JBOD Enclosure Recommendations

Good morning all! I’ve not long started out on my Chia journey, but have reached the point where I need to expand my storage. I’ve been plotting on a Dell R620 that came with a MD1220 and farming on a 4U PC based enclosure. I’m not really sure of the best way to expand?
From a little research, I think I should buy a PCIE SAS expander card for the 4U PC/enclosure and buy a JBOD (used NetApp seem popular) and connect it via SAS cable/Expander card to the 4U PC.
Initially I thought I would buy used Dell PowerVault MD1200s and just daisy chain them, but they are incredibly noisey and extremely fussy with HDDs (doesn’t like anything that isn’t Dell branded (learnt the expensive/hard way)). If anyone could point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated.
P.S. Do I have to be careful about what SAS PCIE Expander card I buy? Will certain brands be loaded with firmware that only works with their brand of HDDs?

I don’t have any specific Jbod recommendations. Since Chia doesn’t need much, I would say go for the most affordable one.

HBA + Jbod, I think many people will say this is a good/best way to expand. It’s not usually the cheapest though.

SAS expanders, as far as I know are pretty “dumb” devices, they just split the channels.
I bought a random one from Aliexpress and it works fine.

Cheers Voodoo, what is the cheapest way to go then?

I don’t suppose you have a link for that SAS expander?

Cheapest is some form of DIY enclosures with sata or sas breakout cables. But honestly it doesn’t scale
well. USB externals drives can also be very cost effective
My opinion, you should stick with SAS and see if you can find cheap Jbod’s. But there are people here who know more about those things than I do.

Sas expander (it was Ebay, not Ali):

This is with internal sas connectors though (sff-8087), not the external ones.

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Many thanks, I’ll take a look!

Why are there 6 ports on that card, and it says 16 port, are the other two dead spots?

I assumed 2 of those physical ports were for daisy chaining?

I know a lot of people like the NetApp enclosures, but I’ve been using EMC JBOD shelves and they have worked well for me. The NetApp ones are more rack dense (24 drives in 4U, I think vs 15 drives in 3U for the EMC) but they also are more expensive.

The ones I bought are these: EMC Expansion Array Jbod Disk Array Shelf W/ 15x SAS SATA Trays Dell HP 6GB CHIA | eBay

This same seller also has some NetApp enclosures, apparently: NetApp DS4246 JBOD Server Desktop Expansion Array +Trays, SAS Card, Cable, Rails | eBay

It helps that this seller is local to my area, so after the first purchase on ebay, I’ve been able to contact them directly and negotiate for an even cheaper price in cash. Their phone number is shown in their listing and you can google their website to contact them directly to try to get a cheaper price and save them on the fees from ebay.

If you DO buy the EMC shelves, make sure you know if you’re going to use SAS or SATA drives in them, though. EMC has a few different “interposers” (the little boards in the drive carriers that the drive actually plugs into) and some do not actually work with SAS drives even though it looks like they should.

I’m also using EMC Shelfs and they are working great. I’ve been using SATA drives so far and assumed SAS drives would work the same. I’ve just ordered 150 SAS drives - hope they will match the interposers in the arrays.

Where did you get the info about SAS drive incompatibility ? I’ve only found this (EMC KTN-STL3 15 bay chassis | ServeTheHome Forums) and it is about SATA drive incompatibility. I can actually confirm what they said about top controller having issues with SATA drives - I had to plug all these arrays via bottom controller.

Thanks for the info. I’ve looked at the link, but unfortunately I’m in the UK and the shipping is $199 LOL, the same as the price to buy it! I will have a look though to see if I can source something similar local.

Does anyone here know what blocks non Dell branded drives in my PowerVault MD1220? Is it the controller on the MD1220 or is it the PERC H810 RAID Controller? If its the H810, maybe I could get around this by replacing it with a different RAID Controller?

I found out the incompatibility issues the hard way. I originally was putting SATA drives into mine, but then found a cheaper SAS drive option online. When I started putting them in, I had odd issues where the green light would blink a few times and then go out. I reached out to someone that knew these EMC shelves via the CHIA discord server and he was able to find this article that explained it: https://www.reddit.com/r/homelab/comments/obcejy/whats_the_difference_between_these_two_emc/

Not entirely sure, I think those are for daisy chaining to the next expander.
But those port work just fine, so don’t really know if there is a real difference other than being suggestive.

I hooked one of the top ports to my HBA, the other to a 12bay jbod (with another expander inside) and that works fine. It might be that you cannot populate all six ports at the same time, but I have no way of trying that.

Thanks for sharing !
I hope I don’t find the issue the hard way as you did. Have 30+ of those arrays from different supplieres, so hopefully at least 10 should have the right interposers.

My understanding is that that board doesn’t have PCIe interface (only draws power from it). Therefore, if all 6 ports are populated with HDs, the board is basically dead. There is a need for at least one link from a controller, and most likely for convenience one of those 2 top ports is used for that. The other port can be either used for another link from the controller (maybe making this expander faster - don’t really know that), or as a link to the next expander card, or if no more expanders, as another HDs port.

So, in theory, using a PCIe splitter cable / card can be used to put several of those cards in one physical slot, as long as PCIe power draw is in the PCIe spec range (not sure what that value is). (Or in your case (@Voodoo ), it could be used instead of that backplane in your JBOD to open up more airflow. Of course, as long as power can be delivered to it.)

Maybe those GPU mining cards can be used to power up that expander - PCI-E 1x to 16x Powered USB3.0 GPU Riser Extender Adapter Card Board Cable | eBay (as long as that Molex provides power to that slot, as that little PCIe 1 adapter may not be delivering power).

Kind of an inexpensive solution for those that build their own “JBODs.”

I’m using both the md1200 and the netapp de6600 (dell controller) you mentioned. There is no difference between them. They can support different brands of sas and sata hard disks, but your use of sata hard disks will cause the no led light to flash. You don’t need to use Dell’s raid card, you just need any hba that has flash it mode. I’m still using a 108-disk jbod, although it’s too big to need a cabinet 1.2 metres deep. Jbod will make your overall architecture very easy to maintain, tidy and professional, but the cost will be relatively high. Ask questions at any time.

I have an H810 flashed to IT mode running Tosh / WD SATA drives with no issues.
My suggestions:

  1. Do not buy anything else.
  2. Start with this tutorial to flash the Perc H810 to IT mode:
    How To Flash a H710 H310 H810 to IT Mode + Chia Storage + Noobs SAS + JBOD Primer - YouTube

If you want a quieter JBOD you can build your own using these parts:

  1. Chenbro RM31616 3U 19 " Rack Mount Server Chassis E-Atx Case 16x 3.5 " HDD Bay | eBay
  2. The Perfect JBOD SAS expander | for building your own DAS JBOD disk enclosure - YouTube
  3. Supermicro CSE-PTJBOD-CB1 JBOD Power Board - DIY JBOD Made Easy
    The Chenbro enclosure is just an example many sizes are available. The dell expansion card can be daisy chained and can connect 36 disks but be warned it has a proprietory pin out for the molex power connector. The Supermicro power card connects to an ATX PSU, it provides power/reset connectors and fan headers. You can then connect up some Noctua fans for quieter disk storage.

I am in the UK too. You can DM me if you have questions.

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Thanks Mr-Biz, that looks like some really useful info. I’ll have a look through when I finish work.

I got a “45 Bay SuperMicro 4U 847E16-RJBOD1 3.5” SATA/SAS JBOD chassis CSE-847" from Ebay. Replaced the centerwall fans with Noctuas and I work in the same room with it every day. Also a SAS HBA for for the R420, and one cable to link them. I think 45 in 4U with front and back load is probably the densest manageable thing at home. You can get the ones that hold 90 in 4U, but it has to slide out and drop the drives in from above, I worry those would be much louder, and $$$.