SMB RAID for $49: Ciprico VST Pro

VST Pro Practice

We used a set of eight Western Digital WD360 Raptor hard drives to try the VST Pro 2008 software, with and without an additional RAIDCore RC5252-8 controller card. These hard drives certainly aren’t the fastest ones available anymore, but they are still fast enough for our purposes and can easily saturate the available bandwidth of an Intel ICH7+ SATA controller, as you will see in the benchmark section.

Installation: Easy

To set up your VST Pro 2008 software, just install it on an existing system. Or set up a new system with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server, Red Hat or Suse Linux. The VST Pro software takes only a few minutes to install and will immediately be operational. Please note that it overrides existing RAID software such as Intel’s Matrix RAID storage manager.

VST Pro does not support boot drives, which means you need a different system hard drive or a different, bootable system array or partition to be able to operate VST Pro 2008. Since it was designed to provide enterprise class storage in the first place, this compromise seems acceptable. Also, the software cannot keep existing data on your hard drives when creating a new RAID array.

More Findings

Intel’s ICH10 southbridge kept reporting that a drive array across the six WD Raptor hard drive wasn’t operational. While this is in fact true for the ICH10R controller and its built-in RAID feature, it does not apply to our RAIDCore array, which worked properly under Windows.

We tried removing several hard drives from the SATA ports and reconnecting them to different ones; this did not matter at all to the VST Pro software, as the array remained fully operational. We were even able to connect some or all of the drives to a RC5252-8 controller card. Once the system finished booting, the array was available as if nothing happened. The only difference we found was performance, as the VST Pro 2008 software cannot overcome the performance limitations of Intel’s ICH10R southbridge.