2020 FreeNAS upgrade

My previous 2014 FreeNAS build has been running 6 years now, so it was time for an upgrade.    This storage is used for my vSphere Lab, Plex media sever,  Music miniDLNA server and other things around the house.

The new hardware supports the use of BSD Virtual machines now available in FreeNAS and a library of plug-ins that run in BSD jails.

On my old build I had already upgraded the ZFS pool from 6 x 2TB disks to new 6 x 4TB,  so it made sense to purchase a disk-less Server and just transfer the disk pool over to the new unit.

Additional Posts Coming soon:

Host Hardware Selection

SuperMicro 6027R 2U LFF 12 bay Dual Socket server


In my old 2014 design I wound up spending lots of time working around issues with Dell hardware.    Specifically the LSI JBOD HBA in that unit wouldn’t work in the normal Front Dell storage slot, but had to be moved to the rear PCI slots to work correctly.  While searching Ebay I found numerous SuperMicro  units with FreeNAS either installed or known to work, so SuperMicro was an easy selection this time around.

I chose an LFF 2U unit with 3.5 inch drives so my previous HDD’s could be moved over.
The unit was selected having lots of RAM for the ARC, and having pre-installed LSI HBAs   pre-flashed to IT mode.   This also meant less work finding the right cables to run from HBA to SCSI backplane.


  • SuperMicro 6027R Server        ( $839 on Ebay )
    • Supermicro X9DRi-LN4F+ Motherboard
    • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2630L V2 Six (6) Core 2.4GHz , Sandy Bridge, 60W
    • 64GB DDR3 (4 x 16GB – DDR3 – PC3-10600R)
    • QTY 2x LSI-9311-8i 12GB/S HBA Controllers
    • BPN-SAS-826A I-Path Direct Attached Backplane
    • PCI-Expansions slots: Low Profile 4 x16 PCI-E 3.0, 1 x8 PCI-E 3.0, 1 x4 PCI-E 3.0 (in x8)
    • Integrated Quad Intel 1000BASE-T Ports
    • Integrated IPMI 2.0 Management
    • 12x 3.5″ Supermicro caddy
    • 2 x 920 Watt Power Supply PWS-920P-1R Platium
    • Rail Kit 2U
    • SuperMicro 64GB SATADOM /w power cable
    • (Optional) for 10G Network
      • Intel Network Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-SR2, X520-DA2 ($125 with optics)
      • 2 x Intel E10GSFPSR 10G SFP+ SR SFP    Optic Transceivers ($20 each)
    • (Optional) Supermicro Rail Adapter Set (Non-Threaded) for Round Thread Racks (MCP-290-00061-0N)   to convert supplied Quick mount rails to screw mount.  ( $8 )

Here is a the unit.  Notice the two LSI HBA’s installed at top left and thick black cables running to the SCSI/SATA backplane in front of unit.  Also note the power pre-wiring just above the fans for later use by my NVMe drives.   The two power connectors run to a splitter and 4 pin Molex near the SCSI back-plane.


Host Buss Adapter

Closeup of the LSI 9211-8i  HBA card  ( 2 included )

My seller included  2 HBA’s known to work well with FreeNAS in this build.    Even though the vendor had pre-flashed them to “IT” mode,  I still wound up flashing them to an older version to get them fully working.

( LSI 9211 Flashing instructions ( search ) )
These HBA’s drive 8 SAS/SATA disks each, at up to 12GBs on two cables.

Note that flashing can easily brick a card, so read all instructions thoroughly.

The seller was good enough to throw in a SuperMicro 64GB SATADOM SSD module for booting the FreeNAS OS.   This module plugs into a SATA port on the motherboard.   FreeNAS now recommends SATADOM’s over USB flash sticks.  In this server,  an extra power cable is required to the SATADOM.   A future project will be adding a 2nd SATADOM and creating a mirror of the boot pool.

SuperMicro 64GB SATADOM module

SATADOM info:  https://www.supermicro.com/products/nfo/SATADOM.cfm

10G Nics

(Optional) I added two  10G Ethernet SFP ports.
Note for NFS Storage: Combining multiple Ethernet links into a Port Channel does not give you more throughput for NFS transfers since it uses a single thread.  10G is the easiest way to improve NFS throughput,  and it is very cheep these days.

Intel SFP+ LC Optics
Intel X520-DA2 Dual SFP+ Adaptor








Note that the make/model transceivers may be constrained by the adaptor.   For Intel X520 cards use Intel transceivers.

For connections in a standard rack I purchased several 1.5 meter patch cables.  ( $7 ea )

1.5M LC-LC duplex 50/125 Multimode OM3 patch cable

3 thoughts on “2020 FreeNAS upgrade

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