Servers have been the one place that bandwidth has been the ultimate goal. Servers are simply super computers put together in order to handle extremely intense computing tasks. It's not uncommon to see two or more processors in a server, with the limit now hitting eight thanks to AMD Opteron, and with Dual Core CPU's you get a total of 16 working CPU's on an 8 way Opteron system. It's clear this setup can really crunch some numbers, but if you can't get the data to the CPU fast enough, it's like having a Lamborghini and putting second hand bald tyres on it - you are just going to be spinning your wheels when you want to put the power down.
Servers have been held back in bandwidth terms because of the aging PCI bus. While the expansion of the PCI bus has included the 64-bit, 133MHz versions, it is still a parallel bus sharing its data with other PCI devices, and running these speeds means a large, expansive PCB for the expansion cards, and a rather large slot real estate on the board.
PCI Express has now come to the rescue, with a PCI-E x16 slot taking up about the same size as a regular PCI slot and offering up to 8GB/s transfer rates, it's easy to see why Parallel buses are now starting to go extinct on the PC architecture.
Mass Storage controllers are one of the biggest things in the server industry, with space needing to be in the Terabytes, you are going to need to add in additional controller cards and this is where PCI Express and Highpoint come in.
Today we are looking at the first PCI Express SATA-II RAID controller card to come from Highpoint into our labs. Today we intend to see just how good this little baby is compared to standard PCI RAID controllers as well as the only Serial ATA PCI-E controller on the market, the Silicon Image 3132 controller.