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AHCI / HBA recommendations

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Hi Guys,


I'm looking for a high port count HBA.  I dont want a RAID one, i want one which is very boring AHCI so i can just transplant the drive to a different controller if i need to.


Any recommendations for one which works well with stablebit scanner?  i.e. that i can get the temps and serial numbers from too


(i have 20 drives, but i do have several slots, so any 8-16 port cards are fine)


I was surprised i coudlnt find a list of recommended  cards anywhere (or was i looking in the wrong place?)





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Depends on what you're willing to spend, really.



Personally, I would recommend an IBM ServeRAID M1015 card. It supports 8 drives by itself (with the right cables), and both RAID and "passthrough/HBA".   But it requires flashing (or I have a couple of spare that are already flashed, if you're interested).


If you go this option, you could pick up a couple of cards and use them... or pick up an SAS Expander card. This allows you to turn one of the 4 drive connectors into 5 additional connectors, so you can get 20 drives connected instead of just 4. 



Otherwise, a HighPoint RocketRAID card is a good line to go with.  However, even if you're not going to use RAID, get the RAID card as it works much better than the non-RAID option. 



Alternatively, you could get a nice (but usually pricy) LSI card:





All of these should work with StableBit Scanner, as long as you pass the disks through.

The IBM ServeRAID m1015 may require the "Unsafe DirectIo" setting (mine didn't but some people have reported needing it).

The HighPoint cards will definitely need the "Unsafe DirectIo" setting, and to have the web management stuff installed.

The LSI cards may or may not need the "Unsafe DirectIo" setting, depending on the card, and ... well may be the same as the M1015 (which is a LSI chipset).

And what do I mean by the "Unsafe DirectIo" setting? This:


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  • 2 weeks later...

Very nice.


And speed doesn't matter for "spinners".  SATA II gets up to 380MB/s per drive, IIRC. So more than fast enough for slow spinners. :)


And very nice. I'm nowhere near your raw storage yet, but I'm working my way up (14 drives: 2x 8TB Seagate archive, 4x Seagate NAS, 8x WD Reds).  And I don't have enough stuff to fill more than my current amount of space, and it's already duplicated.


And if you haven't already, look into SAS Expander cards. You can get up to 512 drives connected to that ONE controller, IIRC (the 3Wire). :)

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Yeah i did look at expanders, but most of the ones i could find (in the uk) weren't priced too differently to just buying another card - and that gives me a level of redundancy in that at least if one dies, i still have a "pspare" card :) 

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I actually have a follow-up, which i'll post here for the sake of not wnating to flood the forums.


In StableBit Scanner there is a column "Name".  


For my Intel (in-built controller) connected disks the "Name" is the model "WDC WD60EFRX-68MYMN1"  for example


For the drives connected to my new (LSI9650SE-24M8) all of the disks "Name" is "LSI 9650SE-24M8 SCSI Device"


I was just wondering where the "Name" field comes from?  If i right click on a disk and view details it can correctly identify both the model and serial number.


Perhaps, since you can choose what columns to display in the main Scanner screen, could a column be added for "Model"  so for when, like in this case, the controller isn't passing the "Name" (wherever that comes from) we could un-tick showing the "Name" column and instead tick showing the "Model" column.  It would definitely be helpful for those of us with a lot of disks and a controller which doesnt pass the right info (i've just ordered another 24-port card.. so if i fully populate it then i'll have 48 disks all with the same "Name"!


Is that feasible? 

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Well, the Expander cards ... don't have to be plugged in, in most cases. The Intel SAS Expander card I picked up can be powered by the PCIe bus, or by molex, so you can mount the card anywhere in the case, actually.

That may be worth looking into.

But yes, they're about the same price as the controller cards themselves.  But for an organization neat freak (like myself), they're very nice. :)



As for the Name, this is pulled from the device itself (via WMI, but it is what is reported by the OS). Check Device Management ("devmgmt.msc") and compare the entries there. It should be the same, actually.


This also depends HEAVILY on the controller card, and how it passes through the information.  Some include just the name, but some cards alter the name (for instance, my LSI card, which is a IBM ServeRAID M1015, adds "ATA" to the beginning of the disk's name, and "SCIS Device" to the end of it. 


And you can use the Disk Settings to customize the disks names, if needed (right click on the disk). 

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  • 3 weeks later...



So now i need some general advice...


I have my LSI 9650SE 24 port card happily installed and working.


If i install a second one of these cards.. it goes thorough the BIOS for each card fine, detects the drives attached to each drive but the actual motherboard BIOS does not seem happy.  it simply goes into a loop of doing this, over and over and over:



The motherboard (Asrock H77 PRO4 / MVP)  is on the most recent BIOS, and doenst seem to have many other options.


With both RAID cards installed you cant even get to the M/B BIOS... it goes DIRECTLY to that screen and when the bar gets to the end, it reboots and starts over!

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Well, unplug one of the cards.  See if that works fine. If it does, there are some options in the BIOS/UEFI firmware that .... may help.



Normally, there is an option for the legacy rom stuff, that you can disable.  Since ... it doesn't appear to have that ... I would recommend contacting ASRock and see what they say. 

The alternative may be to check out an ASRock RACK board (server/workstation boards).

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Yep, it works fine with either card, but not both


its very frustrating; and im not tempted to change the motherboard


looks like i may be keeping one of the cards as a "spare" and have to go down the expander route anyway!


any recommendations for expanders?


i was looking at the HP 468406-B21

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This one. I purchased one of these from ebay for about $70.  There are a lot of them for more than that (closer to $200, but if you offer an amount, some of these sellers are desperate just to move their stock. :)


Plugged in one port from my card (it's an IBM ServeRAID m1015, as it only has two), and connected all of the drives to the expander.


Looks like this in the MSM util:



And these cards, you can plug into a PCI-e port for power, or use the Molex connector.  One or the other. So you could mount them anywhere in your case, to optimize the cable placement. ;)

However, that HP card looks very nice as well. :)

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I like keeping everything "in the same family" whenever possible. It's better for compatibility.  


Either way, whatever SAS Expander card you go with, I'm sure you'll be happy with.  They are very nice indeed. And you can chain them, in theory. (in theory, because I haven't had a chance to set that out yet!) :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

well the HP card arrived


Its either not compatible with the LSi card, or its DOA (but it does get warm when its plugged in)


but the LSi card doenst recognise it, at all.


In the course of troubleshooting - i've also discovered that my motherboard doesnt have a problem with two LSI cards plugged in, it just has a problem with an LSi card being in the second PCI-E slot.  with just one LSI card in the second PCI-E slot, and no hard disks, no expanders, no second LSI card, it still wont boot.


I'm giving up on the expander now and i've simply ordered a new MB to see if i can get both the LSI cards i now own, to work, since that will give me 48 SATA ports off the two cards.

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