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Testing Participants

After a short break, we decided to resume our studies of dual-channel SerialATA RAID controllers’ performance.

We think this is necessary, since we have received three new controllers we haven’t yet tested and also because we used to run the tests with pre-release versions of the BIOSes and drivers. Since then, all companies have released official drivers and the controllers themselves are widely spread in stores.

So we’ve got eight dual-channel SATA RAID controllers for our tests. They can be split into three categories.

The first category includes two controllers, integrated into mainboard chipsets.

We will start out with the controller integrated into Intel ICH5-R South Bridge, the first “revolutionary” controller of the kind.

We tested it using versions 3.5.0.2568 of the BIOS and the driver.

VIA Technologies followed Intel’s example in creating South Bridges with integrated SATA RAID controllers. So, welcome the V8237 South Bridge.

We tested the VIA V8237 chip using the BIOS version 2.01 and the driver version 5.0.2195.210.

Both “chipset” controllers have an advantage over “discrete” ones since they are attached to the South Bridge directly, rather than via the PCI bus. It means that the maximum data-transfer rate to and from the HDD can be higher than the peak bandwidth of the PCI bus (133MB/s). The North and South Bridges of the VIA PT800 chipset are connected with the 8x V-Link bus that has a peak bandwidth of 533MB/s; the Intel 875/865 chipsets link the Bridges by means of the Hub-Link bus with a bandwidth of 266MB/s. Although the bandwidth of the V-Link and Hub-Link buses can be claimed by other devices of the South Bridge, the RAID controllers should “theoretically” feel better than if they were attached to the PCI bus. And that’s exactly how other RAID controllers of our eight testing participants will communicate with the chipset.

The second category includes RAID controllers on the Silicon Image 3112 chip. Since Sil3112 chip is a controller of the PCI-to-SATA type, the RAID controller on this chip is a typical firmware RAID. In other words, it is implemented on the software level.

We tested Silicon Image Sil3112 controller using the BIOS version 42/4 and the driver version 1.0.032.

Adaptec 1210SA controller features very functional BIOS – you don’t often see a fully-fledged BIOS, like that of a good SCSI RAID controller, in such a low-cost product. We tested it using the BIOS v.1.0-OB1016 and the driver v.1.00.07.

 
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