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Battle of the Titans: Promise SuperTrak 100 vs. 3Ware Escalade 6400


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Battle of the Titans: Promise SuperTrak 100 vs. 3Ware Escalade 6400
  February 14, 2001 Author: Terry Baranski  

Confused? The StorageReview.com RAID Guide explains all!


Methodology...

StorageReview's RAID reviews will feature WinBench and IOMeter performance measures. The WinBench testing methodology will be identical to that used in the Same Drives - Same Performance? article. To quote from the article:

"The following WinBench tests were run five times on each drive: Disk/Read Transfer Rate, Disk CPU utilization, Disk Access Time, Business Disk WinMark 99, and High-End Disk WinMark 99. A single run of each of the above tests was considered a "trial", with five trials being conducted for each drive. The machine was rebooted between trials. Each test's final score represents the average of the five runs."

IOMeter, on the other hand, isn't quite as simple. When considered as a whole, StorageReview's three IOMeter access patterns (Workstation, File Server, and Database) are heavily biased towards reads, about 82% to 18%. Though we believe each respective test's read/write distribution represents the tasks from which these patterns draw their names, we realize that write performance becomes a particularly important issue with RAID arrays - especially with RAID levels that use parity.

With this in mind, two additional IOMeter access patterns were created to stress write performance. One stresses random writes; the other sequential writes. These new access patterns, as well as the original three, are outlined below.

Access Patterns
% of Access Specification Transfer Size Request % Reads % Random
File Server Access Pattern (as defined by Intel)
10% 0.5 KB 80% 100%
5% 1 KB 80% 100%
5% 2 KB 80% 100%
60% 4 KB 80% 100%
2% 8 KB 80% 100%
4% 16 KB 80% 100%
4% 32 KB 80% 100%
10% 64 KB 80% 100%
Workstation Access Pattern (as defined by StorageReview.com)
100% 8 KB 80% 80%
Database Access Pattern (as defined by Intel/StorageReview.com)
100% 8 KB 67% 100%
Random Write Pattern (as defined by StorageReview.com)
100% 8 KB 0% 100%
Sequential Write Pattern (as defined by StorageReview.com)
100% 256 KB 0% 0%

Information on the testbed may also be found in the aforementioned Same Drives - Same Performance? article. As was the case there, four Maxtor DiamondMax 80 drives will be used for all ATA RAID testing.

The Benchmarks...

Because the Escalade 6400 "only" supports RAID levels 0, 1, 10, and 5, we can obviously compare it to the SuperTrak only at these four RAID levels. SuperTrak RAID 3-4 benchmarks will follow these comparisons.

The SuperTrak's read and write cache were both enabled. The Escalade's "write cache" setting was also enabled. Additionally, all benchmarks in this article were drawn with a stripe size of 64k (save for the SuperTrak RAID 3 tests - see below). We plan on exploring the effect of both stripe size and caching on RAID performance in a future article.

All SuperTrak tests were conducted with BIOS revision 1.00 (Build 11) and driver version 1.0.0.0. The Escalade RAID 0/1/10 tests were performed with BIOS revision 1.04.00.009, firmware revision 1.00.43.003, and driver version 1.09.00.005. The firmware was then updated to revision 1.01.18.001 (BIOS revision 1.06.00.009), and driver revision 1.09.000.015 was installed to enable RAID 5 functionality. Since the new firmware and drivers hit the web only days before this review's publish date (3ware's press release still claims an availability date of February 15), and since a trial of IOMeter tests with the new firmware and drivers at RAID levels 0/1/10 revealed no significant performance differences, we chose not to delay this review further by re-running the RAID 0/1/10 tests under the new firmware.

 WinBench 99 Results...


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