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Manhattan USB 3.0 PCI card and N40L, a cautionary tale


jsox
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I recently bought a "Manhattan Superspeed USB PCI Express Card" at the local Microcenter because I wanted to add USB 3.0 capability to my Microserver. To be fair to Manhattan there were no Windows server OS's listed on the compatibility list, only “Windows XP / Vista / 7 32- and 64-bit" but I bought it anyway.
 

I installed the hardware and powered the N40L up. First warning sign: the USB to PS/2 mouse and keyboard adapter was not working, so I could not use my KVM. I ignored that warning (USB to PS/2 adapters are temperamental in my experience). Bad idea in this case.


I let the Microserver look on the included CD for drivers and it found something it was happy with. I connected my new 4T USB 3.0 Seagate external drive and started a total file copy. I was very pleased with the data rates, although it still took hours to complete.


The next day the server reported errors, failed overnight backups because the target disk was full, which was not possible. I logged into the server and one of the drives in my DrivePool was reported as missing. I shut everything down and removed the new card, brought it back up and uninstalled the driver, “Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 Host Controller Driver”, then brought the server back up. DrivePool seems to be looking around at the data on the drives. Data appears accessible from another PC, but the Stablebit add-in in the Dashboard is reporting sizes incorrectly and “pool condition” says “Duplicating”. StableBit Scanner reports all drives completely healthy, including the drive that had “disappeared” before. As I write this is it still recovering.


Anyway, to sum it up, the Manhattan Superspeed USB PCI Express Card is not recommended
for use in the N40L.

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He mentioned Renesas.  Renesas is the spinoff of NEC's USB3 chipsets, and are widely known as some of the best regarded USB3 chipsets on the market. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renesas

 

However, Renesas' chipsets are widely implemented by multiple vendors.  It doesn't rule out Q&A issues with the vendor's implementation, or manufacturing process.

Edited by LoneWolf
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Yeah, AFAIK, my WD USB3 cards have Renesas chipsets and they work perfectly in my WHS. I've come to the conclusion that a Renesas chipset is no guarantee of anything - a number of cards with them seem not to work particularly well.

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DrivePool update on this server: After trundling away for a while DrivePool reported "Pool condition" as 50% and "There were problems checking, duplicating, or cleaning up one or more files on the pool. You can have DrivePool automatically delete the older file part in order to resolve this conflict." I checked the box for automatic resolution and then the "Duplicate now" button. According to the detail, the problem files were in \ServerFolders\Client Computer Backups\<long name> files. About 10 seconds after clicking the "Duplicate now" button the Pool condition went to 100%. The overall pool condition now reports as expected (total size, duplicated size, and free size).

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Response from Manhattan on the topic of a driver suitable for Windows server OS:

 

"Not at this time.  The card is using a NEC USB 3.0 Controller and NEC has not released a server driver for this card."

 

At least one client backup should have run last night. I'll check it when I get home from work this evening.

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