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

Jaime Bozza jbozza at qlinksmedia.com
Thu Feb 8 23:51:24 UTC 2007

> For what it's worth, 3Ware's latest PCI-E cards (9650 series) now
> support RAID 6.  The updated twa driver that supports them hasn't yet
> been merged into FreeBSD (see kern/106488 which I filed 2 months ago)
> but you can download either the source or the binary for it from 3Ware
> that works just fine.  The updated 3dm2 for it did make it into the
> Ports tree.

I noticed that when I was making my reply from earlier.  At some point
in time I may test out the newer (twa-based) cards.  It seems that 3ware
is actually interested in supporting those.  They never managed to get
the twe driver out of what they called "beta", so that's where my
experience ended.

Interesting thing - When I installed FreeBSD on the new system (pre-6.2
version discs) it didn't see the new Areca card.  I started to get
worried but quickly found out that the driver had been updated shortly
before 6.2 was released. Quick update and all was well.  So the kernel
driver *is* being updated.

> Driver annoyances aside, my 9650SE is considerably faster than my
> (both have batteries, both have the drive's write cache off),
> on writes, and they are both much faster than my Adaptec 2410SA (which
> has no battery option and thus needed write caching disabled).

I haven't tested the current system in speeds, but it's noticeably
faster than my other (1160 PCI-X) system.  Possibly due to the fact that
I was using WD4000YR drives in the first which do not support the
updated speeds of SATA2.  The current system does and the card detects
it.  The newer card also has an updated processor - Intel IOP341 instead
of an IOP33x series processor which I would guess makes a big
difference.  At least according to synthetic benchmarks going around the
net. :)

> I've never tried Areca.  I would probably like them, from the sound of
> things.  I'm sticking with 3Ware for SATA systems for now though...
> hey, personal preference and all.  For my next SCSI/SAS system I may
> have to do some serious evaluation of what's new out there...

Regardless of what you choose, there are a few decent options for
FreeBSD now.  Shows that people out there are actually starting to care
about FreeBSD for some of these controllers.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the same solid results with the mirroring
(RAID1) support for onboard SATA (Supermicro X7DVL-E).  I mirrored two
SATA2 drives (OS) and tried pulling one drive.  Placing it back in
didn't automatically start a rebuild, but I could force it.  Pulling it,
restarting, and then removing the drive from the RAID1 array (via the
BIOS) would then cause FreeBSD to panic at boot (or drive insertion)
every time.  I don't know if it was the fact that there was still
metadata on the drive so the ataraid driver thought something
differently, but it bothered me a little.  I had to disable ATA RAID in
the BIOS completely (and remove the ataraid device from the kernel) to
get FreeBSD to boot or allow the drive back into the system at all.
Since the motherboard RAID is just software RAID, I switched over to
gmirror but kept AHCI on so I'd still have hotplug support.  After that
I wasn't able to kill the system.

Jaime Bozza
Qlinks Media Group

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