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In our previous roundup of SerialATA RAID controllers, we promised you to dedicate a single review to an Escalade 8500 controller from 3ware, which we didn’t include in that roundup. Today we would like to introduce to you a product from the well-known manufacturer, who has always pleased us with its high-performance solutions. However, the good name of the developer is no guarantee that the product will be a success, although it significantly increases this probability.

So what about the 8500-series controllers? 3ware took it easy when developing them: the engineers just equipped their ATA RAID controllers with bridges from Marvell. The Escalade 8500 series consists of three models that differ by the number of supported drives (4, 8 and 12). We received an eight-channel controller, but tested it with four hard disk drives as if it had been four-channel (we just didn’t have eight Raptor HDDs at that time).

Closer Look

3ware 8500-8 controller supports up to 8 SerialATA-150 devices and allows uniting them into RAID arrays of levels 0, 1, 5, 10 and JBOD. It connects to the computer across the 64-bit PCI bus with a frequency of 33MHz. The controller carries two chips of SRAM memory, 1.125MB each, so the total amount of the available cache memory is 2.25MB. The controller card looks like that:

The front side of the PCB accommodates numerous chips: the actual controller chip, memory and BIOS. There is so little free room on the PCB that they had to install the SATA connectors in two rows. You can’t see it in the snapshots, just believe me: there are eight, not four, in total. On the other hand, the expedient placement of the components around the PCB allowed to leave some space for another four SATA connectors and the corresponding controller chips, still keeping the controller small (half-length, to be more exact).

The basic characteristics of 3ware 8500-8 controller are listed below:

Specifications

Processor

3ware 200-0017-00

Memory

2.25MB SRAM (3.3V)

PCI

64bit 33MHz PCI bus

SerialATA

8 SerialATA 150 channels

RAID

RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1 and JBOD

Besides the controller, you receive a CD with the drivers, a controller specification, and as many as eight SATA-150 cables. So our initial impression about the product is good; let’s see if it remains good after the tests.

 
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