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PCI-X Serial ATA RAID - Highpoint RocketRAID 1820A Review

For those who thought the high-end SATA RAID arrays were only for the corporate types, think again. Today, Cameron Johnson takes a hard look at the Highpoint RocketRAID 1820A, a means to bring monster arrays to your desktop. Who said only the big boys could play this game?

By: Cameron Johnson | RAID/HBA in Storage | Posted: Oct 22, 2004 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 8.0%Manufacturer: Highpoint Tech



RAID arrays, one only seen in extremely high-end server environments and only available on expensive SCSI controllers has moved to the desktop, and with a vengeance.


Back in the late 90's you would need to have a separate IDE controller card, and use a modification to hack the card into a unit that could recognise RAID arrays. Next came the cards with the modifications built in, so no more hacks were needed. Finally we got these chips built onto the motherboards themselves, so a PCI slot wasn't required to be used for a RAID array to come to pass.


Serial ATA has made the RAID era even easier with smaller cables and connectors, its even easier to have more than 4 drives in one system without cluttering up the case. Its now so important to companies like Intel and VIA that RAID based Serial ATA controllers are now built into the Southbridge with two and sometimes even four port SATA RAID controllers. It is, without a doubt, that Serial ATA has come on with a vengeance; however, one thing has held it back in the add-on market, the PCI Bus.


In order for companies like Silicon Image, Highpoint and Promise (to name the main few in the market) to add the chips to either a card or the board itself, it must run on the aging PCI bus. While just about everyone knows that PCI has served well for sound and network controllers, when putting 150MB/s capable controller on to a bus that has to share 133MB/s between 4 or more PCI slots and onboard PCI based devices, you start to see the futility of this effort.


Highpoint has come to the aid of server users who want to add multi channel SATA RAID into the servers without the bottleneck of the aging PCI bus.


Today we are testing out the Highpoint Rocket RAID 1820A card and comparing it to the Silicon Image 3114 4 Port SATA chip and the ICH5-S Adaptec Southbridge based RAID controller to see if the PCI-X bus can give the added juice that is needed.


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