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Low cost test server SSD recommendations.

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I have purchased a DL360 G7 HP 1u rack mount server. It has 8 SAS/SATA slots and 2 PCIe (1-PCIe2 x8 (8, 4, 2, 1) and 1 - PCIe2 x16 (16, 8, 4, 2, 1))slots. The purpose of this server is to use as a test bed for SSD use in our environment.

This server will host two VMs each VM will run 1 instance of an Oracle 11g R2 DB used for development. Each DB requires about 400 GB of space. Should this experiment with SSDs work, and we gain experience with server based SSDs, enterprise class equipment will be budgeted and purchased in the next year for use in the production environment.

My thoughts were to purchase 8 - 480 GB MLC consumer class SATA SSDs and two 512GB NVMe/M.2 drives.

My usage of this configuration is; The NVMe/M.2 drives would be used for DB software, temp tablespaces and DB redo logs, the SATA drives would be used for OS and DB tablespace data.

The purpose of overkill on the size of the drives is, since these are consumer class drives I want to over provision for the sake of data loss prevention.

My questions;

Are there any NVMe or PCIe cards with M.2 daughter boards that will work in the PCIe2 slots in this server?
Will those NVMe/M.2 cards yield enough performance benefit over the SATA drives to make it worthwhile?
What RAID, if any, should be used for the SATA drives?
I've read a bit about the pros/cons (mainly) of using RAID.
  1. RAID 0 is for performance, but the bottleneck becomes the controller,
  2. RAID 1 may not protect data because the wear on the drives is even.
  3. RAID 3/5 can cause write thrashing...
Am I better off trying to use JBOD and manually distribute the data?
Should I focus only on MLC or should I consider TLC? MLC seems to have reliability (more write wear) on its side.

Last but not least what specific product recommendations for low cost drives do you have?

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> My thoughts were to purchase 8 - 480 GB MLC consumer class SATA SSDs

Well, since you're doing a "test bed", a serious option is to

wire those 8 x SSDs to a quality PCIe RAID controller e.g. LSI,

and start with an LSI version that has 12 GHz ports.

This approach will maximize flexibility, and options.

Also, you will probably want to "re-cycle" your 8 x SSDs

into the production machine you build later.

Samsung and SanDisk now offer SSDs with 10-year factory warranties:

we only buy 10-year warranties now e.g. compute (price / (warranty years)).

HP's Z Turbo Quad is an interesting design, but

it does not have a general-purpose RAID controller.

Also, pay attention to any limits on upstream bandwidth,

like Intel's DMI 3.0 link.

Until such time as serious NVMe RAID controllers

with x16 edge connector become widely available,

it makes the most sense to start with a modern

SAS-capable 12G RAID controller, for the time being.

On that point, I did find a reference to an x16 RAID controller

at Supermicro's website, but there are no photos and

no detailed documentation:

Supermicro prefer to configure entire systems, and

I have noticed that their latest designs include

NVMe backplanes, presumably wired to that

proprietary x16 RAID controller.

Depending on your budget(s) and need for speed,

there are some very interesting 12G SAS SSDs

being sold now e.g. Toshiba, but beware that they

are generally very expensive.

It may be quite a while before motherboards support

4+ U.2 ports with full support for all modern RAID modes.

FYI: see also our WANT AD here:

http://supremelaw.org/systems/nvme/want.ad.htm

Here's the HP Z Turbo Quad, but know that it has a BIOS lock

limiting the number of HP machines it will work with:

HP.Z.Turbo.x16.version.jpg

Dell's version:

Dell.4x.M.2.PCIe.x16.version.jpg


Here's Intel's x16 NVMe controller, but it only works

with a custom riser card:

Intel.A2U44X25NVMEDK.jpg

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Finally, here are two SAS/SATA RAID controllers from Highpoint

that also have x16 edge connectors, but only 6G ports (NOT 12G),

and PCIe 2.0 (NOT PCIe 3.0):

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=14G-000N-00028&Tpk=14G-000N-00028

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816115085&Tpk=N82E16816115085

Amazon have the 2740 for $437:

https://www.amazon.com/HighPoint-RocketRAID-2740-PCI-Express-Controller/dp/B004TA7MJE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466799913&sr=8-1&keywords=HighPoint+RocketRAID+2740

This Startech latching-style SFF-8087 fan-out cable

works great with Highpoint's RAID controllers:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812200884&Tpk=N82E16812200884

Edited by MRFS

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MRFS Thanks for taking the time to reply.

My budget for the storage components of this system is $1,500-$1,700. I expect to pay about $900 for the consumer grade SATA SSDs leaving $600-$800 for the NVMe/M.2 components.

Since I was going to use the NVMe/M.2 drives as basically temporary storage, (roll back segments and temporary table spaces, and as I think about it probably pagefiles) I do not need RAID. It is my understanding that NVMe/M.2 are faster than the SATA drives. I want to work with them for that reason.

I do not, for this exercise, intend to use a different RAID controller than that supplied by HP in the DL360, as this is a low cost test bed, to gain experience with the technology.

My main question is,

Are there any NVMe or PCIe cards with M.2 daughter boards that will work in the PCIe2 slots in this server?

What I think would be best for this exercise is a card that will work in the PCIe2 slot of this server with two M.2 connectors. Are there any 2 port M.2 to PCIe2 cards available?

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You might want to instead use that money towards a single finished solution like the Intel SSD 750 which will offer NVMe speeds but be more consumer/prosumer targeted. Going down the path of a cobbled together card with multiple m.2 SSDs might get you into a bad spot as problems shake out.

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What Kevin said.

Also, plenty of sites (Storagereview included) show performance scaling in their reviews as QD's increase... if you prefer to DIY you're going to want to make sure you pick SSD's that actually have decent scaling as QD increases. (at least all else being equal!)

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