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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

SPEED & SAFETY:
HighPoint RocketRAID 4320
with 5, 6, 7, & 8 drives
in RAID 5 & 6 Sets

Originally posted October 17th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist


In our previous report on the HighPoint, the RocketRAID 4320, we benchmarked with four extreme Seagate Cheetah 15K.6 450G SAS drives in RAID 0 mode. With the help of an external SAS enclosure from CRU-DataPort, we were able to test with five, six, seven, and eight SAS drives in this round. In this article we are emphasizing RAID 5 and 6 sets since many professionals desire the data security they provide, not just shear speed.


For this round, we used both Disktester and AJA Kona System Test as benchmarks. For Kona we used 1920x1080 10-bit RGB with 4GB test size. For Disktester, we used a 4GB test file, 128MB chunk size, 5 iterations.



ANALYSIS & INSIGHTS
In the past, professionals had to choose between speed and data security. With the RocketRAID 4320 and six or more SAS or SATA drives, it's possible to achieve both using RAID 5 and 6.

TERABYTE TECHNOLOGY
In our last article, I included a "laundry list" of RocketRAID 4320 features. This time I want to describe three key technologies utilized in this product.

TerabyteStream - An intelligent algorithm delivering maximum sustained performance by dynamically detecting I/O streams leveraging a powerful I/O processor with onboard cache.

TerabyteGuard - A selection of security features designed to maintain RAID integrity via routine inspection of storage hardware for defects induced by wear and tear. This includes Bad Sector Reallocation and Remapping

TerabyteSaver - Maximizes the rate of data recovery and prevents data loss in the event of unexpected failures; ensuring data availability and business continuity. (This works in concert with the Battery Back Up (BBU)).

WHY NOT BUY A ROCKETRAID 26XX AT ONE-THIRD THE PRICE?
I've made it no secret that, although the
RocketRAID 4320 costs $599 (or $200 less than the Apple Pro RAID card), you can get the RocketRAID 2640x4 and 2644x4 for only $199. Of course, those single lane PCIe cards are limited to four drives and 500MB/s.

But as of this week, HighPoint will begin shipping the RocketRAID 2680 which supports up to eight drives (like the RocketRAID 4320). However, it has a less powerful processor, is limited to 500MB/s (vs 1000), and supports only one of the three technologies mentioned above: TerabyteStream.


WHY GET BATTERY BACK UP (BBU)?
There's an option to add a battery pack to the RocketRAID 4320. That's good news for consumers who are concerned about data compromise in case of a power outage. Though you may use a UPS, what if someone trips over the power cable going between your Mac Pro and the UPS? What if you are out of the office having lunch during an extended transfer and the UPS battery runs its course?

The battery module preserves the data that is stored on the RAID controller memory. A log file is generated and stored in the NVRAM on the controller. This log file records the failed write activity to the hard drives. Once power is restored to the system the remaining data is written to the hard drives.

NOTES ON BOOTING OS X from a RR4320 volume
To boot OS X from a RAID set or single drive initialized on the RocketRAID 4320, you can't install the OS the "normal" way using the installer DVDs. You must use Carbon Copy Cloner (or similar app) to clone a normal boot drive (connected to a FireWire 800 enclosure in our case). Before doing that, use the browser based RAID Manager to install the latest EFI update for the RR4320 from HighPoint's Download Page. We recommend doing so even if your RR4320's firmware version appears to be up-to-date.

Many of you are expressing a desire to boot from a RAID set plus have a dedicated data RAID set. With eight drives and the RocketRAID 4320, that's easily done with or without an external enclosure since it supports more than one RAID set.

SUPPORTING PRODUCTS
Seagate makes the SAS drives we used. It's the "killer" Cheetah 15K.6 SAS drive. Single 450GB drives clock out at 160+MB/s. We also tested the 146GB version which we found to be 10% slower than the 450GB version.

Since the RocketRAID 4320 is not a full length card yet it needs to connect to the mini-SAS connector on the Mac Pro motherboard in order to work. Enter MaxUpgrades with a SAS cable extender.

The CRU-DataPort SAS enclosure made it easy to add up to for external SAS drives to our four internal SAS drives. It is rugged with a choice of two different styles of drive trays. It features dual cooling fans. Though the fan frequency was not obtrusive, the amplitude was between 57-60dB. We would like to see that be more like 45dB, the typical noise level of the Mac Pro test unit.

Because the RocketRAID 4320 features two internal mini-SAS connectors (and no external data connectors), we acquired an adapter from PC-Pitstop that converts one or both internal mini-SAS (8087) connectors to external mini-SAS connectors (8088). It is mounted one of the PCIe slot openings. We ran a mini-SAS to mini-SAS cable from the RR4320 to the adapter. Once that was installed and connected, we connected to the external SAS enclosure using the cable provided by CRU-DataPort.


March 16th, 2009 -- NewEgg is selling the HighPoint 4320 'half price' ($330 -- Suggested Retail is $680.)

WHERE TO BUY THE ROCKETRAID 4320
The RocketRAID 4320 is not sold directly by HighPoint Technology. Check with these Mac friendly resellers to order:

March 16th, 2009 -- NewEgg is selling the HighPoint 4320 'half price' ($330 -- Suggested Retail is $680.)

WHERE TO BUY SAS EXTERNAL ENCLOSURES

WHERE TO BUY THE SAS Extender Cable
MaxUpgrades sells the MaxConnect SAS/SATA link (adapter/extender) that we used. They also sell the MaxConnect kit that enables you to mount up to two drives in the lower optical bay which you can use for boot or scratch drives if you wish to dedicate the four factory sleds of the Mac Pro to the RAID card for data only.

WHERE TO BUY 15K SAS DRIVES
The Seagate Cheetah 15K.6 SAS drive is in stock at
Other World Computing.
The Hitachi Ultrastar 15K SAS drive is in stock at Trans International

WHERE TO BUY SATA DRIVES
SATA drives work with the RocketRAID 4320 (and 2680). They may be fast enough for your purposes and certainly cost a lot less than SAS drives.

WHERE TO BUY A MAC PRO
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2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster