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Promise FastTrak100 vs. AMI MegaRAID IDE100


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Promise FastTrak100 vs. AMI MegaRAID IDE100
  April 4, 2001 Author: Terry Baranski  


The Benchmarks...

Note: Our RAID testing methodology was disclosed in Battle Of The Titans: The Promise SuperTrak100 vs. 3ware's Escalade 6400.

For the following benchmarks, the "write cache" setting of both cards was enabled. The MegaRAID's DMA setting was enabled, and tests were done using a stripe size of 64k for both cards. The FastTrak was tested with driver version 1.30 (Build 33) and BIOS version 1.30 (Build 12), while the MegaRAID was tested with driver version 2.40 and BIOS version 2.410.


WinBench results...

Let's examine base, single drive scores for each card to establish a baseline against which RAID arrays may be compared.

Jump To Analysis Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS Jump To Analysis
Benchmark Single-Drive Base Scores
Abit's SL6 on-board ATAPromise Ultra66MegaRAID IDE100FastTrak 100
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 6484 5820 6304 6128
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 16220 14460 15740 15400
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec) 13600 13160 16260 15320
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec) 65860 50980 61980 62520
MicroStation SE (KB/sec) 21480 18320 20880 20520
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec) 8534 8668 8618 8598
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec) 14760 12440 14320 13860
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec) 18540 16040 15620 15200
Visual C++ (KB/sec) 17000 14200 14600 14460
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec) 29800 29733 29800 29667
End (KB/sec) 17500 17500 17500 17433
Disk Access Time (ms) 15.2 15.3 15.2 15.1
Disk CPU Utilization (%) 2.9 3.0 4.8 3.0
 

The only thing that stands out about the above scores is the MegaRAID's significantly higher CPU utilization... upwards of 2% higher than that of the FastTrak. This wouldn't likely be noticeable to users, but it's interesting nonetheless.


WinBench RAID 0 scores...

Jump To Analysis Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 0 Jump To Analysis
Benchmark 2 Drives, RAID 0 3 Drives, RAID 0 4 Drives, RAID 0
MegaRAID IDE100 FastTrak 100 MegaRAID IDE100 FastTrak 100 MegaRAID IDE100 FastTrak 100
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 6176 6124 6236 6180 6340 6356
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 18100 9424 19340 10700 19200 8652
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec) 16020 17280 16840 16740 15042 17420
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec) 62100 61380 17960 62180 61540 61880
MicroStation SE (KB/sec) 19060 19000 14920 18480 17420 17380
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec) 11780 4502 14540 5096 15880 3886
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec) 16880 5858 18300 7346 17620 5716
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec) 18760 8350 19740 9396 19340 6866
Visual C++ (KB/sec) 17300 10780 17680 12100 17740 10508
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec) 59467 58700 75567 80600 76567 80667
End (KB/sec) 34933 34667 52200 51667 69767 68467
Disk Access Time (ms) 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.4 14.9 14.8
Disk CPU Utilization (%) 4.7 3.0 4.8 3.1 90.4 88.7
 

Several notables... First, each card's Business Disk Winmark performance in RAID 0 remains virtually unchanged from its single-drive performance. Does this imply no performance improvement in RAID 0 with both of these cards? Unlikely, so we'll avoid drawing such a conclusion until we go over additional results.

The High-End Disk Winmarks, however, are another story. The MegaRAID's scores do indeed scale somewhat in RAID 0... and we do believe they are representative of performance. The FastTrak's High-End scores, however, are far too low to be believable, and are almost certainly the result of the same WinBench Disk Winmark issue we encountered in the Escalade 6400 vs. SuperTrak 100 article. This prevents us from comparing the two cards here.

When it comes to sustained transfer rates, both cards scale quite nicely when going from a single drive to 2 and 3-drive RAID 0 arrays. Neither card, however, yields an STR improvement when going from 3 to 4 drives - the FastTrak limits transfers to around 80MB/sec, while the MegaRAID limits around 76MB/sec.

As far as CPU utilization goes, the FastTrak consistently scores 1.50-1.75% better than the MegaRAID in this area. As with the Escalade 6400 vs. SuperTrak 100 review, WinBench reports ridiculously high CPU utilization in 4-drive RAID 0 arrays. As mentioned in that review, we believe this to be a flaw in WinBench itself.


WinBench RAID 1 scores...

Jump To Analysis Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 1 Jump To Analysis
Benchmark 2 Drives, RAID 1
MegaRAID IDE100 FastTrak 100
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 6304 4450
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 15400 2920
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec) 15900 15340
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec) 60860 49020
MicroStation SE (KB/sec) 21100 19840
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec) 8626 1056
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec) 13380 1614
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec) 14900 2370
Visual C++ (KB/sec) 14360 3734
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec) 29800 29567
End (KB/sec) 17500 17400
Disk Access Time (ms) 15.2 13.6
Disk CPU Utilization (%) 4.7 3.1
 

In RAID 1, the MegaRAID exhibits little improvement over a single drive. This indicates that the adapter doesn't balance requests between the two drives in the array. Given the MegaRAID's cost-sensitive nature, this should be no surprise.

Unfortunately, the FastTrak's High-End Disk Winmark scores continue to be blatantly unrepresentative, and are therefore useless for comparison purposes. The FastTrak's Business Disk Winmark scores, however, while at first glance looking suspicious, may indeed be accurate - as we'll see later, IOMeter backs them up to an extent.

Also of interest is the Fastrak's significantly lower RAID 1 average access time. This would be expected if the FastTrak balanced loads between the 2 array drives; however, we see no other indications that any balancing is occurs - the FastTrak's Business Diskmark, STR, and (as we'll see) IOMeter scores in RAID 1 don't concur.


WinBench RAID 01/10 scores...

Jump To Analysis Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 01/10 Jump To Analysis
Benchmark 4 Drives, MegaRAID IDE100 in RAID 10, FastTrak 100 in RAID 01
MegaRAID IDE100 FastTrak 100
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 6020 4302
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 17420 3080
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec) 15320 14820
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec) 60080 50180
MicroStation SE (KB/sec) 18340 17600
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec) 11460 1136
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec) 16160 1696
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec) 17780 2506
Visual C++ (KB/sec) 16680 3894
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec) 59067 59267
End (KB/sec) 34933 34800
Disk Access Time (ms) 15.1 13.3
Disk CPU Utilization (%) 4.7 3.1
 

Although the MegaRAID's RAID 10 business Disk Winmark score comes in lower than that of a single drive, its High-End Diskmark score is indeed higher, likely due to doubling of STR. WinBench also reports a slightly lower access time relative to a single drive; this may be within the test's margin of error.

As far as the FastTrak goes, the Diskmark scores are obviously not representative of performance. They are simply abysmal, despite a high STR and significantly lower reported access time than that of a single drive.

 IOMeter Scores...


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