Return to

Help for a NAS build out of old enterprise gear

Hi everyone, I just signed up after looking at a few of Wendell’s videos.

So, I was looking at some of those cheap AliExpress CPUs, which caused me to start looking at auctions on eBay, and I may or may not have ended up buying three dual Xeon machines. :sweat_smile:
In the event that I did, they would be Intel SR2600UR series servers with dual E5649s (LGA1366), 16GB of RAM and a SR0MBSASMP2 RAID controller with two 450GB drives preinstalled, but I can find almost nothing about this controller on the entire Internet.

From what I can gather it seems that it has a 2TB limitation, so I can’t use either SAS or SATA drives larger than that, but the motherboard itself has 6 SATA ports that shouldn’t have this limitation.
Is there any particular reason I couldn’t/shouldn’t bypass the raid controller and just use those ports with modern high capacity SATA drives?
The NAS build Wendell did for GN with Unraid+ZFS seemed like a good starting point to me.
I don’t need the hot swap capabilities of the raid controller since this is just for home use.

I’m new to the whole space, so if anyone has any “enterprise gear for dummies” resources for me to read I’d be grateful.


You don’t want to use a raid controller in an Unraid Nas as it gets in the way of the parity process.

Go back on eBay and search for a more modern HBA. 3gbps ones (sas) are cheap. 6gpbs are reasonable and have better features for modern drives. Just make sure you get one marked as “IT Mode” rather than a raid controller.

Onboard sata for x58 era boards may even be sata1 so not worth it for modern disks.

No, LGA1366 is SATA 2 from the x58 chipset, and some boards have a extra controller that does SATA 3.

So fine for HDDs, but a bottleneck for sequential ssd.

HBA is the way to go. You can flash some RAID controllers in what you may hear referred to as “IT mode” which is a way to essentially pass through connected drives just like an HBA would. This seemed to be especially popular when certain models of RAID cards you could flash were being taken out of production could be had for much less cost than a comparable HBA. Whether or not this is still the case? No idea… but getting an HBA would be much easier if you’re going to use software to stitch your drives together which I would definitely suggest over an old RAID card…

Typically backplanes in servers have a SAS connector you just plug into a controller of your choosing and you’re golden. I say typically because there are exceptions that have a more…proprietary…design. Such as the one in the Intel server specified… From what I can find, the backplane connects to a midplane which would either be your RAID card or what they’re calling the “passive” midplane. So since you may or may not already have three of those Intel servers, you might explore the option of installing passive midplanes then connecting the passive midplane to an HBA.

refer to page 39 of the manual (page 51 of the PDF)