Server RAID5: SAS/SATA vs. NVMe

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by fhturner, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. fhturner macrumors 6502

    fhturner

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
    #1
    Sometimes there are just too many good options... :p

    I am developing a plan for a Mac Pro server for a client of mine, and have been planning an SSD RAID5 for the main data store. I was liking this pretty cool solution from MaxUpgrades that situates 4 SAS or SATA SSDs in an optical bay, and hooks them up via an Areca 1216-4i RAID controller. Hardware RAID, can hit 2GB/s, doesn't take up HD bays or require bracket adapters to do so, and is even bootable. Nifty. Was planning on probably populating w/ four 1TB Samsung 860 PROs.

    Then, with the incredible performance out of even low-cost NVMe SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO (1TB all the way down to $228 now!), I wondered if it might be simpler to just throw 4 of those (or possibly PROs) on a HighPoint 7101A. This would also include hardware RAID, take up no HD bays, etc. Does take up a PCIe slot up, but of course, so does the Areca. And this way takes up physically less space and looks like less work to install.

    Costs for the cards and accessories are within about $40 of each other (MaxUpgrades $439 vs. HPT 7101A $398). Right now today on Amazon, the 1TB 860 PRO is $290 (x 4 = $1160) and the 970 EVO is $228 (x 4 = $912). So about $250 savings for the NVMe path. Observations:

    1. The 970 EVO can hit higher speeds (in sequential bursts anyway)...
    2. ...but has half the write endurance (600TBW vs. 1200TBW). [I'm not sure this will come into play in this setup.]
    3. Speed-wise, neither one will really have an advantage here, as both options will be able to saturate the 10GbE network link this server will have. Local max speeds are fun for benchmarks, but I don't think it'll be a factor here.
    4. I've used HighPoint RAID management before, and it seems decent, but I don't have much to compare it to. I have not used the Areca management software, but if it's better or more robust/polished, that would carry weight w/ me. Opinions, anyone?
    So, basically, I guess it comes down to whether or not the savings and reduced complexity of the 7101A + 970 EVO are worth the tradeoff from the "pro-ness" of the Areca + 860 PRO. That and the management software. Either option should be overkill for this application, but hey, if you're gonna do it, might as well do it right, right?

    Thoughts? Other things I haven't considered or should? Thanks!
     
  2. startergo macrumors 65816

    startergo

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2018
    #2
    I thought RAID and Mojave don't jive?
    "
    With the release of 10.14 Mojave, users can no longer startup from RAID volumes. This includes any SoftRAID volume and Apple RAID volumes.

    There is no workaround for this, and we do not expect there to be a solution going forward.

    We had several discussions with Apple to see if they would re-enable booting in the future, but the chances are slim to zero."
    https://www.softraid.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=974
     
  3. zipgs macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2018
    #3
    Should be able to with hardware raid, the OS shouldn't even know it's RAID. I've setup RAID, I have to put the card in a pc to configure it, but once it's setup, just move it to the Mac, and all works as expected.

    The apple raid controller hasn't worked well for the last few OS versions, I think that's what they are referring to.

    Has anyone used RAID on the highpoint card? It sounds like that'd work, but never had a chance to check one out myself.
     
  4. fhturner thread starter macrumors 6502

    fhturner

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
    #4
    This will be a High Sierra machine, so that I can still employ a useful version of Server.app (for now anyway). In any case, @zipgs is right, the system doesn't "see" a RAID when it's hardware, just a disk.

    Also, bootability isn't critical. I may wind up using a separate boot drive anyway.

    But....what about those options, eh?! :D
     
  5. startergo macrumors 65816

    startergo

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2018
    #5
    I was searching for a long time for cd-rom bay solutions and this looks pretty good. It would be great if hardware APFS raid can be booted from it.
     
  6. AidenShaw macrumors P6

    AidenShaw

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    The Peninsula
    #6
    I've been burned too many times with HighPoint driver support - I wouldn't go there.

    I wouldn't do RAID-5 without a hardware RAID controller with battery (or super-cap) backed cache.

    Also, verify bootability. Some of the cheap (HPT) "hardware RAID" controllers are really software RAID done in the controller driver. Not the same as true controller RAID that really does hide the RAID from the system.
     
  7. fhturner thread starter macrumors 6502

    fhturner

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
    #7
    Yeah, I think it's a pretty slick solution, too. Just not sure if it makes as much sense w/ the ability to slap 4 SSD blades on a PCIe card instead! :p

    I wonder if you actually have to have a driver w/ the 7101A, or if it works similarly to Amfeltec (no driver, right?) and the other single-SSD PCIe carrier cards. Guess I'm off to search for posts about that now...

    I know. You and I have done this dance before. :D But if you were to use the 7101A, AFAIK it has no battery, so that would rule it out. But then how are you gonna connect the NVMe drives AND have hardware RAID controller + battery? I think in this case, as I'd normally do anyway, I'd just have to make sure to have frequent backups.

    I tend to prefer separate boot disk/volume from the RAID. But was considering that maybe that was unnecessarily segregated and that maybe I should think about making a boot partition on the RAID container. Probably won't, but just entertaining the idea. I believe the Areca (have any experience w/ those?) _would_ provide an abstracted volume that could be booted from...
     
  8. startergo macrumors 65816

    startergo

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2018
    #8
    I wonder if you bought this card and tested it?
     
  9. fhturner thread starter macrumors 6502

    fhturner

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
    #9
    I have not yet begun the build. Need to meet w/ the client this week to further survey existing network connectivity, then we'll decide. Which of the 2 are you curious about (or both)?
     
  10. startergo macrumors 65816

    startergo

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2018
    #10
    I see only Max connect pro. Is there anything else?
     
  11. AidenShaw macrumors P6

    AidenShaw

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    The Peninsula
    #11
    I was a bit ambiguous here. I said "driver support", when a better term would have been "driver/firmware support".

    When hardware misbehaves - the problem could be in the driver, or in the firmware. The fix might be done in the driver, the firmware, or both.

    I went through a couple of years of several different versions of RocketRaid eSATA controllers that would hang and reset under heavy load. No problems under light load to a single or multiple drives, but heavy load to a RAID-0 volume seldom would run an hour without resetting.

    *Never* addressed by HighPoint - eventually I got a *much* more expensive MegaRAID controller and no further problems. I've since purchased a couple of more MegaRAID controllers.
     

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10 November 13, 2018