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The Escalade 7000 Series Revisited: 3Ware's Escalade 7450

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The Escalade 7000 Series Revisited: 3Ware's Escalade 7450
  November 19, 2001 Author: Terry Baranski  


64-bit PCI vs. 32-bit PCI - When Does It Matter?

After our Escalade 7410 review, several readers wrote in asking why tests weren't conducted in a 64-bit PCI slot. They were concerned that the card's performance was limited by the testbed's 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus, and that we weren't giving it a fair shake by not testing it in a 64-bit slot.

Our response to these concerns is as follows: the only thing that 64-bit PCI offers relative to 32-bit PCI is extra bandwidth. Since the vast majority of our tests stress random IO performance rather than sequential IO performance, and since the random IO performance of current drives is in no way limited by the bandwidth of a standard PCI bus (rather by access time), 64-bit PCI would make no difference in these tests.

Unfortunately, we couldn't test our theory at the time because we didn't have any 64-bit PCI capable motherboards. However, thanks to 3Ware, the time has come to see how much of a difference 64-bit PCI makes in our tests. Wanting to see the 7450 tested in a 64-bit slot as well as a 32-bit slot, 3Ware sent us the following hardware:

  • SuperMicro 370DE6 motherboard
  • Two 1GHz PIII processors
  • 256MB Registered ECC RAM

The 370DE6, along with the processors and RAM, obviously constitutes a high-end system. We were very enthusiastic about seeing how the Escalade 7450 would fare in such a system compared to our standard testbed.

To prep the system for testing, Win2000 was installed on one of our Cheetah 18XL's. The process used for this installation was the same as that used for the standard testbed back in January.

The 7450 was tested in the first PCI slot. No other PCI devices were present in the system.

Since WinBench Diskmark scores are heavily affected by system components such as processors and RAM, we chose not to run these tests in the SuperMicro system. The only WinBench test run was the sustained transfer rate test. Our IOMeter test suite was, of course, run in its entirety.

The Results...

Base Scores...

Sequential Transfer Rate - Base
System STR (KB/sec)
RAID Testbed I 29800
370DE6 System 29800

Baseline with 1 Drive

With a single drive, there are no significant differences between the two systems - the 370DE6 scores about 1% better all around.

RAID 0...

Sequential Transfer Rate - RAID 0
System STR (KB/sec)
RAID Testbed I w/ 2 Drives 58233
370DE6 System w/ 2 Drives 58500
RAID Testbed I w/ 3 Drives 88133
370DE6 System w/ 3 Drives 88100
RAID Testbed I w/ 4 Drives 116000
370DE6 System w/ 4 Drives 118000

RAID 0 with 2 Drives
RAID 0 with 3 Drives
RAID 0 with 4 Drives

With the Escalade 7450 achieving 116MB/sec of STR performance in the testbed, there wasn't much room for improvement in the 370DE6 system. Each Diamondmax 80 used for testing can sustain just under 30MB/sec - four DM80's, therefore, can't do much better than 116MB/sec. Indeed, the score of 118MB/sec achieved in the 370DE6 system is clearly a limitation of the drives themselves as opposed to the 7450.

In the File Server, Workstation, Database, and Random Write tests, scores remain virtually the same between the two systems - even as performance scales along with the number of drives in the array. Sequential write performance, however, is another matter... The Escalade 7450 is limited to around 67MB/sec of write performance when connected to the testbed's 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus. In the 370DE6 system, however, there is no such limitation - the 7450's sequential write performance scales quite nicely to 103MB/sec.

The obvious question: why is the Escalade 7450 limited to 67MB/sec of sequential write performance in the testbed when its sequential read performance in that very same machine is 116MB/sec? It's impossible to know what the exact cause is here... It may be that the 7450 is, for whatever reason, much less bandwidth-efficient when performing sequential writes relative to sequential reads. It may also be that the realizable bandwidth of the PCI bus itself is much lower for writes than it is for reads. Whatever the reason, 64-bit PCI is clearly the way to go for maximum sequential write performance with the Escalade 7450.

RAID 1...

Sequential Transfer Rate - RAID 1
System STR (KB/sec)
RAID Testbed I w/ 2 Drives 49333
370DE6 System w/ 2 Drives 48600

RAID 1 with 2 Drives

In the File Server, Workstation, Database, and Random Write patterns, scores are again virtually the same, with the 370DE6 system leading by a very slim 1% or so overall. Its low Sequential Write scores are of interest, though... There appears to be an issue with the 7450 in this particular machine. The sequential write rate would commence at the expected 26-27MB/sec at the beginning of each subtest, only to drop into the 12MB/sec range a few minutes in. We re-ran this test several times and received the same results.

RAID 10...

Sequential Transfer Rate - RAID 10
System STR (KB/sec)
RAID Testbed I w/ 4 Drives 59667
370DE6 System w/ 4 Drives 60100

RAID 10 with 4 Drives

Scores again remain practically identical save for the Sequential Write test - the 370DE6 system wins big time here, just like it did in RAID 0.

RAID 5...

Sequential Transfer Rate - RAID 5
System STR (KB/sec)
RAID Testbed I w/ 3 Drives 59300
370DE6 System w/ 3 Drives 58400
RAID Testbed I w/ 4 Drives 86733
370DE6 System w/ 4 Drives 87200

RAID 5 with 3 Drives
RAID 5 with 4 Drives

The story is once again the same... The 7450's sequential write performance clocks in significantly higher in the 370DE6 system, while all other scores are identical.

 Conclusion...


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