Posts Tagged ‘SXCE’

One step forwards, two steps back

February 16th, 2009

Some purchasing has recently happened to start the file server project:

  • Intel Q9550 ~ AUD$450
  • 8GB Corsair DDR2 8500 ~ AUD$380
  • MSI P7N Diamond ~ AUD$360

MSI’s P7N Diamond was chosen for one point alone — four PCI-e x16 slots. While a lot of boards have a number of physical x16 slots, they fail to back this up electrically beyond two slots. The MSI board has three x16 electrical slots, with the fourth yellow one being an x8 — perfect for expansion.

The P7N Diamond has just the right amount of PCI-E lanes to satisfy our expansion needs.

The P7N Diamond has just the right amount of PCI-E lanes to satisfy our expansion needs.

OpenSolaris 2008.11 was installed on this setup, on a 500GB drive hooked up to one of the NV sata ports, a DVD drive hooked up to the JMB363 controlled IDE port, a previously acquired GeForce 7600GS inserted, alongside a HighPoint RocketRaid 2340. For kicks, an Intel X25-E was hooked up to check out some awesome transfer speeds.

It wasn’t to be.

Things I’ve learned:

  • OpenSolaris loves the MSI board, pretty much enabling everything. While it recognises the X-Fi sound, sound does not actually work. This isn’t a deal breaker. To my never ending surprise, JMB363 seems to work just fine.
  • Turning off AHCI only results in the rear eSATA ports turning off.
  • Most curiously, OpenSolaris will not recognise the X25-E drive at all. Whether this is related to the NV sata ports or otherwise, I do not know.
  • The HighPoint RocketRaid 2340 is not supported. The dual Marvell 88SX6081 chips on it technically are with voodoo beyond the install process, but are the cause of some problems. These have been patched it seems, but all up it seems less trouble to grab something based off LSI chipsets. While FreeBSD certainly supports the 2340, once again the sturdiness of its implementation of ZFS gives me pause.
  • There’s something called Solaris eXpress Community Edition, which abbreviates to the unfortunate SXCE, or “sexy”. It’s basically a beta containing future code, and sadly also didn’t recognise the X25-E, 2340 or X-Fi.

The remaining options are few to be able to set up a 16 drive array in Solaris. Either acquire the Adaptec 31605 for around AUD$1200, or two HP P400s for around AUD$700. Obviously the HP option is significantly cheaper – so long as it works.

While Solaris may seem ideal, it certainly isn’t cheap to get working thanks to limited hardware support. It could seriously be a wait for Snow Leopard and some Hackintoshing, although this is much better suited to an Intel board than this 780i.