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LVLouisCyphre

Dual AHCI M.2 PCIe card

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LVLouisCyphre

I'm looking for a dual M.2 AHCI SATA card that creates two additional AHCI SATA ports specifically for the M.2 SSDs; the card does not use any systemboard SATA ports.  The card creates two provides two additional AHCI SATA ports specifically for the M.2 SSDs.  NVMe is out as that requires PCIe 3. NVMe M.2 apparently is not backwards compatible with PCIe 2.0.  The goal is to have a mirrored SSD boot drive under FreeBSD or FreeNAS on my pair of HP MS G7 N54Ls and Lenovo TS430.

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nrf

such a board would definitely rejuvenate a g7 assuming it was low profile to fit in the tiny space they give.

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LVLouisCyphre

It appears that the only cards that are available are the Syba (IO Crest) SI-PEX40116 (quad M.2 B+M key) and SI-PEX50102 (dual B+M key plus two SATA 3 ports with hardware RAID 0/1/10); both use the Marvell chipsets both FreeBSD supported with the ahci(4) driver.  I don't need nor want the hardware RAID even if you can put the latter card in AHCI HBA or IT mode for each port.  I can use gmirror(8) for FreeBSD and most likely FreeNAS for boot drive RAID1 and possibly do a four of a kind M.2 RAIDZ2 boot with FreeBSD.

 

I'd rather have the quad M.2 B+M keys as there are B+M key to SATA port adapters.  They come with low profile brackets and appear to be low profile PCIe cards.  If no one has any better suggestions, preferably with an Intel chipset, I'm going to probably buy one on Amazon for a 30 day testing phase.  If it works, I'll buy more and post my results here and on the FreeBSD/FreeNAS forums.  If not, I'll return it and rant about it here and in an Amazon review.  There are a couple of G7 users who are happy with these cards.

 

And a correction, you can do NVMe with PCIe 2.x, but it may not perform as well as SATA 3 so I might as well go with a SATA 3 B+M key solution so I don't have to deal with BIOS hacks, option ROMs or loaders on a G7 and save myself the headache.  I may test NVMe with the G7s as a giggles project when I have free time just I have a process if I need to resurrect a G7 with NVMe or slap one together.  The Marvell chipsets are allegedly legacy BIOS compatible which makes them ideal for G7s. 

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schoondoggy

Startech has one as well:

https://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/HDD-Controllers/SATA-Cards/m2-raid-controller-card~PEXM2SAT3422

Keep in mind the majority of these boards use Marvell - 88SE9230 chipsets, four SATA 6Gbps ports to a x2 PCIe 2.0 interface.

Running fours SATA III SSDs on these boards could easily saturate the x2 PCIe 2.0 interface, 1000MB/s:

https://www.marvell.com/documents/pxevoqurnigtyabbisjm/

Average speed NVMe drives should work fine with PCIe 2.0 lanes as long as the controller on the NVMe balances across all lanes, x4 PCIe 2.0 would be up to 2000MB/s. Some cheap NVMe drives are x2 instead of x4, which is not an issue with PCIe 3.0, but could be an issue with PCIe 2.0.

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LVLouisCyphre
1 hour ago, schoondoggy said:

Startech has one as well:

https://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/HDD-Controllers/SATA-Cards/m2-raid-controller-card~PEXM2SAT3422

Keep in mind the majority of these boards use Marvell - 88SE9230 chipsets, four SATA 6Gbps ports to a x2 PCIe 2.0 interface.

They have a better one for my application but only two M.2 B key ports which use a different chipset.

 

Since I'll be running software RAID under FreeBSD, there's no point in using the 88SE9230.  The 88SE9235 doesn't support hardware RAID0/1/10.  With software RAID, you want to avoid hardware RAID.  While I've read you can put the 9230 card BIOS in IT mode, I would just rather avoid the hassle. 

 

If I come across a bandwidth issue, I can lock down the SATA M.2 B+M ports to 3 Gbs in the ahci driver MIBs via sysctl or in the loader.conf(4) under the ahci(4) MIB hint.ahcich.X.sata_rev if I can't do it in the G7 BIOS.  The G7 onboard SATA ports can only do 3 Gbs.  I've read on the FreeBSD forum that some users with the Marvell chipset had to step down their cards to 3 Gbps because of heat issues.

 

I'll cross the NVMe bridge later.  I'll have to deal with a BIOS hack, loader or option ROM to boot from NVMe on a G7.

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nrf

one can't be too careful looking at these slot capabilities. I found out my laptop has a nvme slot but when i looked at the details nvme mode would be no faster than sata mode anyway, so I just chalked it up as a second disk slot should I ever need it. My son's rizen based desktop has sufficient specs to actually do something meaningful with the slot so if I ever need a disk boost for him that is where i will get it. things are never simple in this 'business'.

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schoondoggy
20 minutes ago, LVLouisCyphre said:

They have a better one for my application but only two M.2 B key ports which use a different chipset.

 

Since I'll be running software RAID under FreeBSD, there's no point in using the 88SE9230.  The 88SE9235 doesn't support hardware RAID0/1/10.  With software RAID, you want to avoid hardware RAID.  While I've read you can put the 9230 card BIOS in IT mode, I would just rather avoid the hassle. 

 

If I come across a bandwidth issue, I can lock down the SATA M.2 B+M ports to 3 Gbs in the ahci driver MIBs via sysctl or in the loader.conf(4) under the ahci(4) MIB hint.ahcich.X.sata_rev if I can't do it in the G7 BIOS.  The G7 onboard SATA ports can only do 3 Gbs.  I've read on the FreeBSD forum that some users with the Marvell chipset had to step down their cards to 3 Gbps because of heat issues.

 

I'll cross the NVMe bridge later.  I'll have to deal with a BIOS hack, loader or option ROM to boot from NVMe on a G7.

Yes, Marvell controllers can be set to JBOD.

UEFI BIOS is a requirement to boot from NVMe. You may be able to boot from a USB boot loader and run the OS from the NVMe.

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LVLouisCyphre
5 minutes ago, nrf said:

one can't be too careful looking at these slot capabilities.

...

things are never simple in this 'business'.

I carefully analyze everything; cost, labor, etc before I embark on anything.  When you've been in the business as long as I have and still dabble in it, you take into the factor how much of a headache, ulcer and respective bar tab from the headache and ulcer you're going to get in each project.  🍻

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LVLouisCyphre

FYI; I found a five port M.2 SATA PCIe card by a Chinese based company called Glotrends.  The only issue is that it requires full height slots as the M.2 (up to 2280) SATA drives are vertical, not horizontal as the Syba IO Crest card.  Glotrends from what I've been able to gather tends to use the ASM chipsets.  The Syba IO Crest uses a Marvell chipset.

 

The Syba card fits in an HP MS G7 without issue.  It probably fits in all microserver type platforms as the card is no taller than low-profile slot bracket.  I see no issue with FreeBSD RAIDZ2 booting as this card provides raw AHCI channels to the OS which is the ideal situation for ZFS.

 

Glotrends also makes a PCIe 4-port NVMe card that supports PCIe non-bifurcation.

 

Now I just need to find a good source for inexpensive M.2 SATA SSDs.

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schoondoggy

Just curious, why not use 2.5" SATA drives in the ODD bay with a SAS HBA?

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