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Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A
  June 13, 2001 Author: Terry Baranski  
Evaluation unit provided by Adaptec, Inc.


Introduction

Although Adaptec is known more for SCSI adapters than anything else, their product line is far more diverse. Included in the diversity is a fairly extensive line of RAID cards - ATA, SCSI, and even Fibre Channel RAID. This article takes a look at one of two recently announced additions to Adaptec's ATA RAID product line: the ATA RAID 2400A. The 2400A falls into the "high-end" category, while the ATA RAID 1200A (the second recently announced RAID card from Adaptec- expect a review soon) is more of a low-cost solution.

The Hardware...

Adaptec positions this adapter to compete with the likes of Promise's SuperTrak100 and 3ware's Escalade series. With a RISC processor, RAID 5 support, and 32MB of cache (up to 128MB supported), it's certainly a formidable competitor on paper. Below are the card's specs in more detail:

  • RAID levels 0, 1, 01, 5, and JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks)
  • i960RS based
  • Four ATA-100 channels (1 drive per channel)
  • Hot swap and hot spare support
  • Stripe size selectable from 8K to 256K
  • 32MB of cache (up to 128 supported)
  • 32-bit/33MHz PCI
  • Online capacity expansion
  • Windows NT 4.0, Windows 95/98/Me, Windows 2000, Red Hat Linux, SuSE 6.4 & 7.0, Novell NetWare, FreeBSD, and SCO Unix support
  • 3-year warranty
Included with the adapter are the following items:
  • Four single-connector ATA cables
  • Driver/utility CD
  • User manual
As is becoming standard with high-end ATA RAID cards, the 2400A is a full-length PCI card. On the adapter itself reside four ATA connectors, two HighPoint HPT370 ATA-100 RAID chips, a 32MB SDRAM module (ECC PC100, CL2), an Intel i960RS processor, and a total of eleven LED's that illuminate the entire bottom-half of the case when lit.

It's worth pointing out that the ATA RAID 2400A is the first ATA unit to support online capacity expansion. This feature allows drives to be non-destructively added to an existing array. For example, a 4th drive could be added to a 3-drive RAID 5 array to increase capacity.

Another notable feature of the 2400A is the ability to non-destructively create a RAID 1 array using a drive that already has data on it (an OS installation, for example). Though featured on adapters such as the Escalade and MegaRAID IDE 100, this feature merits a mention since, as yours truly learned the hard way at work a couple weeks ago, it's a feature that even some very expensive SCSI RAID cards lack.

The Software...

The ATA RAID 2400A comes with several software tools to facilitate array management. The primary piece of software - Storage Manager Pro - is a GUI that allows arrays to be managed from within Windows, Netware, or RedHat Linux. With Storage Manager Pro, a plethora of configuration and management functions may be performed both locally and remotely. Arrays may be created, destroyed, expanded, and reconfigured. Event notification settings may be configured to email and/or page the appropriate person when, for example, a drive failure occurs. Several controller settings such as task priority and write cache configuration are also present.

In addition to Storage Manager Pro, the package includes Storage Manager, which, according to Adaptec, provides the same basic functionality but also supports SuSE Linux, SCO UNIX, and FreeBSD. Another utility - RAIDUTIL - is a scriptable command-line version of Storage Manager. This comes in handy when a GUI is not available. Finally, the card's BIOS utility (called SMOR; short for Storage Manager On ROM) allows for standard functions such as array creation, deletion, and rebuilding.

The Benchmarks...

In the following trials, the 2400A's write cache was enabled and set to 'write through' mode (the default). The stripe size was 64k for all tests. Driver version 3.02 was used along with BIOS revision 3.50c.

Note: Shortly after testing was completed, Adaptec informed us of a new BIOS release (version 3.607) and a new driver release (version 3.03) for the ATA RAID 2400A. We could find no discernable performance difference using both the new BIOS and new drivers; therefore, we decided to stick with the original results.

WinBench Results...

We'll first take a look at single-drive scores to use as a baseline.

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - Baseline Scores
Benchmark 3ware Escalade 6400, 1 DriveAbit SL6, 1 DriveAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, 1 drivePromise SuperTrak 100, 1 DrivePromise Ultra 66, 1 Drive
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 4454 6484 6110 4872 5884
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 15200 16220 14940 13580 14460
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)29800 29800 29700 20200 29733
End (KB/sec)17500 17500 17400 17500 17500
Disk Access Time (ms)14.04 15.22 15.62 16.12 15.26
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.11 2.91 2.67 2.89 3.04

The only thing that stands out here is the Adaptec's slightly higher access time relative to most other base configurations.

WinBench RAID 0 Scores...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 0 with 2 Drives
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 2 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 2 drivesPromise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 2 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3944 6116 4948
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 13540 17840 14620
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)59600 59000 20133
End (KB/sec)35000 34800 20200
Disk Access Time (ms)15.2 15.52 16.22
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.07 2.64 2.86

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 0 with 3 Drives
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 3 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 3 drivesPromise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 3 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3992 6206 4956
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 14820 17620 15100
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)85833 88333 20100
End (KB/sec)52300 52200 20133
Disk Access Time (ms)15.18 15.44 16.06
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.20 2.71 2.85

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 0 with 4 Drives
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 4 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 4 drivesPromise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 4 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 4372 6384 5020
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 15080 16900 14840
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)102667 109333 20200
End (KB/sec)69600 69633 17500
Disk Access Time (ms)15.4 15.02 15.94
Disk CPU Utilization (%)88.80 88.3 88.50

Overall, the 2400A's RAID 0 Diskmark scores don't increase at all relative to a single drive. But, as we've learned in previous RAID reviews, WinBench's Diskmark tests can be extremely unrepresentative of RAID performance. For that reason, we'll wait and see what IOMeter has to say about the ATA RAID 2400A's RAID 0 performance before drawing any conclusions.

Of particular interest is the 2400A's incredible STR performance. When we saw the Escalade 2400 sustaining 103MB/sec in a 4-drive RAID 0 configuration, we were quite surprised... We simply didn't think the PCI bus was capable of sustaining such a high transfer rate. Imagine our surprise when the 2400A turned in an even-more-impressive 109MB/sec.

WinBench reports a CPU utilization of 88% in the 4-drive RAID 0 configuration, just like it has done with every other RAID card we've tested so far. This is, of course, unrepresentative of reality.

WinBench RAID 1 Scores...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 1 with 2 Drives
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 1, 2 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 1, 2 DrivesPromise SuperTrak 100, RAID 1, 2 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3608 5158 4912
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 11660 13580 12960
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)47600 29600 20100
End (KB/sec)27467 17400 17500
Disk Access Time (ms)13.5 15.50 14.30
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.10 2.54 2.87

As was the case with the Escalade 6400 and SuperTrak100, the 2400A yields RAID 1 WinBench Diskmark scores significantly lower than that of a single drive. In both cases, we concluded that the scores were unrepresentative of each card's performance. The same is likely true for the 2400A as well; again, IOMeter may provide a more accurate performance picture.

That aside, it's interesting to note that the 2400A's STR remains unchanged relative to a single drive. This indicates that, unlike the Escalade, the 2400A isn't doing any load balancing during sequential reads. Access time is also unchanged, which by itself could lead one to conclude that the 2400A doesn't load balance random reads, either. As we'll see, however, the 2400A's RAID 1 IOMeter scores show otherwise.

WinBench RAID 01 Scores...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 10/01 with 4 Drives
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 10, 4 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 01, 4 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3892 5244
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 13000 9718
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)59933 59167
End (KB/sec)46633 34867
Disk Access Time (ms)13.5 15.64
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.04 2.64

The 2400A's RAID 01 Diskmark scores are obviously unrepresentative, so we'll just ignore them. The card's STR is what we'd expect based on what we've seen so far. Its slightly higher access time in RAID 01 (compared to a single drive), however, is interesting.

WinBench RAID 5 Scores...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 5 with 3 Drives
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 3 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 3 DrivesPromise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 3 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 2120 3816 2542
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 4792 5378 1845
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)58833 59067 11767
End (KB/sec)34933 34833 9647
Disk Access Time (ms)15.2 15.60 16.48
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.11 2.69 2.85

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS - RAID 5 with 4 Drives
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 4 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 4 DrivesPromise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 4 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 2378 5620 3998
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 6488 12760 9266
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)81900 83113 12533
End (KB/sec)52233 52200 10933
Disk Access Time (ms)15.3 15.68 16.46
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.10 2.70 2.85

WinBench's RAID 5 Diskmark results continue to be useless with the ATA RAID 2400A. When we first encountered this issue with the SuperTrak100, we hoped that the card itself was at fault so that it would be an isolated problem. Obviously, this isn't the case; it appears that we're going to be stuck with the problem until either the testbed changes (if it's somehow the fault of the motherboard, for example) or until a new version of WinBench is released.

Astute readers may notice something interesting about the 2400A's access times: they are, on average, about 0.5ms higher than single-drive configurations (SL6 and Ultra66) as well as the Escalade's scores. This is somewhat disconcerting- 0.5ms is fairly large overhead for random, linear reads. Does this increase in access time cause the 2400A to stumble in random IO situations? Let's take a look at some IOMeter scores and find out.

IOMeter Scores...

Base Scores...

IOMeter - Single Drive Baseline
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3ware Escalade 6400, 1 Drive65.77 66.60 75.80 84.57 96.91
Abit SL6, 1 Drive64.11 66.91 76.83 86.75 94.68
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, 1 drive63.79 65.55 74.46 82.32 95.46
Promise SuperTrak 100, 1 Drive61.23 63.23 72.58 80.79 88.24
Promise Ultra 66, 1 Drive65.51 67.85 78.11 87.72 96.97
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3ware Escalade 6400, 1 Drive 77.43 77.98 86.38 95.44 110.31
Abit SL6, 1 Drive75.20 77.47 88.26 98.92 110.14
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, 1 drive74.83 77.59 85.07 95.46 111.00
Promise SuperTrak 100, 1 Drive71.55 73.54 83.35 92.14 100.51
Promise Ultra 66, 1 Drive76.05 77.96 88.49 99.85 110.34
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3ware Escalade 6400, 1 Drive70.04 71.18 78.72 87.25 97.45
Abit SL6, 1 Drive68.64 70.33 79.27 87.89 95.50
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, 1 drive68.74 70.82 80.66 86.70 98.05
Promise SuperTrak 100, 1 Drive65.58 67.06 75.06 82.32 89.31
Promise Ultra 66, 1 Drive76.05 77.96 88.49 99.85 110.34
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3ware Escalade 6400, 1 Drive109.01 108.73 108.94 109.37 116.02
Abit SL6, 1 Drive104.48 104.36 104.33 105.80 114.16
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, 1 drive131.43 131.07 130.91 130.61 131.04
Promise SuperTrak 100, 1 Drive107.65 107.63 107.83 109.37 117.65
Promise Ultra 66, 1 Drive105.25 105.17 105.12 106.68 115.36
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3ware Escalade 6400, 1 Drive27.64 27.66 27.68 27.69 27.37
Abit SL6, 1 Drive27.54 27.48 27.48 27.49 27.15
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, 1 drive26.32 26.31 26.35 26.39 26.11
Promise SuperTrak 100, 1 Drive12.81 12.85 12.85 12.85 12.77
Promise Ultra 66, 1 Drive27.60 27.63 27.64 27.62 27.36

The 2400A's Workstation, File Server, and Database scores are pretty much in line with the Escalade's - no significant differences are present. Write performance, however, is a different story. The 2400A's Random Write performance significantly betters the Escalade's, while its Sequential Write performance is somewhat lower.

RAID 0...

IOMeter - RAID 0 with 2 Drives
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 2 Drives71.71 109.55 122.64 135.94 157.68
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 2 drives70.84 109.12 116.24 139.95 157.76
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 2 Drives66.77 67.46 76.03 83.00 91.09
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 2 Drives84.93 130.58 144.55 158.87 183.84
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 2 drives82.85 130.44 137.74 168.92 186.64
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 2 Drives77.96 78.29 86.55 95.08 105.11
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 2 Drives82.21 121.60 133.57 146.21 165.85
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 2 drives82.34 121.68 131.35 153.51 168.13
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 2 Drives76.07 76.69 84.41 91.27 99.86
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 2 Drives191.39 191.77 191.68 192.77 199.15
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 2 drives223.87 223.23 223.29 223.70 222.86
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 2 Drives198.06 197.76 198.46 199.28 207.37
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 2 Drives55.28 55.37 55.37 55.39 55.13
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 2 drives46.63 52.63 52.81 52.90 52.03
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 2 Drives15.50 15.54 15.56 15.56 15.48

IOMeter - RAID 0 with 3 Drives
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 3 Drives73.46 146.34 174.30 194.35 227.12
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 3 drives72.20 150.71 166.38 203.78 227.37
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 3 Drives68.45 68.76 75.67 83.62 93.58
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 3 Drives86.20 166.87 205.43 227.60 263.69
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 3 drives83.31 174.56 198.25 242.50 269.35
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 3 Drives79.38 79.88 86.21 95.48 106.80
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 3 Drives84.31 170.70 190.08 209.49 235.98
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 3 drives84.23 173.84 186.01 224.89 242.12
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 3 Drives78.38 78.12 84.40 93.10 104.37
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 3 Drives280.47 281.26 281.78 284.74 289.87
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 3 drives322.94 321.84 322.43 322.76 321.90
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 3 Drives295.93 295.39 296.63 296.69 305.16
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 3 Drives57.87 61.93 61.89 61.83 61.71
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 3 drives5.77 5.18 4.92 5.19 5.19
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 3 Drives16.86 16.93 16.93 16.92 16.84

IOMeter - RAID 0 with 4 Drives
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 4 Drives74.87 169.28 225.49 251.12 293.66
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 4 drives73.23 172.93 214.46 261.87 296.13
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 4 Drives68.56 68.94 74.25 82.63 92.92
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 4 Drives87.28 188.96 265.44 294.50 338.69
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 4 drives85.30 196.68 253.88 313.81 346.24
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 4 Drives79.32 79.68 84.65 94.29 105.75
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 4 Drives85.71 192.41 245.70 272.60 308.59
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 4 drives82.73 208.56 240.27 294.58 317.20
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 4 Drives78.94 78.94 83.21 92.34 104.38
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 4 Drives372.29 372.26 374.17 375.69 381.89
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 4 drives416.83 415.66 416.07 417.31 416.69
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 4 Drives294.08 295.39 205.69 42.87 74.84
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 4 Drives57.97 62.07 62.08 62.09 62.02
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 4 drives3.75 3.14 3.16 3.14 3.15
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 0, 4 Drives0.56 1.87 1.87 1.87 1.84

Overall, the ATA RAID 2400A's RAID 0 scores are excellent. In the Workstation, File Server, and Database patterns, the 2400A not only keeps pace with the Escalade 6400 (an impressive feat in of itself), but also manages to beat the Escalade in most tests. The 2400A consistently remains a few percentage points higher than the Escalade under moderate and heavy load, with the Escalade returning the favor under light load. Results under linear and very light loads are mixed, though very close overall.

The 2400A turns in RAID 0 Random Write performance significantly better than the Escalade's. There seem to be issues with the 2400A's Sequential Write performance, however. Under 3- and 4-drive tests, the 2400A's scores are simply awful. We witnessed similar issues with the FastTrak100 under RAID 1 and RAID 01 - there, the issue was resolved with an updated driver. Hopefully the same will be true for the 2400A as well.

The 2400A's RAID 0 performance is impressive despite the Sequential Write issue. It's the first card to come close to the Escalade's performance, let alone perform better overall... a noteworthy feat indeed.

RAID 1...

IOMeter - RAID 1 with 2 Drives
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 1, 2 Drives74.43 116.88 126.98 135.37 152.29
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 1, 2 Drives65.78 115.10 119.16 138.96 151.85
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 1, 2 Drives71.72 73.20 82.40 83.28 102.37
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 1, 2 Drives87.17 131.54 137.33 149.93 169.88
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 1, 2 Drives68.70 117.66 123.59 146.68 159.35
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 1, 2 Drives84.87 85.90 96.40 108.49 119.50
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 1, 2 Drives81.77 109.63 113.54 122.89 139.90
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 1, 2 Drives70.95 115.48 121.78 137.32 145.32
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 1, 2 Drives78.88 80.39 91.59 103.86 112.91
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 1, 2 Drives106.62 106.59 106.78 107.48 113.70
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 1, 2 Drives131.55 130.66 130.58 130.32 129.33
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 1, 2 Drives109.51 109.21 109.32 111.20 119.03
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 1, 2 Drives27.71 27.70 27.71 27.71 27.40
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 1, 2 Drives25.16 26.29 26.37 26.40 26.09
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 1, 2 Drives10.32 10.35 10.35 10.34 10.29

The 2400A's RAID 1 scores are equally impressive. It's clear that the adaptec efficiently load balances reads between both drives in the array. One should expect this from such a costly card; nevertheless, it's still nice to see expectations fulfilled.

When compared to the Escalade, the 2400A turns in mixed results. The Escalade maintains a slight lead overall in Workstation and File Server tests, while the 2400A's superior Random Write performance propels it to victory in the Database tests. The 2400A's RAID 1 Sequential Write performance is slightly lower, however... unsurprising given the single-drive results outlined earlier.

Also notable is the Escalade's superiority under linear load. Bearing in mind the 2400A's unimproved RAID 1 access times relative to a single-drive configuration, it's apparent that the 2400A doesn't optimize (i.e., utilize the read/write head closer to the requested data) linear read requests between both drives in the array. Considering the card's obvious ability to load balance with multiple IO's outstanding, we're a bit disappointed that it can't optimize linear reads as the Escalade does.

RAID 01...

IOMeter - RAID 10/01 with 4 Drives
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 10, 4 Drives75.01 176.90 197.87 216.07 247.23
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 01, 4 Drives65.75 174.74 191.14 226.44 247.90
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 10, 4 Drives86.34 198.34 228.41 249.93 283.44
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 01, 4 Drives68.41 179.67 198.49 237.18 258.64
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 10, 4 Drives81.18 178.29 192.74 208.61 238.42
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 01, 4 Drives72.16 180.54 194.88 225.38 242.80
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 10, 4 Drives185.73 186.26 186.38 187.52 193.09
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 01, 4 Drives179.04 181.98 181.84 183.27 192.58
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 10, 4 Drives30.29 31.46 31.47 31.45 31.38
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 01, 4 Drives1.74 1.60 1.60 1.61 1.58

The ATA RAID 2400A continues to impress with its RAID 01 scores. Like the Escalade, the 2400A's RAID 01 performance rivals its 3-drive RAID 0 performance. Overall, the 2400A's RAID 01 performance remains slightly behind that of the Escalade's due to poor Sequential Write scores.

RAID 5...

IOMeter - RAID 5 with 3 Drives
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 3 Drives54.82 98.35 105.63 112.76 138.97
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 3 Drives66.32 122.21 130.61 151.12 164.25
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 3 Drives62.12 62.44 67.58 73.93 82.18
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 3 Drives62.84 112.45 119.90 127.68 154.92
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 3 Drives76.09 141.62 150.58 179.30 190.23
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 3 Drives71.65 72.14 76.72 83.33 92.52
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 3 Drives51.04 83.21 88.12 92.54 113.08
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 3 Drives73.08 116.90 125.97 141.94 148.81
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 3 Drives67.07 67.01 71.02 76.78 83.99
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 3 Drives35.52 42.22 43.10 45.90 55.24
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 3 Drives93.43 93.33 93.44 93.07 93.85
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 3 Drives73.31 73.26 78.00 81.60 86.60
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 3 Drives3.51 5.00 4.74 4.77 4.86
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 3 Drives12.44 13.74 13.82 13.82 12.98
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 3 Drives6.87 6.88 6.88 6.88 6.75

IOMeter - RAID 5 with 4 Drives
File Server Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 4 Drives55.75 115.98 134.94 141.66 175.44
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 4 Drives66.28 139.72 154.54 179.89 191.18
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 4 Drives61.04 60.88 64.79 71.59 79.73
Workstation Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 4 Drives63.37 127.75 154.47 161.40 196.46
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 4 Drives75.69 155.76 175.87 208.73 219.65
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 4 Drives69.85 69.91 73.47 81.03 89.69
Database Access Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 4 Drives52.35 104.08 112.22 116.31 142.01
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 4 Drives72.85 131.06 142.63 160.55 167.44
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 4 Drives64.01 64.25 67.24 73.19 81.01
Random Write Pattern - Total I/Os per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 4 Drives37.81 53.79 55.00 57.61 69.41
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 4 Drives95.45 95.11 95.19 95.54 95.57
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 4 Drives65.58 66.01 72.48 76.85 81.15
Sequential Write Pattern - Total MBs per second
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 4 Drives3.12 5.59 5.38 5.39 5.40
Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 4 Drives12.33 13.73 13.71 13.70 13.54
Promise SuperTrak 100, RAID 5, 4 Drives7.86 7.89 7.88 7.89 7.66

Due to its much better write performance (helped by its 32MB of cache, no doubt), the 2400A bests the Escalade in all tests. The 2400A's RAID 5 performance is clearly superior to that of the competition.


Conclusion...

The Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A is an impressive product. Save for issues with sequential write performance in a few configurations, the adapter's performance propels it right up there with the Escalade 6400 in the "best-performing ATA RAID card yet tested" category.

Readers may have noticed an "ATA RAID 2400A vs. Escalade 6400" theme. The reason, quite simply, is that these two cards rest far above and beyond any other ATA RAID offering from a performance standpoint. It's only natural that they be compared to each other.

Which card is better? It's not so simple, of course, even when limiting considerations solely to performance. Overall, the 2400A tends to perform better in RAID 0 and RAID 5 setups, while the Escalade takes the crown in RAID 1 and RAID 01. Price is another issue: the 2400A commands about $100 more than the Escalade 6400. Whether or not the performance advantage that the 2400A offers in the aforementioned configurations (along with its extra features such as online capacity expansion and cache support) is worth the extra cost is, of course, up to the reader.


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