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

Mike Tancsa mike at sentex.net
Thu Feb 8 19:02:11 UTC 2007

At 11:52 AM 2/8/2007, 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.
>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?

There is the pass0 interface, but not sure what you can 
set.  Smartmon doesnt seem to work, or at least I havent used it. 
Here is what you get via the cli tool for disk info

# ./cli32 "disk smart drv=1"
   # Attribute Items                           Flag   Value  Thres  State
   1 Raw Read Error 
Rate                       0x0f      49      6  OK
   3 Spin Up 
Time                              0x03      98      0  OK
   4 Start/Stop 
Count                          0x32     100     20  OK
   5 Reallocated Sector 
Count                  0x33     100     36  OK
   7 Seek Error 
Rate                           0x0f      86     30  OK
   9 Power-on Hours 
Count                      0x32      81      0  OK
  10 Spin Retry 
Count                          0x13     100     97  OK
  12 Device Power Cycle 
Count                  0x32     100     20  OK
194 Temperature                               0x22      35      0  OK
197 Current Pending Sector Count              0x12     100      0  OK
198 Off-line Scan Uncorrectable Sector Count  0x10     100      0  OK
199 Ultra DMA CRC Error Count                 0x3e     200      0  OK
GuiErrMsg<0x00>: Success.

# ./cli32 "disk info"
Ch   ModelName        Serial#          FirmRev     Capacity  State
  1   ST3250823AS      3ND02GC5         3.01         250.1GB  RaidSet Member(1)
  2   ST3250823AS      3ND02WRF         3.01         250.1GB  RaidSet Member(1)
  3   ST3250823AS      3ND02X9G         3.01         250.1GB  RaidSet Member(1)
  4   ST3250823AS      3ND02YRL         3.01         250.1GB  RaidSet Member(1)
GuiErrMsg<0x00>: Success.

>2) Regardless of performance, have you actually tried a hard failure
>    with these controllers and seen what both the controller and the
>    OS do?

Yes.  Its not as nice as the 3ware (I have done LOTS of those and my 
heart remains at normal levels when I change out dead drives...) I am 
still a little nervous with the Areca, but it has worked so far on 
the couple that I have done.

>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)?

Not Areca branded, but the generic ones I have picked up seem to work 
just fine.

>4) string'ing the cli32 binary returns some references to SMART, but
>    the monitoring is generally retarded (literally, not slang) -- it
>    looks as if it just wants to use SMART to say "drive bad" or "drive
>    good".

Seems to give a bit more than that.

>This is not an effective use of SMART, and does nothing
>    for those wanting to monitor drives properly (read: temperature,
>    excessive ECC, perform SMART tests for bad blocks, etc.).
>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

I use it under RELENG_6.  The cli is a 42 binary, but it works just 
fine on RELENG_6. You dont need any klds loaded to use it, nor the 
monitoring daemon.

>The best out of the bunch in this regards seems to be Promise, who
>despite having "ehhh" controllers, has given Soren lots of documen-
>tation and has been helpful in providing him answers to his
>questions.  I can't say the same for other controller vendors.

But Areca and 3ware provided developer time to make the drivers for 
FreeBSD. Should this not be encouraged / applauded as well 
?  Especially 3ware, support has been awesome over the years and 
Areca I think has a lot of the specs open and published... Enough so 
that the People's Popular Front of BSD (aka OpenBSD) wrote their own 
native driver for the Areca.


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