Super Talent's 512GB RAIDDrive: RAID On An Add-In Card

Many Flavors Of Super Talent’s RAIDDrive

The RAIDDrive is a PCI Express add-on card that basically consists of an Areca RAID controller (1680IB) with four factory-mounted flash SSDs. A metal enclosure makes the product appear like an expansion board unto itself, but it’s actually a conjunction of several building blocks. Super Talent offers total capacities from 192GB to 2TB, effectively covering the relevant points available in the mechanical hard drive space. Of course, the trade-off is prices in the thousands of dollars range, instead of hundreds. In exchange, you’ll get enterprise-class performance based on proven components. RAIDDrive products use an Intel IOP348 processor and come with 512MB DDR2 RAM with ECC for data protection.

RAIDDrives based on RAID 0 and MLC flash memory are available at 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacities, provided by four SSDs. RAID 5 models are available with 192GB, 384GB, and 768GB total capacity. These are based on the same SSD drive capacities as the RAID 0 models, but need one drive’s capacity for redundancy. Some models support SAS expanders to attach even more drives, and there is an even larger lineup of RAIDDrives based on faster SLC flash memory. RAID 0 and 5 options are available in the SLC line, and some products offer battery backup as well. One thing to mention is RAID support. You have to choose RAID 0 or 5 at the time of purchase, and the RAID level cannot be changed by the user.

The RAIDDrive’s feature list is impressive. Super Talent specifies a MTBF of greater than 1.5 million hours and a data retention time of 10+ years. All of the drives employ an eight-lane PCI Express 1.1 interface, yielding a total bandwidth of 2 GB/s up and down. The spec sheet notes 1.4 GB/s burst read and 1.2 GB/s burst write speeds (which we'll put to the test), as well as a typical power consumption of 13W (idle) with four drives. Unfortunately, the factory warranty doesn’t quite match the extensive reliability specifications. MLC models come with only one year of coverage. The SLC drives offer at least two years. However, this is still a far cry from the industry standard five-year warranty for enterprise-class hardware.

As you can see from the image below, the RAIDDrive is based on Areca hardware and initializes just like any other RAID controller at bootup.