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Permalink 10:36:19 am, by mosolova Email , 35 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: SAS Storage

Norco RPC-4224 Build -- Chenbro UEK2-13601 Expander Board Connected


The top image six Norco C-SFF8087-D SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 internal multilane SAS cables connected to the Cenbro board. The bottom image shows 24-pin power connector from power supply connected to the Chenbro expander.



Permalink 11:39:28 pm, by mosolova Email , 57 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: SAS Storage

Norco RPC-4224 Build -- Chenbro UEK2-13601 Expander Board is in


The Chenbro expander board has finally arrived (yesterday). I've put it into the Norco RPC 4224 chassis but nothing is connected to it yet. The board comes with standoffs and screws. Chassis already has standoffs, so I only used two of the screws which came with the chenbro board and two of screws which came with the chassis.


Permalink 01:20:07 pm, by mosolova Email , 57 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: SAS Storage

Norco RPC-4224 Build -- New Splitters, Internal Multilane SAS Cables Added

Chenbro AC UEK2-13601 Expander Board is arriving on Monday, in the meantime I have updated the power splitters (using two of Norco power extension cables now) and inserted six of   Norco C-SFF8087-D SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 Internal Multilane SAS cables.

I've ran into a very good review of Norco RPC-4224 Rackmount Chassis on "We Got Served"  blog -- highly recommend it.


Permalink 08:29:05 pm, by mosolova Email , 83 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: SAS Storage

Norco RPC-4224 Build -- Power Supply is in

When ordering cables for RPC 4224 I ran into this Power Extension Cable. It seems to be a good fit, more appropriate than black sleeved Power Splitters I used in RPC  4220 builds. On the images below the new splitter is on the left, looks like I will be ordering more of those to avoid clutter inside the box. Two of these cables should be enough for one chassis. Unfortunately Chenbro Expander has not arrived yet and I cannot proceed with the build.

4224 chassis with power supply      power extension cables



Permalink 07:51:17 pm, by mosolova Email , 884 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: SAS Storage

Photography and Data Storage Solution -- Building a SAS Storage Box


Digital photography opens new horizons.  You are completely self-sufficient now -- you shoot, post-process, store your images. Since you are a professional photographer, we are talking about storing terabytes of data, and you could lose your images because of a hardware failure.  But it's a daunting challenge -- you have too much data even to consider an internet based storage systems. Sounds familiar? You are at the right place.   A good data storage solution can save you many hours/money spent in data recovery. 

Building a SAS storage box
RAID 1 (mirror RAID) is the key. Since you need many hard disks you are looking for external storage solutions.
Norco DS-1500  and their previous model (which hosts 12 disks) were the first boxes I used. They are still in service, although they give me some trouble from time to time. The problem with these boxes is that you need a controller per box. Sooner or later you run out of slots on the motherboard and your computer zoo starts to grow... You become a computer technician instead of a photographer. More time spent in computer support, less time left for image processing, the amount of unprocessed data to store starts to grow exponentially. I've been there.
LSI MegaRAID SAS controllers, on the other hand, allow you to connect up to 240 SATA and/or SAS devices per controller. I am building my third SAS box at the moment and decided to share the expirence in hope that you might find it helpful. I would have appreciated having this information at the moment I started building my first SAS box :-)
My first two SAS boxes were built on a base of Norco RPC-4220, I am using Norc0 RPC-4224 for the new box.
To build RPC-4220 based SAS box I used the following hardware:
   - RPC-4220 case;
   - Chenbro AC UEK2-13601  Expander Board;
   - CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX power supply. This power supply is not listed among power supplies compatible with Chenbro expander, but worked fine for me.
  - 5 of Norco C-SFF8087-D SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 Internal Multilane SAS cables;
  - 2 Molex connectors; 

I had to replace five ball bearing fans forming the cooling wall with MASSCOOL fans. Before I did that, the box sounded like an airplane  -- there is no chance one can live in a house with a box sounding like that. Even if you put it in a separate room with a door closed -- chances are you will hear it from anywhere inside the house.
I used LSI MegaRAID SATA/SAS 9280-8e PCI Express card  in my computer. I thought that LSI MegaRAID SATA/SAS 9212-4i4e  card will do too, but it appears to be not compatible with the Chenbro expander. With a 9212-4i4e card you will be able to connect only one external SAS box to your computer directly. A second box will be connected to the first box, not directly to the computer -- a daisy connection.
To connect a SAS box to the controller I use a 4-Lane  mSASx4 (SFF-8088) to mSAS x4 (SFF-8088) cable. One of the cables I use is Adaptec ACK-E-mSASx4-mSASx4-2M, another is 3ware CBL-SFF8088SAS-20M, so far both work fine (one cable per each SAS box).
For the new RPC-4224 box I will need 6 of Norco C-SFF8087-D SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 Internal Multilane SAS cables, and I will be using a different power supply CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX . This could be an overkill, but the power supply I used for the previous boxes has been discontinued, and this one has very good reviews. Since the fans in RPC-4224 are supposed to be different I decided to wait and see how it goes. I am planning to add the images of the build in progress and of the parts I am using for this build.
What I don't like about my SAS boxes
I am not a big fan of MegaRAID Storage Manager. The lack of "pass-through" option is bad enough. When I talked to LSI customer support in April 2010, I've been told that the next Storage Manager release will support "pass-through" feature but this does not seem to be the case. I have May 2010 release installed in my computer and it does not support "pass-through".
Another complication seems to be a result of my computer's motherboard being ASUS DSEB-DG.  My computer cannot boot with any external boxes turned on. It prefers booting from anything other than the internal hard drives. You will not even see the internal hard drives among the boot options or on the boot menu if any ESATA, SAS or USB devices connected to it are turned on.
Here is how it all works for me. I need to boot my computer and then turn my ESATA and SAS boxes on. I turn on DS-1500 box and I can see the disks inserted in this box right away, no extra steps are required. With the SAS boxes, this is quite another story. I need to turn them on, start MegaRAID Storage Manager, connect to controller server, ask it to scan for foreign configuration and then load the configuration which was found.
It sounds like this would not be so complicated if my computer had a Supermicro motherboard.  Unfortunately one cannot upgrade the motherboard each time a new controller is added ...
I have moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 not long ago and the transition of the boxes to the new OS went smoothly. I did not get what I expected from Windows 7, but this is another story ...

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