We will start off with the RAID controller. I do want to start off by saying that it is all good and well to have the latest and greatest solid state drives in your hands, but without a good controller to tell them what to do as efficiently as possible, they will never perform as well as they can. While using your motherboard's onboard RAID controller will do the job, you will be missing out on a lot of performance.
The folks over at Areca were friendly enough to send us on over one of their new ARC-1880i SAS SATA 3.0 RAID controllers. That is quite a mouthful to take in - but be assured it is one of the best storage controllers on the market. Since our last article, where we used the ARC-1680i controller, prices have dropped quite considerably.
The ARC-1880i comes with two SFF-8087 mini-SAS connectors that accept a matching cable that spurns off and provides connectivity for up to four SATA drives per port. Don't let the SAS labeling fool you; it also supports standard SATA drives without a hitch.
The controller uses a PCI Express 2.0 x8 connector that is able to provide a pleasurable 4GB/s total throughput in ideal circumstances. Onboard is an 800MHz CPU RAID core and 512MB of DDR2-800 memory for caching. It supports just about every RAID type you can imagine under the sun including 0, 1,1E, 3, 5, 6, 10, 30, 50, 60 and JBOD, and it will work in just about every OS you can imagine too, including Windows 7/2008/Vista/XP/2003, Linux, FreeBSD and so on. If something is to go wrong, you are covered by a three year warranty.
Moving on to the drives, we face yet another encounter with the now famous Crucial RealSSD C300. It was the first SATA 3.0 solid state drive to hit the market and has managed to impress many.
Crucial were friendly enough to send on over four 256GB C300 drives for the purpose of this article. We have already spent a lot of time with the C300 drives and I would encourage you to head on over here and check out Chris' review if you want a full run-down on the drives and what they are all about.
For a quick and dirty run-down, the 256GB version of the C300 has a maximum claimed read speed of up to 355MB/s and write of up to 215MB/s. We intend on smashing those numbers today, though, as we are running four of these little suckers in RAID 0.