Highpoint's RocketRAID 2220 in detail
Highpoint's package design hasn't changed since we looked at their desktop series. The colour scheme is identical, it's not till you open the board as to what you get inside. There is the controller card, six floppy disks, eight x1M long Serial ATA cables, a special interconnect wire (will explain that shortly) and a PCI backplane swap bracket. The backplane bracket is if you are using half height cases, which allows you to use the card in these setups.
Now we get to see the card itself. Highpoint have designed this card to be accommodating in both full height PCI and half height PCI. This is the reason why the SATA ports are stacked on top of each other to reduce the amount of height needed for the card, unlike the previous generation of cards that Highpoint has put out for servers. Another note is the length of the card; this is due to the PCI-X connector, another reason PCI-E will soon be the dominant architecture for expansion, card lengths can be reduced to a much smaller footprint, saving on PCB costs for manufacturers and end-users.
This is one thing that was strange to us. Most of the server cards that Highpoint releases aren't using their own chipset but using third party core logic, and the RocketRAID 2220 isn't any different. The Marvell 88SX6081 controller chip takes care of all the hard work. This chip is a PCI-X 133MHz chip supporting a full 1.6GB/s across the PCI-X bus, but can run at 100MHz or 66MHz if the slots on the board only support this speed.
For the SATA component, the card supports 8 individual Serial ATA-II ports for 3Gbps across each port with the option of span linkage. Native Command Queuing and Tagged Command Queuing are supported on the one controller as well as RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 and JBOD, though why you would want JBOD on a server card is beyond me. The Marvell chip is passively cooled by a small heatsink.
One of the features mentioned was spanned linking. On the back of the card there are 2 ports, a 3 pin and a 4 pin connector. If you have two RocketRAID 2220 cards you can hook them together with this cable. Each controller card shipped has this cable, so you run the two cables between the cards. This allows the card on the first PCI-X slot to run as a master device and the second card to operate as a slave. This means that any drives on the slave card, the master can pickup and be added to the RAID 5 or RAID 10 arrays for a grand total of 16 SATA-II devices in one RAID array. Now that's impressive!
Highpoint has also included two rows of 8 pair LED connectors. The pins in CON3 are Hard Disk activity LED's these tell you when each drive is active, CON2 is Hard Disk Fault LED. When these light up they tell you that a drive has been disconnected from the RAID array or has a fault that is preventing data transfer, which is great to determine which drive has failed.