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Adaptec by PMC ASR-8885 12Gb/s RAID Controller Review

Adaptec by PMC ASR-8885 12Gb/s RAID Controller Review
We test a prototype of the new Adaptec 12Gb/s ASR-8885 RAID controller with two high-powered arrays in RAID 0 and RAID 5. Amazing performance inside. (NASDAQ:PMCS)
| RAID/HBA in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Nov 18, 2013 2:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Adaptec by PMC

Introduction

 

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Adaptec by PMC's introduction of the 12Gb/s ASR-8885 heralds the beginning of the 12Gb/s SAS RAID controller era, which provides numerous advantages over the previous 6Gb/s architecture. Adaptec by PMC is making significant inroads into the SAS space. With their RAID controllers, HBA's, expanders and a forthcoming SAS SSD controller, they provide an end-to-end SAS solution for their customers.

 

Adaptec by PMC made a big splash with the entrance of their Series 7 controller. The controllers redefined the vision of storage density by providing up to 24 native ports of SAS 6Gb/s connectivity in one package, without the use of expanders. At the heart of the Series 7 controllers is the world's highest native port count in a single-chip, the PM8015 RoC. The new Series 8 controllers borrow heavily from the technological leap from the previous architecture.

 

The new PM8063 steps the port count back to 16 native ports of 12Gb/s connectivity. The RoCstar contention-free architecture is efficient and scalable. Adaptec eliminates system performance limitations of traditional RoC devices by interconnecting the internal subsystems. It sports an 8GByte/s PCIe 3.0 interface with IOV support and inline XOR to reduce DRAM access times and improve performance. This provides speeds in excess of 700,000 random IOPS for 12Gb/s, and 600,000 IOPS for 6Gb/s devices. This is a healthy 60% increase in IOPS over the previous Series 7. The 6.6 GB/s in sequential read and 5.2 GB/s of sequential write speed provides plenty of throughput to utilize the PCIe 3.0 connection.

 

The Series 8 controllers are designed with slim Low Profile/MD2 form factors to provide a dense storage management package. The high port count alleviates the requirement for expanders and associated hardware in many deployments. Removing this extra hardware eliminates compatibility issues, cost, and complexity from the server and brings the promise of lower TCO.

 

The fledgling 12Gb/s market isn't entirely ripe with products to utilize the interface, but as time progresses, the ecosystem will expand to many storage products. There can be tremendous value in moving to a 12Gb/s controller even with the few available devices on the market. The Series 8 controllers are fully backwards compatible with 6Gb/s SAS/SATA storage products to provide enhanced performance with existing infrastructure. The 12Gb/s connection boosts speed from 24GBps with 6Gb/s SAS up to 48GBps from a 4-lane cable.

 

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The Series 8 controllers can employ the new maxCache Plus software, which allows the user to configure all storage devices in the server (even non-Adaptec products), to provide interoperability and create hybrid storage arrays. Users can employ the fastest 12Gb/s SSDs to accelerate performance from spindle-based storage devices with the tiering and caching features of maxCache Plus.

 

The ASR-8885 prototype we are testing will be deployed into a plethora of use-cases with existing 6Gb/s infrastructure and new 12Gb/s storage products. We have amassed two impressive arrays of SSD's to push the controller to the boundaries of its performance. We will utilize 16 of our 26 x 400GB Micron P400m SSDs to test 6Gb/s performance, and 8 of the SSD800MH HGST SSD's, the faster version of the HGST SSD800MM SSD's we recently evaluated. Bear in mind that the test results of the prototype may not reach the maximum capabilities of the production ASR-8885, but we will be able to get a good taste of 12Gb/s performance.

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