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Asus CUR-DLS mobo & Adaptec SATAII Raid 1420SA

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June 12, 2009 1:41:29 PM

Hello, smart techies :) 
I have an ASUS CUR-DLS mobo rev1.05 (latest ever released), but with Gateway OEM bios (used in 6400/7400 servers).
Anyway, it has 2 PCI 64-bit/33Mhz 5V slots, PCI v2.1 which make a separate PCI bus from other 32-bit slots.
And I'm thinking of moving from ATA 33 on to SATAII hard drives. So I need a PCI controller.
Somehow I'm considering Adaptec 1420SA.
http://www.adaptec.com/en-US/support/sata/sataii/AAR-14...
But... its specs require PCI 64-bit/66Mhz and PCI v2.2
Will it suit my mobo or not?
(additional info: 2xPIII 1Ghz FSB 133 Mhz, 1,5 gigs ECC 133 Mhz RAM)
I'd be happy with adaptec since it would suit nicely in that long 64-bit slot.
a c 127 G Storage
June 12, 2009 4:58:37 PM

Why choose for PCI, an obsolete bus superseded by PCI-express many years ago. If you want performance, stay away from PCI. PCI-X is the same thing, it just has higher frequency and lanes (64-bit wide instead of 32-bit). It doesn't change the PCI bus fundamentally. Even with a dedicated PCI interface, you will get higher latency and higher CPU utilization because of PCI interrupts. In my testing, using software RAIDs on PCI controllers meant the controller drags the whole array offline. Even if i place just one disk on that PCI controller, which is well below the bandwidth of PCI; it still showed lower speeds because the disk connected to PCI had a higher latency. This may be a specific issue i had, though.

Yet, if you can go for PCI-express. Its more modern in almost every way, and it will make sure you can use your controller in the future. Because the number of PCI slots is diminishing, it is turning into the "legacy I/O" like serial port, parallel port, game port, PATA, floppy disk and PS/2 mouse/keyboard interface. All those are about to vanish, and when buying something expensive it would be a shame if it could only last one generation.

If you do choose PCI, i don't think you will have as much trouble with performance as i did, since software RAID requires alot of communication over the PCI bus, its not the MB/s that counts, but the latency for each operation. With a hardware controller, only virtual writes are sent over the PCI bus, physical writes are handled directly by the addon RAID controller, thus leaving the PCI bus free. Still, i don't think you should invest into PCI at this time.
June 12, 2009 5:39:17 PM

sub mesa,
thank you for your input.
Yes I was thinking about replacing mobo+processor+memory, but that eventually means spending significantly more, with current config going obsolete. It just works so good and stable I don't want to quit it.
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a c 127 G Storage
June 12, 2009 7:04:36 PM

Alright that's a valid point, if you got a stable system you can keep it and just get the PCI card. Still, what are your objectives? I do not think this RAID card will be any faster than software RAID. Since it doesn't support anything other than RAID0/1/0+1 it most likely doesn't have the advantage of own memory with a fast IOP chip carrying out the RAID. It may even be driver RAID; though i do not know this controller.

There also the argument of price, i don't know how expensive that controller is, but a new system with dualcore cpu, 2GB memory and modern Micro-ATX Socket AM2+ motherboard with 6x onboard SATA, i calculate around ~180 euro, excl. shipping.

CPU AMD X2 dualcore
45,-
2GB memory
20,-
Socket AM2+ mobo (MicroATX with 6x chipset SATA; nVidia/AMD chipset)
65,-
Casing with power supply
50,-

Total: 180,-

So the real question is, what is the reason you want RAID and do you think your current system can perform fast enough to warrant a RAID controller?
June 13, 2009 9:15:30 AM

Changing the whole box only to get SATA ports?.. I'm pretty sure that with the release of Windows 7 all current ram/proc/mobos will go obsolete in about two years. And in my opinion it only makes sense to buy Windows 7 compatible box when MS makes one or two service packs available. Because hardware will change significantly by then. I'm sure you remember what were PC's like in 2001 when XP appeared, and what they've become by the time of XPSP3.
Besides, I've got a bunch of spare parts that suit my particular mobo - a couple of pentiums (same as currently installed), ram sticks, coolers. So getting a new PC seems to be not justified enough until all of these go burnt/crashed.
I'm considering adaptec because it can use that PCI64 slot to its full potential. Of course a promise PCI 32-bit card would be cheaper, but then again a VIA-based controller would cost me some measly $20. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't recommend me buying VIA.
And when the time comes to get a new box (I assume in about 3-4 years), this one can be sold. Probably for linux-based tasks it can perform not worse than it does on Win32.
Compared to ATA33 going in DMA2 mode, it's obvious a SATAII RAID will make a tangible difference to me.
!