If I were to ever tackle a project like this again I would make the 32kb block size my lowest limit and forgo 8kb all together. The 8kb stripe size didn't do anything for us other than disappoint and somehow manage to kill three of the drives. Luckily we started out with twenty six C300s and experiments like this are why we have them.
Three years ago we started testing 6Gb/s SATA and SAS controllers. Of the first generation the LSI 9260-8i was the most impressive. The controller was amazingly fast, even without Fast Path. Once we added Fast Path performance increased significantly. The 9260-8i in now in my daily use workstation running four LSI / SandForce controlled OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS drives. The performance is unbelievable, I always get the jet in BF3 and there is nothing you can do about it! The 9260-8i is no longer the fastest RAID controller on the market. It's the second fastest.
The LSI MegaRAID 9265-8i is LSI's second generation 6Gb/s controller and is a even faster than the MegaRAID 9260 generation. LSI made several changes between the two models. The second generation doubles cache capacity (512MB to 1GB) and nearly doubled the speed (800MHz DDR-II to 1333MHz DDR-III). The 9265-8i also uses a new dual-core ROC running at 800 MHz which allows RAID 5 and RAID 6 to perform at higher levels. The new ROC is so fast that RAID 5 and RAID 6 perform faster than RAID 0 on the previous generation controller.
At the time of writing the LSI MegaRAID 9265-8i was available for just a hair over $600. When our sample arrived the price was closer to $1000, so the 40% reduction is welcome especially in this economy. LSI's competitors also have similar products at this price point, but not as fast as the 9265-8i.
Getting the most performance out of your LSI MegaRAID 9265-8i requires a Fast Path key which adds to the overall cost. Another option for price conscious users is to use a single high speed solid state drive with an array of mechanical drives in CacheCade. This configuration keeps your hot data on the SSD for SSD like reads. CacheCade works very well in web servers where the same small files are read more than other data.
LSI has shown us the future of enterprise storage technology today. The fusion between raw disk speed and advanced software to further increase performance will continue on. Next stop, 12Gb/s!
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