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Controllers: LSI 9260-8i (RAID Controller) And 9210-8i (HBA)

Another Record Broken: 6 Gb SAS, 16 SSDs, 3.4 GB/s!
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LSI MegaRAID 9260-8i

Let’s look at the naming of these new controllers first. The designation “8i” stands for eight internal ports; “9200” is the new PCI Express 2.0 RAID-on-Chip generation; and RAID 6 is supported, which you can tell from the second part of the model number (“60”). 

LSI offers two internal SFF-8087 MiniSAS connectors, which host four SAS/SATA connections each. The card is a low-profile design, which can also be deployed into compact 2U rackmount servers. You’ll just have to bend the cables, as the connectors point upwards towards the top of the rackmount enclosure.

Connectivity

LSI totally redesigned its architecture to meet the demands of SAS/600 environments. The RAID-on-Chip (RoC) architecture is built around an LSI SAS2108, which includes the x8 PCI Express 2.0 interface and SAS/600 connectivity (6 Gb/s).

It can access a 512 MB DDR2-800 cache memory, and a battery backup module (BBU) was already installed on our samples (though LSI says that the BBU is still an optional component). The BBU prevents data loss in case of power failure while unwritten data is still in the controller’s cache memory.

Performance?

According to LSI, the controller itself supports a maximum read throughput of 2,875 MB/s, and a peak write performance of 1,800 MB/s. Knowing that we’re using two controllers and Windows software-based RAID to create an array across two controllers (and two different PCI Express links) we’re clearly on the safe side regarding bandwidth.

LSI supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, and 6 with double redundancy, as well as nested RAID levels 10, 50, and 60. We recommend looking at the controller’s datasheet on the LSI Web site for more details.

LSI MegaRAID 9210-8i

The 9210-8i, aka Intel RS2BL080, offers the same number of SAS/SATA ports as the 9260-8i, and the PCB has exactly the same dimensions, but the product is somewhat different, and much simpler overall. It does not feature a powerful RAID-on-Chip solution with XOR acceleration for RAID 5 and RAID 6; it does not come with cache memory; and it doesn’t feature a battery backup unit. 

However, that strip-down may be helpful in terms of throughput, as there is no processing unit and no cache memory that might be trying to improve performance while effectively limiting it in our scenario (as was the case with Adaptec’s RAID 5805). Of course, it also helps with pricing, we're sure.

We don’t have much information on the 9210-8i, as it has not yet been officially released. It also utilizes PCI Express 2.0 (eight lanes) as one of the first products on the market, and it is ready for SAS/600 drives as well.

Creating a RAID 0 Stripeset on LSI’s 9200-8i Cards

The MegaRAID Storage Manager lists all LSI controllers and attached devices.

Once a RAID array has been created, it will also list the volumes, called Virtual Drives.

Creating an array can be done using simple commands, or by choosing the advanced option.

Once all drives are added into a new drive group, you can set parameters and policies. These were the settings we used.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 6:54 AM
    Holy cow, how much for the total damage?
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 8:31 AM
    It would be good to get a benchmark with a Windows XP/Vista/7 showing how long to boot the OS, various games, file copy speed... etc Fair enough these give fast throughput but where are the real world results?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 8:32 AM
    What about some photos of the raid itself?
  • -6 Hide
    amdfangirl , August 26, 2009 9:51 AM
    That's... such an overkill...
  • 6 Hide
    climber , August 26, 2009 11:28 AM
    Personally, I would like to see a "Part II" to this article showing RAID 5, 6 and 10 setups with the same tests. No database admin or graphic designer, animator or CAD/CAM/GIS professional is going to use RAID 0 with it's inherent vulnerability, or at least they shouldn't.
  • 1 Hide
    amnotanoobie , August 26, 2009 11:29 AM
    faceholeIt would be good to get a benchmark with a Windows XP/Vista/7 showing how long to boot the OS, various games, file copy speed... etc Fair enough these give fast throughput but where are the real world results?


    I think with the cost of such a setup these would be ideal for a web or application server, or maybe a small data center. Booting Win 7 would be the least of your problems.
  • -5 Hide
    megahunter , August 26, 2009 11:56 AM
    what vga was used?
  • 0 Hide
    cah027 , August 26, 2009 12:46 PM
    I wonder if this is the type of storage used in super computers or render farms ?
  • -1 Hide
    GullLars , August 26, 2009 2:03 PM
    "None of the SSDs currently available support Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) or 600 MB/s transfer speeds"
    False: STEC's Zeus IOPs, and BitMicro's E-Disk Altima support SAS (Zeus supports SAS 6 Gbit). Though these cost about 3-5x more pr GB.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 2:30 PM
    could it be that the computer's integrated graphics card is also connected to that bus and utilizes some bandwidth?

    Another question I had is if you really notice a difference running whatever program on 2,2GB/s or 3,4GB/s? Even slow Vista should fly there.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 2:40 PM
    Excellent article, thanks
  • 6 Hide
    meatwad53186 , August 26, 2009 3:01 PM
    I don't know about anyone else, but I would like to see Tom's including more pictures of the hardware actually in the Tom's office, set up, and being used in some of the articles that get posted.
  • 0 Hide
    bounty , August 26, 2009 3:28 PM
    So what you need now is for Intel to hook you up with another 6 drives and you can load up the onboard SATA controller, raid 0 that with the others. Or switch platforms to something designed for Quad SLI then really load up on the drives (plus onboard SATA of course.) I say dial up the ridiculous, then see how long it takes to boot/load games. New hobby for the super overclockers, make fastest raid 0 setup.
  • -1 Hide
    sseyler , August 26, 2009 4:35 PM
    I'd like to see the actual setup myself, as well..
  • 0 Hide
    viometrix , August 26, 2009 5:08 PM
    id love to see this myself as well...
  • 0 Hide
    tixarn1 , August 26, 2009 6:53 PM
    faceholeIt would be good to get a benchmark with a Windows XP/Vista/7 showing how long to boot the OS, various games, file copy speed... etc Fair enough these give fast throughput but where are the real world results?


    As I've said before, it's not all a hardware RAID and thus isn't bootable.
  • -1 Hide
    Major7up , August 26, 2009 7:39 PM
    I would love to see some high end Mobo's that incororate these new controllers to leave your PCIe slots free. I would bet it would not be cheap but it certainly would be awesome!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 10:17 PM
    16x Intel X-25 E will set you down approx €10.000
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 10:18 PM
    16x Intel X-25 E will set you down approx €10.000
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2009 10:19 PM
    16x Intel X-25 E will set you down approx €10.000
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