Hardware RAID support? Which controller best to use?

Nathan Vidican nvidican at wmptl.com
Fri Nov 18 14:56:48 GMT 2005

Olaf Greve wrote:
> Hi Ray, Nathan (and others via cc per list),
> First off: thanks a lot for your answers, they're definitly very helpful!
> I have forwarded the messages to the person who'll have to make the 
> final call for ordering the hardware.
> I'm trying to get him towards ordering a 3Ware-Escalade 9500S-4 RAID 
> controller (or possibly the -8 or -12 one).
I have a 9500S-4 here, with 5 250GB RAID edition drives attached to it. - Works 
VERY well, have never had any issues with it at all, running RAID 5 array on it.

> One thing which is of importance is that their budget may not allow for 
> a really high end server, so they may have to decide to buy a semi 
> high-end server. This then may result in them taking Athlons instead of 
> Opterons, and it may result in a MoBo with 32-bits PCI slots instead of 
> 64-bits PCI slots. Judging from the pictures of the 9500S it has a 
> 64-bits PCI slot, but it looks like it might be compatible with the 
> 32-bits slots as well (at a performance penalty, of course).
> Would you happen to know if that's indeed possible, or whether they'd 
> better choose a different RAID controller?

3Ware cards all work 64/32-bit PCI slots. Also...

Cheap Opteron's can be had, even new hardware; look at Sun x2100's, starting at 
like $750 complete... or eBay a clone ;) You should be able to put together what 
you're looking for under $1000, plus the cost of your disks.... you didn't 
really mention what kinda load you'll be anticipating, connections/bandwidth 
capabilities/etc... but if you'd like to provide more specific requirements, 
(ie: 70 clients connecting from Windows machines to SQL for entry/updates, plus 
3 webservers querying average of say 5-10 users each...) then we (the list) may 
better be able to guide you.

> Regarding the MySQL versions and their settings: tnx for giving me 
> enough comfort to indeed give heavy preference for the FreeBSD amd64 
> version. Will (source) installing the version from the ports do, or do 
> you mean something else when you say that you compiled MySQL yourself?

Personally, looking into Sun's new x2100 for a pure mysql server setup over 
here, (cost $745 single Opteron 146/1GB ecc/80gb s-ata)... it'll be an upgrade 
to a dual PIII proliant box doing the job right now, (10800 connections per day, 
cascading updates accross 4 tables/180 fields of data about 3 times every 8 
seconds). Currently mysql takes about 35-40% CPU utilization; to further add to 
your 'windows vs freebsd' - if used solely for mysql, this same machine couldn't 
handle this load under windows - period.

> Regarding the benchmark results: I'd love to receive them. Can you 
> perhaps send them off-list to me?
> Regarding W*nd*ws vs. FreeBSD: I love your remark; I wonder if the 
> person I forwarded it to can laugh as loudly about it as I did. :D
> Finally regarding SCSI vs. SATA:
>>   I've had far better luck using SATA over SCSI in the recent couple 
>> of years.
>> We have several machines setup using FreeBSD and 3Ware RAID 0+1 that 
>> routinely
>> run with no problems and uptimes of 200 to 300 days at a time.

Hands down, SCSI is a stable and solid performer... but compare cost per meg, 
both in terms of storage amounts, and bandwidth - and S-ATA takes it.

> Very interesting to know. At present, I myself have a 754 socket AMD 
> Athlon 64 3.2 GHz (IIRC), running FreeBSD 5.4 release AMD-64, with an 
> Adaptec 2200S U320 SCSI RAID controller with 4 Maxtor Atlas 10KIV 36GB 
> drives attached to it in RAID-10 mode. So far it works a charm (though I 
> too had to effectively downgrade it to U160 due to the lack of 64-bits 
> PCI slots, grrr). I hope it'll keep performing well (so far uptimes in 
> the order magnitude you mention have been working fine for me as well on 
> SCSI - Adaptec 2100S RAID set-ups in my (now) fall-back server, and ever 
> after installing the AMD-64 one 34 days ago I haven't had to restart it 
> so far)...
> Yet, it'll be interesting to keep an eye on the SATA RAID performance 
> and costs. With such uptimes SATA will surely become (if it hasn't 
> already become so, that is) a very good alternative for SCSI.
> Cheers!
> Olafo

Nathan Vidican
nvidican at wmptl.com
Windsor Match Plate & Tool Ltd.

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