> Nice setup.
Thanks! Or at least it was. All changed now
, pretty much as planned.
I'll redo my sig later.
I bought the M2N32 WS Pro mbd (new), 93 UKP + shipping & tax, which
is approx. $238 total.
After some researching various 8800GT models, I decided not to buy
the ASUS 8800GT-TOP as it's already at the top of how fast it can go
due to the cooler it uses. So instead I bought the Gigabyte 8800GT
TurboForce edition with the Zalman cooler, and by heck what a card!
Comes pre oc'd to 700MHz core, but I was able to push it to 790. 8)
> I also have SCSI drives, picked up 4 36GB 10K rpm U320 drives for
> $100 a few months ago, ...
That was a good deal!
> I also have a 1TB SATA striped array.
Eventually I'll probably buy a couple of SATAs for longer term
storage, but for the main work I wanted a fast SCSI array; more on
that in a moment.
> My 6 year old computer still keeps up with everything and transfers
> files so fast its insane. ...
I'm not surprised.
> And since you have 15K rpm drives there is no way SATA will touch it.
Certainly makes a difference. Apart from the power-on SCSI BIOS
checks, the XP bootup is fast and the post-login delay before one can
properly do things is very short, only 1 or 2 seconds at most.
> SCSI has such awesome throughput, not just theoretical bandwidth.
It certainly scales well. FC scales even more of course, but that's
another league. Would love to have a high-end SGI with a completely
unnecessary 10GB/sec RAID or something (and that's low-end
compared to what they're capable of). Well, I do actually have a
high-end SGI of sorts, but it's just a low-spec version of what it
can be, so not that interesting yet (Origin300 with 4 CPUs and 8GB
RAM; max config is 64 CPUs, etc.)
> Anyway, I completely agree the way to go was PCI-X, that is an
> awesome setup, and matured compatability. I use PCI64/66 and its
> still smoking fast. PCI-X quickly replaced PCI64-66, but I'm doing
> just fine.
I finished doing the testing of the various cards I had, so here are
The LSI 320-2E card was certainly the fastest overall, but interestingly
the PCIX card achieved the same speeds for sequential read, random
read and random write. Where the PCIe card did much better was for
buffered read, buffered write and sequential write. However, with
only 4 disks being tested, and not a matched set either, it could be
that both cards could do better, and perhaps more importantly the
PCIe card was running a hw stripe using the SCSI card's BIOS, whereas
the PCIX card was running a Windows Volume (I couldn't work out a way
to stripe across both channels with the PCIX card, which was a
surprise). Perhaps a different model PCIX card would do better if it
supported hw stripes using both channels - I'll see if I can get hold
of a 22320R, maybe that can do it. Anyway, I'll redo the tests at
some point with one of my larger arrays and more drives, preferably
all the same type.
The LSI 20320IE also ran well (single-channel PCIe), good performance.
The LSI 320-1 PCIX card was awful (I mean really woeful, as low as 50
or 60MB/sec sometimes), but I'm sure something must be wrong somewhere
as reviews showed the card getting 140MB/sec or more, though I must
say even that is pretty dire IMO for a card that's supposedly U320.
Discussing on other forums, the opinion was that this model card
never did do very well for RAID 0 or 1 as the original designers
didn't bother supporting it that much. However, I'll look into it
again at some point, see if I can work out why it was running slow.
So, here is the main direct comparison of the dual-channel cards
again sorry that one card is using a Windows Volume while the other is
running hw RAID0 via the SCSI BIOS (denoted in the table below as
hw vs. sw RAID). 4 disks were used, each channel having a Maxtor
Atlas 15K II and a SUN-badged Fujitsu MAU3147NC (turned out 1 of
my 3 Fujitsus was going bad, so I had to rejig things around a bit).
Testing was done with SiSoft Sandra. I did try testing with HDTach,
but couldn't work out how how to make it test a Windows Volume.
Certainly looks like the newer RAM on the PCIe card is helping a lot
for buffered access, but I think this shows quite well that for an
array using such a small number of drives, the bottleneck for
sequential read (the main operation my tasks will be doing, ie.
reading uncompressed video files) is not the speed of the cards.
Note that for both cards, using 4 disks on 1 channel lowered the
sequential read/write speeds by at least 35%. Thus, using both
channels is definitely better, which is as it should be.
However, after all that, the final choice of what to use for the time
being was decided by more practical matters. It was quickly obvious
that the PCIe card runs very hot - I ended up running the tests with
a 12" desk fan pointed at the open case. Thus, I've decided to keep
the 320-2E PCIe card stored away for use with my production system
which I'll be sorting out next year, most likely a Nehalem, with a
much larger case and at least 6 drives. I did consider getting one of
those mountable directional minifans for cooling the PCIe card, but
that was just more work and I wanted to setup my new system now. So,
I'm saving the PCIe card for later, but the key thing is that it
worked ok and I'm pleased, given it was less than $200.
Thus, in the end I used the LSI 20320IE PCIe for the system disk
(which I changed to a Seagate 147GB 15K - don't have enough Maxtors
now to have one spare for a system disk), and the LSI 21320R for the
4-disk RAID setup. I hope to replace the Fujitsus and the Seagate in
the future with more Maxtors (HDTach confirmed the Atlas 15K II is
easily the fastest of any of these 15Ks, including a Hitachi
147GB/15K I tested) but that'll have to wait until I have more funds.
Oh! One other thing: the 320-2E PCIe card is indeed a Dell PERC 4e/DC
card, as so many of these 2nd-hand 320-2Es are (wierd though, no
labeling that gives this away), but I was able to put on the LSI BIOS
just fine which allowed me to install normal LSI drivers. I'll add
the modified drivers for the Dell version to my site soon anyway, but
good to know that reflashing the LSI BIOS does seem to work ok, or at
least it did in my case (others have reported problems doing this,
going back to the Dell BIOS as a last resort). Best of all though,
one of the cards I bought came with a fairly recent version of the
complete LSI MegaRAID driver suite (May 2005) so I'll add an ISO of
this CD to my site when I can, along with all the other drivers and
BIOS images I obtained. Newer versions of drivers might be available
for download from lsi.com, but in some cases drivers for certain
cards are not available from lsi.com - I had to get a few from LSI
China and LSI Japan. I intend to add the whole lot to my site, make
sure there's always somewhere to get them, save people the
frustration of searching lsi.com and getting nowhere. The files are
not up yet, but the URL will be www.sgidepot.co.uk/depot, and I have
two mirror sites.
> SATA Raid controller with 4 250GB stiped array. AGP 4X with Radeon
> X1950Pro. All on Antex TruePower 550 power supply in an old Gatway
> P-120 tower. Its still screaming.
My earlier card was an X1950 Pro AGP, which I'd oc'd to 641/786 (note
that I obtained better results than many PCIe-based X1950 systems on
review sites). Love that card, ran really well. Think you might be
interested to know though how I got on with the new 8800GT
ref as earlier). As expected, the CPU score is similar, which naturally holds
back the overall score from being quite a bit higher (would be around
14500 if I was using a Core2Quad).
Anyway, the increase in gfx speed has been considerable. With the
X1950, I'd been playing Oblivion/Stalker at 1600 x 1200 with high
detail settings, though the odd feature still turned off. With the
8800GT, I've been able to increase this to a whopping 2048 x 1536
with max detail settings and all features on! 8) I was hoping for
1920x1200 with max settings, so I'm pleasantly surprised at the
results. Not yet rerun my original Oblivion tests
, but I expect the
results will be pretty OTT. For reference, the 8800GT cost 102 UKP
+ shipping & tax, which is about $256 total, though the price
has dropped since May, down to 95 UKP + tax now.
Centurion Plus 534, Thermaltake 680W
ASUS M2N32 WS Pro PCIe/PCIX, Athlon64 X2 6000+ 3.25GHz (U120E), 4GB DDR2/800
Gigabyte 8800GT Zalman 512MB, 790/1790/980
LSI20320IE 4x PCIe U320 SCSI, LSI 22230R PCIX U320 SCSI
13 x 147GB 15K U320 SCSI, 20X Liteon DVDRW