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LSI 9260, 9266 and 9271 for home server


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#1 MikkoP

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 09:16 AM

Hi folks!

 

I am going to upgrade my home server to have more storage. I was thinking of adding a 4-port RAID controller and Intel's RES2SV240 SAS expander. 

 

What I'm not sure about, is which controller to buy. I have read a lot of these and it seems like LSI makes some of the best ones. I have been looking at LSI's 9260-4i, 9266-4i and 9271-4i. What I have read it seems like 9266 and 9271 are basically the same, 9271 is PCIe 3.0 when the other one is 2.0. This shouldn't affect the performance, since reviews show that the controller limits the bandwidth before the PCIe bus. 9260 has only a single core controller with half a gig of cache (half of the others, DDR2 vs DDR3). I was wondering if I am going to notice any difference.

 

My server will most likely to have eight 3 TB WD Red drives at first running in RAID 6. This is used for mostly storing photos, movies, music and TV shows. It will also contain SVN and Git repositories, Minecraft servers, websites and MySQL databases plus other geek stuff. Maybe I will make our computers also do a backup nightly on that RAID array. So, except for the backup it is mostly read oriented.

 

I have a few questions.

  1. Is 9266 the same as 9271 except that 9271 has PCIe 3.0?
  2. Is 9260-4i (and the others) compatible with Intel RES2SV240 SAS expander?
  3. Will I notice any speed benefits with 9266 or 9271 over 9260? Is their bandwidth very different? How does the cache affect the performance (DDR2 vs DDR3, 512 MB vs 1024 MB)? And the processor?
  4. Is the 9260 still a good buy, or is it dated? Should I go with either 9266 or 9271? It's 50 € more expensive.
  5. Should these be compatible with almost any hardware? I have a Asus M4A785TD-V Evo in my server with a AMD Phenom II processor.
  6. Eight drives will run at their maximum speeds with all of these controllers. Based on reviews the WD Red drives have a maximum throughput around 145 MB/s. Four 6 Gb/s ports on the controller will equal 24 Gb/s. 145 MB/s is 1160 Mb/s. 24000 Mb/s divided by 1160 Mb/s is a bit over 20. Based on that I could be running up to 20 drives at their maximum speeds. How much does the controller limit this?

I will also appreciate all other thoughts and help regarding this. I have never had experience with this kind of professional hardware. I don't have a huge budget, so I'm not interested to buy 8-port model even though I'd get better throughput. Probably I won't be putting 20 drives in my server, but I'd like to know my possibilities with these setups.

 

I know I can't go wrong with 9271-4i, as it's the highest end card I'm willing to pay for, but I'm wondering if I could save 50 € and go with 9260-4i. Notice that I'm not going to update the controller when a new one comes out. I will be using it until it fails (which isn't anytime soon, is it? They have quite long MTBF. But what if it fails, what to do then? Can I just buy a new controller from LSI and it will continue working?) or something revolutionary comes out that multiplies the performance.

 

If you managed through all of that, thanks! Hope to see a lot of thoughts and comments!


#2 continuum

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 06:37 PM

IIRC the newer LSI 9270/9271 do get a slight performance bump over the older 9266 or 9260/9261. (I could be mauling the model #s here, if so I apologize) Processors get faster on the newer ones, IIRC there's a bit more cache (sometimes), etc.

 

I wouldn't touch a 9260 right now as it's getting to be too old-- even if performance isn't an issue, things like driver support do matter, and the 9260 is getting pretty old...

 

In reality you probably won't see much performance difference with mechanical harddisks attached-- even now a positively ancient Areca ARC-1680i still gives more than 400MB/sec writes with six 7200rpm disks in RAID6... given that all the cards being discussed are newer than this, I don't think you'll have any performance issues. The 9260, tho, has serious performance limitations with SSDs-- but again since you're using harddisks it shouldn't matter as much.

 

There is some point where performance does not scale linearly, so keep that in mind.

 

SAS expander compatibility, check LSI's hardware compatibility list. Unless you can find someone who's used that combo, the HCL is the only way to be sure.

 

Migrating from one generation of LSI card to another I believe works fine but I haven't messed with that in a while.

 

Again I haven't crunched the numbers or benchmarks, this is all from memory....

 

something revolutionary comes out that multiplies the performance.

FWIW this is unlikely, you're pretty limited if you are talking about mechanical harddisks-- RAID controllers even a generation or two old can already extract about all the performance they can give. Modern high-end hardware RAID controllers now are struggling to keep up with SSD's, which are orders of magnitude faster...


#3 compwizrd

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:16 AM

There's no plug and play compatibility between arrays on the 3ware 9750 and any of the LSI units, right?


#4 MikkoP

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:57 AM

IIRC the newer LSI 9270/9271 do get a slight performance bump over the older 9266 or 9260/9261. (I could be mauling the model #s here, if so I apologize) Processors get faster on the newer ones, IIRC there's a bit more cache (sometimes), etc.

 

I wouldn't touch a 9260 right now as it's getting to be too old-- even if performance isn't an issue, things like driver support do matter, and the 9260 is getting pretty old...

 

In reality you probably won't see much performance difference with mechanical harddisks attached-- even now a positively ancient Areca ARC-1680i still gives more than 400MB/sec writes with six 7200rpm disks in RAID6... given that all the cards being discussed are newer than this, I don't think you'll have any performance issues. The 9260, tho, has serious performance limitations with SSDs-- but again since you're using harddisks it shouldn't matter as much.

 

There is some point where performance does not scale linearly, so keep that in mind.

 

SAS expander compatibility, check LSI's hardware compatibility list. Unless you can find someone who's used that combo, the HCL is the only way to be sure.

 

Migrating from one generation of LSI card to another I believe works fine but I haven't messed with that in a while.

 

Again I haven't crunched the numbers or benchmarks, this is all from memory....

 

 

 

FWIW this is unlikely, you're pretty limited if you are talking about mechanical harddisks-- RAID controllers even a generation or two old can already extract about all the performance they can give. Modern high-end hardware RAID controllers now are struggling to keep up with SSD's, which are orders of magnitude faster...

 

I will go for the 9271. It's cheaper than the 9266 in the store and it's newer. As you also mentioned, 9260 is old.

 

With revolutionary I was mostly speaking of a great leap in the HDD technology. If someone could totally replace the platters with something cheaper and faster, it would probably mean an invest in new hardware.


#5 lunadesign

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 01:00 AM

I've got 9260's and 9270's (identical to 9271's but with different layout).

I can vouch for the 9260's not being very good with SSDs.  9270's are better with SSDs but I've been disappointed with the performance of the "read ahead" and "write back" options so I only use those with HDDs.  If you think you may want to add SSDs in the future, steer away from the 9260.

You should be just fine with the 9260's for WD Reds but continuum's right about that card being very old.  Even though your budget is tight, if you tend to hang onto hardware for a while, you may want to future-proof yourself a bit and go for the 9271.  There's even a successor to the 9271 out now and its not much more expensive than the 9271, I believe.

Two things to be aware of:

1) 9260's seem to like PCI Express 2.0 systems better than 3.0 systems.  927x's seem to like PCI Express 3.0 systems better than 2.0 systems.

2) All of these cards run very hot so you'll want to have a fan pointed at the heatsink, especially with the 9271.  The fan doesn't have to be very fast or big.


#6 MikkoP

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 01:36 AM

I've got 9260's and 9270's (identical to 9271's but with different layout).

I can vouch for the 9260's not being very good with SSDs.  9270's are better with SSDs but I've been disappointed with the performance of the "read ahead" and "write back" options so I only use those with HDDs.  If you think you may want to add SSDs in the future, steer away from the 9260.

You should be just fine with the 9260's for WD Reds but continuum's right about that card being very old.  Even though your budget is tight, if you tend to hang onto hardware for a while, you may want to future-proof yourself a bit and go for the 9271.  There's even a successor to the 9271 out now and its not much more expensive than the 9271, I believe.

Two things to be aware of:

1) 9260's seem to like PCI Express 2.0 systems better than 3.0 systems.  927x's seem to like PCI Express 3.0 systems better than 2.0 systems.

2) All of these cards run very hot so you'll want to have a fan pointed at the heatsink, especially with the 9271.  The fan doesn't have to be very fast or big.

 

I'm not probably going to add SSD's to that. 

 

What do you mean 927X cards will like PCIe 3.0 systems better? I bet it's backwards compatible with 2.0, isn't it? Because if that's not the case, I would need to upgrade my motherboard also.


#7 lunadesign

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 09:34 AM

 

I'm not probably going to add SSD's to that. 

 

What do you mean 927X cards will like PCIe 3.0 systems better? I bet it's backwards compatible with 2.0, isn't it? Because if that's not the case, I would need to upgrade my motherboard also.

 

I thought it would be backward compatible but the other day I tried a 9270 in my trustworthy X48 test system and couldn't get the system to POST until I removed the 9270.  I quickly skimmed the LSI docs and didn't see any mention of PCIe 2.0 support but its possible I missed something and/or the issue is limited to my system.


#8 MikkoP

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 09:37 AM

 

I thought it would be backward compatible but the other day I tried a 9270 in my trustworthy X48 test system and couldn't get the system to POST until I removed the 9270.  I quickly skimmed the LSI docs and didn't see any mention of PCIe 2.0 support but its possible I missed something and/or the issue is limited to my system.

 

Usually PCIe devices are backwards compatible. For example, PCIe 3.0 GPUs work in 2.0 motherboards.

 

Anyhow, I contacted LSI and asked. Hope to see an answer soon, I'll post it here then.


Edited by MikkoP, 21 August 2014 - 09:45 AM.

#9 mejv

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:57 PM

There's no plug and play compatibility between arrays on the 3ware 9750 and any of the LSI units, right?

the answer to this question is "No!".

The 3ware stack of the raid units uses a 3ware specific format, compatible between 3ware models: 9500/9550/9650/9750.

The LSI MegaRaid used the LSI specific format, naturally not compatible to any other RAID controller brand...

MEJV


Edited by mejv, 21 August 2014 - 12:57 PM.

#10 MikkoP

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 01:26 PM

 

Usually PCIe devices are backwards compatible. For example, PCIe 3.0 GPUs work in 2.0 motherboards.

 

Anyhow, I contacted LSI and asked. Hope to see an answer soon, I'll post it here then.

 

As I thought, there's no problems at running it in 2.0. It just limits the bandwidth from PCIe 3.0 x8 to 2.0 x8. Nothing out of ordinary there.


#11 lunadesign

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 07:01 PM

 

As I thought, there's no problems at running it in 2.0. It just limits the bandwidth from PCIe 3.0 x8 to 2.0 x8. Nothing out of ordinary there.

In theory, you are correct in that it's backward compatible.  However, I've seen some odd compatibility issues.

 

For example, my 9260's run much better in my older, slower PCIe 2.0 systems than my much faster PCIe 3.0 systems, even if I tell the BIOS to run in 2.0 mode.  I've also received guidance from LSI about the x8 cards having issues in some x16 slots.

 

Bottom line - wherever possible, buy your components from vendors that have decent return policies in case some of your desired components won't play nice with others.


#12 compwizrd

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:29 PM

the answer to this question is "No!".

Figured as much, which is even more amusing since the 9750 is based on one of the LSI cards


#13 mejv

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 12:27 PM

Figured as much, which is even more amusing since the 9750 is based on one of the LSI cards

Hardware vs firmware!

The RAID layout (managing/ordering the drives order is different, making it very difficult == unpractical/dangerous (possible bugs in the conversion) == DATA loss (a NO-NO!)...

MEJV





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