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Recommend a PCI SATA Controller Card RRS feed

  • Question

  •  

    Hi

     

    I'm buying a second hand PC to set up with Windows Home Server, it has the following hardware :-

     

    Gigabyte GA-7N400V-L nForce 2 motherboard http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=1683&ModelName=GA-7N400V-L

     

    512Mb Ram

    40Gb Hard Drive

    DVD

     

    This motherboard only has two IDE Connectors and I was originally just going to upgrade the hard drive with a 250Gb IDE drive.  However now I'm thinking of getting a PCI SATA controller card and upgrading with SATA drives.  I have the following questions :

     

    1 - Can anyone recommend a cheap but decent SATA controller card that will be easy to setup in WHS, obviously one with Win2003 server drivers, prefably one that win2003 server supports out of the box.  Something I can buy in the UK online.

     

    2 - Whats the preffered setup for data redundancy, would I be ok with 1 250Gb drive and the original 40Gb drive, or would I be better off getting 2x250Gb drives?

     

    3 - Are there any known issues with the above motherboard, do I need to get specific win2003 drivers for it?

     

    Any help answering these questions would be greatly appreciated.

     

    Thanks

    Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:27 AM

Answers

  • It's not supported out of the box by WHS you need a floppy with drivers on it when installing WHS.

     

    I dowloaded the latest non raid bios and drivers from the Silicon Image site, flashed the card with the non raid bios and created a floppy for install. I've used the card with Beta2, CTP and am currently using it with RC1 with no problems.

    Friday, June 15, 2007 7:51 AM

All replies

  • 1.  I'm using 2 x Adaptec 1420's (you can add up to 3 in total).  Each supports 4 SATA drives.  They're PCI/PCI64bit and PCI-x compatible.  They have Win2k3 drivers, you just need to pop them on a USB stick or floppy to use them during the install process.

     

    I have the attached disks set as JBOD rather than a RAID array and WHS/Windows sees them as individual drives, so it doesn't cause any problems with how WHS manages the disks.

     

    Quite cheap too at around £60 per card, but they are RAID cards, not purely SATA cards (I couldn't find any 4 port SATA cards from my usual suppliers with Win2k3 drivers, though I did notice really cheap 2 port SATA cards available - around £15-20).

     

    2.  You'd be better off with 2 x 250gb drives, you will have more storage capacity and/or able to duplicate more data across multiple drives - why not go 2 x 250gb + 40gb though?  Redundancy with just 250gb + 40gb will be limited to the size of the smallest disk in a 2 disk setup IIRC.

     

    3.  Can't comment I'm afraid.

     

     

    HTH.

    Thursday, June 14, 2007 12:36 PM
  • Hi,

    I think this motherboard will be working fine Smile. Mayby it won't work at the best performance due to nvidia not creating any drivers for WIN2k3 but a standard driver should make this work.

    Greetings
    Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:30 PM
  • I'm using an oem Silicon Image SIL3114 based card (4 port SATA) with no problems from a Chinese supplier on eBay - £15 and about 5 day delivery.
    Thursday, June 14, 2007 10:38 PM
  •  Daedelus wrote:
    I'm using an oem Silicon Image SIL3114 based card (4 port SATA) with no problems from a Chinese supplier on eBay - £15 and about 5 day delivery.

     

    Did you need to get any special drivers from somewhere or was it supported out of the box by win server 2003?

     

     

    Friday, June 15, 2007 7:20 AM
  • It's not supported out of the box by WHS you need a floppy with drivers on it when installing WHS.

     

    I dowloaded the latest non raid bios and drivers from the Silicon Image site, flashed the card with the non raid bios and created a floppy for install. I've used the card with Beta2, CTP and am currently using it with RC1 with no problems.

    Friday, June 15, 2007 7:51 AM
  •  

    Using a 2-port Dabs Value SATA card [ cheapo card based on SiL3112 chipset] -   £9.99  on www.dabs.com

    WHS seemed to find the drivers for it online by itself ok.  

    Friday, June 15, 2007 4:56 PM
  • Though I'm not sure about that particular card, the general item of interest with the Silicon Image SATA chips is that they support the SI based SATA Port Expanders. I think the spec allows for a 15 way split, but current chips only are 1:5, so on a 4 port controller card, each equipped with a 5 port port expander, you could have 20 drives, if the driver provides support.

     

    The current 300 speed of the SATA controller ports and drives way exceeds the long term read or write capabilities of current drives, so sharing a port N ways isn't as bad as it sounds, and a SATA port, even fanned out to 5 drives is more to my liking than USB 2.0 that WHS folks seem to think worth recomending. 

     

    The big question here is whether the driver used for WHS supports SATA Port Expander/Multipliers.

     

    With 500G drives readily available in multiple brands below $120 that sets the price per gigabyte below $0.25. Most of the really smaller drives are getting hard to find and are silly because they cost MORE per byte, and still suck the same amount of monthly power bill. The 750 and 1000G drives are currently more per GB, but not that much more that they may still be a good deal considering the real cost of powering a drive over its potentially many year life. Having less drives, though enough to have solid redundancy, is power saving goodness.

     

    The desktop class drives are NOT as well rated as the identical drive loaded with datacenter raid class microcode that assumes an environment that 1) has quality power that almost never goes off (every disk stop is a controlled crash and is evil), 2) is well airconditioned, 3) need not bang hard on a failed read because the upstream RAID controller can recover the data, 4) is probably near many other drives and needs to not create needless vibration and yet must deal with adjacent drive vibration it encounters.

     

    That is today typically done just with different microcode on otherwise identical drives for at least the "near line storage" class drive that WHS typically needs more than obscenely expensive SAS or SCSI 15K rpm drives at multiple dollars per gigabyte. Seagate ...-AS drives become ...-NS, and Hitachi DeskStar ones with 3 year warantee and no stated MTBF become 5 year warantee UltraStars with an explicit 1,200,000 power on hour MTBF (that is 136 or so years!).

     

    When Seagate finally catches up with Hitachi and delivers a 1G drive in about 2 months, maybe the sweet spot on the drive price curves will change yet again. It has only be very recently that 500G were really attractive, and now we get to curse old limits set in products years ago that today are just infuriating. Some, like max file size, may have saved lots of bits on then small disks. But earlier versions of Diskeeper that assumed any disk at 750G or over was corporate, and home ones would be smaller, got it badly backwards, and that was just about $$$s.

     

    With WHS now the home owner has to use new yardsticks when shopping for server hardware.

    Saturday, June 16, 2007 4:32 AM
  • I have a pci card in my computer 2.4 intel, 1gig ram, (40gig 160gig and 500gig hard drive) the 500 is on the pci card.  runs great no problems.  Compusa has some good ones for about  39.95, wait for a sale.
    Thursday, June 21, 2007 1:32 AM