The storage controller market is constantly moving, and it is very likely that the new pecking order - with Adaptec on top - might change again by the middle of the year when AMCC is ready with its next product generation. Until then, Adaptec’s Series 5 8-port controller RAID 5805 clearly dominates all of our I/O performance benchmarks at almost all command queue depths. Only Areca’s ARC-1680ML can beat Adaptec when high I/O performance is required with no pending commands in the queue.
We used our new sequential throughput IOMeter benchmark pattern for the first time to verify Adaptec’s statement about much improved transfer performance. Sequential throughput has been an Adaptec weakness for years; hence it was interesting to see how the new Series 5 card performs. The results look good for the new 5805, as it delivers throughput of 300-500 MB/s in RAID 10, an almost constant 550 MB/s in RAID 5 and 400-500 MB/s in RAID 6 using eight Seagate Savvio 10K.2 2.5" SAS hard drives. However, Areca still provides slightly better throughput in RAID 5 or RAID 6 setups. For RAID 10, Adaptec obviously utilizes caching to increase performance at deep command queues, as it beats everyone else in read performance.
From a features point of view Adaptec still cannot beat Ciprico’s Raidcore cards, which are based on the Fulcrum software layer. Since this product is host-based and taxes the system processor(s) for XOR calculations, it should only be directly compared for dedicated storage servers where no other purpose has to be served. Also, Raidcore still does not support RAID 6, which Adaptec and others do. However, Adaptec’s feature set is still comprehensive, and the product family is certainly capable of handling all sorts of storage applications: from entry-level to the high-end enterprise space.
The RAID 5805 starts at $650, which is well below the prices of main competitors AMCC, Areca, Atto and LSI. Units with 12 ports cost $915 and up, which still is quite acceptable. The overall package is very well designed, and doesn’t stop at excellent performance: we liked the well-known Adaptec Storage Manager software, and found software support to be comprehensive; only Mac OS X drivers are missing. Adaptec’s Series 5 cards are clearly going to have an impressive career, as they will find their way into SAN appliances, NAS servers and other storage servers.