Rated 5 out of 5 by 1
Rated 5 out of 5 by Haravikk Instant DIY RAID Storage
- Easy to install.
- Solid performance of USB3.
- eSATA connectivity.
- Supports up to five disks at SATA II (3gbps) speeds.
- Headers for status and error lights for the array as a whole and for individual disks.
- Supports a wide range range of RAID modes.
- No cache memory.
- No battery power*.
- Can be awkward to power.
As noted, performance over USB3 is extremely good, but only once configured into a single array. When configured as a collection of individual disks performance is significantly worse than eSATA due to the lack of command queuing and general latency of USB. However, once organised into a suitable array it is easily possible to saturate USB3 with a RAID-0 or RAID-5 array with enough disks. The controller itself only has the minimum cache required for SATA communication and for it to operate correctly, though most hard drives you would want to use in a RAID array will have 64mb of cache that should eliminate this disadvantage.
The controller has no battery power, which means that any protection against loss of power must come from an uninterruptible power supply, or could possibly be wired into the case somewhere.
Supplying power to the controller is the trickiest part, as common, affordable ATX PSUs all require a signal from a motherboard in order to activate. This isn't a problem if you intend to run the controller inside an existing computer system, but it means that installing this controller on its own inside a case intended purely for storage either requires a more specialist PSU, or the use of the "paperclip" trick to activate the PSU; this isn't as unsafe as it sounds, and simply involves using a paperclip (or wire etc.) to connect the PS_On pin of the ATX power cable to ground, causing it to turn on. My recommendation for this is to do it permanently in order to use the PSU's own mains power switch for activating your system, but to get a PSU with very stable power output. As a general rule you don't really need more than about 10-15W for every disk you want to be able to put into the system, so just buy the highest quality PSU you can afford. Personally I want for a Seasonic Platinum Series Fanless 460W PSU, also available from Scan, which should be more than enough 15 HDDs, and may even be able to handle the maximum 54 2.5" drives I could fit inside my case!
To build your own RAID Array using one of these controllers is simple as all you need is:
- One or more of these RAID Controllers (each one supports five disks, you can use SATA multipliers but I don't recommend it).
- A computer case in your desired size, personally I recommend one with lots of 5.25" drive bays.
- Some hard drives either installed into the case directly, or installed into a back-plane compatible with 5.25" drive bays. I recommend IcyBox back-planes as most of them support hot-swaping.
- A PSU suitable for your RAID controller(s) as mentioned above.
- Any additional cooling you want (personally I disabled my back-plane fans in favour of a separate fan controller with a large 140mm exhaust fan for the whole case as it's much quieter this way).
It's pretty much a case of hooking everything together, connecting a USB or eSATA cable to your PC, and switching the unit on.
Once switched on, you can use the RAID Manager software available on the driver CD or from the Lycom site (the one on the site is possibly newer). The software presents a straightforward GUI allowing you to easily construct the desired RAID array, with no need to fiddle around with the dip-switches on the back of the controller itself. Just remember that if you're going to use eSATA that your RAID controller needs to be switched on before your computer is, otherwise it may not be recognised (as eSATA isn't hot-pluggable on most systems).
For self-build RAID this controller is an absolute must, I have one creating a five-disk JBOD (concatenated/big disk) set at the moment, and intend to get a second one so I can create a RAID-5 array, all in the same case.
I do hope for a Thunderbolt controller in future, but for HDDs USB3 is plenty fast for five disk arrays, and while self-building isn't super cheap, it's far more affordable than Thunderbolt enclosures, and far more powerful than USB ones.
09 December 2013