Skywing

Areca ARC-1260 or Promise EX16350?

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I will be setting up a rather large RAID6 array in the coming weeks and I've narrowed down my controller selection to these 2 cards. On paper the specs are identical, yet their prices are drastically different. So basically my questions are which to get, and what makes the Areca worth the extra $250? Thanks.

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Without having owned any of the cards above what I gather from this forum and my experience with the EX8350 is this:

The Areca card is the best performer, it also seems to be a very good performer straight out of the box. The Areca seems to be considered one of the best if not the best performer on the market. However it is very expensive.

The EX8350 has been quite debated on this forum and I own one myself, since I guess it is similar to the EX16350 (partly same software etc) I share my point of view on it:

For me the EX8350 has worked without any problems, performance it excellent (I've never managed to fully utilize it with anything else than simple copy operations and benchmarks, everything suddenly is very fast but operations like calculating checksums becomes cpu-bound instead of limited by the drives). However it takes some tinkering with the settings to get maximum performance, for my setup the difference between NCQ and non NCQ is huge, when I disabled NCQ performance jumped up some 10 times. Others have reported driver issues and some never got good performance from their cards, so either they've got a faulty card or my card is just very good, or they didn't manage to configure the setup correctly.

The EX16350 is expensive but still at least in my country almost a cheap PC cheaper (that is you can get a cheap file server with the EX16350 for the same price as the Areca). If you are handy with drives and bios updates and you don't require the absolute best performance (like in a small workgroup or freakin' high capacity home server) the Promise control should work fine for your needs.

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Without having owned any of the cards above what I gather from this forum and my experience with the EX8350 is this:

The Areca card is the best performer, it also seems to be a very good performer straight out of the box. The Areca seems to be considered one of the best if not the best performer on the market. However it is very expensive.

The EX8350 has been quite debated on this forum and I own one myself, since I guess it is similar to the EX16350 (partly same software etc) I share my point of view on it:

For me the EX8350 has worked without any problems, performance it excellent (I've never managed to fully utilize it with anything else than simple copy operations and benchmarks, everything suddenly is very fast but operations like calculating checksums becomes cpu-bound instead of limited by the drives). However it takes some tinkering with the settings to get maximum performance, for my setup the difference between NCQ and non NCQ is huge, when I disabled NCQ performance jumped up some 10 times. Others have reported driver issues and some never got good performance from their cards, so either they've got a faulty card or my card is just very good, or they didn't manage to configure the setup correctly.

The EX16350 is expensive but still at least in my country almost a cheap PC cheaper (that is you can get a cheap file server with the EX16350 for the same price as the Areca). If you are handy with drives and bios updates and you don't require the absolute best performance (like in a small workgroup or freakin' high capacity home server) the Promise control should work fine for your needs.

Thanks for the detailed reply, I managed to get on my bosses good side and he no longer has any limits on cost so we will be going with the Areca.

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I also got the EX8350 promise card and I can give some of my results and experience. I got mine 1 year ago and had huge problem with inconsistensy data. But after 4-5 month promise came out with a bios/firma/driver that fixed the problems. I have lately upgraded to the newest SP1 driver and perfermance have got alot better then in the beginning. I´m running a 8 drive Raid 5 (8 x Seagate 7200.10, 320 GB drives). I have disabled NCQ since it give me a 10 mb lower data transfer (don't know why). But on my raid 5 I get around 132 mb/s transfer rate (tested with HDtach).. The 16 port Promise EX16350 is identical, just got room for 16 drives and got 256 mb of onboard cache, versus 128 mb on the ex8350. So that should also help a little bit.

Besides the perfermance. Then the you should take a look a the options promise raid card have vs the Areca card. I think the Areca card have lots of things you can do, when your raid are created. Like changing stripe size, downgrade Raid (ex Raid 5 to Raid 0). These are the things Promise card can't do.. But then again, do you need this options. I think promise have a nice option for Raid 6, which they called Extended Raid 6. Its raid 6, but instead of having 2 fault tolenrant disk, then you can change it to 3 or 4 disc for more secrurity.

Henrik

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I also got the EX8350 promise card and I can give some of my results and experience. I got mine 1 year ago and had huge problem with inconsistensy data. But after 4-5 month promise came out with a bios/firma/driver that fixed the problems. I have lately upgraded to the newest SP1 driver and perfermance have got alot better then in the beginning. I´m running a 8 drive Raid 5 (8 x Seagate 7200.10, 320 GB drives). I have disabled NCQ since it give me a 10 mb lower data transfer (don't know why). But on my raid 5 I get around 132 mb/s transfer rate (tested with HDtach).. The 16 port Promise EX16350 is identical, just got room for 16 drives and got 256 mb of onboard cache, versus 128 mb on the ex8350. So that should also help a little bit.

Besides the perfermance. Then the you should take a look a the options promise raid card have vs the Areca card. I think the Areca card have lots of things you can do, when your raid are created. Like changing stripe size, downgrade Raid (ex Raid 5 to Raid 0). These are the things Promise card can't do.. But then again, do you need this options. I think promise have a nice option for Raid 6, which they called Extended Raid 6. Its raid 6, but instead of having 2 fault tolenrant disk, then you can change it to 3 or 4 disc for more secrurity.

Henrik

Interesting, I have nearly the same setup, except that I am using raid6 with 8 320Gb 7200.10 drives, and getting around 140-160MB/sec with different benchmarks under fedora core 5.

My only gripe with the card at present is that the ONLY method of getting drive-fault outputs is via the SMBus connection, as it does not have individual drive fault LEDs, but it does have activity LED outputs which are IMHO MUCH less important.

Oh, and the other gripe is that the onboard audio fault indication does not do a thing when I pull a drive from the swap cages - as I have yet to have a drive fault, and you cannot fault a drive in the software it is hard to tell if it will ever actually work.

Operationally however I cannot complain about the card - works well.

Basically seems operationally good but not QUITE setup for real raid server use.

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I know about the LED, but I´m not using them at all. I hav label my hotswap with Disc 1, 2, 3 and connected them the same port. So if the software says Disc 1 is bad, then its also disc on my hotswap. That it just fine for me. Also remember to setup the email warning, so if a disc unplug or go bad, then it will send you an email...

About the speed difference, i can be that we use diffrent programs to measure it. But not sure. But I guess promise still have room for inprovement. 8 disc in Raid 5 or 6 should have a transfer rate over 200 mb/s.. But maybe its limited by the XOR (500 mhz intel chip) processor....

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