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We’re returning once again to the Raptor 2 drive from Western Digital and its relationships with Tagged Command Queuing (TCQ). The reason for our stirring up the dying fire searching for burning cinders is simple – we’ve got a Talon ZL4-150 controller from Pacific Digital Corp.

This manufacturer is remarkable for being the only company to produce ATA controllers with TCQ support and this made us think that the SATA controller from Pacific Digital will ideally suit for the Raptor 2, whose ATA origins have already been discussed in great detail in our WD740GD aka Raptor 2 Hard Disk Drive Review.

As you can guess, the Talon ZL4-150 controller supports four Serial ATA-150 devices and allows uniting them into arrays of the following types: JBOD, RAID0, RAID1 and RAID10. A note: at the time of our tests the controller didn’t permit to build a three-disk RAID0 array.

Technical specifications:

Talon ZL 4-150 SATA Controller Features

RAID

JBOD, 0, 1 and 10

SerialATA

4 SerialATA 150

PCI

32bit 33/66MHz PCI bus.
Compatible with PCI 2.2 standard

Large LBA

Supports up to 1PetaByte array size.
(=1024TeraByte = 2**50 Byte)

The controller comes with a user manual, drivers and utilities (on a CD and a diskette), and four SATA cables.

This is what the controller looks like:

The main chip is hidden under the heatsink in the center of the PCB; a flash memory chip is located to the right of it. The controller has a low profile as the SATA connectors are “sunken” relative to the device’s top edge. On the controller’s PCB, near each of the SATA plugs, you can discern four identical chips – we are not surprised to see Marvell 88i8030 converters here, which we have already met a few times.

In other words, the Talon ZL4-150 is in fact a PATA RAID controller that has been made to support SATA drives thanks to PATA-SATA converters from Marvell. Well, this doesn’t scare us at all :).

As we have already said here, the Marvell chip doesn’t prevent the drive and controller from working with tagged commands, so we shouldn’t consider the use of a converter as a drawback. Let’s better watch the controller in action.

 
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