The Big WHS Update: Sorting Controllers and other Issues

Supermicro X8SI6-F LSI SAS 2008 8 Port Intel SATA 6 Port Internal USB 2 Port
Supermicro X8SI6-F LSI SAS 2008 8 Port Intel SATA 6 Port Internal USB 2 Port

Just as a quick update to those who are following this build. Some adjustments have been made ove the past week.

First, I finally decided that 32 ports from two Adaptec 31605’s would first off be slightly less than I had wanted. I realized that while the initial build would hold 19-20 1.5TB drives, 6x 2TB drives, and 4x 1TB drives, odds are that I would want to add another 6-7 2TB drives in the next six months if for no other reason just to spread the storage a bit more.

Second, and directly related to the first point, I decided to move to either an Adaptec 5805 which I had sitting around, or an Areca ARC-1680LP that I purchased recently, and then add two HP SAS Expanders to handle the two 4U chassis. Since the HP SAS Expander is powered off of the PCIe x8 bus, I bought an AMD Sempron 140 (45w Single Core) plus mATX motherboard combo that was on special and will just use the motherboard (no CPU/RAM) to power the SAS Expander in the second chassis. The big driver here is that I can get all of the drives on one controller which will allow me to share hot spares.

Third, with my brilliant idea #2 I received the HP SAS Expanders with V1.0 firmware. To use the expanders with SAS 6gbps/SATA 3gbps drives and with either controller I needed to update the HP SAS Expander firmware to version 1.52, 1.52(b), or 2.02. As with all projects, this couldn’t be too simple as I quickly learned that the only way to flash the expanders was to use a HP SAS controller like the new 6gbps SAS HP P410. An order for a P410 512MB with BBWC quickly was dispatched only to find that the P410’s firmware had to be upgraded in order to upgrade the HP SAS Expander. To upgrade the firmware using the firmware CD was a bit of a pain since the HP CD checks for an HP Server (at this point I wasn’t going to spend another $1500 to flash two SAS expanders) but that check can be bypassed by holding Control-Enter during the CD’s boot. All of this… just to flash the firmware…. fun :-)

Third, with all of the WD Green 1.5TB failures to date, I have jumppered all of the WD Green drives to SATA 1.5gbps specs. I am still awaiting the replacement for two of the drives which impacts my ability to build an array on that set.

Fourth, it looks like WHS V2.0 Vail is going to be based upon the Windows 2008 Server R2 platform, which is great since that means 64-bit support! Too bad Microsoft can’t just release WHS as an add-on for the standard 2008 R2 server but alas.

Fifth, before finishing the installation I realized that I had a TON of leftover hardware. Intel released the Core i3 530 and H55 based motherboards this month… and I somehow ended up buying both for another WHS project to debut shortly. Yikes!

This weekend the new WHS will hopefully be operational with at least half of the drives being available. I am pretty excited for this!

On a somewhat cool note, if this all works as planned, in theory I’ll have the hardware to connect 64 drives to a 8-port raid controller. Practically speaking this is enough to add a third 4U chassis if I ever wanted to (which probably won’t be for a long time).


  1. You’re buying more hardware for another WHS already? Wtf.
    *looks at this 500GB WHS* damn thing won’t fit anything

  2. Well current backups are well over 1TB even with Windows Home Server dedupe software (and a lot of the system/ program files I keep are the same machine to machine). Now, being fair, this new one is going to purely be for fun and testing things out. The Big WHS is going to have too much data to try stuff out on it directly.

  3. Any update on this? How did the P410 work out for you? Do the SAS expander cards work? How is that i3 machine power consumption wise versus a Core 2 Duo/ Quad.


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