What is a good choice of sata-ii raid controller for freebsd?

Freddie Cash fcash at ocis.net
Thu Feb 8 18:31:52 UTC 2007

On Thursday 08 February 2007 08:52 am, Jeremy Chadwick wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 08, 2007 at 12:47:10PM +0200, Clayton Milos wrote:
> > I can highly recommend the Areca family of SATA-II controllers. I
> > have a ARC-1110 (4 poort RAID controller) with 4x 320GB Western
> > Digital SATA-II drives attached to it in a RAID5 configuration.

The following is from my experience with 3Ware Escalade RAID controllers 
(7506-4LP, 9500S-8, 9550SX-8. 9550SX-12 single and multi-lane).

> I have questions:
> 1) Do these controllers, from a BIOS level, permit SMART commands
>    to be sent directly to the drives (via pass(4)) so you can
>    monitor drives for potential upcoming failures and perform
>    drive tests, via smartctl?

Don't know, never checked.

> 2) Regardless of performance, have you actually tried a hard failure
>    with these controllers and seen what both the controller and the
>    OS do?  A good example is to pull the SATA power plug out of one
>    of the drives in the array while it's powered on and see what
>    happens, both from a controller perspective and what FreeBSD does.
>    The same question applies to hot-swapping.

Pulling the plug on a drive running on FreeBSD 5.2.1, 5.3, and 6.0 didn't 
phase the OS.  A message was logged to the console and /var/log/messages 
that the array was degraded, an e-mail was sent to my account and my 
phone that the array was degraded, and everything continued merrily on.  
We ran the test server for three weeks with one drive disconnected.  
Couldn't really notice any performance lags in normal use (it was a mail 
filtering gateway box running Postfix, MySQL, Amavisd-new, and ClamAV).

When we plugged the drive back in, a message was logged (and send via 
e-mail) that a new drive was found, and a rebuild was underway.  Took 
three or four days to rebuild the array during normal usage, and 
performance did take a hit during this time.  After the rebuild 
completed, another message was logged and an e-mail sent saying 
everything was back to normal.

> 3) Does Areca provide any form of carriage/enclosure medium, such as
>    an enclosure which supports 4 drives, allows hot-swapping, and
>    allows you to query the enclosure for statistics (fan RPM, thermals,
>    and so on)?

Don't have any experience with actual enclosures (with fans and thermals - 
at least not for monitoring purposes) but the 3Ware cards work well in 
hot-swappable drive bays in our 2U, 4U, and 5U rackmounts.

> 5) Is there native FreeBSD 6.x binaries for administrative utilities?
>    It doesn't look like it, but maybe I'm looking at the wrong utility:
>    ~/V1.5_50930 $ file cli32
>    cli32: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1, for
> FreeBSD 4.2, statically linked, not stripped

Don't know about the ARECA but the 3Ware cli is a FreeBSD native binary 
(don't have any FreeBSD boxes with 3Ware cards at the moment to run file 
on - they're all Debian Etch now), although we used the web GUI for 
everything (3dm2).

Freddie Cash
fcash at ocis.net

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