The PERC6/i adapter can support 32 drives, but that is limited by the backplane of the external enclosure it is attached to. Also, the adapter does not support creating virtual disks containing internal and external drives. Once you have an external jbod attached to the controller you should be able to go into the controller bios or OpenManage and see/configure all the drives into arrays.
- I have a RAID controller Dell PERC 6/i. - This controller has 2 internal ports (SFF-8484 connectors) also called "channels" - On each channel, by default, you can plug "SFF-8484 to 4 SATA" cables in order to plug, so, 2 * 4 = 8 SATA drives . As an example : http://www.familie-neumann.name/ebay/perc5i_kabel.jpg (even if it's PERC 5/i, it's to visualize) - Now, i want to add extra drives (= plug more than the actual 8 drives) : in effect, specs tell the PERC 6/i can support up to 32 drives - I tried to know how to do it. The answer seems to be : unplug the actual cables, then connect the PERC to a SAS Expander, then plug all the drives to these new expander in order the PERC "see" all the drives (to bypass the limit due to the 2 original cables). Expander example : http://www.norcotek.com/web/hpexpander.jpg - BUT when i wanted to buy a SAS expander, i learned, reading many posts, that no one found an expander compatible with the PERC 6/i !!!! - It astonished me i can't understand such a nonsense statement... - I contacted Dell to obtain advices and i went crazy : they tried to make me forget the statement found (up to 32 drives) and wanted me to buy a fresh new Dell card instead considering my needs !!! - So i'm searching and CAN'T find someone who tested PERC 6/i + expanders !!! And i can't believe it that NO ONE has tried to plug more than 8 drives on a PERC 6/i..... - I contacted various expander providers that can't answer me about compatibility and ask me to contact Dell !!! - Just going crazy...
Just plug the PERC into an external SAS/SATA JBOD with SES support, and as long as it has less than 32 bays you will be fine. The expander is part of the backplane. Xyratex, Newisys, LSI, Dell, Quatas, HP, Supermicro all have a wide range of products, and newer SAS-2 (6Gbit) is now shipping. Many other vendors slap their names on one of these I just mentioned also.
I would choose something that supports the faster speed right from the beginning.
Now, not all enclosures are equal, and there are implementation & compatibility issues with SATA disks. First, if they aren't enterprise class, then forget it .... you'll end up with data loss.
I have personally tested several dozen enclosures last 2 years, from a variety of vendors. Some are much better than others, and if you are investing in an enclosure (You want one that supports SES and has the expander+backplane all in same unit that you run cables to. Don't get a dumb box.
(One of the things I do professionally is write Enclosure management software & diagnostics.
So bottom line get an external SES-compliant "intelligent" enclosure, and cabling is all you need.
Indeed, as it has a certain price (my project is for personal use ), better to choose, from the beginning, a good one that will last some years .
What do you think about this brand/grade of product ?
By the way, as you're a professional, your advice is interesting
But, concerning my initial need :
I have a PERC 6/i which has INTERNAL ports....
And i can't find any one that seems to have tested or can confirm that, with an adaptater, it could work...
Indeed the main worry found in forums : despite the Dell specs, no one seems to have managed to use more than 8 drives (it's supposed to support up to 16 (or 32 ?) physical drives !... And i know that Dell sells T710 with 16 drives (but 2.5" ..??...)).
Here is my main problem : as i can't be sure, i'd like to avoid to spend a lot on a beautiful new chassis to see that it doesn't work...
Well, i think that i'm faced to an obligation : replace all the things (including the RAID controller) :/
I've had several supermicro enclosures here for testing. I found a few firmware bugs but nothing that would affect day-to-day operations, only if you wanted to do some enclosure management (so you know if a power supply / fan failed, or wanted to turn on a LED in response to a drive failure). Signal/data quality is above average.
The PERC controller is just an off-the-shelf LSI controller with essentially same firmware that LSI ships, only changes are the VID/PID info and a few vendor-specific bit settings that I have not bothered to dig into. My company has a development agreement with LSI, so I have programming manuals and APIs to talk to dig into it.
Personally, I would not use that controller. The price of SAS-2 has come way down, and with that many disks you certainly want to be using 6Gbit/sec links instead of 3Gbs. Spend a bit of a premium and future-proof. I would also go with the LSI-branded versions, not the PERCs (sorry Dell). From technology point of view, the reason to do this is because patches/updates are available much sooner, and Dell takes their sweet time modifying the firmware upgrades and putting it online.
Right now in the lab I've got 60 HDDs hooked up to just one port of a SAS-2 controller. All 60 HDDs in the same enclosure, which is a SAS-2, 4U made by LSI (but the product isn't shipping yet). The point is that once you get into SAS-2, then you really don't have to worry about busting out of them as much.
I've hooked up 96 disks to LSI SAS-1 controllers and it ran fine. But in all fairness, you have to consider that there is a difference between using them in JBOD vs RAID firmware. I almost always use software RAID, as I work mostly with appliance vendors ... and the dirty secret is that all those expensive server appliances all use SOFTWARE RAID & LSI controllers. You get much better performance and flexibility.
Boot the system and let me know what the LSI-MPT BIOS version is and also the chip P/N. (BIOS shows on the POST. The chip info can be obtained several ways, depending on what O/S you use, but visual inspection is OK too). Since your 6/i has internal ports then probably the best thing you can do is just sell it on ebay and use the money to get a controller with the external ports. Supermicro, Dell, HP, IBM all OEM the same LSI boards.
Get one with dual ports. I've picked up HP's equivalent of the card on ebay for $75. What O/S?