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Gen 10 Plus vs Gen 10


hfournier
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I'm putting together a build for a non-profit client and I want to make sure they're getting the best bang for their bucks.

 

Current server:

  • HP MicroServer N40L
  • 8 GB
  • WS2012E
  • Plextor PX-256M5Pro SSD - OS drive
  • SAMSUNG HD103SI 1TB (x2) - Data drives (Storage Spaces)
  • WDC WD20EZRX 2TB (x2) - Data drives (Storage Spaces)

 

On the new server, I'd like to setup the OS on SSDs (RAID 1) for speed and redundancy. Trying to squeeze extra SSDs on the Gen 10 Plus lead me to using the PCIe card. I guess on the Gen 10 there's enough room and SATA connections to put a couple of SSDs in the Optical bay instead. And, I'm leaving 1 drive bay empty to add another 2 TB should they need it, which is not likely.

 

New Server Option 1 ($2084 CDN):

  • HP MicroServer Gen 10 X3418 (P07203-001)
  • 8 GB
  • 8 GB Module - DDR4 2400MHz (Kingston KTH-PL424E/8G)
  • WS2016E
  • StarTech.com Dual M.2 PCIe SSD Adapter Card - x8 / x16 Dual NVMe or AHCI M.2 SSD to PCI Express 3.0 - RAID & JBOD (PEX8M2E2)
  • Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V7E500BW) (x2) - OS Drives (RAID 1)
  • WD Gold 2TB (x3) - Data drives (Storage Spaces, or can I RAID 5 them?)

 

New Server Option 2 ($2362):

  • HP MicroServer Gen 10 Plus (P16006-001)
  • 16 GB
  • WS2016E
  • StarTech.com Dual M.2 PCIe SSD Adapter Card - x8 / x16 Dual NVMe or AHCI M.2 SSD to PCI Express 3.0 - RAID & JBOD (PEX8M2E2)
  • Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V7E500BW) (x2) - OS Drives (RAID 1)
  • WD Gold 2TB (x3) - Data drives (Storage Spaces, or can I RAID 5 them?)

 

So two questions for all of you:

  • If anything, what would you change and why?
  • For the extra $278 (13% more), is the Gen 10 Plus worth it?

 

Thanks.

 

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I’ve not had any experience yet with a PCIe card that will work in Gen10 Plus with Dual NVMe drives. Saw you included this one below:

StarTech.com Dual M.2 PCIe SSD Adapter Card - x8 / x16 Dual NVMe or AHCI M.2 SSD to PCI Express 3.0 - RAID & JBOD (PEX8M2E2

Haven’t ready any firsthand accounts of this being a compatible card that will allow the G10+ to recognize both drives on card with bifurcation enabled.

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Info on the card here:
 
https://www.startech.com/uk/HDD/Adapters/m2-pcie-ssd-adapter~PEX8M2E2
 
states "adapter card does not rely on PCIe bifurcation" so it should be compatible.  Comes with low profile bracket too.

Nice! Look forward to someone testing one. Wouldn’t mind adding 2 NVMe drives to my setup. Only using one at moment.
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3 hours ago, Jason said:

I’ve not had any experience yet with a PCIe card that will work in Gen10 Plus with Dual NVMe drives. Saw you included this one below:

StarTech.com Dual M.2 PCIe SSD Adapter Card - x8 / x16 Dual NVMe or AHCI M.2 SSD to PCI Express 3.0 - RAID & JBOD (PEX8M2E2

Haven’t ready any firsthand accounts of this being a compatible card that will allow the G10+ to recognize both drives on card with bifurcation enabled.

 

It's listed as an option on page 3 of this article:

https://www.servethehome.com/hpe-proliant-microserver-gen10-plus-ultimate-customization-guide/3/

where it says:

"There are options using PCIe switches such as the StarTech PEX8M2E2 adapter which offers two drive capability in a single PCIe slot without requiring bifurcation support. These PCIe switches use power, so we generally suggest avoiding them given how power-constrained the MSG10+ is."

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I am wondering whether using 2 x 2TB SSD drives in RAID 1 for both the OS and the user data would be a good fit for your use case? Of course NVME is preferable for OS install and operation ... but it could be multiple users accessing their data simultaneously might be better with SSD rather than HDD storage. In the same vein cabling all GBE ports will multiply up the network bandwidth via SMB multichannel in Windows.

 

If you must have the ReFS file integrity checking in Windows Server then your architecture will be better.

 

Does the 'not for profit' nature of the organisation suggest that a non-enterprise solution would be acceptable?

Do you need Windows Server and ECC RAM?

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Quote

I am wondering whether using 2 x 2TB SSD drives in RAID 1 for both the OS and the user data would be a good fit for your use case? Of course NVME is preferable for OS install and operation ... but it could be multiple users accessing their data simultaneously might be better with SSD rather than HDD storage. In the same vein cabling all GBE ports will multiply up the network bandwidth via SMB multichannel in Windows.

 

This is mostly a file/print server type situation. Users (about a dozen) are mostly using MS Office type applications, so no big concerns regarding performance. And 2 TB Nvme would be a significant price increase.

 

Quote

Do you need Windows Server and ECC RAM?

 

Yes, as far as Windows Server goes. I chose WS2016E, because MS striped Essentials in 2019 version, including Remote Access, which has been crucial over the past few months. However, I just stumbled onto this link that makes it possible to get all the Essentials goodness into WS2019.

 

As for RAM, I don't care, as long as it works without issue. I just did a search on Kingston based on make and model for the extra 8 GB on the Gen10. The Gen 10 Plus comes with 16 GB, so that's all that's needed.

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On 6/25/2020 at 5:32 AM, hfournier said:

OS Drives (RAID 1)

 

I think you're assuming the StarTech card will automatically perform RAID1 for you, but my belief from this statement from their web page

 

"the flexibility to access your M.2 PCIe SSDs individually. Or, you can utilize software RAID to build a RAID array"

 

Implies you need to O/S to be able to configure a RAID1 set of drives and install onto them.  This is possible (Microsoft Article) but is not as straightforward as using a hardware RAID card.  You also need to be careful with Windows updates and disk failures as mentioned in the article as these are not automatically dealt with.  Also, I'd recommend the Gen10+ if you're going to do this with an iLO enablement card (if you can find one... I can't!!) so you can have full remote access in event of failure.

 

Addidional information in this article ... but to quote part of it:

 

First Issue:
Creating a mirrored volume requires you to convert both disks to dynamic. The BIOS of your computer does not understand dynamic disks. It simply boots whichever partition is marked "active" in the partition table. To solve this problem, Windows created a "fake" partition table when you did the conversion on the primary drive so that the BIOS would still see it and know how to boot. But I'm betting that when you added that second drive, it had no partitions on it (or you removed them) before you converted it. That fake BIOS partition table only gets created if a real, active, bootable partition exists WHEN THE DRIVE IS CONVERTED to a dynamic disk. If a drive has no partitions, the fake partition table does not get created, and there's no way to create one after the fact. The secondary drive therefore cannot be booted by the BIOS.

Second Issue:
With Microsoft, mirroring works at the volume level, not the disk level. The default setup for Windows 7 is to create a 100MB reserved partition that gets no drive letter, and the remaining space becomes drive C. Your Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store lives on that reserved partition. When you added the second drive you probably didn't create that reserved partition, so a BCD store does not exist on it. Even if you do create that partition, it cannot be mirrored. You must clone the contents manually to the second drive, and manually sync them again if your BCD store ever changes (fortunately that's rare).

If you read that document I linked to above carefully, you'll notice that they have you creating partitions on the 2nd drive and cloning the boot files before the step where you convert it to dynamic. They also have you manually adjusting the BCD store on the secondary drive as well (because if you boot off it, it's not the secondary anymore -- the first drive is).

Oh, and one more thing I should mention:
You do not gain any speed advantage when using a software RAID-1 in Windows. A real RAID controller treats both drives as equals and does reads and writes to both drives simultaneously. Windows' mirroring will ALWAYS do reads from whichever disk you booted from. The secondary drive is simply kept in sync but otherwise not used for anything. The feature only exists for fault tolerance so that a server can continue running if one of the drives fails. It's kind of pointless on a workstation in most cases.

Edited by binky
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3 hours ago, binky said:

I think you're assuming the StarTech card will automatically perform RAID1 for you

 

No, I realized it didn't have support for RAID, so I was planning on using software RAID 1. However, I was not aware of the issues you pointed out. So if you get the server all setup using only one drive, clone it to the 2nd drive, then convert both to dynamic and mirror them... everything should be OK? Both drives will be bootable, right?

 

Failing that, I guess I could use a single drive card and keep a spare SSD and recover from backup if ever needed, but that will cause some disruption.

 

I'm just looking for redundancy, so that if one OS drive fails, the server remains fully functional until it can be replaced, which could take a couple of days (for order and delivery).

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The dual M.2 NVMe 'switch' card does not support RAID.

The same card appears to be available from three different vendors $155-$175:

https://www.startech.com/HDD/Adapters/m2-pcie-ssd-adapter~PEX8M2E2

https://www.addonics.com/products/ad2m2nvmpx8.php

http://www.ableconn.com/products_2.php?gid=143

If the goal is to have redundancy for the boot OS drive, on the MS Gen10 I have played with these in the x1 PCIe slot:

No RAID1, two mSATA drives in one x1 PCIe slot:

http://sedna-shop.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=70

No RAID1, x1 PCIe controller with two SSD in ODD bay:

https://www.newegg.com/p/14U-00T0-002G6

Raid1 in a x1 PCIe slot with two SSD in the ODD bay. Will require right angle SATA cables:

https://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/HDD-Controllers/SATA-Cards/2-Port-PCI-Express-SATA-6-Gbps-Controller-Card~PEXSAT32

This would leave the x8 slot available.

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