Author Topic: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$  (Read 33177 times)

Offline stang725

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Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« on: April 01, 2012, 03:08:52 pm »
Best 4 -port 6Gbps SATA controller for the $$$? Want 6Gbps to match the 4 SATA ports running drives on MB, granted drives don't need it but want same interface for future possibily of SSD in 5 years or so.

Don't need RAID and don't care about SMART all that much, would be nice I guess as a bonus but not a req.
Want it to be 4x PCI Express, have 3 slots to fill on board for future expansion so trying to get best bang for buck.
While price is main concern,  Win7 driver stability and hardware quality aren't far behind price.

Offline naeonline

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2012, 01:31:48 am »
Go search newegg.com, that's what most of us do anyway.

Offline stang725

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2012, 08:16:25 am »
Yeah, I'm a big fan of searching by number of reviews and going with best rating, I guess FLEXRAID wouldn't really be a big determining factor since its really win7 driver support that will dictate performance, well that and card features/quality. Thanks

Offline liq456

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2012, 09:49:57 am »
I bought this one LSI Internal SATA/SAS 9211-8i 6Gb/s http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816118112. Its a little pricey but it should give me plenty of room to add more drives.

Offline dscline

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 07:21:58 am »
I bought this one LSI Internal SATA/SAS 9211-8i 6Gb/s http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816118112. Its a little pricey but it should give me plenty of room to add more drives.

I just did something similar, but I did it the cheap way.  See here, and here.

The nice thing about these is they work with the HP SAS Expander, providing 32 ports off of each expander.   My expander arrived late last week, and the IBM M1015 is scheduled for delivery today.  Perhaps this weekend I can get it set up.  8)

It's worth noting though that these IBM/LSI cards need an 8x slot (OP is looking for 4x boards).  But if you have the slot, you can get a lot of ports out of it.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 07:24:45 am by dscline »
WHS 2011
tRAID final 23 DRUs 2PPUs
Supermicro C2SEA, Q9505s (stock), 4GB
Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8
IBM m1015 flashed to LSI 9211-8i/IT + HP SAS Expander
Generic SiI3132

Offline Cassius

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 07:46:50 am »
I would love to know how the M1015 compares to the Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8.

Please keep us posted.

Offline stang725

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2012, 11:22:52 am »
Actually misspoke, I can go 8x as well, ty for suggestions.

Yeah, not looking for a card @ $200+ just need a solid 6Gbps SATA interface without RAID capabilities

Offline dscline

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 02:33:35 pm »
If you can do 8x, for the money I don't think you can beat those $75 IBM M1015 server pulls.  You can flash them to the firmware that is appropriate for your needs (using FlexRAID, that most likely means flashing to a LSI9211-8i in IT mode).  That gives you 8 ports right off the bat.  Add a couple of (relatively expensive) SAS expanders, and they can easily support 64 drives.  Technically, you can cascade them for even more ports, but I've read that can be flaky.  But since you're looking for 4 ports, I would assume that you're not yet too concerned about what happens after 64 ports.  ;)
WHS 2011
tRAID final 23 DRUs 2PPUs
Supermicro C2SEA, Q9505s (stock), 4GB
Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8
IBM m1015 flashed to LSI 9211-8i/IT + HP SAS Expander
Generic SiI3132

Offline b-earl

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 03:13:42 pm »
I do have 2 IBM M1015 that I flashed to LSI SAS9210-8i IT Mode. I found them on ebay and got them for 45 Euros a piece. They have done there duty in my Server since last year without any problems. I can really recommend the controller.
Server HW: Chenbro RM41416 case | Supermicro X10SLM-F + LSI SAS 9305-16i | Xeon E3-1231 v3 | 16 GB DDR3 ECC Ram
Server OS:   Windows Server 2016 (UEFI) on 250 GB Samsung 850 Evo ssd
Transparent RAID 1.1.0 2017.02.11
Backupserver: Supermicro X9SCM-F UEFI + LSI SAS9211-8i IT FW
Server OS: Win 2016

Offline dscline

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2012, 05:34:34 pm »
I just did something similar, but I did it the cheap way.  See here, and here.

... the IBM M1015 is scheduled for delivery today.

Now that I have it physically in hand, based on appearances at least, I can definitely recomend buying these from this seller.  It shipped the same day I ordered it, it came well packaged, and while it was advertised as "used", and was not in its original ESD bag (the s/n on the bag didn't match the s/n of the card), the card looks new (no dust anywhere, not even between the pins), and the s/n sticker on the card says it was manufactured in Thailand 6-1-11.  So technically, I guess it's still under warranty.

But it's going to be this weekend at the earliest before I can test it.  With my setup, I can't swap it out until I have the SAS expander working, and the difficulty with these if they aren't in your main case is getting them powered. That may be dependent on another part that may not arrive by this weekend.
WHS 2011
tRAID final 23 DRUs 2PPUs
Supermicro C2SEA, Q9505s (stock), 4GB
Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8
IBM m1015 flashed to LSI 9211-8i/IT + HP SAS Expander
Generic SiI3132

Offline Brahim

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2012, 05:47:26 pm »
You guys are making me drool.  :P

Outside of cost and as someone else here posted, how does the AOC-SASLP-MV8 compares to the M1015?
Drivers?
Expandability?


Offline dscline

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2012, 06:19:16 pm »
how does the AOC-SASLP-MV8 compares to the M1015?
Drivers?
Expandability?
Well, since you told me I needed to swap out my controllers, I did some crash-courses, and this is what I've gathered...

The AOC-SASLP-MV8 (v1) is 3G/port, while the LSI9211/M1015 are 6G/port.  The newer AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 is 6G/port.  While the v1 is said to be compatible with the HP SAS expander (which seems to be one of the most affordable high performance expanders), it appears it is NOT compatible with link aggregation to the expander.  So while you can hang 32 drives off of an expander, with one SAS link to the AOC-SASLP-MV8, all those drives will share a 12G link to the HBA.  Since the AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 is the current, faster card, that was my first thought when you suggested upgrading.  But it's too new, I couldn't get any confirmation that it worked with the expander.  IF it did work (which I assume it would, but I didn't want to gamble), then that should upgrade that link to 24G.  The LSI 9211-8i is considered one of the best options for use with expanders, as it is also 6G, and it is confirmed to support link aggregation.  So if you wanted, you could connect both SAS ports on it to two ports on the expander, and have 28 drives sharing a 48G link.  Personally, I don't see myself needing 32 drives (on top of the ones I already have in my existing SASLP + MB ports), nor do I see needing that mach bandwdith to the expander.  But it's nice to know these parts have enough headroom that they shouldn't ever bee the bottleneck.   8)  As noted, those 9211-8i cards are way too expensive for me, but once I learned the m1015 was made by LSI and could be flashed to be a 9211-8i, and was widely available for even less than the SASLP, it was all over.  :)

As far as expandability, I believe I read the 9211 can technically address 256 drives.  But since it only has two SAS ports, that would require daisy-chaining one expander off of another, and I've read that can be flaky (the first expander gets overloaded processing all the data for itself and downstream expanders).  But you can at least put a single expander off of each SAS port, providing 64 ports off of one 9211-8i (with a 24G link to each expander).  More than I'll ever need, but again, it's nice to know I won't run out.

As far as drivers, they have them for all the usual suspects (see here), and they seem to be very up to date.  These are fairly popular enterprise solutions, so I presume they should be fairly stable, but we'll see.

The HP expander is by far the dicier choice.  HP only sells and supports these for use with their systems.  They are also expensive, so you have to find them used (I lucked out and found an open box at used price).  Older ones need to have the firmware updated to work with these cards, BUT, the only way to update the firmware is with it connected to an HP HBA (which is why I was happy to find the open box... it's new, so should have recent firmware).  The other catch with these is they have no external power connector.  They expect to be put into a PCIe x4 slot, and get power from there.  They don't talk to the MB, just use PCIe as a power source.  So depending on the application, these can a little trickier.  There are other expander options, but the HP seems to be the best bang/buck, if you can live with these quirks.

See this huge thread for info on the expander, and this page for info on flashing the IBM M1015 to an LSI 9211.

EDIT:  Just noticed this thread which may also be useful for anyone considering an M1015.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2012, 07:11:18 am by dscline »
WHS 2011
tRAID final 23 DRUs 2PPUs
Supermicro C2SEA, Q9505s (stock), 4GB
Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8
IBM m1015 flashed to LSI 9211-8i/IT + HP SAS Expander
Generic SiI3132

Offline Brahim

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2012, 06:52:10 pm »
Awesome and thank for the thorough post.
Everything I wanted to know in one single post. ;D

That HP expander is indeed pricey.
If you don't care about having more than 8 drives per controller, it looks like the AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 is the best option. Right?

Offline dscline

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2012, 07:11:56 pm »
If you don't care about having more than 8 drives per controller, it looks like the AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 is the best option.
Honestly, at this point, I'm still not sure if I would choose it over the IBM M1015.  On paper, their specs seem similar... both two 6G SAS ports and both have a PCIe x8 Gen 2 interface.  While it may not be fair to compare new prices to used prices, the fact remains that the M1015 is at least currently widely available (seemmingly barely) used for $75 shipped, yet can be converted to a card that sells for a LOT more than the Supermicro.  I think these LSI cards are considered the higher end enterprise solution.  If nothing else, it does have a much beefier heatsink.

The proof will be in the pudding when (or if!!) I get it working.  But at this point, as long as someone doesn't mind flashing firmware, the M1015 appears to be the better value.  I should clarify though, that the M1015 isn't exactly the same as the LSI 9211.  They are based on the same LSI controller, but the 9211 does RAID 5 and 50 out of the box, while the M1015 needs an extra "feature key" to do that.  Out of the box, it can only do RAID 0, 1, and 10.  The AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 doesn't do any RAID, which is probably one reason why it's less expensive (new), and hardware RAID isn't important for our use anyway.  But even if I don't need the feature, I'd rather have the more "marketable" card, in case I ever want to sell it.  ;)
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 07:13:28 pm by dscline »
WHS 2011
tRAID final 23 DRUs 2PPUs
Supermicro C2SEA, Q9505s (stock), 4GB
Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8
IBM m1015 flashed to LSI 9211-8i/IT + HP SAS Expander
Generic SiI3132

Offline dscline

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Re: Best 4-port 6Gbps 4x PCI Express SATA controller for the $$$
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2012, 07:44:48 pm »
While it may not be fair to compare new prices to used prices, the fact remains that the M1015 is at least currently widely available (seemmingly barely) used for $75 shipped
I did some searching, and it appears that it can be had new for this price too .  That seems a bit fishy, but that vendor does have good ratings on google.  It's strange, prices are all over the map for this thing.  It's over $300 at Newegg, but there are a lot of places selling it for less.
WHS 2011
tRAID final 23 DRUs 2PPUs
Supermicro C2SEA, Q9505s (stock), 4GB
Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8
IBM m1015 flashed to LSI 9211-8i/IT + HP SAS Expander
Generic SiI3132