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Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1

Looking For SATA Controller Card For Server 2012 Essentials

I've used all the avalible internal SATA connections on my Server 2012 Essentials box which total 8 in all. The motherboard is an Asus P8P67 Pro. For continuity I need another four SATA ports for the third installed backplane. I looked at some of my old hardware and came up with two of these:

SYBA SD-SATA150R PCI 2.2 SATA Controller Card

There is no mention of Windows 8 or Server 2012 driver support so I would prefer to use something else.

So I'm looking for a SATA controller card that ideally has 4 SATA ports without the need of adapters, has SATA III support, PCIe BUS interface, has Server 2012 driver support, easy install, good reliability and relatively cheap (~$40 USD or so but can go higher).

I don't have a specific need for RAID support on such a card. I just need to be able to add more HDDs,....

Thanks for any input!

Oct.



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

1 edit

Discussed previously, with my recommendations:

»Need a 6Gb SATA III card for SSD

Your choices are quite limited if you're on a budget. It's very unlikely you're going to find a 4-port card for around US$40 (ex. the 2-port Highpoint cards are/were something like US$30). You should be expecting prices in the low-to-mid triple-digit range. I'm also a little surprised: you shelled out US$250+ for Server 2012 Essentials but want to skimp on your storage controller? Priorities are backwards!

Also, reminder: when listing off an OS, be sure to state what architecture type (x86 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit)) -- do not blindly assume everyone supports 64-bit.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5
reply to Octavean

Looking at the specs on the motherboard, I see two x16 slots that can operate in up to x8/x8, two x1 slots and a 3rd x16 slot that is only capable of x4. This 3rd slot also shares lanes with the x1 slots, eSATA controller, and a USB3 controller. Which slot(s) do you have available in this server? It's likely you have them all available or at least one of the primary 16 slots and if so that's good because you're going to need at least x4 to take advantage of the card you want.

koitsu See Profile is right, you're not going to find a 4 port card for $40. The cheapest I see is a Highpoint 640L for $70. Once you step out of the Highpoint cards and into Areca or Intel you're up to $300+



Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1

All slots are available on the motherboard since I removed the video card I previously installed after the system took on server duty.

As I said before I can go higher on price. The ~$40 or so was a starting point.

I've actually wanted to buy a HighPoint RocketRaid 2720SGL for quite some time now but even if I did it wouldn't be for the Server 2012 Essentials (64-bit) box.

I've briefly looked at the HighPoint Rocket 640L before. It looked good IMO. It would probably be fine and the price is OK. It doesn't specify Server 2012 / 2012 Essentials driver support though at least not in the Newegg description.

I guess I need to look into it more,....


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

That looks like a cool card, one that I missed browsing Newegg last night. It doesn't look like a very good performer though: »www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sas···8-6.html. I'd expect RAID 5/6 throughput to be dismal on a card like that but their tests indicated RAID 10 was even worse

The 640L I found and the 2720SGL both indicate Server 2012 support on HighPoint's site. Unless there is some anomaly with Essentials (I haven't used Essentials yet), any x64 driver built for Windows Vista, 7, or 2008/2008R2 should work on 2012. Of course YMMV for any number of reasons LOL.



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

Thankfully Octavean See Profile only needs JBOD/non-RAID support, so the 640L might work for him. All depends on driver reliability.

The 640L is driven by a Marvell 91xx or 92xx (I looked at the driver package .inf files) series chip. That worried me greatly due to the 88SE9123 fiasco not that long ago.

However: I did find this site that indicates the "2nd gen" cards are driven by the 88SE9235 and provided photo evidence. So if you get the 640L, make sure you get one which is "2nd gen".

Using one of these as standalone non-RAID card would be best. All the reviews (and the manual I skimmed) did not leave me with a good feeling about the RAID support, so good thing you don't need it (I approve ).
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Yeah I've tried Promise and HighPoint "cheap" cards with RAID support before and believe me, if you rely on the controller for RAID, you REALLY get what you pay for. If you just want it for an HBA they are fine (as long as you can "turn off" the RAID BIOS and have it pass through the disks natively). I've been very happy with my PERC 5/6 cards but they only support SATA 3Gbps and they don't play well with Intel SMBus for some reason. Though they (and sometimes other "RAID" cards, don't pas through disks unless there is some config even if it's JBOD or a bunch of single drive RAID 0 groups (same difference likely).



Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1
reply to Octavean

I think the HighPoint Rocket 640L uses the Marvell 88SE9235.

So I'm OK with buying it at about ~$69.99 and I see listing on Amazon as low as ~$50 new. However, I also came across the HighPoint Rocket 620 dual port card for ~$15. Two of those at ~$30 total is starting to intrigue me.

Im OK with the HighPoint Rocket 640L though as long as it works reliably enough in Sever 2012 Essentials (64bit).



Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1
reply to Octavean

The Highpoint spec off of their product page states the following for the HighPoint Rocket 640L:

quote:
SATA 6Gb/s Non-RAID HBA > Rocket 600 Family Series
Feature Specifications

PCI-Express 2.0 x1 (Compatible with PCI-Express 1.0)
Serial ATA III (6.0Gbps) compliant, with speed negotiation Serial ATA II (3Gbps) and Serial ATA I (1.5Gbps)
600MB/s per SATA port
Industry Standard AHCI Compliant
Hot-plug capability
Supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ)
Out-of-the-Box Ready for Windows, Linux (Check AHCI detail OS support list)
Compatible with SATA (III, II, I) Hard Drives, SSD, etc
Support up to 2TB Hard Drives
Power Efficient – Going Green Saves Green
RoHS compliant


»www.highpoint-tech.com/USA_new/s···ions.htm

I wondering if this is in error as I would likely use 3TB and 4TB drives in my server.

JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

That's gotta be a typo, OR it doesn't support booting from said drives. You'd never boot from those drives without a UEFI system anyway but that may be what they are referring to.



Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1

OK, yeah,.... that makes sense,...

Thanks.



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
reply to Octavean

4 port internal x2 SATA for $40
»www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···16124062
I actually own it's sibling with 2 ext and 2 int ports
--
Wacky Races 2012!



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

Nice find/mention, aurgathor See Profile. Driven by the Marvell 88SE9235 too.



Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1
reply to aurgathor

said by aurgathor:

4 port internal x2 SATA for $40
»www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···16124062
I actually own it's sibling with 2 ext and 2 int ports

Thanks, I may very well get one of these as a "just to have around" sort of thing. Stuff like this always comes inhandy. I ordered the HighPoint Rocket 640L earlier this afternoon.


aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

One nice things about these cards
»www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?···ntPage=0
»www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?···ntPage=0
is that they use an x2 bus (x1 per 2 ports) on an x4 connector

Personally, I'd prefer to have at least an x4 bus for four SATA III ports, but such thing doesn't appear to exist under $100, and probably not even under $200.
--
Wacky Races 2012!


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

The Highpoint 640L he ordered has an x4 bus and it's $70 (scroll up, I linked it earlier in the thread). Well, the specs seem to be consolidated across all of their 600 series models as they indicate it's just x1 but it does use an x4 connector and other specs seem to indicate it's actually x4 but without getting one and looking at what traces are really hoked up where, it may be difficult to truly tell. (I'd expect their reps to just parrot the website specs and tell you the card is either x1 or x4 as they probably aren't engineers).



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

I'm 99% certain those are just x4 connectors with 2* x1 actually used. After all, they use the same chip as Syba.
--
Wacky Races 2012!


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Good point, I didn't think about the controller being the same. On one hand I'd be curious what the controller actually supports. Can it actually support x4? If so why not wire it up? The edge connector is already there so it's just the traces and unless they are out of real estate on the board for the extra traces, I'd think the larger connector is the bulk of the cost in going from x2 to x4. /ramble off



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

As per »www.marvell.com/storage/system-s···rief.pdf the chip itself cannot support x4. Of course, the maker in theory can add circuitry to support x4, but that's highly unlikely at that level and price point.
--
Wacky Races 2012!



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

Actually the storage card manufacturer can't add circuitry for the most part -- it would require Marvell either a) increasing the PCIe lane count the IC offers, or b) moving up to PCIe 3.0. Chances are they'd go with (a) and the chip would have a different model number.

The below assumes assumes you have a PCIe 2.0 slot that provides PCIe 2.0 x2 (or more) lanes, and not a PCIe 2.0 slot that supports x2 (or more) cards but only offers, say, x1 lanes. Anyway, to work out the math on this for those wondering:

PCIe 2.0 x1 = 1GByte/sec (1024MByte/sec)
PCIe 2.0 x2 = 2GByte/sec (2048MByte/sec)

SATA300 = supports up to 300MByte/sec
SATA600 = supports up to 600MByte/sec

(I'm also assuming a unit of 1024, not 1000 -- throughput, at least on networks, uses a unit of 1000, but I'll stick with 1024)

Standard MHDDs can do about 150-180MBytes/sec sequential from the platters -- note this does not reflect reads from the disk that are being fed by the on-disk cache (those can sometimes reach the SATA PHY speed, but I've rarely seen this with MHDDs).

So let's say you have 4x MHDDs that are magical and can do 180MByte/sec constantly (from LBA 0 to end of drive), sequential or random. I said magical, right?

4 * 180MB/s = 720MBytes/sec total

A single PCIe 2.0 x1 lane can handle that, with ~304MB bandwidth left over (say for cached reads). I think this would be fine.

The situation changes dramatically if a person decides to use present-day SSDs (ex. Samsung 840 series) with that controller, and the PCIe lane count becomes a serious bottleneck.

Since I have a Samsung 840 256GB SSD, and know what my sequential numbers are, let's use it as an example: 560MBytes/sec read, 256MByte/sec write.

Let's say you have 4 of those and stick them on the aforementioned controller:

4 * 560MB/s = 2240MBytes/sec read total
4 * 256MB/s = 1024MBytes/sec write total

So for reads you would be hitting a bottleneck capacity and losing, potentially ~192MByte/sec worth of throughput. For writes, no impact.

Thus -- the above controllers will do you just fine as long as you're using them predominantly for MHDDs. A mix of SSDs and MHDDs is fine too, just do the math and work things out. And don't forget about things like driver overhead and OS overhead too -- those numbers above are all just math, they don't reflect real-world numbers nor have I done any actual testing with such a controller to see what its limits are. But I do think using one of those for MHDDs exclusively would be perfectly fine.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

By "circuitry" I meant an interface between an x4 PCI-e bus and the x2 inputs of the Marvell chip.

SATA III add in cards make most sense in older PCs that don't have SATA III, and those PCs usually only have PCI-e 1.0 slots.
--
Wacky Races 2012!


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Yeah but what would the extra two lanes connect to? If the Marvell chip can only support x2, I guess they could add a second one and do 2 ports on one chip (it'd be an 8 port capable card with only4 active ports). I don't see them really doing that personally.

That said, I do mostly agree with who would be buying these cards, people that want SATA III but don't have them. People like Octavean See Profile are probably the exception and not the rule as for who would be using these. Chances are their secondary slots are NOT 2.0 compatible (though they may be) which effectively halves the numbers koitsu See Profile mentions and means there would be a bottleneck with an x2 card but not with an x4 card.



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23
reply to aurgathor

said by aurgathor:

By "circuitry" I meant an interface between an x4 PCI-e bus and the x2 inputs of the Marvell chip.

The 88SE9235 only has a single PCIe 2.0 x2 lane though. To benefit from a full x4 lane, they'd need to either increase the ICs lane size to x4 or use (or possibly multiplex) two x2 lanes (coming from the same chip).

I guess alternately (and more costly), a card manufacturer could actually put two 88SE9235's on one card, and use only 2 SATA ports per chip (rather than 4) to help deal with the limited bus bandwidth per chip.

said by aurgathor:

SATA III add in cards make most sense in older PCs that don't have SATA III, and those PCs usually only have PCI-e 1.0 slots.[

I dunno, I don't exactly agree with that. I think any kind of SATA300 or SATA600 HBA has its use even on a present-day PC; today's systems will usually give you (2) SATA600 ports and (2) or (4) SATA300 ports. Many people actually max those out; I can't tell you how many times I've seen people complain about only having two SATA600 ports (i.e. they want to make a system with a bunch of SSDs). This is exacerbated by by the fact that many of those mainboard vendors add a 2nd chip (Marvell, JMicron, etc.) for additional SATA ports, and those are usually the chips that are crap / have crappy drivers / don't play well with everything else on the system.

I've been saying this for years, but I really wish Intel would make dedicated SATA/SAS ICs. Literally just take the SATA (and for some, SAS) logic out of their southbridges, put them into a dedicated IC and sell that to vendors -- or make their own HBA that uses that. And only two chip versions: one with RAID, one without. They could do 4 or even 6-port cards this way, honestly. I swear, for small or mid-size businesses these would sell like hotcakes for people doing storage, solely because of how reliable their existing stuff is. As it stands right now, I can only trust a handful -- if that! -- of after-market SATA HBA vendors.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.

n_w95482
Premium
join:2005-08-03
Ukiah, CA
reply to aurgathor

said by aurgathor:

One nice things about these cards
»www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?···ntPage=0
»www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?···ntPage=0
is that they use an x2 bus (x1 per 2 ports) on an x4 connector

Personally, I'd prefer to have at least an x4 bus for four SATA III ports, but such thing doesn't appear to exist under $100, and probably not even under $200.

Both of those cards are physically x2, x4 is twice as long. I'm not sure why the 640L is physically x4, I don't see anything in the Marvell product brief saying that it can do PCIe 2.0 x2 or 1.0 x4. Perhaps it's sharing the PCB with another current or future product.
--
KI6RIT

n_w95482
Premium
join:2005-08-03
Ukiah, CA
reply to koitsu

said by koitsu:

Anyway, to work out the math on this for those wondering:

PCIe 2.0 x1 = 1GByte/sec (1024MByte/sec)
PCIe 2.0 x2 = 2GByte/sec (2048MByte/sec)

IIRC, PCIe 2.0 is half of that bandwidth, per direction and lane. 5 GT/sec and 8b/10b encoding.
--
KI6RIT

JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Depends. If he is calculating transmit and receive together then those figures are correct. Otherwise you're right, 2.0 is 500MB/sec each direction.



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
reply to koitsu

While I don't disagree that for some über geeks the two SATA III ports on the mobo may not be sufficient, I will stick to my original assertion that SATA III add-in cards in general make the most sense to those who have zero SATA III ports to begin with.

Previously, there used to be several other makers of PATA and SATA chips (i.e. Promise), but they don't seem to have many new consumer level products any more.

I'd be willing to pay over $100 for a good SATA III HA, but there are either the cheap, one chip solutions from several makers, or the much more expensive (often SAS) adapters starting around $400 - $500.

Yes, it would be nice if Intel would be selling separate SATA chips, but I'm afraid that we won't see those in the foreseeable future.

Having 2 chips with only 4 ports for an x4 bus is an interesting idea, though the 'right' solution would be to have a chip that's designed with 4 lanes.
--
Wacky Races 2012!



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
reply to n_w95482

said by n_w95482:

Both of those cards are physically x2,

No, the connectors are x4, with only x2 connected. When I bought mine the spec sheet on newegg still had x4 in it, BTW.

x4 is twice as long. I'm not sure why the 640L is physically x4, I don't see anything in the Marvell product brief saying that it can do PCIe 2.0 x2 or 1.0 x4. Perhaps it's sharing the PCB with another current or future product.

There is no such thing as an x2 connector, so to be able to utilize 2 lanes, they have to have at least an x4 connector.
--
Wacky Races 2012!

n_w95482
Premium
join:2005-08-03
Ukiah, CA

You're thinking just about the slots. In that regard, yes. Apparently Intel was pushing for an official x2 slot a couple of years ago but that didn't seem to go anywhere.

The cards themselves can apparently be x2, although I don't know if it conforms to the specs set forth by the PCI-SIG.

Take a look at these three cards, the differences should be apparent:

x1
x2
x4
--
KI6RIT



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

I took another look, and apparently some SYBA cards have x2 connectors (even though there is no such slot) while others have x4 connectors wired as x2. Apparently, I have one of the latter card (just checked): »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···16124056

In any case, both x2 and x4 have to use an x4 or wider slot since they won't fit into an unadulterated x1 slot.

I can post some pictures once I find my digicam's cable.
--
Wacky Races 2012!