Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

All things storage here: hard drives, DVD RW drives, little wicker baskets.

Moderators: morphine, Steel

Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:09 pm

Anyone ever use one of these things? I only have 2 SATA III ports on my workstation board (X58) and I'd like to add a couple more. I was wondering....in general are these things worth it or are they more trouble than they're worth? I won't be using it as a boot drive only as a Disk Cache and/or Write To drive for AfterFX and C4D, probably with an m4 from Crucial or a Sammy 840 if I can wait a week.

Here's a couple from newegg:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816104015 -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816129087 -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816115072 -

What's up with the $115 StarTech? I see it has 4 internal ports instead of the usual 2 but $115? Great, it supports NCQ but wouldn't they all if you're running in AHCI-mode on Win7?

Anyone have an advice or recommendations?

Thanks you guys!
canoli
Gerbil XP
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:15 pm

One issue with the nice cheap Highpoint card: It is a single-lane (1x) PCIe 2.0 controller. Theoretical maximum bandwidth from that interface is only 500 MB/s (real-world effective throughput is lower). That's just fine for normal hard-drives, but I'm assuming you want to use some sort of higher-end SSD with these interfaces, and that means even a single high-end SSD will be throttled by this card instead of by the theoretical SATA III maximum interface speed.

The other issue could be in controller quality between these different cards. I'm not saying that the $115 one is great, but it is at least a 4x PCIe interface that has enough theoretical bandwidth to support 2-3 SSDs.
4770K @ 4.7 GHz; 32GB DDR3-2133; GTX-770; 512GB 840 Pro (2x); Fractal Define XL-R2; NZXT Kraken-X60
--Many thanks to the TR Forum for advice in getting it built.
chuckula
Gerbil Elite
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 571
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:18 pm
Location: Probably where I don't belong.

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:16 pm

If you're looking for write performance, you might want to look at a PCIe drive like the RevoDrive instead. Otherwise, you're just looking for a PCIe->SATA3 adapter, right? That shouldn't be too hard, I wouldn't think.
Canon 6D|24-105/4L IS USM|70-300/4-5.6 IS USM|40/2.8 STM|50/1.4 USM|85/1.8 USM|Samyang/Bower 14/2.8 Full-Manual Rectilinear Wide-angle|24/2.8 IS USM|
Canon EOS-M|11-22/4-5.6 IS STM|22/2 STM|EF-M 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS STM|
Airmantharp
Gerbil Elder
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 5113
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:41 pm

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:35 pm

Sh-- thanks for pointing that out. No way I'm wasting money on a PCIe x1 card. The Koutec (whoever they are) doesn't specify and the reviews aren't great all in all. Lot of compatibility issues it seems.

Anyway - yes I'd be using this with an m4 128G SSD from Crucial - just ordered it. All I need is PCI>SATA III, yes, but as Chuck pointed out a 1x card is a bottleneck for an SSD.

I took it for granted these cards would all be PCIe x16 or x8 by now. Do I need to spend $$ and buy a real RAID card to get the top PCIe speeds?
canoli
Gerbil XP
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:00 pm

If you're already considering over $100 don't waste your time with the usual junk aftermarket SATA cards, sold buy the usual suspects that make el-cheapo usb/ethernet/serial/whatever addon cards. They suck.

If you only need a HBA, meaning any RAID is done in the OS, there are some good SAS cards to be found fairly cheap, you can tunnel SATA through it.

For just a HBA there are 8 drive LSI 2008 based cards, they tend to come with RAID/IR firmware turned on, but you can flash them to IT mode which is ideal for software handling everything.
These are PCI-e 2.0 x8 and the lowest price point controllers that can actually beat onboard ports in bandwidth/IOPs. The next price level is LSI 2308, PCI-e 3.0 x8 and not cheap.

There are some retail cards, its on newegg, LSI 921x and its $300. Shop smarter and get a server part pull or OEM replacement.
Most common variant is IBM m1015: I managed to buy two for $85 each awhile back, but given the popularity they are usually a little over $100 now.
There are Intel, Dell, HP and god knows what else variants out there as well, LSI is big in the SAS world.

For all of them you will need breakout cables for regular drives, unless you have a backplane.

2 x 24Gbps SAS ports = 8 x 6Gbps SATA ports with a pair of ~$12 breakout cables from monoprice.

So yeah if you are keeping track, I added 16 x 6Gbps SATA ports to my SAN server for <$200.

A ton of info out there and caveats, do some research before you buy. Big one: some desktop motherboards suck at working with anything but mass market consumer cards.
blah blah blah signature blah blah blah
Bauxite
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2006 12:10 pm
Location: electrolytic redox smelting plant

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:24 am

Be aware that many of these cheap PCIe x4 cards actually have multiple PCIe x1 SATA controllers connected via a bridge chip and therefore are capped at a maximum PCIe x1 bandwidth on any individual SATA port.

It can be hard to work this out from the manufacturer specifications, but if you look at the Startech details here you can see that it lists the controller as the Marvell 88SE9128 with bridge chip PEX8604. If you Google the controller name, you can find a datasheet here which shows that the chipset PCIe link is just x1 width.
Q9550@3.4 ~ Asus P5E ~ 4GB XMS2-6400C5DHX ~ Gigabyte Windforce 3X 7950 3GB
Xigmatek S1283 ~ LG DVDRW ~ Samsung F3 1TB ~ WD Caviar SE 640GB ~ Asus Xonar DX ~ Corsair HX 520W
Antec P182 ~ Logitech G7/G15/G25 ~ Sennheiser HD555 ~ BenQ FP241W
MrJP
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 827
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 5:04 pm
Location: Surrey, UK

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:40 am

wow. this got complicated in a hurry... :)

Maybe I'm confused (no, I'm definitely confused) but the Marvell controller is the same one used on my X58 board. The datasheet says it is "1x PCI Express 2.0 (5.0Gb/s)." That's normal for a PCIe 2.0 link isn't it?

I run my boot drive off the same Marvell controller - the 88SE91xx (although I use the msahci driver and not Marvell's) and I get the advertised speeds for my Crucial c300 128G SSD.

Were you saying the PEX8604 - what you termed the "bridge chip" - is that the concern? I can't find anything on that chip unfortunately.
canoli
Gerbil XP
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:47 am

I'm using the Highpoint 640L on my X58 and it performs great.

It's Marvell 9230, so two lane controller on a 4x board.

The drivers are stupid (detect it as SCSI so I don't know if TRIM works) but with Windows 8 supporting SATA6g on the default AHCI drivers I'll just go back to that once I get the new OS (very soon.)
Meow.
Savyg
Gerbil Elite
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 6:18 am
Location: The ever growing army of the undead.

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:50 am

In theory a 1x PCIe connection will be a bottleneck for a 6Gb/s SATA connection, though as you've found with your X58, in the real world this probably won't be a noticeable problem (except in some extreme benchmarks) as long as you don't try to run multiple SSDs off a single controller chip. I wasn't saying you should necessarily avoid this situation, just that you shouldn't get conned into paying more for a card with a 4x PCIe connector for single drive performance reasons when in reality it has exactly the same bottleneck as the cheaper 1x PCIe cards. There's still a possible benefit there with the 4x card if you're going to run two SSDs, as long as you make sure that the ports you use are using separate controller chips.
Q9550@3.4 ~ Asus P5E ~ 4GB XMS2-6400C5DHX ~ Gigabyte Windforce 3X 7950 3GB
Xigmatek S1283 ~ LG DVDRW ~ Samsung F3 1TB ~ WD Caviar SE 640GB ~ Asus Xonar DX ~ Corsair HX 520W
Antec P182 ~ Logitech G7/G15/G25 ~ Sennheiser HD555 ~ BenQ FP241W
MrJP
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 827
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 5:04 pm
Location: Surrey, UK

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:59 am

MrJP wrote:In theory a 1x PCIe connection will be a bottleneck for a 6Gb/s SATA connection, though as you've found with your X58, in the real world this probably won't be a noticeable problem (except in some extreme benchmarks) as long as you don't try to run multiple SSDs off a single controller chip. I wasn't saying you should necessarily avoid this situation, just that you shouldn't get conned into paying more for a card with a 4x PCIe connector for single drive performance reasons when in reality it has exactly the same bottleneck as the cheaper 1x PCIe cards. There's still a possible benefit there with the 4x card if you're going to run two SSDs, as long as you make sure that the ports you use are using separate controller chips.

It was pretty noticable on my box, though the Asmedia controller with one lane and proper drivers performed much better than the onboard Marvell chip.

I'd think as long as you're not using the Marvell 912x stuff you're good, but still recommend the 640L.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6816115114
Meow.
Savyg
Gerbil Elite
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 6:18 am
Location: The ever growing army of the undead.

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:25 am

I was looking into doing this same thing on my X58 board. It turns out that these PCI-e to SATA III adapters do not support TRIM and are only slightly faster than a SATA II port. In general, these cards do not provide actual SATA III speeds.

You might have seen it before, but this is a link to a similar discussion that happened when SATA III was just becoming available.

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1597525
kumori
Gerbil Team Leader
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:11 am

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:41 am

kumori wrote:I was looking into doing this same thing on my X58 board. It turns out that these PCI-e to SATA III adapters do not support TRIM and are only slightly faster than a SATA II port. In general, these cards do not provide actual SATA III speeds.

You might have seen it before, but this is a link to a similar discussion that happened when SATA III was just becoming available.

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1597525

Some of them do actually. Not necessarily with the manufacturer drivers, but with the MS ones (and the ASmedia ones you can't necessarily get direct from the OEM that made the card. Heh.)
Meow.
Savyg
Gerbil Elite
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 6:18 am
Location: The ever growing army of the undead.

$75 shipped

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:33 pm

Just noticed this, no excuse to put up with any of those cheapo cards right now:

http://www.servethehome.com/ibm-servera ... 5-dollars/
current listing:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-ServeRaid-M ... 1005070363?

Bracket optional, might be able to make your own or reuse another cards as they tend to be gouged a bit on ebay. ($10+ and shipping for 0.50c part = sigh)

Two cables per card from here, you want the "Mini SAS 36pin (SFF-8087) Male to SATA 7pin Female Cables - Forward Breakout":
http://www.monoprice.com/products/subde ... p_id=10254
(forward = SAS HBA to SATA drives, reverse = from SATA controller ports to SAS backplane, they are NOT interchangeable)
blah blah blah signature blah blah blah
Bauxite
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2006 12:10 pm
Location: electrolytic redox smelting plant

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:16 pm

canoli wrote:Sh-- thanks for pointing that out. No way I'm wasting money on a PCIe x1 card. The Koutec (whoever they are) doesn't specify and the reviews aren't great all in all. Lot of compatibility issues it seems.

You can tell it is x1 by the width of the PCIe connector in the product photo. A small connector like that is an indication of an x1 interface. A larger connector (x4, x8, x16) means that the card might be capable of running at the rate implied by the connector size, but you're still subject to any electrical limitations of the chip(s) involved (as we've been discussing).

canoli wrote:I took it for granted these cards would all be PCIe x16 or x8 by now. Do I need to spend $$ and buy a real RAID card to get the top PCIe speeds?

If you want to load up all the ports and run all the drives at full speed simultaneously, then generally yes. You're basically getting into server-class hardware.

MrJP wrote:Be aware that many of these cheap PCIe x4 cards actually have multiple PCIe x1 SATA controllers connected via a bridge chip and therefore are capped at a maximum PCIe x1 bandwidth on any individual SATA port.

It can be hard to work this out from the manufacturer specifications, but if you look at the Startech details here you can see that it lists the controller as the Marvell 88SE9128 with bridge chip PEX8604. If you Google the controller name, you can find a datasheet here which shows that the chipset PCIe link is just x1 width.

Yup. There are two of those Marvell chips on the card though, so maybe you can achieve effective PCIe x2 bandwidth... provided you're talking to a pair of drives that aren't connected to the same Marvell chip? :lol:

canoli wrote:Were you saying the PEX8604 - what you termed the "bridge chip" - is that the concern? I can't find anything on that chip unfortunately.

http://www.plxtech.com/products/expresslane/pex8604 (Not that it really matters, you're going to be limited by the x1 interfaces to the Marvell chips anyway...)

Bauxite wrote:Just noticed this, no excuse to put up with any of those cheapo cards right now:

http://www.servethehome.com/ibm-servera ... 5-dollars/
current listing:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-ServeRaid-M ... 1005070363?

Bracket optional, might be able to make your own or reuse another cards as they tend to be gouged a bit on ebay. ($10+ and shipping for 0.50c part = sigh)

Two cables per card from here, you want the "Mini SAS 36pin (SFF-8087) Male to SATA 7pin Female Cables - Forward Breakout":
http://www.monoprice.com/products/subde ... p_id=10254
(forward = SAS HBA to SATA drives, reverse = from SATA controller ports to SAS backplane, they are NOT interchangeable)

Nice find.

@canoli, if you're comfortable buying used this is probably your best bet for getting server-class hardware on the cheap.

If you don't want to do that (and have the PCIe slots available), your best bet from a bang-for-the-buck perspective may actually be to buy a pair of 2-port x1 cards.
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37962
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Recommendations for PCIe>SATA 6.0Gbps HBA

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:14 am

Thank you all very much for your input. Looks like I've got some research to do before I decide which way to go. Eventually I'll have to setup a RAID array once I start acquiring a lot more raw video (less-compressed) assets...the potential for some of the LSI cards I've read about (at the links provided by Bauxite) are interesting to say the least.

Maybe as JBI said a "pair of x1 cards" are the best bet for an interim solution; inexpensive, and since I don't really need the absolute blazing speed of SSD RAID right now maybe that's what I'll do. The small learning curve is attractive compared to flashing RAID cards and buying new SAS connectors...

Thanks again All!
canoli
Gerbil XP
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:55 pm


Return to Storage

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest