well-supported SATA RAID card?

Jaime Bozza jbozza at qlinksmedia.com
Mon Mar 13 14:36:01 UTC 2006

>Anyone care to comment on Areca's ARC-11xx PCI-X cards? I'm 
>?thinking about getting an 1130 (12-port version).

We just installed an ARC-1160 so I'll try and answer as many of your
questions that I can.

>*Is the arcmsr driver in FreeBSD stable?

I've had no issues.  

>*Any issues with arrays larger then 2TB?

I think Areca does things a little differently than some of the other
cards (someone correct me if I'm wrong on this.) Basically you setup a
RAID set, which is just a set of disks.  Then you setup volumes in that
RAID set.  The volumes are where you define RAID level and Ch/Id/Lun for
access under an OS.  

The cards can handle volumes > 2TB without a problem and supports both
ways (Windows and LBA) of handling the volumes.   We currently have a
3.6TB volume (11 400GB drives under RAID 6) available under FreeBSD
6-STABLE with no real problems other than the gotchas that are known
basically.  Here's the page on FreeBSD's website about that:


>*Rebuild times?

Can't give you an exact since it's been a while since I tested the
original rebuild, but we've migrated the RAID set (and volume) twice
since getting the system and the migrations happened within hours.  I
was able to expand the RAID Set (adding drives) and expand the
corresponding volume set to fill the drives all while the system was
running without a hitch.

>*Command Line management software?

Haven't played with the CLI much yet, but it seems to handle every
command you would need to send to the card.

>*Is the company BSD friendly, no binary blob object in the driver?

Latest driver was built right into the kernel.  Updates on Areca's
website are in source form.

>*Competent tech support?

I've only used their support when I originally got an 8 port card.  They
were very helpful in answering my questions to realize I needed the
16-port to do what I wanted.

>*What does the ethernet port on the ARC-1130 do?

Out of Band management (telnet and HTTP) directly to the card.  The 1130
and above all have the Ethernet and will also do email notifications
directly without OS intervention.  Eliminates the need to run a daemon
under FreeBSD.  We've found the HTTP management daemon under FreeBSD to
have some problems (Core dumps occasionally), but once we started using
the Ethernet port we didn't need to worry about that.

>I'm primarily interested in this card because it can
>do RAID level 6 and based on the benchmarks I've seen 
>it's a top performer.

Everything has been smooth with the Areca and we are using RAID 6
without any issues.  I haven't done major performance tests myself so I
can't give you any hard numbers, but we've been very pleased with the

The problems I had were some initial corruption on our large volumes at
the beginning do to a crash (my fault) with a softupdates volume.  When
trying to fsck the partition it told me I needed over 2.5GB of RAM to
fsck the partition.  Researching the problem came out with an answer of
filesystem corruption that would be fixed easily, so I just reworked our
partitions so that I had multiple smaller partitions and removed
softupdates for now.  I've "crashed" the system a few times since then
and fsck worked just fine.

Any other questions you have, feel free to ask.

Jaime Bozza

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