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Old June 5th, 2009, 04:47 PM   #16
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Well, as usual, practicality trumps theory. I was able to get a mini-SAS to 4xSATA breakout cable, but the 4 SATA connectors are female, as are the connectors at the SATA end of the SATA to eSATA cables. So until I can find them with male SATA ends, that's out. I actually have a support/sales request in at 3Ware to ask about a breakout cable to eSATA or what else they would suggest.

But in the meantime I just got the four eSATA to SATA cables -- they're longer than I wanted, at 6 ft, but that's all they had -- and I am in the process of hooking them up to the mobo as we speak. The eSATA drives all have outside power and cooling so that's not an issue.

I'll post back if I can actually get them to work.

Thanks for all the advice so far. Keep it comin'.

Last edited by Adam Gold; June 6th, 2009 at 12:45 AM.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 08:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Boyko View Post
I tried using ESATA on my MacBook Pro, but I kept getting kernel panics.
Brian, I have a 17" MacBook Pro from last year. I would get kernel panics with eSata, but only if I turned on the drive AFTER the mac. Worked fine otherwise. And when the last update to OS X came in, I updated and now the drive works whether I turn it on before or after.

I'm using a Dynex express card sata adapter ($10 on Ebay, can you believe it?), in a Nextstar Drive Dock with a Samsung 1tb spinpoint drive.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #18
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Well, after a day of fiddling, I finally got all four drives up and running. This is probably of little or no interest to anyone but me (and possibly Harm) but I'll quickly go through a condensed version just in case anyone else is considering this.

Connected four drives using SATA to eSATA cables running from the internal SATA ports out the back of the case to the drives. Powered up drives and started PC; only two drives were visible. Supermicro website says updated BIOS will fix this; it didn't. Web search reveals that you must have AHCI enabled to see more than four drives; enabling this in BIOS or enabling SATA RAID results in BSOD when booting. Further web research reveals that you must hack your registry and set the MSAHCI value to "0" and then make the BIOS change; this worked and I now have four 2TB external drives on line.

Of course, it can't end there; all the BSODs apparently confused Vista 64 so much that it re-validated itself, possibly thinking it was a new install when the drivers changed; result is that Premiere stopped working and demanded an uninstall/re-install, which will also mean a series of updates and a Cineform Prospect HD reinstall....

It's never simple, is it?
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Old June 8th, 2009, 03:52 PM   #19
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Adam,

This is weird. I have never heard of this (that should not come as a surprise, since I'm not all that knowledgeable), but this is really strange. I have to compliment you on your troubleshooting. Great work. Your investigative powers and problem solving techniques can be an example for many, many of us.

The weird thing is that for the mobo and the CPU, it should not be able to discern where your disk physically is, internal or external and the connector to the mobo is the same. Just SATA, that's it.

With all your reinstall problems I'm not going to ask you to try the following just now, but if you ever have the time and want to try it, do you have the same problems with a forward breakout cable from the Areca to the new drives?
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Old June 8th, 2009, 04:18 PM   #20
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If I can ever find something to adapt the forward breakout cable to eSATA, I will definitely try it. The four SATA Ends are male, as are both ends of the SATA to eSATA cable, contrary to what I posted before -- I always get confused because these days all connectors seem to have both male and female parts. But I'm sure it will be fine; Supermicro called back and confirmed that even though the mobo has six SATA ports, unless AHCI is enabled, the system will only see four devices. And the best way to enable is to have the devices connected during the OS install; Vista has AHCI support and drivers built in, but the drivers are disabled during install if the devices are not connected. Once disabled, the lack of drivers causes an instant BSOD until re-enabled and BIOS is adjusted. Found out a lot more about this while troubleshooting.

All seems well for now. We'll see.

While I have you, I'm adjusting all my scratch disks as we now have a panoply to choose from. Here's what I'm contemplating:

C: System -- 10k Rpm 150GB Raptor -- OS and Programs
D: Workdisk -- 7 x 1TB in RAID0 (soon to be RAID3 w/Hot Spare) -- Project, Captured Video, Captured Audio
U: 2TB External (actually 2 x 1TB Hitachi in RAID0) -- Video Previews, Audio Previews
V: 2TB External (same as U:) -- Media Cache files
W: 2TB External (same as U:) -- DVD Encoded files and Backup Drive
X: 2TB External (same as U:) -- Final renders and Archives, Swapfile/Pagefile (30GB pagefile, as I have 20GB of RAM)

Make sense?
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Old June 8th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #21
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That make perfect sense but one recommendation if I may. Recently someone remarked to me a shortcoming of Windows, in that it always tries to balance memory loads between RAM and pagefile. With your large amount of RAM available, it may be good to test whether a 2 or 4 GB pagefile may force Windows to use more of your RAM and give you a performance gain. You can't do without a pagefile, but it may be worth to try if reducing your pagefile to a smaller size can (incredibly by common wisdom) improve performance.

I have not yet been able to test this, but if the claim that Windows tries to balance between pagefile and RAM is accurate, it makes sense to reduce the pagefile if you have large amounts of RAM available.

You have a very nice setup with this configuration, Adam.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 05:00 PM   #22
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That's exactly what I was going to ask about -- did the pagefile need to be so huge and did I need one at all? You answered both questions nicely before I could think to ask them.

As always, thanks for the advice.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 06:46 PM   #23
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Adam,

Where we came from was usually a system with 1 or 2 GB of RAM, and then we needed, even with expensive disk space at that time, additional memory for temp files. Times really have changed. We now often use 12 GB or even more RAM, so the need for temp files has decreased, even though our OS and programs need more space to operate efficiently (that is called progress). In the old days we had a common wisdom that the pagefile needed to be around 1.5 times available memory. Hence your initial setup. But I think we have to reconsider that. With the large amounts of RAM available on modern systems, we may need to rethink our old ways and personally I look forward to seeing some hands-on tests with different pagefile sizes on different configurations. I'm in a quandary myself, I have 12 GB of RAM and had, just like you, initially set up my pagefile to 18 GB. I then reduced it to 8 GB and have not seen any performance degradation. But to be true, I have not seen any improvements either.

If I come across any relevant info I will let you know.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 12:47 PM   #24
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Man, there is always so much to learn... wonder what the Mac folks do for fun?

I'm wondering if the Passmark or any other benchmark testing would stress the system enough to measure this...
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Old June 13th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #25
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Update, for those who are still awake at this point: When trying to burn a BD of our latest project, I noticed our BD burner had disappeared in Encore. It was there in Device Manager and Windows said it was using the latest, best driver (but "could not start device"), but the AHCI BIOS did not see it; neither did the Disk Management Utility in Computer Management, nor did Encore. So I installed the latest Intel Matrix Storage Manager (which showed a 2007 date on the POST screen and noted it only supported HDDs and CD-ROM drives, and which earlier had refused to install before I had properly enabled AHCI on the machine) and presto! Drive shows up; successful BD burn. Have no idea if that really was the problem/solution, but there you have it.

Whew!

Now, another question for anyone still with us. As I've now found the proper adaptors and connectors to attach the Areca controller to eSATA drives, I want to add five more drives to max out the Areca's capacity, because at this point I am completely HDD crazy. Each connector would have to go to a single 1TB drive. It appears that the only way to physically do this is to buy five individual eSATA drives, as any tower multi-drive configuration only has one eSATA connector -- and all the drives need to be the same size as the internal ones to properly RAID and all that. Does this make sense? Or is there a better way?
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Old June 13th, 2009, 10:26 PM   #26
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Adam,

Yes. Your assumption is correct, at least IIRC the 1230 is not a multilane controller. One thing that may work (I have never tried this) because it seems logical: An external drive cage will likely have a single multilane connector, but the 1230 has individual connectors. So a solution may be to try a BACKWARD breakout cable instead of a FORWARD breakout cable, if these even exist.

Given your previous headaches with m/f connectors, I would carefully note what connectors are required at each end and search Areca, 3Ware and the like if they have the correct backward breakout cable.
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Old June 14th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #27
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I actually have the 1231ML, which has three multi-lane mini SAS connectors on the card, two of which have cables that break out to four SATA connectors at the other end. Seven of those go to the backplane for the internal drives. So my plan is to install the third breakout cable with my male-male SATA to eSATA adaptors to the eSATA cables, and then run each of those to its own external 1TB eSATA enclosure/disc.

Unless I am horrendously misunderstanding something... which is quite likely. All the cables and adapters physically fit; it remains to be seen whether they actually work to move data.

PCs are fun!
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Old January 31st, 2010, 01:37 PM   #28
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So just to revive a ridiculously old thread, I found a very interesting enclosure at B&H -- it holds four HDDs but has four separate eSATA connectors in the back, so I can have four drives of any size with a single power supply but utilize all my connectors and treat all the disks independently if I want, or RAID them via the controller card. So four connectors will go to the new enclosure, probably filled with 1.5 or 2TB bare drives, and the fifth connector will go to a single dockable hot-swap enclosure so I can use multiple HDDs like big backup floppies -- pop it in, fill it up, pop it out.

Anyone (Harm?) see any issues with this plan?
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