The long awaited PCIe 3.0 bus has finally arrived and it is more than a bit fashionably late for the enterprise arena. The rush is on for companies such as LSI to deliver a host of storage components that will allow customers to reap the generational benefits that PCIe 3.0 brings along with it.
PCIe 3.0 brings much needed speed enhancements in the enterprise space for a whole host of technologies. The original introduction of PCIe 1.0a was in 2003, with a newer version of 1.0 released in 2005, followed closely by the release of version 2.0 in 2007. In 2010 work began on the new 3.0 version. Released late in 2011, PCIe 3.0 finally appeared ready to rear its head. Unfortunately, 3.0 was just released into the wild by Intel in March of this year. This has led to the delay of performance increases in a number of enterprise technologies. 40 and 100GB Ethernet, 16Gb Fibre Channel, FDR InfiniBand and 12Gb SAS all will rely heavily upon the increased bandwidth that PCIe 3.0 brings along with it.
In fact, 6Gb/s SAS is already hamstrung by PCIe 2.0. At full speed, it can only support five SAS lanes with PCIe 2.0. This has led to the under-utilization of some of the current crop of storage processors due to the restrictions placed upon them by PCIe 2.0. Even 10Gb/s Ethernet is experiencing limitations, with four ports unable to operate at full speed on a PCIe 2.0 bus.
With the massive improvements in performance in both IOPS and bandwidth, the penetration of solid state storage into the datacenter brings the challenge for companies to bring out technologies that can deliver. Just a few short years ago there were very few Host Bus Adapters (HBA) and RAID controllers that could shoulder the load of solid state storage (SSS). Typically, these devices were just hampering the full performance of the attached SSS. HBAs and RAID controllers that can scale up and capitalize on these improvements are in desperate demand.
LSI has led the charge with the wildly successful 92xx series of HBAs and controllers that have unlocked the performance of 6Gb/s SAS, revolutionizing the ability of the server to cope with the ever-increasing demand being placed upon the data storage subsystem.
In the last 25 years CPU performance has increased 2,000,000 times, yet the speed of the humble disk drive has only increased 11 times over. It isn't hard to see the large disparity that has led to the storage subsystem becoming the bottleneck. PCIe 3.0 provides a means of increasing the aggregated performance of many HDDs and SSDs in an efficient manner, helping to alleviate the bottleneck.
LSI brings forth their new LSI HBA models as the introduction to their newest line of PCIe 3.0 capable storage controllers. The 9207-8i Mustang features the LSISAS2308 6Gb/s SAS IO controller with a dual core 800MHz PowerPC processor. With eight lanes of PCIe 3.0 at full speed (8GB/s), this new series of HBAs can deliver on the performance promises of PCIe 3.0.
The 9207-8i that we will be testing today boasts some impressive specifications, with up to 700,000 IOPS delivered through LSIs' Fusion-MPT (Message Passing Technology) 2.0 architecture and the highest sequential bandwidth that we have observed in our lab with a single HBA.