3 20MB | 64GB RAM | EVGA 1080Ti 11GB | NVMe 960Pro 512GB M.2 slot storage drive | 2x IcyDock 4-bay SSD cages | all AHCI (RAID-less system) | EVGA SuperNOVA 1200W P2 PSU
 
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Chris Moore

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Ericloewe

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just additional ports directly connected to WIN10
The exact same advice applies to FreeNAS and your use case. You want an LSI SAS HBA in IT mode.
 
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uoR

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@Chris Moore and @Ericloewe - Thank you both for your replies! Ahhh, the gift of perspective:) (one tech support person told me HBA's were exclusively for RAID and you've confirmed that I had at least somewhat understood other sources of info to the contrary.)

You recommend a PCIe 2.0 x8 card. Is there no PCIe 3.0 card worthy of recommendation? OK, it's unlikely I/one would ever somehow use 8 drives simultaneously at full SATA III throughput on each SAS lane, right?

I notice only one potential PCIe 3.0 x8 candidate on The Art of Server (but one of the SAS ports is external, which I don't want) :
Genuine LSI 9207-4i4e SAS HBA 6Gbps PCI-E 3.0 P20 IT mode for ZFS FreeNAS unRAID

--I'll be sure to use your link to make the purchase.
 

Johnnie Black

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9207 is also available as 9207-8i with 8 internal ports, 9300-8i is also PCIe 3.0, but unless you plan to use SSDs there's really no need for now.
 
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uoR

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@Johnnie Black Thank you! In fact, virtually all drives are SSD, and all that will be run off this non-RAID controller will also be SSD.

OK, then I'll look on eBay for a seller of a PCIe 3.0 x8 9207-8i or 9300-8i which has been pre-flashed to IT. From my readings elsewhere, it sounds like it does not matter if the seller has put the card's BIOS back or not, since my use case is desktop?

[should i be concerned with my non-server chassis, Fractal R5, not providing adequate ventilation for a PCIe 3.0 HBA, even if I give it a dedicated fan?]
 
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Johnnie Black

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it sounds like it does not matter if the seller has put the card's BIOS back or not, since my use case is desktop?
Correct, bios would only be needed if you wanted to boot from a HBA attached device.
 
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Chris Moore

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Airflow is important. These cards get a bit hot. If you add a fan, it is usually a good idea.
 
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Chris Moore

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uoR

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You all are making me smile with your generosity of spirit. Yes, I'm still looking for a source while I wait for the Art of Server to reply to a message.

@Chris Moore - that 9205-8i gives the desired spec in the title, but down under "Description" is listed as "SATA I" and "RAID Controller Card"
 

Chris Moore

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@Chris Moore - that 9205-8i gives the desired spec in the title, but down under "Description" is listed as "SATA I" and "RAID Controller Card"
The person writing the description is probably cutting and pasting from somewhere. It is only a RAID card if it is using the IR version of the firmware. If the card is the model they say it is, worst case, you have to flash the firmware. I have three like that myself. They work in Windows just as well as they work in FreeNAS.
 
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uoR

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@Chris Moore, I do appreciate you're time and input. That'll be the one, HP H220 6Gbps SAS PCI-E 3.0 HBA LSI 9205-8i P20 IT, from your link above. I'll report functionality here to complete the thread. Many thanks to each of you!
 

uoR

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Hello, I've received and installed the card, no problems. Still waiting on the 8087 cable to arrive. I was trying to help myself via @Stilez newcomers' guide to crossflashing and @jgreco's post "Don't be afraid to be SAS-sy" ..a couple of newbie questions:

Context: My "HP H220 6Gbps SAS PCI-E 3.0 HBA LSI 9205-8i P20 IT Mode" has no driver in Win10 Device Mgr and the card's boot utility shows:
FW is 15.50.05.00-IT with MPT2BIOS v. 7.25.05.00 (2012.08.30).

1) So I want to go from P15 to P20. Does @Stilez's guide apply to this card, where references to "H200 PERC" mean 'H200 series' and thus apply to an HP H220? Similarly, my LSI 9205-8i does not appear in that thread.
2) Lacking a generic driver, are there Win10 OS drivers to try or do I ignore the bang in Dvc Mgr? I must be terrible with search terms, but I've tried..even on Win-RAID forum.
3) Is it safe to assume that throughput specs on SFF-8087 to SATA forward breakout cables, are just false advertising (as they are with SATA cables)? [see also Selecting mini-SAS to SATA cables]
 
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Chris Moore

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jgreco

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3) Is it safe to assume that throughput specs on SFF-8087 to SATA forward breakout cables, are just false advertising (as they are with SATA cables)? [see also Selecting mini-SAS to SATA cables]
By false advertising, you mean... what?

It's true you're not going to get 6Gbps or even 3Gbps out of a SAS lane when hooked up to a typical HDD, as the maximum sequential speeds out of HDD are typically in the 1.5Gbps-3Gbps range. You can see higher speeds on SSD, at which point you might start feeling a little pain with some HBA's, which typically cannot deliver 6Gbps on all lanes simultaneously, but do get "close."

The cables themselves are pretty robust but you do need to keep in mind that SATA has a much lower length limit than SAS, as SAS uses a wider differential voltage swing. You should not extend SATA cables for more than a meter total, including backplane traces if you want to be technical. Some of the original 3Gbps SAS stuff is a little bit marginal, so if you are using an old 3Gbps backplane, keeping the cabling length shorter is a good idea to help maintain signal integrity.

It's kind of the same way you can use a Cat5 cable for GigE over short distances. It's out of spec and there is a measurable and demonstrable amount of signal degradation, but it's a digital signal, so if it works for an hour with no errors, it's likely to work forever with no errors, and you're just relying on the resiliency of the underlying electronics.
 

uoR

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@jgreco Thanks for your reply. I don't mean to cast unwarranted blame on cable sellers, but what I mean is this:
In the case of SATA to SATA cables, it seems to be clearly demonstrated that so-called 'SATA I, II, and III cables' are all capable of SATA III speeds (assuming good condition and appropriate length).

So can the same be said for 8087 or SAS cables? Would one ever say 'Darn, my speeds are slow because I got the wrong spec SAS-to-SATA cable (or even perhaps any kind of SAS cable)? --But for my specific case, if we assume a shorter than 1meter cable in good condition, and assume all hardware involved permits highest possible data speeds, can an "SFF-8087 to SATA Forward Splitter cable", in terms of (or regardless of) its advertised throughput spec, present a bottleneck all by itself?
 

Ericloewe

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SAS has stricter requirements than SATA, so any cable that meets the spec will work just fine.
 
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jgreco

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@jgreco Thanks for your reply. I don't mean to cast unwarranted blame on cable sellers, but what I mean is this:
In the case of SATA to SATA cables, it seems to be clearly demonstrated that so-called 'SATA I, II, and III cables' are all capable of SATA III speeds (assuming good condition and appropriate length).
This is categorically false. Early SATA 1.5Gbps cables are only spec'd to be capable of 3Gbps. The quality of the twinax being used back in the early 2000's was relatively low. However, SATA-II was here *really* quickly after SATA-I. The standard was designed to avoid unnecessarily obsoleting old gear (including cables). Basically, SATA-I cables are expected to "work" for 3Gbps but are designed for 1.5Gbps. This is a function of twinax quality, connector quality, etc. SATA-II cables are expected to "work" for 6Gbps but they're designed for 3Gbps.

This is the EXACT SAME thing as how you can take a Cat5 or Cat3 cable and plug it in to a gigabit port and it has a really good chance of working if it is sufficiently short. I wouldn't be shocked to see a Ma Bell satin cable doing gigabit if I keep it short enough. This doesn't make it proper or acceptable. In the network this would cause problems at some point due to length. With SATA, length is always limited to 1M.

Because these things are digital signal, a rule I call the "Monster Cable" rule applies - if a crappy cable works in a given environment, even if it isn't up to snuff, it is likely to keep working in that environment. You are mainly eating into the ability of the driver electronics to cope with crap, and hoping for no environmental changes. For the short 1M length allowed by SATA, this is more likely to "work" in adverse conditions.

You can make other various comparisons with ethernet or HDMI that would support this conclusion.

I am basically calling this out because you previously referred to "false advertising." It isn't false advertising. It is, however, a nuanced situation.

So can the same be said for 8087 or SAS cables? Would one ever say 'Darn, my speeds are slow because I got the wrong spec SAS-to-SATA cable (or even perhaps any kind of SAS cable)? --But for my specific case, if we assume a shorter than 1meter cable in good condition, and assume all hardware involved permits highest possible data speeds, can an "SFF-8087 to SATA Forward Splitter cable", in terms of (or regardless of) its advertised throughput spec, present a bottleneck all by itself?
I wouldn't expect it to be a problem, because SAS cabling is built for a different market segment.

PC cables are often made by the lowest bidder in someplace like Shenzhen, where cheap is the biggest consideration for the massive low-end PC market. This will drive generic manufacturers to use the cheapest stuff they can get away with. It wouldn't shock me to find that a lot of "6Gbps SATA" cables might not actually fully meet the spec (but "work" anyways).

By comparison, SAS is made for a market segment that is more demanding, and which is used to paying good money to get stuff that is built to reliable spec and works without problem. The typical SAS cable inside a machine might be 1M or less, but SAS is allowed to run much greater distances. Some of this is due to higher voltage differential signaling, but a lot of it is just cable quality. SAS began life at 3Gbps, so even the 3Gbps cables are REALLY REALLY likely to work fine at 6Gbps especially over a short distance.
 

Stilez

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Messages
508
Hi,

While I'm actually not a FreeNAS user, reading around the forum, I thought maybe this community would have some suggestions. Or should I ask at, say, unraid forums? I'm a bit overwhelmed and would be very appreciative of your suggestions.

Probably I have some basic confusions: I <think> I want neither JBOD nor RAID nor IT mode, but just additional ports directly connected to WIN10 (hopefully I'll also use same pc/hardware on a non-Windows OS in the years to come). Having searched here and around the Web, looked at a lot of specs and charts, I'm unable to find what I want. I'm also unable to always be certain of the technical context of the info I'm looking at, in terms of seeking non RAID SATA ports.

I was about to get this x8 slot card: LSI Broadcom SAS 9300-8i 8-port 12Gb/s SATA+SAS PCI-Express 3.0 Low Profile Host Bus Adapter, but I am unable to buy with any confidence.

Is it really so unusual to want 14-18 hdd/sdd drives each operating at full SATA III bandwidth in a non-RAID system? All drives are GPT storage drives except the OS which is MBR so I'm not UEFI mode booting. Currently have 2 multi TB hdd's and 8+ ssd.

System:
Win10pro x64 | Asus X99 Deluxe II (BiOS v1802, not modded) (Intel X99, Wellsburg-X chipset) | CPU = i7-6900K Broadwell-E Socket R3 (LGA2011-3), 140 W, 40-Lane, 8 core, L3 20MB | 64GB RAM | EVGA 1080Ti 11GB | NVMe 960Pro 512GB M.2 slot storage drive | 2x IcyDock 4-bay SSD cages | all AHCI (RAID-less system) | EVGA SuperNOVA 1200W P2 PSU
Some quick comments:

  • I've got about 18 HDDs and 4 SSDs in my FreeNAS buiuld, and a SuperNova P1600 - I wouldn't worry what's "Normal" for others to want. Your build is custom for your needs. The better question is whether it's a good build for your needs, and we don't know those so nobody can say.
  • If you want a card to plug in 4 - 8 additional SATA or SAS HDDs, then a 9211 or equivalent is almost certainly more than enough. The reason is that even if every disk was used to its maximum at the same time, you would still probably not notice much bandwidth limitation - spinning disks are simply not fast enough for 8 of them to have much chance of maxing out a 9211's PCIe 2.0 bandwidth. Yes in theory they can, but in reality? Not much chance, and if they did, it would be brief and momentary, you probably wouldn't know it. Timing differences, activity level differences, etc would also reduce the chances of it.
  • You could get a 9300/9311 or equivalent. Honestly - I wouldn't be bothered unless I could point to a real chance of a noticeable gain. It's more relevant if you plan to hang a load of SSDs off it, but even then... the short version is we would need to know morw about how the disks are used and structured, to say anything helpful. And I'd put the HDDs on the 9211 and the SSDs on the motherboard, before buying a 9300/9311.
 
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Chris Moore

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System:
Win10pro x64
Is it really so unusual to want 14-18 hdd/sdd drives each operating at full SATA III bandwidth in a non-RAID system?
Yes. It is pretty unusual. Almost nobody does that in a workstation and few people do that in a server. Most server applications use some form of RAID (software or hardware) to protect the system from a drive failure.
Currently have 2 multi TB hdd's and 8+ ssd.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-HP-H22...-Adapter-card-2PCS-SFF-8087-SATA/192770232992
While the card I pointed you at earlier is fine for hard drives, this might be better for the SSDs as it is PCI-E 3.0 where the other card I pointed you to is a PCI-E 2.0 card and could induce some bottleneck when used with SSD. You can also use SAS expander hardware to increase the number of physical drives that can be connected to one of these cards with a board like this:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/PBA-E91267-203-INTEL-RAID-EXPANDER-STORAGE-CONTROLLER/153386077562
 
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uoR

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uy. Each of you have been helpful and informative. So, many thanks!

It'll take me time to process all this input and to see where and how my misunderstandings have repercussed along the way. That probably makes no sense. I'm feeling a bit fried..also after spending much time reading (or blinking at) the crossflash guide, and between Rufus and bootice trying to flash this HP H220 (2308-2) card.

@jgreco -apologies for contributing to the spread of inaccurate information, and thank you for the detailed and enlightening corrections.
@Chris Moore -I was already leaning that way. I'm probably going to grab a different card, yes.
@Stilez : I may not heed it, but this was really helpful input:
I'd put the HDDs on the 9211 and the SSDs on the motherboard, before buying a 9300/9311
. My initial answers to your questions below.

My Needs ; how the disks are used and structured:
These are just all going to be SSD drives of different categories of storage. Most won't have sub-partitions, will be GPT and will be over-provisioned. I don't mind not presenting normal hardware goals, but didn't understand my difficulties finding the hardware..until now, sort of.

As far as why I want what I want..obviously I'm far from the professional realms of many in this forum. I guess I've been coy about that, which is annoying, but -OK, I have no good earthly purpose in that, on some level, I'm just goofing around with my PC, and learning things as I go, but only within a relatively limited capacity for grasping all the concepts. If that discourages anyone from further replies, I certainly understand.

Thanks again to all
 
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