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We resume testing multi-channel SATA-RAID controller cards. Today we are going to introduce to you a not very new, but certainly revolutionary solution from 3ware – 3ware 9500S-8 controller. It truly deserves the “revolutionary” title. It is for the first time in many years that 3ware used a replaceable SDRAM module with ECC support instead of a few megabytes of SRAM. The controller cache-memory has finally become comparable with the summary of cache buffer memory of the hard disk drives that can be attached to the controller.

The 9000-series of 3ware controllers, just like the previous product line-ups, consists of solutions supporting 4, 8 and 12 HDDs respectively. As usual we decided to take the medium model for our tests.

The increase in the controller’s cache memory size should definitely have its positive effect on the controller performance under high workloads. Moreover, the manufacturer claims that 3ware 9500S-8 can demonstrate up to 400MB/s read speed and up to 100MB/s write speed in RAID5 array. Of course, we couldn’t help checking out these results on our own.

Closer Look

As we have already mentioned, 3ware 9500S-8 controller can support up to 8 Serial ATA.150 devices. It allows building the arrays of the following types: 0, 1, 5, 10, 50 and JBOD. It features 64bit PCI bus working at 66MHz to connect to the system. As for the cache memory, the controller is equipped with 128MB SDRAM with ECC support by default, however, it can be upgraded to 256MB.

This is our today’s hero:

Like all other eight-channel 3ware controllers, 3ware 9500S-8 boasts the traditional compact (Half-length) design, when the SATA connectors are placed in two layers. The front side of the controller card is almost completely covered with all sorts of microchips starting with the actual controller chip and finishing with the memory and BIOS chips. However, the developers did a great job on the overall layout of the electronic components and even moved some of them on the reverse side of the PCB, so there appears enough room for additional four SATA connectors and corresponding chips of the 12-port model.

Here are the major controller specifications for your reference:

As usual, the 3ware controller left a very favorable impression. Let’s find out if it remains the same after the test session.

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