Author Topic: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?  (Read 11425 times)

Offline Griff1324

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Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« on: March 25, 2014, 08:39:08 am »
I have been running tRaid using a SUPERMICRO AOC-SASLP-MV8 PCI-Express SAS RAID Controller with no problems for some time now.  I need to purchase a new SAS Contoller Card to further expand my storage.  I was looking at the SUPERMICRO AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 SAS Controller Card which would give me up to 6Gb/s compared to the 3 Gb/s that my original card. 

My question is are the SuperMicro AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 cards still a good, affordable choice for FlexRaid or are there better options out there?  I have been out of the controller card market for the last few years so I am not sure what the popular choice is these days.  I appreciate all suggestions.

Offline terrastrife

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2014, 10:50:18 am »
Get something LSI SAS2008 based, already flashed with IT firmware if possible.
SATA specification isn't going to mean diddly squat when it comes to performance.
SAS2008 based cards are also compatible with the most popular Expanders so you can hook up pretty much as many drives as you want to them.
Totally not pimping them but this is a good thread.

Offline Brahim

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2014, 11:10:41 am »
I personally swear by these: LSI Internal SATA/SAS 9201-8i 6Gb/s PCI-Express 2.0 RAID Controller Card

They are well supported all OSes and virtualization platforms I have tested them on.
Even if you love flashing, do yourself a favor and skip the drudgery and get something that does not need flashing. ;)

Offline Griff1324

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2014, 03:11:42 pm »
Brahim,

Using a quick Ebay search, it seems that those cards are much more expensive than the IBM M1015.  While the M1015 need to be flashed, I couldn't imagine the process being that complicated.

Offline robinp

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2014, 04:56:41 pm »
I've been running 3x SUPERMICRO AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 SAS Controller Cards for a couple years now in my server without any issues.

I agree with the others that the LSI / IBM SAS2008 based controllers are a lot better supported though.

Offline Brahim

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2014, 06:02:19 pm »
Brahim,

Using a quick Ebay search, it seems that those cards are much more expensive than the IBM M1015.  While the M1015 need to be flashed, I couldn't imagine the process being that complicated.

$75 is not that much more expensive.
The cheapest I have seen the M1015 was $60 in a unique deal many years ago.

Flashing is complicated for those like me who have headless systems (no monitor, no keyboard/mouse).
Worst, if something goes wrong, there goes hours of troubleshooting and a possible paperweight.


Offline pbrauman

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2014, 07:22:44 pm »
I bought an M1015. Flashing it is pretty straight forward.

Here's some instructions I wrote for my own reference:

Installation of IBM M1015 Serveraid Card

The IBM Serveraid Card (M1015) is basically an LSI 9220-8i rebadged with IBM firmware. This card can be flashed with LSI Firmware to return it to a HBA in either “IT” or “IR” mode. IT mode has no Raid functionality and is the choice for those using ZFS. As such, for the installation of tRAID “IT” will be the selected mode.

The Instructions to flash the Serveraid card have been sourced from the following website:
   http://www.servethehome.com/ibm-serveraid-m1015-part-4/

Create USB Dos Disk with Flash Files (EFI BIOS)

NOTE: It is likely a different process involving a bootable USB disk will be required if not using an EFI BIOS
1.   Format USB memory Stick (Note: FAT32)
2.   Obtain an EFI Shell from the following location (Note: I selected the V1)
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Unified_Extensible_Firmware_Interface#UEFI_Shell
3.   Rename Shell_Full.efi to Shellx64.efi (NOTE: This may not be case sensitive, however, there were some posts indicating it may be case sensitive). Copy this file to the USB Memory Stick.
4.   From the following URL download the cross flash files, extract them and copy them onto the USB stick.
http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/topic/29059-sas2008-lsi92409211-firmware-files/

Install the M1015 card into the server

STOP – Make Sure you obtain the SAS address from the green sticker on the back of the card.
1.   Insert the card into a PCI-E Slot. Note that this card is a PCI-E 8x card. It is acceptable to put it into a PCI-E 16x slot.
2.   Upon boot up the two LED’s should light up green.

Update Firmware on the M1015 Card
1.   Boot the server and press F2 (or Del key) to get into the BIOS.
2.   Update the Boot menu (under advanced) to boot from the USB stick (EFI) only.
3.   Update the Security under the BOOT menu, so that Other OS is selected. (IMPORTANT otherwise the system will not launch the EFI Shell).
4.   Click on exit, note that there is a menu item to “Launch EFI Shell from filesystem device”. Click on this.
5.   From the EFI Shell, type the following. NOTE: The first two commands I actually did from a bootable DOS USB disk. I don’t know if they will work from the EFI Shell:
a.   fs0:
b.   dir -verify that fs0 is the USB memory stick
c.   megarec   -writesbr 0 sbrempty.bin
d.   megarec –cleanflash 0
e.   Reboot the system and get back into the EFI Shell
f.   sas2flash.efi  -o  -f 2118it.bin
g.   sas2flash.efi - o  -sasadd xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (NOTE: Replace xxxx.. with the SAS address from the back of the card)
h.   Reboot. All Done.


NOTE: This card will not allow the hard drives to spin down. I believe I have a solution to this but yet to be tested.

Offline terrastrife

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2014, 11:19:33 am »
$75 is not that much more expensive.
The cheapest I have seen the M1015 was $60 in a unique deal many years ago.

Flashing is complicated for those like me who have headless systems (no monitor, no keyboard/mouse).
Worst, if something goes wrong, there goes hours of troubleshooting and a possible paperweight.
Not every motherboard is compatible with flashing LSI cards either, you'll quite often find people on forums asking to pay to get their cards flashed.

Offline pbrauman

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2014, 03:18:43 pm »
In every case I  have seen it has been due to an UEFI bios which my instructions cover.  If you have an older motherboard  then obviously you don't need the EFI shell and it's even easier to flash the card

Offline bdestroyer8418

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2014, 06:44:13 am »
@Griff1324 - I got a used SuperMicro AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 I can sell you if you want it just message me we can talk about it.  Its even flashed to current firmware.

I agree with Brahim the LSI 9201 that he linked to works fine without any flashing.  I did flash the one I got though with the 9211-8i IT firmware and took only a few minutes. I'll have to find the link I used but I remember you can even disable the bios in startup to save a few seconds. 

I have not had trouble with either one and have both running but going to be shifting to 2 more of the 9201 soon to keep it all the same and remove my sas expander.  I believe when the 9201 was installed I didn't need to find a driver for it the Super micro you need the grab it from the website. 

Only issue i had with that eBay seller I asked about shipping in a antistatic bag and how it would ship replied yes it would come in a antistatic bag.  Shipping was fast but card came in a small box with the card by itself no wrapping no antistatic bag, box was smashed on one end but card worked fine and looked OK.   Charged $12 for shipping when it cost them $6 to ship, $12 fine but not when you throw the card in a box stick a label in toss it in the mail collection bin.. Also you will need a full PCI bracket it comes with just the low profile but the seller does have it listed as low profile. But for about $100 or so which includes cost of full height bracket its hard to beat and works without needing any firmware updates. 

This is how I flashed the card worked for me but use at your own risk. http://justanothergeeks.blogspot.com/2013/06/flashing-it-firmware-on-lsi-9211-8i-hba.html
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 06:48:56 am by bdestroyer8418 »

Offline liq456

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2014, 04:09:44 pm »
@bdestroyer8418 I recently purchased the LSI 9201, I want to know if there was any benefit in updating the firmware to 9211-8i IT?

Offline bdestroyer8418

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2014, 11:20:03 pm »
I really couldn't tell you since I flashed it right it away. I booted it up first to make sure it was working and then flashed it mins later. I just wanted it current since I will be using 3 of them really soon in my build.  Figured it couldn't hurt and want to disable the bios on them as well.  If you plan on flashing that blog I linked to is what I used and was really easy. 

Offline Dizzy49

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2014, 12:15:05 am »
I also have the LSI 9201 and love it.  I'm also curious what benefits the 9211 firmware gets you.
Server HW: Norco RPC-4220 | Supermicro X7SPA-H-D525 | 4GB Mushkin SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 | LSI 9201-16i | Corsair TX650 | 64GB Corsair Vertex2 SSD (OS)
Server OS: Windows 7 64bit Pro
FlexRAID RAID-F 2.0 Update 12, Cruise Control [SnapShot RAID], 9 DRUs (9x3TB), 2 PPU (2x3TB)

Offline mufti

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2014, 12:05:43 pm »
I bought an M1015. Flashing it is pretty straight forward.

NOTE: This card will not allow the hard drives to spin down. I believe I have a solution to this but yet to be tested.

So is there an 8 port card that supports spindown natively?  Seems like a lot of trouble for a partial feature set.

I've gone through a few card of late and I'm hitting walls on every one.  Most of newer cards branded as RAID functioning don't actually support true JBOD.  They require an initialization and the disk is still formatted with proprietary metadata.

All I'd like is a fast 8 port card, with zero configuration.  Plug in the drives, and they are recognized by all OS and can be read in any machine if pulled.  Dives spin down when not in use.  Does this exist?

Offline Dizzy49

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Re: Which SAS Controller Card is Recommended these Days?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2014, 01:51:08 pm »
Is it better to try to connect as many drives to 1 card as possible, or to split them across multiple cards?  Right now I have all my drives connected to my HBA. (9 DRU, 2 PPU)
If I add 5 more drives.  My current HBA has 4x SAS connections, so I could connect all of them to the one card.  I am curious if you get better performance two cards are used (each with 2x SAS connections), vs a single card.  I wasn't sure if all of the drives on a single card would flood the PCI slot creating a bottleneck or not.

For performance I'm talking about general read/write as well as parity calc.

Thanks!
Server HW: Norco RPC-4220 | Supermicro X7SPA-H-D525 | 4GB Mushkin SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 | LSI 9201-16i | Corsair TX650 | 64GB Corsair Vertex2 SSD (OS)
Server OS: Windows 7 64bit Pro
FlexRAID RAID-F 2.0 Update 12, Cruise Control [SnapShot RAID], 9 DRUs (9x3TB), 2 PPU (2x3TB)