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Adaptec by PMC ASR-8885 12Gb/s RAID Controller Review

By: Paul Alcorn | RAID/HBA in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Nov 18, 2013 2:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Adaptec by PMC

Final Thoughts




Over the last ten years, PMC has developed into a storage-centric company, with enterprise storage solutions now comprising 65% of their revenue mix. With the acquisition of Adaptec, PMC has become a more formidable opponent for their competitors. The needs of the datacenter are changing, and as Adaptec by PMC continues to evolve, they have developed new RAID controllers and HBA's that provide density, flexibility, and performance in a small package.


The old inefficient deployment model is changing rapidly. The emergence of the 'new breed of OEM's' (such as Google and Microsoft) has led to demand for smaller, more efficient solutions to address storage performance challenges. The increase in storage density is important; next-generation servers can cram up to eight head nodes into a 2U chassis, along with almost 70 drives in newer 2U enclosures. Providing small LP/MD2 controllers with high port counts addresses both of these needs, and eliminates the use of an expander in some situations. This reduces cost, complexity, and power requirements.




Adaptec's impending release of their own SAS SSD controller will produce an optional end-to-end SAS solution for their customers. Utilizing a 12Gb/s controller increases the performance of existing infrastructure and enables the utilization of the fastest SSD's available for caching and tiering models. Hardware is only part of the equation, providing easy-to-use software is also important.


The maxView Storage Manager simplifies storage administration, and the three modes of operation present HBA-like functionality. The addition of the MaxCache Plus system provides an easy-to-use management portal for server storage and allows easy configuration of tiering and caching schemes. The innovative supercapacitor power hold-up modules bring lower TCO and simplified management. A 4.82-Watt decrease in power consumption, coupled with a 60% gain in performance, is a win-win.




The performance of the prototype ASR-8885 was stellar, though we need to caution that this may not be the final revision of firmware and drivers. There is a notable chance for even more performance in the final revisions. We topped out at over 690,000 IOPS and 6GB/s of sequential throughput, which is very impressive in a controller with a friendly price point. The only area we did not come within grasp of the maximum performance was with RAID 5 sequential write speed, which will surely be addressed with firmware modifications.


The Adaptec Series 8 controllers will be available for widespread purchase in December and come with a three-year warranty. With the ASR-8885 being the only 12Gb/s RAID solution we have had in the lab, it is hard to compare against the competition. However, the continuing innovation from Adaptec, and the stellar performance, merits a TweakTown Editor's Choice Award.



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