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tinnerdxp

Migration from Areca 1120.

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This is my first post - so... Hello All :)

Without further small-talk, let me introduce you to the problem.

I had been given a Dell PowerEdge 4600 with 2 x Xeons 1GHz (Pentium 3), 1GB of RAM (PC133 SDRAM ECC) and SCSI backplane with 8 x 10k RPM drives (18.6GB each)

This got upgraded to:

4 x Xeon 900MHz, Areca 1120 PCI-X with 7 x 1TB Samsung drives in RAID5. Dell Perc 3 controller (the rubbish one) - got replaced with a desktop Adaptec SCSI card and fed single Maxtor 15k drive as a bootable drive and replaced RAM to have 8GB in total. I've picked Ubuntu 8.10 as a server. And it worked more or less fine.

Minor problems with booting up and memory - but nothing serious. The server meant to serve as a router, web-dev box, and file-server. And it did a nice job - I have upgraded the array over the years twice, no issues at all - brilliant kit. Paid around £90 for the controller.

I have finally decided to save some money on electricity as running the beast 24/7 equals to ~£25 a month (~40$) which is not much... but then again - could be less for what the server offers.

So I have now obtained some desktop parts and decided to go green rather than full-power.

Ended up with:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280666014058&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT

so:

ASUS M4A78 PRO, ATHLON 64 X2 5200+, 6GB DDR2 and above mentioned drives (7SATA + 1SCSI + controllers).

The problem:

The Areca 1120 is a PCI-X card which according to the specs should work in PCI 2.3 compliant slot (32bit):

(specs say it requires PCI-X): http://www.areca.com.tw/products/pcix.htm

(rep saying it should work): http://faq.areca.com.tw/index.php?view=items&cid=3&id=366

Now Ubuntu 11.04 is kind of a naughty beast - as Grub is buggered and it's a known bug while installing on a system with RAID HBA... But I have tried 10.4LTS as well and ran into a variety of issues...

1. Areca wasn't visible at all during installation

2. Areca was visible and the RAID array was visible and properly recognized

3. Areca allowed to format one volume but refused to write any data to it (or at least it looked like this)

4. Areca did not allow any writes to the volume.

5. I ALWAYS get "PCI bus error 0x002" when the Areca's BIOS should instantiate, ignore it (press any key) and it works with the variations of problems from points 1-5.

Questions:

1. Apart from the problems not being common - did anyone manage to run a PCI-X in PCI slot? (physically it fits without problems in the middle PCI slot)

2. I will try other distros at some point as well but could anyone point out whether it could be Ubuntu's problem?

3. I have read that someone upgraded Areca 1220 to 1261ML and it just picked up the array and worked absolutely fine (http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1033391902) - does anyone experienced the same over two completely different controllers? What controllers is Areca's internal RAID5 format compatible with?

4. I assume the problem is clearly with the controller not working fine in PCI 2.2 32bit slot and the alternative is to buy a PCIExpress one... the only problem is that would either mean ~£450 for 8port Areca (so it would be compatible) or migrating the array to completely another controller - will probably require me to buy a few drives just to move the data across in which case I will probably be better off buying the controller in the first place...

5. Any decent hardware 8xSATA PCIe based cards you guys would recommend? Found this on ebay for £120 from China - http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/safer-6-for-raid-controllers,review-1555-7.html but the reviews are rather "varied"...

6. Any other options / ideas? I could loose some data from the array - I only have used around 3TB out of 6TB (RAID5) but if I'm going to spend any money on stinker controller or disks - I might as well buy one 2TB drive, backup everything to it and my desktop and just go with the onboard software RAID...

Bottom line:

I'm looking for ideas or controller recommendations or an used Areca 1220 for a sensible price.

Thanks a lot guys.

tinner

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I have run PCI-X cards in PCI slots, but they were specifically designed to do this if I recall, and their performance was cut WAY down. In the end we junked the system and bought a newer one.

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