IntroductionIntroductionTaking a break from motherboards does have its advantages; it allows me to get into something different, and there is nothing further from the motherboard scene than storage controllers. While motherboards do come with a good array of mass storage expansions thanks to six SATA ports now being the industry standard, hardcore users simply want more, and servers need more; it's just that simple. So, where do you turn to when you run out of ports on the motherboard? - To a discrete solution of course! - There are many companies out there providing a huge array of cards.Areca is a new company to TweakTown; we haven't been graced with any products from them until now, and as always we are more than happy to oblige them with some testing of their products. Today they have sent one of their biggest cards for SATA-II expansion. In our labs we have been sent the ARC-1231ML 12 channel SATA-II Controller. Let's get stuck right into it.
SpecificationsSpecifications of the Areca ARC-1231MLAdapter Architecture Intel IOP333 I/O processor PCI-Express X8 bus One DDR2 DIMM socket256MB on-board DDR2-533 SDRAM with ECC protection Write-through or write-back cache support Support up to 4/8/12/16 SATA II drives Multi-adapter support for large storage requirements BIOS boot support for greater fault tolerance BIOS PnP (plug and play) and BBS (BIOS boot specification) support Intel RAID 6 Engine to support extreme performance RAID 6 NVRAM for RAID event & transaction log Redundant flash image for adapter availability Battery Backup Module (BBM) ready RoHS Compliant RAID Features RAID level 0, 1, 10(1E), 3, 5, 6 (if RAID 6 engine supported) and JBOD Multiple RAID selection Array roaming Online RAID level/stripe size migration Online RAID capacity expansion and RAID level migration simultaneously Instant availability and background initialization Automatic drive insertion/removal detection and rebuild Greater than 2TB per volume set Support S.M.A.R.T, NCQ and OOB Staggered Spin-up capable drives Support spin down drivers when not in use to extend service life (MAID) Monitors/Indicators System status indication through HDD activity/fault connector, LCD Connector and alarm buzzer SMTP support email notification SNMP support for remote notification I2C Enclosure management ready Software Drivers Windows 2000/XP (Scsiport Driver) Windows Server 2003 (Scsiport Driver and Storport Driver) Redhat Linux and SuSE Linux FreeBSD Solaris 10x86 UnixWare 7.1.x Netware 6.5
The Box and What's InsidePackage and Contents
The Controller CardThe Areca Controller Card
Test System Setup and HD TachTest System Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 @ 3.16GHz (9.5x333MHz)Motherboard: GIGABYTE X48T-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Memory: 2x 1GB DDR3-1600XMP OCZ (Supplied by OCZ)Hard Disk: 2x 500GB HDD's (Western Digital and Seagate)Graphics Card: MSI GeForce 8800GTS 640MB (Supplied by MSI) Cooling: GIGABYTE 3D Galaxy II (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista SP1Drivers: nForce Driver 15.17, Forceware 175.16Our test bed has recently changed; we now use the X48T-DQ6 which has a second PCI Express x16 slot running off the Northbridge. This helps give PCI-E controller cards as much bandwidth as they can handle. We have pit the Areca card against the Promise SuperTrack STEX8650 card, since both support SATA and have 256MB onboard cache. However, this won't make much difference as it only works in RAID 6 mode.HD TachVersion and / or Patch Used: 18.104.22.168Developer Homepage: http://www.simplisoftware.comProduct Homepage: http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php?request=HdTach
Benchmarks - Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0Developer Homepage: http://www.adobe.com Product Homepage: http://www.adobe.com/products/premiereel/Buy It Here
Final ThoughtsFinal ThoughtsWhen you're considering an add-in RAID controller, you have to know exactly what you're after otherwise you may end up disappointed. The Areca controller card has the best of both worlds; supporting enterprise class storage, backup and monitoring, as well as providing a huge array of ports for the enthusiast file server who wants Terabytes to store their movies on and keep them safe. With 12 drives total, it's hard to even consider maxing this card out. The only downside is that you need to use a x8 or x16 PCI-E slot, or a universal slot to run this card on, as it needs a real lot of bandwidth with 12 drives running.Overall, the Areca card gave us no problems with installs; the drivers worked straight out of the box, and the array setup was as simple as any motherboard based RAID setup, so it's not rocket science getting this thing to work.
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