Areca is also staking a claim in the SAS 6 Gb/s RAID controller market segment with its ARC-1880 series. According to the manufacturer, target applications range from NAS appliances and storage servers to supercomputing, nearline backup, security systems, and cloud computing.
Our test sample, the ARC-1880i, can be found for about $540 sporting eight internal SAS ports and an eight-lane PCI Express 2.0 interface. The low-profile card, which, by the way, is the only card in our lineup with an active cooler, is built around a 800 MHz ROC backed by a 512 MB DDR2-800 data cache. Using SAS expanders, Areca's ARC-1880i supports up to 128 storage devices. To preserve the cache during power failures, an optional battery backup unit can be added.
Besides JBOD mode and single-disk mode, the controller supports RAID levels 0, 1, 1E, 3, 5, 6, 10, 30, 50, and 60.
The Areca ARC-1880i handles streaming read/write tests in RAID 0 well, clocking in at 960 MB/s for reads and 900 MB/s for writes. Only the LSI MegaRAID 9265-8i is faster in this particular discipline. Areca's controller doesn't disappoint in any of the other benchmarks, either. With both hard disks and SSDs, this controller always challenges the respective test winner. Although the Areca controller only wins one benchmark outright (sequential reads in RAID 10), it runs rings around the competition, sporting a read rate of 793 MB/s, while the fastest competitor, LSI's MegaRAID 9265-8i, only clocks in at 572 MB/s.
But sequential transfer rates are only part of the picture. The other part is I/O performance. Areca's ARC-1880i shines here as well, closely trailing the Adaptec RAID 6805 and LSI MegaRAID 9265-8i. Just like it won one transfer rate benchmark, the Areca controller wins one I/O performance test as well: the Web server benchmark. While the Areca controller dominates the Web server benchmark at RAID levels 0, 5, and 6, in RAID 10, the Adaptec 6805 pulls ahead, with the Areca controller a close second.
I had a hard time deciding between 9265-8i, 1880 and 6805 a month ago. I bought the 6805 and always wondered why RAID-10 was not as fast as I thought it should be. This reviewed proved my worries.
I eventually went to RAID 6 with 6 Constellation ES 1TB disks. Here's where the adaptec really shines. This is for a photo/video storage/editing disk array.
Admittedly if I have a choice again I would have picked the Areca after seeing the numbers. Adaptec was the cheapest among all of them so it's not too much of a regret.
That said can you please talk more to the differences performance wise between SATA and SAS? I understand the reliability argument, however I wonder if for my purposes I would not be better served by using cheaper SATA disks over SAS disks?
I would also love some direction with regard to a good enclosures/power supplies for a hard drive only enclosure. I realize I am quickly priced out of an enterprise solution in this arena, but have seen at least a couple cheaper options online such as the Sans Digital TR8M+B. (This enclosure is normally bundeled with some RocketRaid controller which I would probably discard in favor of either the Adaptec or LSI solution.)