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Areca ARC-1680ix-16

Roundup: Three 16-Port Enterprise SAS Controllers
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Areca Technology Corporation also offers high-performance SAS/SATA storage controllers. We're looking at an ARC-1680ix-16, which is a 16-port card based on Intel’s IOP348 I/O processor. Although the card has four internal and one external mini-SAS connector, only four of them can be used in parallel. However, there is a 24-port version available if you need more than 16 ports.

Like Adaptec’s product, this card offers a 512 MB DDR2 cache. Unlike its competitor, though, the memory is not soldered onto the card, but can be upgraded by replacing the DIMM with any other DDR2 ECC DIMM of up to 4 GB capacity. Just be aware that models with fewer than 12 ports do, in fact, come with soldered cache memory.

The PCB of the ARC-1680ix-16 is rather large because Areca decided to use one board for all model variations between 12 and 24 ports. Intel’s IOP348 runs at 1,200 MHz and utilizes two processing cores.

While traditional storage companies such as Adaptec focus on professional cards and develop lightweight models based upon them, Areca went the other way and started off with SATA hardware, which was upgraded to support SAS. All popular RAID modes are supported: RAID 0, 1, 10, 3, 5, 6, 30, 50, 60, single drives, or JBODs. Areca also supports drive power management, and the controller even spins down all drives that are not actively used in arrays. Unlike Adaptec and Promise, the Areca card comes with a fan to cool the I/O processor.

Software

Areca’s professional cards are configured through a built-in Web server, which is accessible through a dedicated network interface. The software supports email notification, but the feature is not as comprehensive as Adaptec’s. All settings are defined in a global manner, meaning that all recipients (up to four) always receive the same email information. This also applies to Areca’s power management. While Adaptec allows it to be configured in a very granular way, all power settings apply to all arrays and drives connected to the Areca card. Still, the management of the Areca card is very efficient and intuitive.

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