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LSI MegaRAID SAS3 9361-8i 12Gb/s RAID Controller Review (Page 1)

LSI MegaRAID SAS3 9361-8i 12Gb/s RAID Controller Review

LSI's long-awaited 12Gb/s RAID controllers have finally arrived. Today Paul takes the 9361-8i out for a spin with the fastest 12Gb/s SSDs available.

By Paul Alcorn on Mar 25, 2014 04:47 pm CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: LSI



LSI flourished during the initial transition to 6Gb/s, and the 9260 paved the way for a period of dominating performance. The LSISAS2108 RoC was revolutionary, and the follow-up LSISAS2208 RoC on the 9265 provided even more dominance. LSI chose to stay with the same 2208 controller on the 9271 as they transitioned to support PCIe 3.0, which left performance roughly the same as the previous generation model. Adaptec, fresh off an acquisition by PMC, rushed in with a radical new 6Gb/s design that boosted native port counts and saturated the PCIe 3.0 bus. This left LSI in a position they are not accustomed to, and Adaptec took the performance crown.

Today, LSI answers as the long-awaited PCIe 3.0 LSISAS2308 makes its debut on the 12Gb/s MegaRAID 9361-8i. The 1.2GHz PowerPC 476 dual-core RoC is paired with 1GB of 1866MHz DDR3 SDRAM. The 9361-8i supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and 60 and offers up a spate of strip sizes from 64KB up to 1MB.

The 9361-8i features 8 internal mini-SAS SFF-8643 ports that support up to 240 12Gb/s SAS3 or SATA devices with expanders. The 9361-8i also features backwards compatibility for 6Gb/s and 3Gb/s drives and comes in both 4 and 8 internal port configurations. The 9380-8e offers 8 ports of external connectivity. The 9341 is not outfitted with cache, but it comes with the option of either 4 or 8 internal ports.

The 9361-8i supports LSI's signature Advanced Software Solutions. Fast Path software is included free of charge, and MegaRAID CacheCade Pro 2.0 software is available for purchase. CacheCade Pro allows utilization of SSD volumes as a caching layer to speed up existing HDD infrastructure. SafeStor software creates and manages authentication keys for SED drives to provide an extra layer of security, and CacheVault provides protection for cached data on a flash device with a Battery Backup Unit (BBU).

The 12Gb/s MegaRAID controllers also feature new advanced drive diagnostic technology. In the event of a drive failure, the controller places the drive into a shield state as it performs diagnostics to determine if it is a permanent failure. In many cases, the drive has not actually failed and the MegaRAID controller can bring the drive back online if restoration is possible. This saves precious IT hours, money, and lost compute time from unnecessary RAID rebuild tasks.

One of many attractions of 12Gb/s technology is the doubling of data rates from 24GBps to 48GBps from a 4-lane cable. This enhanced bandwidth can boost existing infrastructure, and LSI provides support for DataBolt bandwidth optimizer technology. This new feature allows two 6Gb/s devices to function over one 12Gb/s connection to maximize ROI.

The 9361-8i's power consumption is 16.15 watts under a drive stress test, while the previous generation 9271-8i required only 11.7 watts. This bump in power consumption is matched with performance gains that should keep the power-per-IOPS threshold within reason. The competing Adaptec ASR-8885 pulls 14.73 watts for a 16-port model.

LSI has integrated Fusion-MPT architecture drivers in every major OS. The software features allow users to customize the solution to their environment, and the continuing evolution of the RoC provides even more speed and flexibility. The 9361-8i comes with a standard three-year warranty.

Today, we test the newest LSI flagship against its formidable competition, the 12Gb/s 16-port ASR-8885 from Adaptec by PMC.

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Paul Alcorn


The quest for benchmark world records led Paul further and further down the overclocking rabbit hole. SSDs and RAID controllers were a big part of that equation, allowing him to push performance to the bleeding edge. Finding the fastest and most extreme storage solutions led to experience with a myriad of high-end enterprise devices. Soon testing SSDs and Enterprise RAID controllers at the limits of their performance became Paul's real passion, one that is carried out through writing articles and reviews.

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