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


Introduction

Before its introduction, 3Ware's Escalade 7000 series was quite possibly the most anticipated ATA RAID card of all time. This was hardly surprising given the then-unmatched performance of the Escalade 6000 series - performance oriented users couldn't wait to see what a successor would bring to the table. In particular, high hopes of improved RAID 5 performance drew the card a lot of interest.

Along came the Escalade 7000 series, followed shortly by our review of the 4-port 7410. While the 7410 delivered a huge sequential write performance increase relative to the 6400 in RAID 5, overall RAID 5 scores (i.e., its scores in our File Server, Workstation, and Database tests) were only 2-3% better on average - still significantly lower than those of the Adaptec 2400A, and thus a disappointment to many.

But when it comes to improving RAID 5 performance, 3Ware certainly wasn't about to give up, as is evidenced by the introduction of the Escalade 7x50 series.

The Escalade 7450...

Compared to the Escalade 7x10 series, the Escalade 7x50 series is about one thing and one thing only: improved RAID 5 performance. The hardware itself, however, is virtually identical to that of the 7x10 series - the difference is in firmware. Dubbed R5 Fusion Technology by the marketing folks, this new firmware aims to significantly improve RAID 5 write performance, and hence, overall RAID 5 performance as well. Does R5 Fusion deliver? We'll find out shortly, but first, a quick look at the card's specs (which are, again, pretty much identical to those of the 7410):

  • RAID levels 0, 1, 10, 5, and JBOD
  • On-board microprocessor
  • Four ATA-100 channels (1 drive per channel)
  • R5 Fusion Technology
  • Hot swap and hot spare support
  • Stripe size selectable from 64K to 1MB
  • 64-bit/33MHz PCI
  • TwinStor, StorSwitch support
  • Windows 98/Me/NT/2000, Red Hat Linux, SuSE Linux (Driver also available in open source kernel 2.2.15 and beyond), and FreeBSD support
  • 3 year warranty

Included with the card are the following items:

  • Four single-connector ATA cables
  • Driver/utility disks
  • Installation guide
  • Two Y-splitter cables (used to connect two drives to a single power supply connector)

The Software...

The Escalade 7450 remains unchanged from the 7410 as far as software goes. See our review of the 7410 for a rundown of the software that accompanies each card.

The Benchmarks...

The following benchmarks were run with the card's write cache enabled and a stripe size of 64k. Driver release 7.3 (version 1.10.01.036) was used along with BIOS version 1.07.01.17.


WinBench Results...

Due to the consistently unrepresentative WinBench Diskmark scores we've been getting in our RAID reviews, we're no longer going to bother to comment on them in RAID articles. We'll continue to present them for the sake of completeness, but the only WinBench tests that we'll discuss are the sustained transfer rate, access time, and CPU utilization tests.

Base Scores...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, 1 Drive3Ware Escalade 7410, 1 Drive3Ware Escalade 7450, 1 DriveAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, 1 drive
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 4454 4406 3592 6110
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 15200 15160 11140 14940
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)15300 16440 15820 12980
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)62480 61900 27220 63020
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)19580 19880 17840 19100
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)8502 8242 7568 8802
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)13460 13160 8920 12840
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)14820 15000 11160 16280
Visual C++ (KB/sec)14520 14360 7308 14340
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)29800 29633 29800 29700
End (KB/sec)17500 17500 17500 17400
Disk Access Time (ms)14.04 15.38 15.14 15.62
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.11 3.12 3.16 2.67

Nothing too exciting here... The Escalade 7450's access time is a bit lower than that of the 7410, but nothing may be concluded from this test alone.

RAID 0...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 2 Drives3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 0, 2 drives3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 0, 2 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 2 drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3944 3676 3908 6116
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 13540 13400 13480 17840
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)15660 15860 16200 13640
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)31360 29560 31220 61340
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)16500 16020 16720 17800
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)10532 10580 10460 12760
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)12020 11480 11960 16220
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)14300 14280 14100 21040
Visual C++ (KB/sec)8910 9070 8730 17020
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)59600 59200 58233 59000
End (KB/sec)35000 34900 34900 34800
Disk Access Time (ms)15.2 15.18 15.20 15.52
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.07 3.21 3.25 2.64

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 3 Drives3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 0, 3 Drives3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 0, 3 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 3 drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3992 4040 4030 6206
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 14820 14740 14700 17620
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)17160 17220 17460 15300
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)30560 31260 34380 61080
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)15820 17140 16540 18280
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)12460 12620 12600 9864
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)14680 12760 12080 17840
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)14920 15240 14960 21800
Visual C++ (KB/sec)9744 9736 10032 17500
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)85833 88700 88133 88333
End (KB/sec)52300 52400 52400 52200
Disk Access Time (ms)15.18 15.14 15.04 15.44
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.20 3.18 3.27 2.71

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 0, 4 Drives3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 0, 4 Drives3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 0, 4 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 0, 4 drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 4372 4300 4236 6384
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 15080 15180 15140 16900
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)16360 16120 16880 15280
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)33380 33720 34300 61340
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)16040 16760 16160 17920
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)13740 13940 13860 8720
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)13640 12420 12620 17720
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)14780 15420 15080 20920
Visual C++ (KB/sec)10328 11000 10740 17300
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)102667 107000 116000 109333
End (KB/sec)69600 69833 69867 69633
Disk Access Time (ms)15.4 14.96 14.88 15.02
Disk CPU Utilization (%)88.80 88.83 88.97 88.3

3Ware continues to find new ways to push the maximum realizable bandwidth of the standard 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus to levels that most (including myself) never thought possible. The Escalade 7450's score of 116MB/sec is 9MB/sec higher than that of the 7410, and 6MB/sec higher than the second-place ATA RAID 2400A.

RAID 1...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 1, 2 Drives3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 1, 2 Drives3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 1, 2 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 1, 2 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3608 3560 3520 5158
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 11660 11520 11740 13580
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)16180 17440 17460 11380
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)27300 26720 29620 57240
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)17560 17920 17780 14240
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)8100 7790 7786 8324
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)9530 9546 9680 11680
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)11760 11240 11600 16220
Visual C++ (KB/sec)7646 7460 7664 13940
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)47600 49667 49333 29600
End (KB/sec)27467 27900 29300 17400
Disk Access Time (ms)13.5 13.42 13.52 15.50
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.10 3.17 3.22 2.54

The 7450's RAID 1 WinBench scores are, unsurprisingly, virtually identical to the 7410's.

RAID 10...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 10, 4 Drives3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 10, 4 Drives3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 10, 4 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 01, 4 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 3892 3694 3770 5244
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 13000 12680 13080 9718
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)14980 15880 16560 11300
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)32200 31100 33060 54980
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)16600 16380 16360 15160
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)10400 9340 10140 3002
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)10584 11280 10520 5650
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)13280 12900 13080 8276
Visual C++ (KB/sec)8862 8224 8922 11020
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)59933 59600 59967 59167
End (KB/sec)46633 35000 49600 34867
Disk Access Time (ms)13.5 15.22 13.52 15.64
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.04 3.20 3.24 2.64

The 7450's RAID 10 access time in WinBench returns to Escalade 6400 territory - about 1.7ms lower than that of the 7410. In the Escalade 7410 review, however, IOMeter seemed to disagree with this disparity between the 7410 and 6400 (i.e., scores under linear load were very similar), so we're not sure what (if anything) to make of this.

RAID 5...

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 3 Drives3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 5, 3 Drives3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 5, 3 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 3 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 2120 1842 2024 3816
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 4792 4370 5782 5378
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)13580 13060 12600 11780
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)12200 13700 14680 46680
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)10644 11680 9056 16080
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)1884 2250 3532 2254
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)2304 2554 3826 3036
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)3728 4106 6116 4822
Visual C++ (KB/sec)3328 3500 4286 6570
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)58833 59167 59300 59067
End (KB/sec)34933 35000 34967 34833
Disk Access Time (ms)15.2 15.32 15.26 15.60
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.11 3.11 3.16 2.69

Ziff Davis WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Benchmark 3Ware Escalade 6400, RAID 5, 4 Drives3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 5, 4 Drives3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 5, 4 DrivesAdaptec ATA RAID 2400A, RAID 5, 4 Drives
Business Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 2378 1894 2158 5620
High-End Disk WinMark 99 (KB/sec) 6488 4758 6526 12760
AVS/Express 3.4 (KB/sec)14320 13540 15100 13600
FrontPage 98 (KB/sec)12480 15720 14240 58920
MicroStation SE (KB/sec)11880 11880 10180 17020
Photoshop 4.0 (KB/sec)1988 2418 3892 6440
Premiere 4.2 (KB/sec)2522 2780 4304 9928
Sound Forge 4.0 (KB/sec)4070 4586 6840 16200
Visual C++ (KB/sec)3590 3892 4972 12420
Disk/Read Transfer RateStorageReview.com
Beginning (KB/sec)81900 87300 86733 83113
End (KB/sec)52233 52400 52400 52200
Disk Access Time (ms)15.3 15.16 15.26 15.68
Disk CPU Utilization (%)3.10 3.22 3.13 2.70

Scores between the 7450 and 7410 again remain very similar. Is this an indication that R5 Fusion Technology is nothing but marketing? Seems unlikely - it would be foolish to draw any conclusions based solely on a card's sustained transfer rate, linear access time, and CPU usage during 4MB/sec sustained reads (yep, that's how WinBench measures CPU usage by default). Performance under various load levels and access patterns is what matters, so we'll look to IOMeter to give us a more detailed performance picture.


IOMeter Scores...

Base Scores...

Baseline with 1 Drive

The 7450 turns in a score very similar to the 7410 with a single drive.

RAID 0...

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

Scores between the 7450 and 7410 are again very similar. The largest difference is the 7450's 1.5MB/sec lead in sequential writes in three and four drive arrays.

RAID 1...

RAID 1 with 2 Drives

Again, scores are virtually the same between the 7450 and 7410. Unfortunately, Sequential Write CPU usage also remains the same... Readers of the 7410 review may recall that the adapter had an apparent driver issue that caused CPU usage to top out at 100% in the Sequential Write test in RAID levels 1, 10, and 5. The 7450 also exhibits this behavior in RAID 1:

IOMeter - Sequential Write Pattern - CPU Utilization (%)
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 1, 2 Drives30.36 % 35.03 % 42.00 % 100.00 % 100.00 %
3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 1, 2 Drives33.15 % 34.38 % 40.82 % 100.00 % 100.00 %

UPDATE:

After the initial benchmarks, 3ware sent us updated drivers (1.10.01.042) for the 7x50 series meant to address the high CPU usage issue seen above. The table below compares the 7450's RAID 1 Sequential Write CPU usage with the two drivers:

CPU Utilization per IOs Outstanding - 3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 1, 2 Drives
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
New Drivers 33.67 35.19 41.92 42.31 43.49
Old Drivers 33.15 34.38 40.82 100.00 100.00

The new drivers decrease CPU utilization by about 58% under moderate and heavy load - CPU usage under linear, very light, and light loads is unaffected, however. Despite the improvement, the numbers are still much higher than is desirable. Hopefully, a future driver release will lower them even further.

RAID 10...

RAID 10 with 4 Drives

The 7450 scores (surprise surprise) about the same in RAID 10 as the 7410. This goes for CPU usage as well:

IOMeter - Sequential Write Pattern - CPU Utilization (%)
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 10, 4 Drives36.29 % 48.29 % 49.71 % 100.00 % 100.00 %
3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 10, 4 Drives36.16 % 48.56 % 49.15 % 100.00 % 100.00 %

UPDATE:

Below is the CPU usage comparison table for RAID 10:

CPU Utilization per IOs Outstanding - 3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 10, 4 Drives
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
New Drivers 36.18 48.72 49.00 49.92 50.97
Old Drivers 36.16 48.56 49.15 100.00 100.00

As with RAID 1, CPU usage is improved with the new drivers, but not as much as we'd all like.

At this point, some readers may be asking themselves why 3Ware even bothered to release a card that performs exactly the same as its older brother. Keep in mind what we said earlier: the 7450 is aimed at improving RAID 5 performance. Let's have a look at its RAID 5 scores!

RAID 5...

RAID 5 with 3 Drives
RAID 5 with 4 Drives

It's here that significant performance differences arise between the 7450 and 7410. In the File Server, Workstation, and Database access patterns, the 7450 consistently scores 5-15% better than the 7410. The Database pattern enjoys the greatest improvement out of the three - likely because it incorporates the greatest percentage of writes. Looking at Random Write scores, one sees that the 7450 scores significantly better than the 7410 - especially under light loads.

The largest improvement, however, arrives in Sequential Write tests. The 7410's average score of 25MB/sec was double that of the competition in its own right. The 7450, however, weighs in at an unprecedented 45MB/sec with a 4-drive array - a very impressive performance boost, especially considering that it comes from firmware alone.

Adding to the good news is the fact that the aforementioned Sequential Write CPU usage issue isn't present under RAID 5 as it was with the 7410:

IOMeter - Sequential Write Pattern - CPU Utilization (%)
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 5, 3 Drives5.30 % 43.52 % 46.51 % 100.00 % 100.00 %
3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 5, 3 Drives3.99 % 4.41 % 4.31 % 4.57 % 5.32 %

IOMeter - Sequential Write Pattern - CPU Utilization (%)
All LoadsLinearVery LightLightModerateHeavy
3Ware Escalade 7410, RAID 5, 4 Drives5.23 % 17.69 % 39.18 % 100.00 % 100.00 %
3Ware Escalade 7450, RAID 5, 4 Drives4.03 % 4.38 % 4.67 % 4.81 % 4.76 %


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...

The Escalade 7x50 series was designed to do one thing, and one thing only: improve RAID 5 performance relative to the 7x10 series. Overall, it comes through pretty nicely... Although it's overall RAID 5 performance can't quite match that of Adaptec's ATA RAID 2400A (in 3-drive RAID 5, the 7450 trails by 10-15% on average in the File Server, Workstation, and Database tests, a difference reduced to about 5% when adding a 4th drive to the mix), its RAID 5 sequential write performance (45MB/sec in the testbed; 60MB/sec in the 370DE6 system) is unheard of - the Escalade 7x50 is obviously the card of choice for anyone who demands top sequential write performance in RAID 5.

It's amazing what a little firmware magic can do: the 7450's 5-15% RAID 5 performance increase relative to the 7410 in the File Server, Workstation, Database, and Random Write tests, along with its remarkably improved RAID 5 sequential write performance, was all accomplished via different firmware, not different hardware. This demonstrates that firmware can be just as important as the hardware itself.

Concerns about performance differences between 32-bit and 64-bit PCI have hopefully been put to bed. Although the 7450's sequential write performance is indeed significantly better in a 64-bit PCI slot, the fact remains that its performance in our core, random IO tests (File Server, Workstation, and Database) remains unchanged by 64-bit PCI. This shouldn't be surprising - relative to 32-bit PCI, 64-bit PCI simply brings more bandwidth to the table. Random IO performance, however, isn't bottlenecked by bandwidth - average access time is the limitation here.


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