eSATA External Enclosure Recommendations

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Dadioh, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. Dadioh macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    Canada Eh?
    #1
    Well my movie collection has finally grown to the point of overflowing my internal disk drives. My setup is:

    Macpro1,1 with 2 X Xeon 5345 quad cores. 12GB RAM. 5770 graphics.

    90GB Agility 2 SSD as boot drive mounted in optical bay on ODD SATA port.
    1TB WD Black as home directory and user files
    3 X 2TB WD Green for DVD's and MP4's.
    2TB External WD Green in FW800 enclosure for Time Machine

    I have also installed a SIL3132 based PCIe1X card to give me 2 external eSATA ports (specs at end of this post). Seems to support JBOD according to the specs. I use this with a SATA disk dock to drop in a host of 2TB drives that I use to backup the 3 X 2TB internal drives.

    So now to my question.... I am looking at installing some sort of external enclosure to host additional space for movies. I think that the eSATA interface will be plenty fast enough for the primary use which is streaming movies within the household. However, I am not sure if I should be going for some sort of RAID setup or just as JBOD for simplicity. I guess that RAID would give me some level of protection from HW failure but I think that I still need the other backups anyways so RAID might be overkill.

    So the question you have all been patiently waiting for (sorry for the long post but wanted to give background)...

    Can anyone recommend reasonably priced enclosures for 2 to 4 disks?

    =========================================================
    SIL3132 card Features:
    Support one-lane , 2.5Gbps PCI Express
    PCI Express x1 interface , compatible with PCI Express x1, x4, x8, x16 slots.
    Integrated Serial ATA Transport,Link and PHY logic
    Compliant with Serial ATA 1.0a specification with support for full complement of SATA II optional features
    Supports all Serial ATA II features, including 3.0 Gbps SATA II transfer speeds, Native Command Queuing, port multipliers with FIS-based switching, programmable output signal swing strengths for longer external cables or extended backplanes, hot plugging, enclosure management and ATAPI device support
    Host Protocol
    Drivers supports Just a Bunch of Disks(JBOD)
    Supports DMA & PIO mode
    Optimized for transaction-oriented designs; minimal host overhead
    Supports two command-issuance mechanisms:
    Efficient in both embedded and PC implementations
    Reduces dependency on bridge behavior
    JTAG boundary scan
    Compatible with Mac Pro with PCI-E slots.
    Not compatible with internal SATA bays in Mac Pro swap Drive Rack
    Data Mode Only - controller and RAID array not bootable into Mac OS X
    Support OS X 10.4 , 10.5 & 10.6

    2 Internal SATA & 2 External Interface eSATA supporting/connect up to two SATA II devices (Jumper set)
     
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #2
    You might want to take a look at the Sans Digital TR4MP (it comes with an eSATA card, but it's faster than the SIL3132).

    BTW, the RAID functions of either card are software based, which is only viable for 0/1/10 and JBOD (some claim the can do level 5, but with out an NVRAM solution <hardware only>, it cannot deal with it properly - has to do with the write hole issue associated with parity based arrays).
     
  3. Dadioh, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

    Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

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    #3
    That looks really nice. Would look great next to the Mac Pro. I will check this out. I am in Canada so I may need to find a local distributor to get reasonable shipping.

    Thanks a bunch.

    ----------

    Seems like that particular model is hard to find. I did find the one below at Newegg.ca for $89 but it does not include the eSATA card and has free shipping.

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816111177

    Or with the eSATA card it is another $60 plus another $14 for shipping.

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816111164

    Is the card all that much faster than my current SIL3132 card. Is it worth paying an additional $74 for it?

    edit: According to one review I read they are just using an SIL3132 card anyways which should be the same as my existing card.
     
  4. Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

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    #4
    Followup question... If I use this as a JBOD implementation spanned across multiple physical drives and have a failure of a drive do I lose everything? I am using Snow Leopard. Just trying to decide if I should just treat these as individual hard drives or as a single spanned volume?
     
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #5
    Here's the silver unit + card (TR4M+ is what they're calling it) on newegg.ca. It looks a lot better than the black version IMO, particularly with a MP. Just personal choice though, as as it's just cosmetic (performance is identical).

    As per the RR622, it's cheaper than $60 (here). In terms of speed, it's faster, even with 3.0Gb/s disks (and at $40CAD, the price/performance ratio not too horrible either, as it is a 6.0Gb/s controller).

    But for JBOD, you can get away with the SIL3132 (good for a single 3.0Gb/s mechanical disk).

    No, but to get the remaining data, you would have to use recovery software before you could access it.

    It's just a matter of convenience; convenience in the sense of being able to store all of your movies on a single volume, or the convenience of not needing to run recovery software to gain access to the rest of the good disks if one of the members fails.
     
  6. Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

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    #6
    Thanks. Great info. I checked out the Hipoint card and one of the reviews said this... "Verified by HighPoint - the R622 does NOT support Port Multiplier (PM)"

    That would be a non-starter wouldn't it?

    But if I can get by with just using the SIL3132 card I already have I think I will try it. It is just streaming movies most of the time so speed isn't all that critical.
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #7
    The Sans Digital enclosures, of which some include the RR622, are Port Multiplier based. And according to Highpoint's website on the 600 series, they are Port Multiplier compliant.

    So either the person that had complaints was using the wrong drivers, or there was an issue between the RR622 and the PM enclosure used (not unheard of). As the RR622 does ship with that enclosure, there won't be an incompatibility issue between the card and enclosure (Sans Digital would have put in the time to validate their enclosure worked with the card properly).

    So for this particular combination of gear, I wouldn't be too concerned of a hardware issue (defective perhaps, but not "just won't work together" sort of situation).

    In terms of the MP, the kit has been used by multiple MR members, so you wouldn't be going into this blind over the MP either. :D
     
  8. Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

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    #8
    OK. That makes a lot of sense. I usually take the reviews on retail sites with a large gulp of salt :)

    I think I will try out the setup with my SIL3132 based solution and see how it works. My current dilemna is whether to set it up as a spanned JBOD or to just keep it as individual disks. I assume in spanned mode that adding disks later is done seamlessly with reformatting and transferring data.
     
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #9
    They can be quite useful though, as those writing the reviews usually don't have a financial incentive to influence their post. ;)

    But you do have to read carefully to see if it will pertain to you or not, and in some cases, do some research to figure out what's going on.

    It's not a full featured hardware controller (RAID card set in JBOD mode = disk operations are handled by a separate computer on the card), so I can't say for sure (don't use JBOD under OS X).

    On either the SIL3132 or RR622, both are software based (simple SATA controller, no dedicated processor for RAID or JBOD - it's all handled by OS X's software under Disk Utility).
     
  10. disconap, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

    disconap macrumors 68000

    disconap

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    Portland, OR
    #10
    My two cents--I have two of the Sans Digital TR4M-B connected to our server; actually, I just decommissioned both and will likely reuse both at workstations. They are excellent, bottom line towers with port multipliers. You need to be sure the card/port you use supports port multipliers; on our server, we've even had luck just using a sata-->esata patch cable. But not all mobos or add-on cards support port multipliers, so be careful.

    I do highly suggest them for the price, and yes, if you get the brushed metal they do look quite nice next to a Mac Pro or G5 Powermac. One suggestion--don't even bother with hardware RAID unless you decide on JBOD. I've never used it and use only OSX RAID and mdadm for linux, and I've definitely noticed performance improvements and next to no failures. Really, unless you're running the thing off a netbook, the overhead of software RAID is so minimal with modern chips that there's really not a ton of benefit to hardware RAID outside of mapping genomes and the like... [EDIT--I suppose if you're using the external with multiple operating systems without a front end, i.e. plugging it into random computers using different OSs, then hardware RAID would come in really handy--for diagnostic purposes that could be a plus if you have different machines with different OSs, but in my personal and office set-up it's never come up]

    As for storage vs. reliability, I suggest RAID5. It's not the best in performance or redundancy, but there IS some redundancy, and if you want a little protection but also the ability to increase storage capacity on one volume, I say run with it. We just switched our servers over to RAID6, but those are servers and are constantly being worked, and I didn't want to have to rebuild as often. I've never had a problem with RAID5 for personal use.

    (actually, I've never had a problem with RAID0 for personal use, but the risk is extremely high)

    EDIT2--one other note--they claim to be hot swappable, and technically they are; however, there's a front "door" that is sort of pointless, as to access and remove the drives you can either not secure them (which puts the front end weight on them a little oddly) or secure them with these big ended screws, so to remove the drive you have to open the case, use the screws to pull the drive out a bit, then remove them to remove the drive. Not a huge minus for the price and purpose, but does make the hot-swappable point a bit moot...
     
  11. Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

    Joined:
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    #11
    A little bit of an update here. I decided to buy a replacement card for my generic SIL3132 card. I ordered the one linked below:

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/MXPCIE6GRS/

    So I guess that in addition to getting sata3 speeds to the enclosure I also have the option for RAID5.

    However, I have standardized on using WD Green drives for lower power and I am wondering if they would be OK for a RAID5 setup? I seem to remember you had to buy upscale WD RE? drives for RAID?
     
  12. disconap macrumors 68000

    disconap

    Joined:
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    Portland, OR
    #12
    You'd have to check with Sans Digital, but I'm not sure you'd be seeing SATAIII speeds with the enclosure (and definitely not if the drives aren't SATAIII), But unless you're using SSDs (which you aren't) you're not going to see much of a difference anyway, so it's a non-issue, and the SATAIII compatibility makes you a bit more future-proof (though again, there are a lot of articles about performance of cards on the system bus, you should read up on them).

    I think with lion you have the RAID5 option already (you may have it with Snow Leopard as well, not sure as I've never used it in either). The WD greens won't slow you down much; if I've read this thread correctly (NOTE--skimmed), you're using it for media storage, so performance isn't an issue, as streaming a video, even in hi-def, isn't very data demanding compared to running your OS or using a drive for scratch/writing to with pro apps. I stream most of my media through a 10/100 network and never see stutters or problems...

    ----------

    Also, just as a note--read my edits to my first post. Those things may be important to you. For us they were (especially the hot-swappable, as it removes your ability to repair a RAID5 without unmounting it), which is why we got a rack-mounted solution...
     
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #13
    There are valid reasons for a hardware RAID DAS (Direct Attached Storage) system.
    Redundancy not possible via software RAID, or what software RAID isn't suited for (5/6/50/60/51/61 arrays in particular, as there is no hardware solution to the write hole issue associated with parity arrays).
    Performance not possible on a cheaper controller (more ports or ability to run SAS Expanders; we're talking greater than say 20 disks <5 disks per eSATA port, and a 4 port eSATA card).

    In the case of some OS's (Open Solaris or some Linux builds), there is a newer form of software RAID similar to traditional parity based levels (RAID-Z1/2) that do not suffer the write hole issue at all, so a simple SATA or SAS controller + software work quite well (and it's cheaper). There are limitations though, so it's not entirely the same as a hardware controller (Online Expansion, Online Migration, and recovery options tend to be absent in particular, which is the same with any other software implementation).

    If the user is there to fix a failure most of the time, then it does offer a nice balance of performance, capacity, and redundancy (keep in mind, RAID 5 is better than 10 on a modern hardware RAID controller, so it's no slouch for either sustained file transfers or relational databases). Just don't get too crazy in the member count (with larger capacity disks, best to keep it to ~8 members or less to reduce the odds of a second disk failure during a rebuild). I've seen as many as 12 manage OK, but they've been smaller capacity disks (too risky of failures during a rebuild with larger capacity disks).

    Larger capacity/member counts and/or a remote system (no hairless ape employee to stuff drives in immediately after a failure), a RAID 6 is a better implementation.

    But it's not advisable if it's performed by software rather than a proper hardware RAID controller (no NVRAM solution to deal with the write hole issue).

    Given the hardware being examined, best to stick with 0/1/10 or JBOD (what OS X is capable of, and is suitable for a software implementation).

    That card does support Port Multiplier chips. As per what speeds you'd actually get (in terms of SATA III), that will depend on whether or not Sans Digital is using a 6.0Gb/s Port Multiplier chip, which they don't use (state 3.0Gb/s).

    As per running RAID 5 on this card, it's a software implementation, and I would not recommend it (can get corrupted data due to the write hole issue associated with parity based levels).

    Consumer grade Green drives are great for backups, and work with non-RAID cards rather well.

    Don't try to use consumer disks with a RAID card however, as they don't have the right recovery timings in the disk firmware (won't be stable at best, and they may not even initialize). This where the RE versions are necessary, not an option (ATTO or Areca RAID cards would be examples of such cards).
     
  14. Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

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    #14
    Thanks for the useful info people. I really appreciate it.

    The new SATA3 eSATA card is more about future proofing I suppose since the Sandisk may not use a 6Gb/s port multiplier chip and I am using WD Green Drives that are only 3 Gb/s. Also, I had some stability issues when I upgraded to 10.6.8 (had to back down to 10.6.7). I think this may have been related to the SIL3132 drivers since I read that they are not Lion supported and 10.6.8 may have introduced some Lion features that highlighted the issue. Still a theory but I figure an NewerTech (OWC) product is much more likely to be Mac friendly.

    So where I have ended up after all of this (all in theory since I haven't received any of the HW yet although Newegg tracking says it is on the vehicle for delivery today... Yay).

    JBOD Spanning Advantages
    Simple
    Single volume so I don't need to worry about manually dividing up files across different volumes

    JBOD Spanning Disadvantages
    If a disk fails then I need to use disk recovery to get my info back even from the healthy disks

    RAID5 Advantages
    Performance improvement
    Some data safety aspects but does not remove need for backup
    Has a really high "coolness" factor to have RAID5 in my system ;)

    RAID5 Disadvantages
    Requires at least 3 disks. I currently have 2 on order
    Would probably not be happy with WD Green drives which is what I have

    JBOD Separate Volumes Advantages
    Simplest solution of all
    Failure of one drive does not affect the others
    Manual backup via SuperDuper easy 1 to 1 with backup disks

    JBOD Separate Volumes Disadvantages
    Requires manual management of files to capacity level across drives


    So in the end I think that I will KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) and just go for JBOD separate volumes. Very low brow I know but the application (streaming video) really doesn't demand much.
     
  15. mfram macrumors 65816

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    San Diego, CA USA
    #15
    I'm using the 5-disk enclosure from San Digital on my Linux box. I've been very happy with it, it even came with a small PCI-e 1x eSATA card. Works great on Linux, should work fine on Mac too.

    I have 5 2TB disks configured in a host-based RAID5 set for a total of 8GB of storage.

    Yes, you can hot-swap the drives although it's a relatively low-quality plastic enclosure. We're not talking enterprise-grade. But it's appropriate for home-use.

    I'm getting a read speed of about 120MB/sec from files on the RAID array.
     
  16. Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

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    #16
    What model of disks are you using?
     
  17. Honbe macrumors regular

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    Aug 12, 2011
    #17
    I am using SansDigital eSATA TR4X enclosure with RR622 card (bundled) with Mac Pro for my backup needs. RR622 support PM and works under OSX 10.7. All four disks as a separate drives, all of them consumer grade HDDs (Green Caviars). It is OK for a backup.
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #18
    No storage system removes the need for a backup system (RAID or otherwise), no matter how well planned it is (things can and do go wrong).

    DO NOT use the RR622 or newertech eSATA RAID controllers with RAID 5, as they're software based.

    If you want to run RAID 5, then you need to get a proper hardware based RAID controller, and enterprise disks off of the HDD/Hardware Compatibility List from it's manufacturer; can be found in the Support section).

    Good choice. :)
     
  19. Dadioh thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dadioh

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    #19
    Update. I received the pair of WD20EARS 2TB drives and the Enclosure yesterday (1 day from order to receipt... Yay Newegg)

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816111177

    I didn't bother taking the case apart to screw the drives in. They fit quite securely just by the retention of the connector and this thing sits in one place on a shelf so I don't move it around. This gives me hot swap if I ever wanted to.

    The unit looks great and everything fired right up. Fan is pretty quiet and the blue light is invisible since I have it up on a shelf and never work in the dark :rolleyes:

    I am using it with my current cheapo SIL3132 card for now since the Newertech one will take a week or so to arrive. Set it up as individual drives (not spanned) and started copying movies across last night. 1.9TB took about 7 hours so that is a transfer rate of 75MB/s according to my calculations. That is from internal WD Green to WD Green in the enclosure.

    Very happy with the enclosure and grateful for everyone's advice.

    Will let you know when the new eSATA card arrives for my impressions on that.

    Cheers
     
  20. mfram macrumors 65816

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    #20
    I'm using Hitachi drives on the Sans Digital enclosure. Hitachi HDS72202. I believe those are the "Deskstar 7K2000" drives.
     

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