Since its implementation, advances in PCI Express technology were closely associated with gaming products, mainly video cards. The GPU business lead the charge for increasing bandwidth for the PCIe bus, but advances in storage technology, mainly through solid state drives, has turned the tide. Storage, once a fairly boring topic, has become the hot button issue for computer technology in a relatively short period of time. Still the slowest component in computers, any performance increases coming from the storage subsystem has a dramatic effect on the way a computer performs, both in day to day activity in desktops and intensive tasks taken on in enterprise.
After several delays the first PCIe 3.0 video card launched January 9th 2012, AMD's Radeon 7970. Just like the move from PCIe 1.0 to 2.0, the move to 3.0 saw little improvement in the initial products released because the bottlenecks were located elsewhere. The video card market was not ready for a massive increase of bandwidth.
The storage market on the other hand is enjoying their moment under the spotlight. Solid state drives made storage exciting and the technology quickly pushed PCIe 2.0 to its limits. The move to PCIe 3.0 was the logical step to increase performance. LSI was the first out of the gate with a PCIe 3.0 controller, Paul reviewed the new LSI 9207-8i HBA just days ago, but we've yet to see a hardware RAID product from LSI in our lab, although they have been announced.
Areca, a long time favorite among enthusiasts for the ability to tune controllers for low queue depth performance, showed their new Gen 3 products at Computex Taipei this year in June. Today we're looking at the new ARC-1882i that uses the PCIe 3.0 spec LSI controller and pairs it with Areca's custom firmware and PCB design.
The ARC-1882i Gen 3 uses the same PCB as the original ARC-1882 that we reviewed last year in April. With both products sharing the same base name, we expect there to be some confusion, but the new Gen 3 model has a change that makes a big difference. As far as we can tell, the only significant difference is the LSI chip under the heatsink. The old model used PCIe 2.0 and the new Gen 3 model uses PCIe 3.0. The new model can also work in PCIe 2.0 systems.
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