The new motherboard came, the remainder of the drives were mounted, and the final touches of assembly were completed. As part of the assembly, I tried to update the firmware on the Areca RAID car, the motherboard's BIOS, and the moterboard's built in iKVM/BMC board. Unfortunately, this last component's update process failed in a pretty bad way. Even worse, the recovery process is undocumented and also failed.
While testing the hard disks themselves, I found a dead unit and some pretty bad behavior in the RAID card's behavior. When trying to write data to a dead drive, the RAID card's driver just keeps trying forever. This causes the driver to lock up completely without responding to the process that's performing the write, which causes the writing process to also lock up! I'm investigating an update to the card's driver, or a firmware setting that would modify this behavior. But, the fact that this is the default way the system works is frightening at the least!
So, next week looks like it's going to be benchmarking time. From some of the preliminary tests I've performed while breaking the hardware in, the hard drives look like they'll run pretty fast. The SSDs are, simply put, stupid fast. They write data so fast that benchmarking them against the hard drives doesn't even make sense. ZFS itself looks like it works pretty well, as well. I haven't seen many slowdowns from using it in a test environment, so that should bode very well for the new SAN.