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Testing Participants

Adaptec AAR-1420SA, AAR-1430SA and ASR-44300

I will start out with what seems to be the simplest controller in this review, AAR-1430SA.

The AAR-1430SA is in fact an AAR-1420SA with PCI Express x4 instead of 64-bit PCI-X/133MHz. The two models have the same specs: four SATA ports (with NCQ and a data-transfer rate of 3Gbps) and support for RAID arrays of levels 0, 1, 10 and JBOD. The controller doesn’t support RAID5 and thus doesn’t need a processor for checksum calculations. The PCB is very simple as the result. A Marvell 88SX7042-BDU1 chip is responsible for the HDDs. There is no buffer memory on board.

It’s good the AAR-1430SA has the new PCI Express interface. It is not even because of the higher bandwidth (the difference is small: 10Gbps against 8.5Gbps of the 64-bit/133MHz PCI-X interface) which is excessive for four SATA drives anyway but because of the popularity of the interface on mainboards and their price. The PCI-X interface is usually implemented on server mainboards whereas the AAR-1430SA controller is positioned into the workstation segment. PCI Express is far more popular in this segment. In fact, it is hard to find a mainboard without PCI Express.

The controller comes with scanty accessories: a brief manual, two discs with documentation and drivers, four 1-meter long SATA cables, and a low-profile bracket. Running a little ahead, I can tell you that every other controller in this review comes with the same accessories. The only difference is the number of the cables that corresponds to the number of the controller’s ports. Take note that the controllers are all low-profile and an appropriate mounting bracket is included with each. It may be a trifle, but it’s very annoying when you don’t find such a trifle in the product box.

So, you will see if these two very similar models are any different in terms of performance. I will also add the more advanced and expensive ASR-44300 model. Like the junior AAR-14XX models, it doesn’t have buffer memory and does not support RAID5 but, unlike them, it can work with HDDs equipped with the SAS interface (Serial Attached SCSI) and has one internal SFF-8484 x4 connector. The ASR-44300 is installed into a 64-bit/133MHz PCI-X slot.

By the way, about Adaptec’s product nomenclature: save for a few exceptions, the first numeral denotes a RAID controller family (the higher the number, the more advanced and expensive device this one is), the second numeral denotes the amount of HDDs supported, and the rest is the model number within the family. There are actually a number of various models available from this brand, so I won’t enumerate all of them here. Instead, I can give you two links to comparative tables at the manufacturer’s website:

Table One – Entry-Level Controllers (click here)
Table Two – High-Performance Controllers (click here)

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