Adaptec lobs Series 5 RAID controllers at SATA and SAS
So enthusiastic, they skipped Series 4
Adaptec is pushing a new generation of unified RAID controllers today, boosting the performance of its gear and ushering in a 28 port product.
The Series 5 RAID controllers — capable of connecting with both SATA and SAS disks — use the Intel IOP348 I/O processor running at 1.2 GHz. The hardware comes in 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 28 port flavors. Cards scale up to 256 SATA/SAS devices for capacities up to 200TB per system.
Adaptec senior product manager Robert Cox said the controllers are well suited for bandwidth intensive storage applications using lots of unstructured data like web hosting, digital surveillance and medical communications.
The new lineup improves upon Adaptec's Series 3 gear, which the company introduced in March 2007. (Odd fact: there is no series 4 line of controllers. Why? "No product classification scheme is perfect," explains Cox. Ah so.)
Cox said the new controllers have a threefold throughput advantage over Series 3 - a feat accomplished by tweaking the hardware innards. For instance, the new controllers received a memory boost over their predecessors, and use a single chip design as opposed to a separate CPU and I/O controller linked by a bridge.
When the new gear hits, the Series 3 controllers will be relegated to Adaptec's "value" line, while Series 5 will take its place in the company's "performance" tier.
Series 5 comes in 7 models. Bullet points, away!:
- 52445: 28 ports (24 internal / 4 external), $1,595
- 51645: 20 ports (16 internal / 4 external), $1,200
- 51245: 16 ports (12 internal / 4 external), $1,075
- 5085: 8 internal ports, $945
- 5805: 8 external ports, $650
- 5445: 8 ports (4 internal / 4 external), $945
- 5405: 4 internal ports, $425
The new controllers will be available March 21. In the meantime, Adaptec has put out some internal testing figures available here for the hardware. ®
Re: how do they scale up
They probably mean the 5085, with 2x SFF-8088 (external x4 multilane SAS). That's two ports, 128 SAS addresses each, or even more with "fanout" expanders (see e.g. the SAS JBOD enclosures by AXUS).
Each ML SAS port can be connected to a daisy-chain or a tree of cascaded JBOD enclosures.
The internal SFF-8087 can also be used for cascading, provided that you have an expander-based SAS backplane in your server that provides an external SAS expansion port for daisy-chaining.
Those 256 drives may as well mean a firmware-side limitation, rather than the max.number of SAS addresses theoretically possible per a daisy-chain / cascaded tree. Still I'd be a little cautious about 256 drives per RAID. There can be real-world glitches that may limit the practically useful degree of cascading, performance with so many drives, choice of RAID level, maximum block device size that your OS can actually take, runtime reliability of such a monster etc.
I also keep hearing rumours of SATA drives being incompatible with some SAS expanders, or that you can only use a single expander per ML SAS port for SATA drives (no JBOD daisy-chaining) etc.
I believe the limit of 256 drives is the same with the older 3xxx series.
The 5085 is on par with an Areca ARC-1680x: same IOP CPU, same number of ports. As far as firmware features and comfort are concerned, nowadays I'd probably opt for the Areca.
How do they scale up?
That's what I didn't get. They offer a card with up to 28 ports, but say it scales up to 256 ports.
So can you daisy chain these cards, or are they going to be offering the mother of all RAID cards, with 256 ports?
I just ordered a 16 channel Highpoint SATA RAID controller for $412.