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3Ware Escalade 8506 Series - Max Array and Hard Drive Size Limits ????

I'm trying to determine drive and array size limits [if there are any] for some 8506-12 [and 8500/8506 series in general] 3Ware RAID cards.

Information on the 3Ware site is like Swiss Cheese. - It's full of holes.

Compatibility list for 7000/8000/9500S Series shows 400GB as the largest tested drive size.

There is this statement for 8500 series:
"Supports up to 4, 8 or 12 Serial or Parallel 1 ATA drives on a single PCI card, enabling up to 2 terabytes of storage on a half-length card."
- Now: 'Up to 2 TB' on a 12 Port card would only be 12x 160GB drives.
- But: 'Up to 2 TB' on a 4 Port card would be 4x 500GB drives.

There really isn't any information specific to 8506-x cards.
All the links go to one of these other cards.

Is this a case of inadequate and/or WAY out of date information or is there a maximum size limitation for these controllers?
For instance can the Firmware on the cards only address a set amount of drive space for the whole card?

What is the maximum size drive that can be used with:
- 8506-4xx
- 8506-8
- 8506-12
.. controllers.

I have asked the same question of 3Ware directly but no response yet.
I also asked the tech support person to kick the webmaster in the chin for me on their way out today.


I don't want a bunch of speculation and guesses. - I can do that myself.

Direct experience or links to specific examples where large [500GB and up] drives have been used with these cards would be helpful to figure this out.

Thank you.
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1 Solution
PCBONEZAuthor Commented:
Surprisingly 3Ware got back to me before EE.
Unfortunately their answer was by way of a link to a page on their site which was down for a day.
- go figger.

Here's the answer in case anyone needs it later.

The 3ware 7000, 8000, 9500S, 9550SX(U), 9590SE, 9650SE, 9690SA series controllers.
- Drive size up to 2 TB max. [Size of an individual drive.]

The 7000/8000 series.
- Array size up to 2 TB max. [Max size of each array.] Arrays over 2 TB will be truncated to 2 TB.

The 9500S/9550SX(U)/9590SE/9650SE/9690SA series.
Supports disk arrays larger than 2 TBytes.  However,
- 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows only support up to 2 TBytes per physical disk drive or array.
- Linux distributions with the 2.4 kernel only support up to 2 TBytes per physical disk drive or array.
- Linux distributions with the 2.6 kernel support more than 2 TBytes per physical disk drive or array.

That's most of what I needed but I still need to know what they are calling array size.
Assuming 2x 1 TB drives mirrored.... Is that:
- a 2 TB array based on adding the drive sizes up?
- or a 1 TB array based on the amount of storage space?
If you are running in a 32 bit operating system you are limited to a 2TB drive size. So, Even if you have a 4tb raid it MUST be split into at LEAST (2) 2TB drive letters.

Under 64 bit windows vista, or windows 7 you can create a 4TB or larger drive letter with NTFS.

However you will NOT be able to read it on an older 32 bit operating system like windows XP.

However, I found the same information as above regarding the specific controllers you were requesting info on.
PCBONEZAuthor Commented:
Thank you for contributing.
OS limits aren't what I need info on though. [Besides I'm using Linux with the 2.6 kernel.]
I'm looking to find out what the capabilities and restrictions are for the Firmwares in these cards.

I suspect for the 7000/8000 series cards [which is what I have available right now] the "2 TB max" for both the array and the drive is based on the max number of addresses the chip and/or it's firmware can handle in one chuck. [Be it a drive or an array.].
If that's true then I should be able to use 4x 1TB drives in RAID 10 on a 7000/8000 series card.
- - I just want to make SURE before I go buying a bunch of 1TB drives.
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You're welcome, I was not sure if your application was Linux or windows and I have this question posed frequently.

I use 4 TB external arrays using ubuntu to recover Linux striped raid arrays up to 2 tb.

I was asking similar questions to yours of my colleagues when I was researching external raid array boxes.

PCBONEZAuthor Commented:
3Ware got back to me:

For the 7000/8000 series cards:
- 4x 500GB will constitute a 2TB Array even if mirrored.
- 500GB is the largest drive that can be used for RAID 10 in an Array with 4 drives.

PCBONEZAuthor Commented:
3Ware actually gave me the answer I was looking for.
Although coredatarecovery's remarks about OS limits are related that wasn't what I was asking.
But those remarks may indeed help someone that reads this in the future and as I can't award partial points to coredatarecovery -and- partially accept my own solution for finding the answer myself [via 3Ware] coredatarecovery get's them all.
PCBONEZAuthor Commented:
I asked the same question of Promise about their controllers and Promise 'Tech Support' had no idea how their own controllers work.
All they could do was give me a phone number to call and ask someone else.
I would imagine it's a firmware or hardware issue on the card. If it was never designed with hard disks bigger than 500gb then you will have to either upgrade the firmware, (If possible), Or upgrade to a newer controller board.
PCBONEZAuthor Commented:
The 7000/8000 series can use up to 2TB drives as long as there is only one drive in the array.
I think it's a matter of how many addresses the firmware [or maybe the chip] can contain in one address table.
I am wondering a similar thing. I am looking for a card that can handle 5 1tb western digital drives in raid 5.

I am currently running freenas with an old 5 port netcell raid card and it works well enough, except it cant really handle rebuilding an array that size if a drive fails, and only supports raid 3.

The 3ware 8506 looks like an ideal replacement, but from what I gather in this thread I could only use 2 drives per card?
PCBONEZAuthor Commented:
2TB per array.
Can have more than one array on a card. - But, to use RAID 5 all the drives are in the same array.
I think the 9500 or 9550 series will do what you want.
I just spoke with a person from 3com tech support for about an hour. The lowest model pci-x card they have that will work with my setup is the 9550 it supports arrays 4.8tb+ which is sweet.

We also established that this setup should theoretically work in a regular ol 33mhz pci slot, but isn't recommended and could possibly corrupt the array over time.
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