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MicroServer N36L/N40L/N54L - 6 Drive Edition

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It sounds like I'll need to try the same card in the N54L that I use in my first unRAID. That is an x4 PCI express SataII port multiplier card. It has two external ports and four internal ports. So you can set it up to use all four internal ports or two internal and two external. I use four, four bay external enclosures with it. The Rosewill RC-218. I got one from Newegg back in March 2011. It looks like they still sell it.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816132018

 

I was hoping there might be something a little cheaper now but I guess not. $80 is good for what it does although it was $5 cheaper back then.

 

I like that card. I had it at one time. it worked OK.

You could search for an another low profile eSATA adapter to externalize the other two ports.

 

This is the X1 card I used for SATA III.

 

StarTech PEXESAT322I PCI-Express x1 Low Profile Ready SATA III (6.0Gb/s) 2 Int/2 Ext SATA Controller Card

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816129101

 

 

For me the SATA III was important for the two new additional internal drives.

 

ICY DOCK MB971SP-B DuoSwap 5.25" Hot-Swap Drive Caddy for 2.5" and 3.5" SATA HD/SSD

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817994143

 

Although expensive, it's what I needed.  1 SATA III SSD and 1 SATA III 3TB 7200 RPM drive.

 

I was looking at the ICY dock last night. But I was wondering about cooling. With that ICY Dock, does the N54L still keeps those drives cool since that enclosure doesn't have a built in fan? Although if my plan for the setup works I would only need an ICY dock enclosure that houses one 3.5" drive. I have one in my second unRAID that has a built in fan under the drive that works very well. If it will fit in the N54L my plan was to purchase another one.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816215033

 

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It sounds like I'll need to try the same card in the N54L that I use in my first unRAID. That is an x4 PCI express SataII port multiplier card. It has two external ports and four internal ports. So you can set it up to use all four internal ports or two internal and two external. I use four, four bay external enclosures with it. The Rosewill RC-218. I got one from Newegg back in March 2011. It looks like they still sell it.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816132018

 

I was hoping there might be something a little cheaper now but I guess not. $80 is good for what it does although it was $5 cheaper back then.

 

I like that card. I had it at one time. it worked OK.

You could search for an another low profile eSATA adapter to externalize the other two ports.

 

This is the X1 card I used for SATA III.

 

StarTech PEXESAT322I PCI-Express x1 Low Profile Ready SATA III (6.0Gb/s) 2 Int/2 Ext SATA Controller Card

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816129101

 

 

For me the SATA III was important for the two new additional internal drives.

 

ICY DOCK MB971SP-B DuoSwap 5.25" Hot-Swap Drive Caddy for 2.5" and 3.5" SATA HD/SSD

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817994143

 

Although expensive, it's what I needed.  1 SATA III SSD and 1 SATA III 3TB 7200 RPM drive.

 

I was looking at the ICY dock last night. But I was wondering about cooling. With that ICY Dock, does the N54L still keeps those drives cool since that enclosure doesn't have a built in fan? Although if my plan for the setup works I would only need an ICY dock enclosure that houses one 3.5" drive. I have one in my second unRAID that has a built in fan under the drive that works very well. If it will fit in the N54L my plan was to purchase another one.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816215033

 

I have not noticed an issue. However I'm not anal about it either.

in my initial tests I did not see a problem with the temperature and a 7200 RPM seagate drive.

The ICY Dock is heavy. I'm sure it acts as a heat sink.

 

It was important for me to have a high speed SSD since I'm running ESX on my N54L.

 

With the unit and the fan, the fan could get jammed up with the cables that are underneath it.

it's a good place for the fan as there is a gap under the 5.25 area, but you will have to be very careful with the cabling. I would try it out with what you have first.

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With a PCIx1 card, you really don't want to have more than four drives on it. At least this is what I found out with my testing two years ago. Which is why with 16 drives on a x4 card I can get the 30MB/s speeds during a parity check. Adding more drives than that really slows things down.

 

FYI, you don't want to have more then 4 Drives that are accessed immediately one after the other.

I bet if you rotated/staggered the drive assignments you would be fine.  I.E. Disk1 on one controller, Disk 2 on another controller, Disk 3 on another controller. etc. etc.

 

One drive access via PMP connection is as fast as 1 drive can go to a max of 120MB/s. It's when you access multiple drives at the same time on the same channel/cable that it gets slow.

 

The caveat is it brings up an issue of complexity when configuring and troubleshooting.

 

My main unRAID has most of the drives staggered. In my testing though I don't remember it making a huge difference doing it that way but that was what was recommended. Being staggered it's more of a pain to keep track of the drives with all of the enclosures. It's alot easier to keep track of by adding the drives to the array in the order they are in each enclosure. Which is what I plan to do with the N54L.

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WeeboTech,

 

Would you mind give me details on how you setup the 2 N54L, hardware configuration and software configuration.

as a reference on maximizing the benefit of ESXi and unRaid on the little boxes.

 

 

BTW,  if the startech card is only PCIe x1,  it should have its own limitations in data transfer speed although the chipset can support 6gbps ...... PCIe x1 - maxi data transfer speed is cannot exceed 250MBs.

 

 

 

 

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Which is why with 16 drives on a x4 card I can get the 30MB/s speeds during a parity check.

 

Note that there may be a hard limit on the number of drives you can attach to the MicroServer. I think I read on HardOCP that the limit was 12.

 

Having said that, just because the BIOS can't see a drive, it doesn't mean the OS doesn't also. I can't remember where it wasn't "seen".

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Which is why with 16 drives on a x4 card I can get the 30MB/s speeds during a parity check.

 

Note that there may be a hard limit on the number of drives you can attach to the MicroServer. I think I read on HardOCP that the limit was 12.

 

Having said that, just because the BIOS can't see a drive, it doesn't mean the OS doesn't also. I can't remember where it wasn't "seen".

 

Thanks. I guess I'll need to test it out first to make sure it can handle more than 12 drives before I order the Rosewill card. If there is a 12 drive limit using unRAID then I guess I will need to get a second N54L when they are on sale again.

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WeeboTech,

 

Would you mind give me details on how you setup the 2 N54L, hardware configuration and software configuration.

as a reference on maximizing the benefit of ESXi and unRaid on the little boxes.

 

I'll have to write a UCD post. For the most part, most of what I've done has been mentioned in this thread.

 

BTW,  if the startech card is only PCIe x1,  it should have its own limitations in data transfer speed although the chipset can support 6gbps ...... PCIe x1 - maxi data transfer speed is cannot exceed 250MBs.

 

I can tell you that I received benchmarks upwards of 350MB/s sometimes up to 400MB/s using a Samsung PM 840 PRO 256GB SSD.

 

with a 3TB Seagate it was around 195MB/s.

 

These are raw DD benchmarks of reading the drive directly with no filesystem I/O. With filesystem I/O this changes because of journaling and other housekeeping.

 

Also the HPN54L has PCIe gen 2 ports.

 

PCI Express 2.0 PCI-SIG announced the availability of the PCI Express Base 2.0 specification on 15 January 2007.[20] The PCIe 2.0 standard doubles the transfer rate compared with PCIe 1.0 to 5 GT/s and the per-lane throughput rises from 250 MB/s to 500 MB/s. This means a 32-lane PCIe connector (×32) can support throughput up to 16 GB/s aggregate.

 

 

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Which is why with 16 drives on a x4 card I can get the 30MB/s speeds during a parity check.

 

Note that there may be a hard limit on the number of drives you can attach to the MicroServer. I think I read on HardOCP that the limit was 12.

 

Having said that, just because the BIOS can't see a drive, it doesn't mean the OS doesn't also. I can't remember where it wasn't "seen".

 

It's probably with Windows.  which needs the bios. With linux it will not use the BIOS when it comes to PMP. I've had linux/unraid detect drives that the bios did not.  Although that doesn't mean it will work.

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Posting this here in case anyone finds a use for it with a multiple port controller or a neater method of routing the eSATA port back internal.

 

StarTech ESATAPLT2LP 2-Port Low Profile SATA to eSATA Plate Adapter

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812400005

12-400-005-TS?$S300$

StarTech ESATAPLT1LP 1ft Low Profile SATA to eSATA Plate Adapter

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812400005

12-200-501-TS?$S300$

 

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Posting this here in case anyone finds a use for it with a multiple port controller or a neater method of routing the eSATA port back internal.

 

StarTech ESATAPLT2LP 2-Port Low Profile SATA to eSATA Plate Adapter

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812400005

 

StarTech ESATAPLT1LP 1ft Low Profile SATA to eSATA Plate Adapter

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812400005

 

 

I used that two port one(or one like it) in my first unRAID. But with the N54L I will also need to use the x1 PCI express slot. So is there still a way to route the cables outside with both PCI express slots in use?

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with the N54L I will also need to use the x1 PCI express slot. So is there still a way to route the cables outside with both PCI express slots in use?

 

Not that I know of without some case mods.

 

maybe you could use this and modify it to use an eSATA connector instead of the USB connectors.

Or rip them out and just use an eSATA to SATA cable.  Wouldn't look all that nice.

Another choice is a case mod through the back.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817998184

SYBA SY-MRA55006 5.25" Dual Bay Mobile Rack for both 2.5" and 3.25" SATA HDD, Plus 2 USB 3.0 Port

17-998-184-TS?$S300W$

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Speaking frankly, it seems like you are tying to build a larger server out of a micro server and after a while it stops making sense to go that way.

 

With an X4 card and 2 internal SATA ports, you can route those two outside.

 

There is an internal SATA port that you can use up top after you load in the modified bios.

 

There is an external SATA port that you can or may not be able to use with port multipliers.

I did not have success.

 

If you are trying to stuff a 6th drive up top, it may not make sense to go that way with all the effort involved.  it's really tight inside the case.

 

If you went with the X4 card and routed the two internal ports up top.

then went with the X1 PCIe gen 2 card, you might be able to squeeze that 6th drive up top and have it look neat.

 

I can say this, on my older chenbro chassis. I was able to nibble out some metal on an unused part of the case and install the eSATA plugs,  There may be some room over the PCIe cards.

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I plan to try this without modding the BIOS(Although it sounds like my speeds would suffer if I don't). I'll only have five drives inside with the fifth drive(the Parity drive) connected to a SATA port in the x1 PCI express slot. Then the rest of my drives would be in external enclosures connected to a x4 PCI express card in the other slot.

 

Basically my HP MSS WHS is setup in a similar fashion. A small main case with four drives and then seven external cases housing 27 drives. Ideally I would like to replace my HP MSS WHS with the N54L. Since the closet where I have these enclosures does not have space to use a larger enclosure.

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I plan to try this without modding the BIOS(Although it sounds like my speeds would suffer if I don't). I'll only have five drives inside with the fifth drive(the Parity drive) connected to a SATA port in the x1 PCI express slot. Then the rest of my drives would be in external enclosures connected to a x4 PCI express card in the other slot.

 

Basically my HP MSS WHS is setup in a similar fashion. A small main case with four drives and then seven external cases housing 27 drives. Ideally I would like to replace my HP MSS WHS with the N54L. Since the closet where I have these enclosures does not have space to use a larger enclosure.

 

Mod the bios. The internal port would then be at full speed. The external port on the back would be at full speed.

You could have the x4 on one slot, a 2 port x1 gen 2 card in the other slot.

Mod the back of the unit, put the other 2 internal SATA's to eSATA's that are modded on the back.

 

you would have 7 eSATA ports, 6 which are Port Multiplier capable. The 7th may work for you.

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Which is why with 16 drives on a x4 card I can get the 30MB/s speeds during a parity check.

 

Note that there may be a hard limit on the number of drives you can attach to the MicroServer. I think I read on HardOCP that the limit was 12.

 

Having said that, just because the BIOS can't see a drive, it doesn't mean the OS doesn't also. I can't remember where it wasn't "seen".

 

It's probably with Windows.  which needs the bios. With linux it will not use the BIOS when it comes to PMP. I've had linux/unraid detect drives that the bios did not.  Although that doesn't mean it will work.

 

I found the post: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1038282221#post1038282221

 

Start there and keep reading (I got bored).  ;D

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Also if you can locate this card you can have 2 internal and 2 external ports on the x1 slot.

 

SYBA SD-PEX40031 PCI-Express 2.0 SATA II (3.0Gb/s) / 2 Power-over-eSATA II Controller Card

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816124038

http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=844

 

I bought a couple off eBay.  These are SATA II and PCIe 1.0.

 

In comparison the ASM1061 Chipset supports SATA III and PCIE 2.0

 

I was not happy with the ASM chipset's handling of port multipliers. It was very chunky when multiple drives were accessed at the same time.  It may be OK for a parity check.

 

If you want to use the ASM1061 for an SSD cache and Parity it will work out really well.

This is how I am using it with the top 2 drives.

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So I just turned on my N54L. So am I correct that I cannot use the eSATA port with a port Multiplier enclosure without modding the BiOS. I tried it with two enclosures and only the first drive is seen in unRAID.

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So I just turned on my N54L. So am I correct that I cannot use the eSATA port with a port Multiplier enclosure without modding the BiOS. I tried it with two enclosures and only the first drive is seen in unRAID.

 

 

As far as I know, that is correct.

I know I could not use Port Multiplier under ESX with that port either.

I cannot remember if it worked with unRAID.

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People have use a multiplier with the eSATA port under Linux, so it'll probably work with unRAID.

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I'm going to put my 3rd unRAID project on hold with my N54L for now. It's definitely going to be more work than I initially thought. I need to get all the info for modding the BiOS, plus I need to pick up a single drive enclosure(for the 5.25" opening) and a x4 PCI express card. I don't want to open the N54L up more times than is needed.

 

With the Modified BiOS that will give me five drives internally and 16 drives from four, 4 bay external enclsoures. To add a fifth enclosure I'll need to use the x1 PCI express slot and figure out a way to route the two internal connections from the x4 PCIe card to the outside. I don't want to be messing around with this more than I need to. Plus I need to start transferring content from my WHS to my second unRAID to free up the enclosures and drives to add to the N54L setup. I'll plan to use twenty five of the 2TB drives from my WHS for the N54L unRAID setup. And then I can repurpose the other six drives to my second unRAID.

 

I just need to get my second unRAID stable. I was having some issues with the drives I added to it. It seems like it was a bad sata cable. I'll find out when I get home if I still have errors from the drive it was connected to. Otherwise I've already tried multiple drives and the same issue cropped up in that slot with the old cable.

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Let us know how you make out. I know I do not relish working inside my N54L! So the less opens the better!

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The MicroServer is an odd choice for a 20+ drive machine.

 

I have however seen someone take out the motherboard and mount it in a very large case and that seems to be a clever idea.

 

My solution is to eventually migrate all my MicroServer drives to 4TB making a total of 20TB and putting the smaller drives in my large "archive" server.

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The MicroServer is an odd choice for a 20+ drive machine.

 

I have however seen someone take out the motherboard and mount it in a very large case and that seems to be a clever idea.

 

My solution is to eventually migrate all my MicroServer drives to 4TB making a total of 20TB and putting the smaller drives in my large "archive" server.

 

I think it's all about space.  I was going to do something similar. In my new place it's less intrusive to spread the machine and drives horizontally then to have a large tower sitting somewhere.  While I have under desk space, it cannot fit a 20 drive server. I do have above desk space on my Versatable desk, but it will be too high and to heavy to lift every time I have to maintain the server.

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The MicroServer is an odd choice for a 20+ drive machine.

 

I have however seen someone take out the motherboard and mount it in a very large case and that seems to be a clever idea.

 

My solution is to eventually migrate all my MicroServer drives to 4TB making a total of 20TB and putting the smaller drives in my large "archive" server.

 

I prefer to house most of my unRAID drives in external cases. It worked great for my WHS with 27 drives in seven external cases(plus 4 drives in the HP MSS case) and for my first unRAID where I used to have twenty drives in five external cases(now 17 in four cases and I moved the other drives inside the motherboard enclosue with the parity and cache drives). And my second unRAID is currently using fourteen drives with 8 in two external cases and six in the motherboard enclsoure).

 

So I wanted the N54L to be used in the location that my WHS is since it is relatively small. Although it was much larger than I realized when I opened it.

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