Next-Generation SAS: 6 Gb/s Storage Hits The Enterprise

SAS 6 Gb/s HBAs: LSI First To Market

MegaRAID 9260-8i

We received two SAS cards from LSI. The first was the MegaRAID 9260-8i, an eight-port internal x8 PCIe 2.0 RAID controller with an XOR engine for accelerating RAID. The second card was the 9210-8i, outfitted with similar specifications, but less-sophisticated features. 

The entire LSI 9200-series was announced on July 28, and the 9210-8i wasn't yet available at retail as of this writing (the 9260-8i is, however). There is technical information on the 9260/9280 (internal/external) on the LSI Web site. We used both cards and found performance to be impressive.

We planted both cards in our storage reference test system to power 16 Intel X25-E flash SSDs in an effort to break throughput records.The 9260-8i is less CPU dependent, offers reliable I/O performance combined with high throughput, and comes with an impressive feature set. RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 50, and 60 are supported through the integrated RAID-on-Chip architecture.

LSI utilizes an 800 MHz PowerPC core, along with 512MB of DDR2-800 cache memory to help maximize performance across its x8 PCIe 2.0 interface. The manufacturer states a maximum throughput per card of 2,875 MB/s for reads and 1,800 MB/s for writes.

A battery backup unit is optional, but be aware that it reduces the maximum tolerable operating temperature from 60°C to 44.5°C, which may be reached quickly in high-performance servers or if air conditioning should fail.

MegaRAID 9210-8i

LSI’s second LSI 6 Gb/s card, the 9210-8i, is a host processor-driven HBA rather than a dedicated hardware storage controller. This is a simple RAID 0/1/0+1 card that offers slightly higher throughput using all of our 16 Intel X25-E flash SSDs. However, its I/O performance varies depending on CPU performance.

Unfortunately, the 9210-8i was not listed on LSI’s Web site when we completed this article, so there isn’t much we can say about it except that it also uses x8 PCI Express 2.0 and has eight internal ports located on two mini-SAS connectors.

Other SAS 6 Gb/s HBAs or RAID controllers have yet to arrive at our storage test lab, although storage experts such as Adaptec, Areca, Atto, and others are working on it.