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

By: Paul Alcorn | RAID/HBA in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Mar 25, 2014 9:47 pm
TweakTown Rating: 94%Manufacturer: LSI

Final Thoughts




The LSISAS3108 12GB/s PCIe RoC is the cornerstone of LSI's new 12Gb/s RAID controller family. The speed increase provides a way forward but also allows performance enhancements with existing infrastructure. Leveraging DataBolt technology allows compatible backplanes and expanders to utilize two 6Gb/s drives per port. The 9361-8i has a great mix of standard features, such as FastPath technology, and a slew of available Advanced Software Solutions that provide customization options.


We address performance with two RAID sets, though a number of types are widely deployed in the datacenter. RAID 0 is attractive for replicated environments that require the utmost speed and can be indicative of both top performance and weaknesses in a RAID controller architecture. RAID 5 provides data protection and is indicative of performance trends with popular nested RAID sets.


During RAID 0 tests, the 9361-8i took second place under heavy 4k and 8k random read workloads, yet it exhibited superior scaling under lighter workloads. The 9361-8i led the charts in 100 percent random write tests, and our mixed workload testing also reflected a preference for random write activity. The 9361-8i led in both sequential read and write workloads. The 9361-8i posted excellent scaling with light workloads in our OLTP and email workloads, but the ASR-8885 took a slight lead at 256 OIO. The 9361-8i easily took the lead in the read-centric webserver workload.


In RAID 5, the gap between the 9361-8i and the ASR-8885 widened considerably. The ASR-8885 led in heavy 4k and 8k 100 percent read workloads, but the 9361-8i exhibited superior scaling at lower OIO. Write percentage testing revealed the slightest of write workloads cause the performance of the ASR-8885 to plummet, giving the 9361-8i the win in 10 of 11 mixed workloads.




In 100 percent write workloads, the ASR-885 peaks at 64 OIO and then falls tremendously with heavier workloads, giving the LSI controller a convincing win in random write testing. The ASR-8885's downward performance trends were present in OLTP and email server testing but were absent in read-centric webserver testing. The 9361-8i experienced similar performance degradation at 256 OIO with write workloads, but the trends were not as profound as the ASR-8885, and peak performance was higher.


We found the ASR-8885 exhibits strange latency performance with 4k and 8k mixed workloads. As we mixed in heavier 4k and 8k write workloads, its latency skyrocketed to 15.4ms, while the 9361-8i remained steady at under 6ms. The ASR-8885's RAID 5 performance challenges are hopefully addressable with a firmware update. Adaptec by PMC currently has the lead in native port counts, which can eliminate hardware and power consumption in some situations. It is hard to ignore 16 native ports for dense in-chassis storage deployments.


There is more to characterizing the performance of storage solutions than cracking the whip during a horserace. Measuring winners and losers by maximum performance is simply not possible. Scaling in light workloads is important, and mixed workloads represent the majority of workloads in deployment. The 9361-8i has the finesse to deliver a well-rounded solution for a variety of use-cases and workloads and the brute force to power through difficult parity-based RAID sets. The LSI 9361-8i beats the performance of the ASR-8885 in many key metrics, making it more attractive for external storage and less dense in-chassis designs. The 9361-8i knocks the ASR-8885 off the top of the mountain for now, and its class-leading performance and features merit the TweakTown Editor's Choice Award.



PRICING: You can find the LSI 9361-8i for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.


United States: The LSI 9361-8i retails for $628.70 at Amazon.




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