Areca ARC-1880ix8 or ARC-1680ix8

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by rdru, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. rdru macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    Areca ARC-1880ix8 or ARC-1680ix8

    Which one is better for the following setup:

    –Mac Pro 12-core 2.6 with MacOS X Server
    3x8GB ram
    OWC SSD Pro 120GB (boot and applications) - in optical slot
    4x 2TB SATA II 7200 HD (in RAID 5)

    –RAID Enclosure OWC QX2 4x 2TB SATA II 7200 HD (for backup and disk intensive experiments)

    –NewerTech Voyager Quad (for maintenance and disk experiments)

    The RAID controller will have the battery backup module ARC-6120

    Eventually I will add another SDD in RAID 0.

    This server will be used for research/development in the areas:
    – multithreaded algorithms/applications
    – disk intensive algorithms/applications

    I will have students working remotely (with VNC or not) and running their programs
    on the server.

    I have also considered the HighPoint RR4321 which is cheaper but their
    quality of support turn me off.

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions.
  2. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    some good info and benchmarks on the 1880 series stuff the link shows the 1680 vs the 1880
    but this is full up with 16 HDD on it

    never put a highpoint raid in a machine :) unless you are OK with downtime ?

    you mention doing disc intensive stuff on the OWC QX2 ?
    my thought is use that for BU only and keep the disc intensive stuff on the areca controller ? unless it needs to be on that for some reason :)

    the 1880 is the new stuff but it sounds like you are only going to have 4 discs in raid 5 off it ? is this correct ?
    the 1680 in the end is going to be fine but might as well future yourself a bit with the 1880 series ?
    since you mentioned price point and the highpoint ?
    just a thought the 1200 series is also a good price point ? and not sure how many students are going to be on the machine at one time ?

    so my thought would be look at the 12 series or the 1880 series skip the 16 sries
  3. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Bare minimum:
    • Use an ARC-1222 to do what you've listed (you can run an internal to external cable to a 4bay SAS enclosure for an additional 4x disks to be used for experimentation or expansion). You could even use that enclosure for backups if you wanted.
    • Run the SSD in the empty optical bay (adding a second unit for a stripe set will be a bit more involved when you're ready, as you'd need to use at least one HDD bay).

    As mentioned, the QX2 is slow, and only suited for backups, not performance oriented experimentation (why you should use the SAS enclosure on the card).

    I've no idea of your budget or potential future needs (more ports be a better idea? Migrate to SSD's?), so without such information, I don't know where to go from here. :confused:

    Going by the price differences and performance alone however (budget can handle this), I'd take an 1880 series card over the 1680 series at this point for future possibilities (namely, SSD's once they come down in price, and the write cycle limits of the low cost drives <MLC> are acceptable for parity based arrays).
  4. rdru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    Thanks to Honumaui and nanofrog for the help.

    I am a faculty professor and have to make the most of our short funds.
    I need lots of cores to run our experiments, they don't have to be super fast.
    Since I'll have this fancy Mac Pro, it better handle the backups as well.

    We also research on massive data processing. For that I need 2 or 3 independent
    disks. The internal disk array should provide 500MB/sec, the QX2 about 200MB/sec,
    and the Voyager over 100MB/sec with 7200 disk. Would be nice to have 3 SAS RAID0
    sets with sky rocketing transfer speeds and Seek time, but for my research I can factor the
    transfer rate and be able to evaluate the algorithm's speed with other (more fancy) setups.

    We will also experiment using the HD5870 processors to run some CPU intensive
    parallel algorithms.

    I read the suggested reviews and the ARC-1880 is much better.

    One possibility is to use an ARC-1880i ($600 newegg, $624 pitstop):
    (1)–The 4 2TB drives will be connected through TransIntl ProCable $128.
    (2)–The remaining SFF-8087 would be connected to a SAS–4xSATA fanout cable.
    (3)–Two SATA connections would go to the SDDs in the optical bay
    (one now and the other for future expansion in RAID0).
    (4)–The remaining 2 SATA ports I would like to cabled it to two eSATA ports and
    connect the backup unit and to the Voyager.

    This setup would provide high performance and be less expensive than the ARC-1880ixl-8 ($900 pitstop)

    I am not sure of the cables/adapters to use for (2), (3) and (4).

    For (2) I found solutions from OWC $60 and pitstop $68.
    If they work, we can use 2 SATA connectors for the SSDs.

    For (4) I don't know which cable/adapter to use.
    It would require a "female" SATA (to connect to the SATA end of the fanout cable) to and eSATA bracket.
    I just received an email from pitstop suggesting this.
    Using the ARC-1880ixl-8 (or the ARC-1222) would simplify the (4) setup and allow the use of the
    SANS DIGITAL TR4X. But with the TR4X I would not have any eSATA ports available for the Voyager.

    The SSDs would be installed in the free optical bay with either OWC Multi-mount kit $40 or SNT-SAS425 $55.
    The SNT cage allows for 4x 2.5" devices and is good for future upgrades.
    I don't know if it will work on the MacPro. Having just one power connector simplifies the muti-drive setup.

    Again thanks for your attention.
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    To get 500MB/s out of a RAID 5 array, you'll need to be running 6x disks (bare mininimum), and you'd need to keep capacity to 50% filled or less for it (target disk = 1TB RE3's; $130 each). Adding disks (say the card has a limit of 8 without using SAS expanders, as the 1880 series is capable of using), you should be able to reach 680 - 700MB/s in RAID 5 (you can hit 680 on the 1680 series, and the 1880 series is faster).

    My observations with Areca's fastest cards in terms of performance (800+ MHz processors):
    Performance ~= n members * single disk sustained throughput * .85​

    But the mention of a 3x disk SAS set, means 8 ports won't be sufficient. So you'd need to be looking at the ARC-1880ix-12 as a bare minimum card (assuming you don't need additional ports for future expansion). This would allow you to run both the SAS and SATA arrays off of one card, and get you the throughputs you require.

    I'm not sure where you're located, but newegg has it (ship to the US and Canada only), and at a decent price; $860 (here).

    That leaves the internal HDD bays and empty optical bay for separate disks unless this is what you mean to use the Voyager for), including an SSD or two (ICH has a bandwidth limit of ~660MB/s, so keep this in mind, as there's SSD's out there that can hit 250MB/s for sustained transfers, and the C300's can actually exceed what a 3.0Gb/s port can handle (claim 330MB/s; a 3.0Gb/s port tops out at 270 - 275MB/s).

    It's the newest card out right now, and it's already proven to be faster, and they may yet eek out more performance (that's usually how it happens; performance <and stability for any issues that may surface> increases as newer firmware revisions are released).

    RAID card: Get the ARC-1880ix-12 ($860 at newegg, which is the cheapest I've seen it so far). Reason = it has sufficient ports to get the 2x arrays (SAS stripe and SATA RAID 5) with the performance requirements you've listed above.

    1. I'm not sure what you're trying to do here (nothing shown for the link, but if you're trying to use the HDD bays with the card, use the kit from MaxUpgrades; same cost as that from TransIntl, but it appears to be of better quality, and it's known to work as advertised; cost = $129).

    2. Finding eSATA enclosures that are not Port Multiplier models are getting harder to find, so you'd do better using a SAS enclosure (uses MiniSAS port = SFF-8088 connectors per 4x disks). The Sans Digital TR8X is a good enclosure, and the cheapest one I'm aware of.

    To get the internal ports to such an enclosure, you'd need 2x internal to external MiniSAS cables (SFF-8087 to SFF-8088). The price for the pair is $119.

    3. There's only one connector per optical bay, so you'd need to put it in the second optical bay (pull the optical drive and use an external USB enclosure; better as it works with any OS, is more common, and it's fast enough anyway) if you want them on the ICH (system's SATA controller), get a small card for the additional SATA port needed (run it in slot 3 or 4), or use it with one of the cables included with the card (SFF-8087 to 4i * SATA = internal MiniSAS breakout cable).

    BTW, it's rare that the breakout cables are included, which is one of the reasons Areca does offer a better value (cost $28 if you have to buy them).

    4. Could make sense.​

    Ultimately, I'm not sure how you're trying to use the ports, as there seems to be too few for your performance needs with the SAS, SATA RAID 5, SSD, and external connections to the Voyager.

    I've figured the Voyager would be connected via an eSATA card, such as the newertech 6.0Gb/s or a 3.0Gb/s using a SIL3132 chip ($50 and under $15 respectively). Drivers for the SIL3132 card can be found here.

    The ARC-1880ixl-8 is useful if you needed to upgrade the cache and has an external port (usually shared with one of the internals, so they're not actually independent, but useful for SAS expanders), but your description of what you're doing makes me think this isn't the best choice.

    Adapters and SATA disks don't play well together, as the signal voltages are rather low (600mV DC), and are very sensitive to contact resistance and cable distances.

    BTW, the internal to external cables linked are 1.0 meters in length, which is the maximum you can go for passive signals (which is how the drives will be operated).

    Adapters do fine with SAS, as the data signals operate at 20V DC.

    Use an eSATA card, such as either one linked above. You want to keep the ports on the RAID for drives in the RAID.

    I'd recommend the SNT cage.

    How to get power to it:
    SATA Backplane Extension Cable
    Molex Extension Cable

    You'll need to cut off the correct Molex end (male), and splice the power cables together (follow the wire colors and locations) using solder + heatshrink tubing, crimp connectors, or wire nuts (any of these will work; cleanest = solder + heatshrink tubing IMO). No matter the splicing method however, it gets power without sacrificing the DATA line on the original cable to the optical bay (you may want/need this someday), and won't void the warranty. ;)

    There's been some confusion for me as to what you're trying to get installed physically, combined with the throughput requirements you've listed, so if you can clarify, this could help me as well.

    It would be possible to attach:
    • 2x SSD's
    • 6x SATA HDD's for RAID 5 (bare minumum; 7 max, as that reaches the port limit)
    • 3x SAS HDD's for the mechanical stripe set

    all to the RAID card.

    How to do this: Put the SAS disks internally, and the SSD's and (6x ) SATA HDD's in the external Sans Digital enclosure. If you want the 7th disk in the SATA set, place that internally as well.

    You can place a separate boot disk in the empty optical bay if you wish(velcro or zip ties are sufficient to mount it with, and it's cheap and easy to do). There are adapters if you prefer however.

    • Use an eSATA card for the Voyager.

    The above description would get you what you need, from what you've listed.
  6. rdru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    Big thanks nanofrog,

    I am finishing the configuration and will post shortly.

    I am in Brazil, and since the equipment is for research we don't pay taxes,
    but there is a tedious process to get this exemption.
    So we have to plan every single detail so that all pieces work together.

    You helped a lot,

  7. rdru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    The configuration is so involved and enhances so much the MacPro that I prepared a detailed
    description of the major items, their prices and how they are connected.

    I hope it can be of use by others.

    The MacPro 12-core 2.66GHz can be bought either from BHPhotoVideo or from
    The later allows custom configurations, no taxes, and has a bundle with your choice of
    OWC SSD with their brackets for mounting it on the optical bay. See it at MacPro Bundle.

    3x8GB RAM will come from either OWC or TransIntl.

    The controller and associated items are the most difficult part to setup properly.
    The detailed list follows where [indicates the cable used]. Prices are rounded up and
    do not include shipping nor taxes. Each major item is in bold with a brief description.
    Follow the link in the price for more info.

    ARC-1880ix-12 1xSFF-8088, 3xSFF-8087 w 3x Mini-SAS to 4x SAS/SATA cables 820 ProVantage
    SFF-8088 --> TR4X [TR4X Mini-SAS to Mini-SAS cable] RAID5 (backup and massive data experiments)
    SFF-8087 --> 4 MacPro HD bays [MaxConnect cable] RAID5 (Home & what ever)
    SFF-8087 --> SNT-SAS425 [ARC-1880ix-12 Mini-SAS to 4x SAS/SATA]
    --> SSD1 (MacOS Server, Applications, Swap)
    --> for future SSD2 in RAID0
    --> 2.5" W7 OS
    --> 2.5" Linux OS
    (one of them can be connected to the MacPro SATA to off load the Areca controller.
    which one takes the honor??)
    SFF-8087 --> SATA-4XES1D + ACC-INS-4900-0 [ARC-1880ix-12 Mini-SAS to 4x SAS/SATA]
    --> NewerTech Voyager [eSATA Voyager cable] (maintenance and experiments)
    ARC-6120BA-T113 Battery Backup Module (can not find a seller for this item)
    KVR800D2D4P6/4G Kingston 4GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM ECC Registered w/Parity 116 newegg
    (extended controller cache)​

    MaxConnect BackPlane Attachment for Mac Pro [2010] Systems 129 MaxUpgrades
    (allow the connection of controller card to the 4 MacPro HD bays)
    SNT-SAS425 SNT 4x2.5" HDD in 5.25" bay SAS/SATA2 Hot Swap RAID cage 55 newegg
    (5.25" bay holds 4x2.5" HDD in the empty MacPro Optical bay)
    CABLE-S15S15M4 Athena Power 5+5" connects SATA 15pin (male & female) to 4 newegg
    Molex 4pin female (to power the cage from SATA power cable of MacPro)
    SATA-4XES1D 4-Port eSATA Centronics Bracket 27 pitstop
    ACC-INS-4900-0 Slot L-bracket with Centronics cutout 3 pitstop
    Connected to 1 SFF-8087 [ARC-1880ix-12 Mini-SAS to 4x SAS/SATA]
    TR4X Sans Digital TR4X 4 Bay SAS/SATA Enclosure w Mini-SAS to Mini-SAS cable 227 amazon
    [connected to SFF-8088 through its own cable]
    NWTFWU2ES2HDK NewerTech Voyager Q Quad Interface w eSATA/FW400/FW800/USB cables 90 OWC
    (allows use of bare SATA drives 2.5" or 3.5" connected through 4 interfaces)
    [connected to eSATA port on SNT-SAS425 through its own eSATA cable]
    It would be nice if we could route one one the MacPro SATA HDD connectors to one of the disks
    in the SNT cage to off load the Areca controller. Has anyone done that???

    I could not find a SATA female to SATA male to use the available Optical MacPro SATA connection
    to use it with one of the 4 disks in the SNT cage. Any suggestions??

    nanofrog and Honumaui your critics and suggestions are very welcome.
    Thanks for your time and support for so many users in this forum.

  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    A few notes:
    1. The card includes 3x SFF-8087 * 4i breakout cables
    2. If you run the OS X boot disk off of the Areca, it has to be flashed with EFI firmware in order to boot the disk. As a result, you cannot boot a Windows or Linux disk from the Areca. That means they'd both have to be attached to the system's ICH controller.
    3. The other option is to have those disks on the Areca, and run the OS X boot disk off of the ICH (leave the card as BIOS, as it can be accessed via drivers under OS X). Easier IMO. Just attach the OS X boot disk to the cable connector (actually the Backplane cable) you need to modify to get power to the 4 *2.5" cage that will reside in the empty optical bay. You can place the OS X boot disk under the disk in HDD bay 1 (via industrial velcro <meaning industrial adhesive> or zip ties). This will allow you to boot all 3x 2.5" OS disks (up to you to decide which will be SSD or HDD) and still use the RAID card with any of the three OS's once you've installed the correct drivers (boots BIOS = Windows and Linux, but any supported OS will be able to access the card once the drivers are loaded).
    4. If you use the external port (SFF-8088), you need to establish which ports it uses to prevent performance issues, as there's a chance it's a shared port (i.e. is shared with one of the internal port connectors).

    Please pay attention to #3, as it would be the best fit for what you're trying to do IMO (doesn't waste ports on the Areca, throttle the ICH, and still gives up to 10 ports for the RAID set).

    Place the Voyager on an eSATA card. I can't stress how important this is (remember, the RAID card won't handle consumer mechanical drives well at all). It's also a cheap solution = best way to go.

    This also means you'd want to run enteprise 2.5" disks for Windows and Linux if you go mechanical (consumer may work, but the chance for instability, even in single disk mode, wouldn't be worth the hassle IMO). Simply put, I see the enterprise models as "cheap insurance" = far fewer headaches/aggravation for single disk mode as well when attached to a RAID card.

    I've only seen the ARC-6120BA-T112 (works for some of the 1880 series, but not all, according to Areca's main page on the family). I'd call or send off an email, and see what they say (whether or not the ...T112 would actually work, or where you can get it). Worst case, when they'd think it would be released for sale (assuming the ...T112 cannot be made to work).

    Personally, I do think it's a new model (i.e. space reasons or power requirement is different), and it's not yet shipping. So I suspect you'll have to be patient. :(

    Unfortunately, this one won't work. If you download the manual and dig a bit, you'll notice it needs an x8 or x16 configuration/ranking. The DIMM you've linked is only 4x, and would be a problem (seen this before with the 1680 series).

    BTW, with past cards, the 2GB capacity is the "sweet spot", as the peformance gains diminish as the capacity increases ( = less cost/performance ratio). However, this may not matter to you (just want the largest DIMM for the cache, as it will still run faster).

    I presume you mean to run part of the RAID 5 from here, and the remaining disks from the external enclosure.

    If this is incorrect, please let me know.

    Use this for the Windows and Linux SSD's. Place the OS X boot disk under the drive in HDD bay 1 (velcro or zip ties would do for a mounting solution).

    If you use this, you would have difficulty getting a SATA cable attached to the cable in the optical bay as well to get data transfer to/from the OS X disk.

    You may be able to get around this issue by shaving the connectors on the add-on cables, but the moddified backplane cable assembly I mentioned previously solves this problem. Cleaner as well I think.

    I wouldn't recommend this (see above in terms of consumer disks <presumably what will be used on the Voyager>).

    There's also the issue of the amount of work that you'd have to do to get those disks to be recognized (consumer or enterprise won't matter). That is, you'd put the drive in the Voyager, enter the card via ARCHTTP, set the disk/s as single, and then you'd be able to use it for anything. You'd also need to delete it when done. This is a PITA to say the least, and actually could damage the card in time (write cycle limits of Flash on the RAID card, as that's used to store a copy of the setup and partition tables).

    An eSATA card is the easiest way to go, and it's not expensive. Seriously. Don't make this more complicated than is necessary, especially when the solution can be had for less than $15USD (including shipping).

    As per physical locations, place the RAID card in slot 2, and the eSATA in either slot 3 or 4.

    If you run 4x of the set on the internal HDD bays, this will give you 8x disks for the RAID 5 (3.5" format). You could add another pair in a pinch, but they'd have to be 2.5" units (2.5" cage). This is a bit of a problem for your SAS set however. That would end up being constructed of 2x 2.5" disks and 1x 3.5" for example (actually leaving 7x disks for the SATA RAID 5).

    Assuming this is acceptable for you, this could work. The SSD's are a bit of a problem.

    Actually, the more I think about this setup, the ARC-1880ix16 ($872.44USD; BTW, provantage is a good place to get cards, as is ewiz; the 1880 series are still showing up at various vendors) would be a better fit card wise (sufficient ports to take all the SATA disks as well as the SAS units). Voyager still gets connected via an eSATA card. You'd also need to go with the Sans Digital TR8X to take the 3.5" disks, as there's insufficient drive locations with the smaller unit you're looking at. Using the internal to external cables to connect it would prevent any issues with the external port on the card as well (safer, as the answer as to whether or not it's shared is currently unknown).

    But verify #4 (begining of this post) before proceeding to connect the SAS enclosure if you proceed with the smaller enclosure, as you could end up throttling your performance somewhere (if it's sharing one of the internal port connectors). As I mentioned, this has been done before, and would be a big disappointment if it happens.

    By placing the Voyager on an eSATA card, however, worst case you find what port gets shared internally (if that's the case, as this needs to be verfied), and leave it disconnected. At least this way, there's no need to deal with returns (unless something you receive is damaged/non functional).

    Connect this via an eSATA card (reasons above).

    It would already have power, so all you'd need to do is use a standard SATA cable, and attach it to the Backplane extension cable you'll have to modify to get power to the 2.5" cage.

    This may be more attractive than using velcro or zip ties, but it will take away one of those bays, as they could potentially allow another 2.5" disk to be attached to the RAID card (why I it may be acceptable to use the velcro/zip tie mounting scheme).

    You don't need it.

    Option A = Setup as suggested, based on what you've posted this time around:
    • ARC-1880ix16 $872 (attach 3x SAS, Windows and Linux OS disks, and 7x SATA for RAID 5 = 12 disks; 2 ports open in the cage, 1x internal and 1x external for future growth)
    • MaxUpgrades kit $129
    • Sans Digital TR8X $400 (use one of the included cables from the external port on the card; just make sure it's not sharing an internal port)
    • internal to external MiniSAS cables $60 (connect the TR8X)
    • 2.5" cage $55
    • Voyager $60
    • eSATA $14 (eBay link)
    • Backplane Extension Cable $4
    • Molex Extension Cable $4

    Subtotal (no shipping, disks, or RDIMM to increase the cache) = $1598

    This solution gets you the SATA and SAS sets you wanted (meets your performance requirements listed previously), and a good solution for the external Voyager unit you want.

    The OS disks make things a bit of a mess though, and why the card's port count was pushed. It does offer a bit more growth however in both physical drive count, and what can be used in the system (2.5" and 3.5" disks), so it's by no means a total waste. Particularly as more SSD's go to 6.0Gb/s and exceed what a 3.0Gb/s port can handle.​

    Option B:
    • ARC-1880ix12 $820 (run the OS disks internally off of the ICH, and the RAID disks off of the ARC-1880ix12; 3x SAS disks, leaves up to 9x for the SATA RAID 5)
    • Sans Digital TR8X $400
    • Sans Digital TR4X $230
    • 2x internal to external MiniSAS cables $119
    • 2x Icy Dock mounts $24 / $36 (place 2x in the HDD bays, and the 3rd 2.5" disk in the empty optical bay or all 3x in the HDD bays; lower price is included in the subtotal)
    • Voyager $60
    • eSATA card $14 (eBay link)

    Subtotal (no shipping, disks, or RDIMM to increase the cache) = $1667

    Assuming the OS disks won't exceed what a 3.0Gb/s port can handle, then they can be placed on the ICH (makes less of a mess in terms of disk format limitations; 2.5" or 3.5").

    You can even opt for the larger card here as well, and use 2x TR8X enclosures instead of an 8 + 4 bay configuration (gets you the physical space needed for drives to utilize the additional 4x ports).​

    It's all going to come down to how much growing room you're going to need before you have to replace the card.
  9. rdru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009

    I inquired Areca over the battery and included cables with the controllers.
    See the response:

  10. rdru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    Areca reply to battery and bundled cables with the controllers:

  11. rdru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    Correction on ARC-1880ix-12 Battery

    New email from Areca:

    The ARC-1880ix-12 and larger models use the t113 battery.
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    This is the same as the information listed on the 1880 series page. I just can't find them, which lends me to think they're not actually available just yet (did a search for this post, and NOTHING shows up; just the T112 version). :( At best, they may not realize that the battery isn't available yet (support dept. not in the loop as to whether or not they're being manufactured, and if so, if shipped, who got it,...), but ultimately, I don't think they were honest about it (batteries are considered low priority, as they expect these systems to be using a good UPS solution). :mad:

    Worst case, get the UPS, and add the battery when it becomes available (you really want a UPS anyway). I'd go for a refurbished SUA1500 (Line Interactive) as a bare minimum, and the SURTA1500XL if at all possible (Online unit). There's an entire thread on this if you're interested in the details (why). ;)
  13. rdru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    One more update from Areca about the Battery


    One more bit of info from Areca:

    The spec page on the ARC-1880 series states that the ARC-1880ix-12/16/24
    has 512MB and 1GB elsewhere in the same page. I notified them to correct
    this mistake. These 3 controllers have 1GB standard cache.

    Given that I'll not buy more memory for the controller.

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