Adaptec's Series 5 Unified Serial Controllers

Adaptec Series 5

The new Series 5 RAID controllers are available in seven different versions. The models with a four-digit model number are low-profile cards that easily fit into 2U rackmount servers: the 5405 has four internal ports; the 5445 has four internal and four external ports; model 5805 (the one we looked at) offers eight internal ports; and finally, the 5085 has eight external ports. The five-digit model numbers represent the enterprise-class devices with 12+4, 16+2 or 24+4 ports, where the last four ports are available externally; all the others are for internal use. All Series 5 controllers utilize a x8 PCI Express interface and the same 1.2 GHz dual core storage processor along with 512 MB DDR2 memory. Only the four-port entry-level model comes with half the cache capacity. The battery backup unit is optional.

Adaptec said that the engineers primarily addressed the shortcomings in sequential throughput of former product generations. Why we decided to expand our IOMeter benchmark suite and include some sequential read and write benchmarks to verify this information.

Product Family Features

If you are familiar with Adaptec’s ASM (Adaptec Storage Manager), you’ll immediately be able to handle the Series 5 cards. The Java-based utility has to be installed on your management system or the server it’s installed in, but you can also utilize the command line interface (CLI) or web configuration options.

The full lineup of server operating systems is supported: there are drivers for Windows XP and Vista (for workstation systems), Server 2003 and 2008, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SuSe Linux Enterprise Server, SCO OpenServer, Unixware, Sun Solaris 10 and FreeBSD. The only missing driver would be for Mac OS X, which might be interesting for high-end audio/video workstations.

RAID Features

Since Raidcore has been the most advanced controller brand thanks to its Fulcrum host-based RAID (which isn’t really hardware-dependant), Adaptec had some work to do to catch up. The result, however, is impressive. It is still not possible to install two Series 5 cards and create RAID arrays across both cards like you can with Ciprico/Raidcore hardware, but that doesn’t really seem necessary thanks to the support of SAS expanders. The list of RAID features is quite remarkable now:

  • RAID levels 0, 1, 1E, 5, 5EE (hot spare used and turned into "hot space"), RAID 6 supported
  • Nested RAID 10, 50, 60 supported
  • Online Capacity Expansion
  • Global, dedicated, pooled hot spares
  • Copyback Hot Spare (the spare becomes hot spare again once a defective drive has been replaced)
  • Automatic or manual rebuild
  • Background initialization and quick initialization
  • RAID level migration (switch from one RAID level to another one if target capacity permits)
  • Multiple arrays per drive
  • Bootable array, staggered spin-up, dynamic sector repair, selectable stripe size

Adaptec RAID 5805 (PCIe, 8 Internal Ports)

We looked at the 8-port version RAID 5805, which offers two SFF-8087 ports for internal use. The external version RAID 5085 should perform identically, but offers two external SFF-8088 connectors instead.

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13 comments
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  • Fedor
    The degraded figures for streaming writes don't look right. They are too close (or above??) the normal/optimal state numbers. One idea that comes to mind is that if the writes were too small, they would all go into the cache regardless and render the results somewhat useless.
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  • h4vok
    FedorThe degraded figures for streaming writes don't look right. They are too close (or above??)

    The figures look OK. Sequential writes to a degraded array are basically done the same way as writes to an optimal array. The only difference is that the write to the failed drive is skipped.
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  • guan1307
    I am confused your testing report , due to Our testing figure of Areca ARC-1680 firmware 1.45 is better than your report ,
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  • bull2760
    Can someone tell me what Database server pattern, web server pattern, file server pattern mean. When I run iometer those options are not present I can select 4k-32k or create a custom script. Plus at what stripe size are these tests being run at? I purchased this exact controller and have not duplicated TG results. It would be helpful if you explain in detail how you configured the RAID setup. RAID 5, 6 or 10 with a 16k, 32k, 64k, 128k, 256k, 512k or 1MB stripe size.
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  • Anonymous
    I have an ASUS P5K-E/WIFI-AP which has 2 PCI-E x16. The blue one runs at x16 and black can run at x4 or x1.
    Will this Adaptec card work on my board?
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  • kakashi
    I think that Tomshardware should run the Areca’s ARC-1680ML test again with the firmware 1.45 and maybe with the latest IOMeter 2006.07.27. Areca claimed that they have better result: http://www.areca.com.tw/indeximg/arc1680performanceqdepth_32%20_vs_%20tomshardwareqdepth_1_test.pdf
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  • MrMickelson
    Degraded RAID 5 write performance is going to be better than an optimal RAID 5 write because only data stripes are being written opposed to writing data stripes then using XOR to generate the parity stripe thus the write operations will be quicker. Degraded RAID 5 read performance will take a significant hit in performance because rather than just reading only the data stripes for an optimal RAID 5, the available data stripes and available parity stripes will be read then XOR will re-generate this missing data.
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  • Anonymous
    Initializing the controller during POST takes a very long time with Adaptec Raid 3 series, which is very frustrating when used in high performance workstations.
    Has this been fixed with the new Raid 5 series ?
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  • makaira
    Turn up the heat all right. I installed a new 5805 in a Lian-Li 7010 case with 8 x 1 Tb Seagate drives, Core 2 Quad 2.83Gb and 800w PSU - more fans than you could poke a stick at.

    The controller overheated - reported 99 deg in messages and set off alarm.
    That was on drive initiation. We had a range of errors reported from drives, a number of different drives. The array (5.4Tb Raid 6) never completed building and verifying.

    CPU temp was 45, motherboard 32, and ambient room temp 22deg.

    I installed a 3ware - and all worked fine. Was Tomshardware comment "turns up the heat" written tongue in cheek as there seems to be a heat issue with this card?
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  • elektrip
    I'd love to see how this controller performs with some Intel X25-M/E or OCZ Vertex SATA SSDs connected. The tested drives here are probably a bottleneck, not the storage controller. Rather in I/O then sequential though.
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  • elektrip
    So, does the Adaptec 5 Series run >1GB/s with SSD drives? Or is ~800MB/s the most you can get, no matter how many drives connected?
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  • Anonymous
    Hi, are you gona test drive the new series 6 controllers from Adaptec / PCM Sierra as well? Now that the series 6 is out I reckon noone's gona wana buy a series 5 controller anymore, as there seems to be a heat problem with the series 5 - I wonder if that's improved with the series 6 which, if I got that right, uses a different RAID chip, namely the one from PCM Sierra.
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  • Anonymous
    This card takes over a minute to POST at boot. This card has overheating problems. Without an active case fan blowing across it it'll probably crash your system. Despite everything this card is excellent.
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