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Help Chooing an entry level Raid Card (hardware based)

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  • NAS / RAID
  • Hardware
  • Storage
  • Product
Last response: in Storage
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March 2, 2009 3:01:45 PM

Hi Everyone,

I have been using the onboard raid solution that came with the Asus P5Q3 deluxe MB that i just upgraded too, and frankly it keeps crapping out which I heard could happen with the software raid solutions. I had hardware raid before the upgrade but could not use it since it was not sata so decided to try this first before getting a proper card just in case it met my needs.

So i want a hardware raid card and have narrowed my search down to the following, Ideally would like 4 ports for expansion, and will only be doing raid 1 but really right now I will only be using 2 ports.

Battery backup support not critical since I have a small UPS attached ( am i correct in that assumption if i have my ups shot down my system, I don't need a card with BB unit?)

Adaptec 2405 (seems reasonably priced and has 4 ports)
Areca 1200 (2 port) or 1210 (4 port)
3ware 9650SE (again 2 port or 4 port options)

of the 3 cards, the 4 port adaptec is the most cost effective being $100 less than the 4 port solutions from 3ware or Areca. But are the other ones so much better?

This is for a desktop (workstation) PC and is one part of my data backup solution. I will be also adding a external drive that I use to clone the system every week or so as well.

any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. I don't mind spending the money, I just don't really see the difference. Oh and the card i had before for many years was also an adaptec one and never had a problem with it.

Thanks!

John

More about : chooing entry level raid card hardware based

March 2, 2009 6:22:28 PM

Hi John,

You should also include LSI in your selection as well, since they are the number 1 supplier of RAID HBAs in the world.

The Adaptec is will be better than the Areca solution, guaranteed. This is because the Areca is PCI-E x1. You may not notice it on a 2 drive situation, but if you add more that that, or want RAID 5, you will notice a difference.

3ware has more components (NOT A ROC solution) and will naturally cost more.

LSI offers comparable cards as well:
http://www.lsi.com/storage_home/products_home/internal_...

maybe this card:
http://www.lsi.com/storage_home/products_home/internal_...
But I do not know the cost to compare with the Adaptec card. (LSI makes their own ROC)

Battery Backup: The on-card bbu option may increase performance if the Firmware on the card defaults to write through when the bbu is not present. You may be able to change this in the cards bios. In your case, it is not necessary with a dedicated UPS.

Good Luck,
Gatorbait
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March 2, 2009 6:43:36 PM

Gator thank you for your reply. (you too inc3d)

question, what does ROC mean?

what about this one
http://www.lsi.com/storage_home/products_home/internal_...
its pci express X4 but would i really notice the difference between this and the 8704?

the 8704 being the most expensive of the lot just wondering if it is really worth it, my prices are in CAD $

The 8704 is $415 (and looks like harder to find in Canada)
8204 is $237
Adaptec 2405 is $278 (no raid 5 on this one but I don't have any plans for that)
highpoint 2320 is about $320

I think all the brands mentioned are reputable, just wondering about performance and if its work the more expensive one?

thanks so much!
March 2, 2009 11:50:02 PM

Hi Ethical,

ROC = RAID on CHIP. It is a system on a chip: I/O Processor + SAS/SATA controller.
This chip is responsible for all of the XOR calculations for RAID5, Disk Caching, Read Ahead, as well as other functions.

I would not choose any of the "RAID" cards that does not have true HW RAID, if I were going for a HW RAID solution. The LSI 8204 is just a SAS/SATA controller bundled with some RAID software that runs on the OS. This may work just fine for RAID 0,1 or any combination of, since there is no parity generation needed and probably would be comparable or better than any of the RAID on Mother board software. I am not sure why LSI does not offer a stripped down version of their HW RAID card that would just support RAID 1,0, 10 or any combination. It may not increase the performance enough over the SAS/SATA controller+SW RAID??

You should probably check to see if the Adaptec allows extra HW features or is just acting like a controller and SW raid. (If it has DDR memory on board, then it should be more than just a SAS/SATA controller and should offer performance features)

Good Luck,
Gatorbait
March 3, 2009 12:09:25 AM

Hi Gatorbait,

ok that is very helpful.... looks like I might go with the Adaptec then since it does appear to be proper Hardware raid, and has everything I need at $140 less than the LSI you mentioned, unless you think i would get noticebly better performance from the LSI 8704?

http://www.adaptec.com/en-US/products/Controllers/Hardw...

This is from their site: The Series 2 family of Adaptec Unified Serialâ„¢ (SATA/SAS) RAID controllers leverages the same industry-leading dual-core hardware RAID design as our industry-leading Series 5 Performance RAID controllers.

The Adaptec RAID 2405 features 800 MHz of processing power, a 128MB of DDR2 write cache, connectivity with the latest x8 PCI-Express, and direct I/O connectivity for SATA/SAS tape devices and hard drives. Using SAS expanders, it supports up to 128 devices.

Given that description i should think it is a proper hardware based solution should I not?

RE the highpoint card, I don't see any mention of memory on board so is this one not true hardware based either?

I think it is a bit misleading all these raid solutions that really are not true hardware raid but appear like they are. Seems like it was easier to figure this stuff out 10 years ago!

Thanks for your guidance and help!

John
March 3, 2009 2:53:00 AM

Hi Ethical,

Save the $$ and go with the Adaptec (yes, it is a proper HW based solution for RAID 0,1,10) and get the full band width by using SATA 3G drives. (unless you already have SATA 1 Drives) The extra 128MB will give you some write cache and allow the OS to start to process other items while the Card actually writes the drives from its local 128MB. Hopefully it has some Read-Ahead features too, so if you are doing consecutive reads, it will also help performance.

The Highpoint card seems to have cache of some type, but it does not specify the amount. It also uses SATA connectors and not the x4 SAS/SATA (miniSAS 4i SFF-8087) type that the LSI and Adaptec use. The SATA cables can fall off easier since they are not latched (I know that there are some Sata connectors that do latch, but the original did not). You will have a couple of dangler cables with the x4 connector, but nothing a zip tie can't fix. (plus, if you ever do want to us all 4 drive, you don't have to worry about finding more cables)

Good Luck,
Gatorbait
March 3, 2009 3:52:47 AM

The Highpoint RR2340 has the SAS connectors that lock into place, the RR2320 does not.
March 3, 2009 11:00:10 AM

thanks everyone. I've already got the drives and yea they are 3G I think i will go with the adaptec then.

thanks for both of your help.!
!