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I have an Intel D945GCLF2 running headless Ubuntu which I use as a fileserver. I currently have a 4 port PCI SATA card plugged into it which has 4 disks attached. They're running software RAID 5 which is plenty fast enough to stream music etc.

Unforunately I've run out of space on those drives and am looking to upgrade. I've been hunting around for an 8-port PCI Sata card but they're few and far between unless you want to pay >£500!

My question is whether the following would work:

  1. Plug a PCI to PCI-E converter into the motherboard.
  2. Plug an 8 port PCI-Ex4 card into the adapter.
  3. Plug my existing 4 drives plus some additional drives into a couple of SFF-8087 to SATA cables

My main worry is that the converter says it'll do pci to pci-e x1 but the card says it'll do x4 and makes no mention of x1?

Will this all work? ..and if not, is there an alternative?

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You can find 3Ware 9500S-12 cards for under $100 new and under $50 used. They'll work in a PCI slot. I believe they are not officially supported on 64-bit Windows Vista or Windows 7. – David Schwartz Apr 13 '12 at 1:43
Any converter board is going to come with a performance cost. Furthermore any converter board connected to a PCI slot is going to be limited to the speed of the PCI Slot. PCI-Ex4 is supports PCI-E X 1 but its a horrible idea. Of course your current setup is sort of bad also, so you clearly don't care about performance, your getting a fraction of the speed that a SATA HDD should provide IF THAT. – Ramhound Apr 13 '12 at 11:30
What I care about is a large storage volume, performance high enough to stream content, some degree of redundancy (RAID5 gives me the capability to suffer a single drive failure before I have issues). – Jon Cage Apr 14 '12 at 10:35
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I found a solution:

  1. A Lycom ST-125 (SiL3124 chipset based PCI controller card) for ~£30.
  2. A Lycom ST-126RM (SiL3726 chipset 1-5 port expander) for ~£30.

The first card has 4 ports on it and the expanders have 5. So if I buy another 3 expanders I can support up to 20 disks with this arrangement.

My existing 4x1TB software RAID 5 array is managing ~20MB/s read / write on the new card. Next up is trying it when it's on the port extender to see how much of a performance hit we get there. It definitely works though and fast enough for my needs.

If anyone else is looking for a relatively low power, low cost, reliable storage array, this configuration works rather well!

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