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5.5TB RAID5 for $5k!

For a long time, I have been pondering building a large storage array for my home. My data storage needs exceed that of many small corporations, so I needed something really large. For a while I looked into a Buffalo Terastation Pro, but I wasn’t ever really impressed with the price vs. what you get.

A while back, I looked at building a storage array, but at the time, drives were still quite expensive. Oh, how things change.

My requirements in a storage system were simple (in my mind): Must be RAID mirrored or parity (so, RAID1, 5, 6, or one of the RAID in RAID setups), must have a LOT of storage (to the tune of 5TB or more), must have hotswap drives, must be reliable, and preferably, rackmount.

Since mirroring (RAID1/RAID1+0) a large array is not economically feasible since you have to have equal sets of drives, I chose a RAID5 setup (or RAID6 depending on my reliability requirements). By building a system myself, I have the ability to tailor the system exactly to my needs, but this has, until recently, been cost prohibitive.

I ended up deciding on a rackmount SATA enclosure that holds 12 drives, connected to the controlling system via 3 x4 Multilane connectors. This gives me the ability to create a RAID 5 or RAID 6 array with 12 drives. In a RAID5 scenario, I would get the capacity of 11 drives (Smallest Drive x N-1), or in RAID6 10 drives (Smallest Drive x N-2).

The controller for the SATA-II array will be a 3Ware 9650. Since the controller is PCIe, it makes sense to have a PCIe capable system to control it, especially with that many drives. I think that standard PCI will crack under the throughput requirements of 12 drives in an array.

For the server to run it all, I chose a entry level Silicon Mechanics Rackform iServ R107 which can be had (sparsely configured) for just over 700 bucks. It has fixed SATA bays, but they are of little relevance because I will be running a compactflash drive in it, since FreeNAS will happily run off a small flash disk.

I found that I can acquire Seagate Barracuda ES 500GB SATA-II drives for around $150, when I am buying more than 10.

This brings my total cost, after choosing the server, drive enclosure, drives, raid controller with battery backup unit, and a UPS to just under $5k, all before price negotiations. If I can get this done before any earthquakes or tsunamis hit the major manufacturing areas of the world, I should be in pretty good shape.

If you want a list of the components with prices and urls, email me and I will send you the list. I also considered using 750GB drives, but they are about 100 bucks more a piece, so for about $6K you get 8.25TB. I also priced out a single box with 16 SATA bays, the server, and the controller all in one unit. It worked out to about $5800 for the 5.5TB, and about $8k for 7.5TB (12 drives) or $9k for 11.25TB (16 drives). Slightly more expensive, but a much more attractive box if you were to be building this for a business or corporation.

In my pricing, I included 2 extra hard drives as cold spares, since drives can and do fail eventually.


One Response for “5.5TB RAID5 for $5k!”

  1. Planning my Home Theater iSCSI RAID Storage system | One Bad Pixel Says:

    […] a previous post, I discussed building a very large storage array for under $5000. Since the time I have written the […]

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