As we have reported, Broadcom RAIDCore's RAID controller is the clear-cut No. 1 when it comes to functionalities. PCI-X cards are available with four or eight SATA ports (BC4452/4852). This hardware contains hardly any special features in this hardware, as the Fulcrum architecture on which the product is based is purely a software solution.
Compared to the hardware-supported RAID controllers (these are common in the high-end segment) with their own XOR processor for calculating parity data, the approach used by Broadcom RAIDCore heavily builds on the system processor. The greater the desired data transfer or I/O rate, the more computing performance is necessary.
If a server system is used that's not exactly up to date, then boards with a hardware XOR unit represent the more viable choice. But if users want maximum performance - as we attempted to achieve for this project - then a software approach, such as the one the Broadcom RAIDCore solution offers, is more suitable, provided it is backed by sufficient processing power. This is because one or perhaps even two high-end system processors are faster than a dedicated RISC chip on the controller. Thanks to Intel's HyperThreading and dual-core CPUs from AMD and Intel set for launch next year, it appears that this will also be the case in the future. Still, this scenario only applies if, on the one hand, a fully-equipped server is used, and, on the other hand, no other tasks are to be handled other than operating the RAID array(s).
Finally, the software-based approach offers some interesting flexibility: Without great effort, the Fulcrum architecture can be adjusted to many different types of hardware. This means that not only the use of SATA controllers is conceivable here but also that SAS or Ultra320 models can be used. There is also the very interesting possibility of integrating the Fulcrum-based controllers directly into the motherboard.