We've used the LSI 9260-8i for the past year to test multiple drive RAID arrays. The choice was pretty clear after testing the 9260-8i against several other hardware RAID controllers since it offered such a well designed software interface and blazing fast performance. The real standout feature, though, was the software interface used to build and manage arrays.
Today we are taking a look at the LSI MegaRAID 9280-24i4e, the flagship model in the MegaRAID lineup. The 9280 Series uses the same MegaRAID Storage Manager Software that we feel is the best in the industry and also shares all of the cutting edge features, like SSD Guard. The 9280-24i4e does have a big advantage over our daily use MegaRAID controller and that is its ability to run 24 internal SATA / SAS ports and an additional 4 external ports at the same time. This is done without port multipliers and all SATA / SAS connections go back to the MegaRAID 9280-24i4e.
Before we get too deep into the specifications and features, let's just move along to that section and take a look at it all at once.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The LSI MegaRAID 9280-24i4e is a beast when it comes to connectivity. There are six internal SFF-8087 connectors and each has the ability to connect to four drives. That gives users twenty-four internal connectors to be used for RAID. An additional SFF-8088 port is on the back of the controller and adds an additional four ports. These can be used with additional port multipliers giving the user up to 240 SATA / SAS targets. On the other end the LSI MegaRAID 9280-24i4e connects to the host through a PCIe 2.0 8 lane bus.
When it comes to the architecture, the heart is the 800MHz RAID on Chip and SAS Expander. Accompanying the RoC is a 512MB 800MHz DDR2 module that is built onboard the PCB. This does mean that the cache module is not upgradable, but there is a good reason why as well. LSI uses a predictive cache system that enhances the cache by making it 'smart'. The smart cache doesn't really reveal itself in normal benchmark testing, but in real world tests and special built synthetic tests we can see the difference.
The cache system is just the start of the special feature list. Our personal favorite is SSD Guard, a special feature that keeps your SSD array safe, also a first for RAID controllers. The LSI 9280-24i4e has several such features, but if what is included doesn't fulfill your every need, LSI has some advanced software add-on packages as well.
When it comes to pricing, Newegg currently lists the LSI MegaRAID 9280-24i4e for 1,285 USD, but we were able to find the best price at Provantage - 1192.37 USD.