MEGARAID® SAS 9260-8I - 6GB/S SATA AND SAS CONTROLLER CARD FROM LSI
From STORAGE Magazine Vol 9, issue 5- September 2009
IT departments are certainly feeling the squeeze right now, as boards make sure that companies have to do more with less.
And 'doing more' equates to ensuring that more business-critical data is delivered, securely, to more people, in more places, at more times.. and IT departments will have to manage this expansion in throughput securely and costeffectively. This has serious implications for businesses' storage infrastructures.
Tapping into this new dynamic is LSI, with its MegaRAID SAS 9260-8i RAID controller card. The product is designed to boost data throughput, offering data transfer rates of up to 6Gb/s per port, which is double that of the previous SAS and SATA products - with added data protection for internal storage systems using up to 32 SATA or SAS hard drives or solid state drives.
The product has been built around a LSISAS2108 6Gb/s RAID-on-Chip using an 800MHz PowerPC processor which, at the same frequency, has 512 Mbytes of DDRII cache memory. RAID Levels 0, 1, 5 and 6 are supported, as are RAID Spans 10, 50 and 60. The device is constructed around a low profile 6.2- by 2.536-inch MD2 chassis that slots into a PC/Server, based on Windows Vista/Server 2003/2000/XP and Linux variations, and offers eight internal 6Gb/s SATA+SAS ports and two Mini-SAS internal connectors. There's also a useful optional battery backup module at the rear (ie, internal side) of the card, just behind the main heat sink, as was the case for the card supplied for review.
In use, the first thing to mention is that the new 6Gb/s controller card is backwardcompatible with 3Gb/s SATA and SAS disk drives. The significance of this is clear and rather attractive: you don't have to deploy new disks to match the new controllers. For the purposes of this review, we used what could be described as 'standard' drives on an 18-month old Dell PC. But it's only fair to say that optimum performance - LSI states that there is a maximum read speed of 2.875 GB/s and a maximum write of 1.8 GB/s - is delivered with 6Gb/s drives.
Are such speeds absolutely necessary for day-to-day applications, such as file storage, database management and email/web servers? Maybe. But the extra horsepower is definitely necessary for the other applications that LSI believes its new product is appropriate for - that is to say, high throughput apps such as: video on demand; the growing video surveillance market; video creation and editing, where time is literally money and project cycle times have been cut to the bone; general digital content archiving; medical imaging; and storage appliance. To address such apps, the product employs PCI Express 2.0 technology to boost signalling. And indeed, running a 3D model on Autodesk's 3D Studio Max 2009 digital content creation system during the review - typical for that market - such performance was needed. For individual 3D Studio usage, throughput was more than satisfactory (and a lot better than what's usually on offer on the review machine, though the thought did occur that a full animation rendering would be an interesting test).
No storage system is complete, of course, without addressing the issues of security and compliance - ie, making sure that data is protected from unauthorised access: and the internal threat can be as dangerous as the external one.
To meet this requirement, the controller card offers the LSI SafeStore™ Encryption Services that basically allows you to remove data permanently when repurposing or decommissioning self-encrypting drives (SEDs). Potentially, the encryption solution can offer local key management, but this feature is currently only available with the MegaRAID SAS 9260DE-8i model. Bit of a shame, given that this would protect SEDs using a pass phrase, security key identifier, and security key file, which could be set and applied to all SEDs assigned to a controller. This, essentially, would simplify SED management, something that has direct business benefit, given it automates administrators' takes.
But, in short, the product really does do exactly what it says on the tin. As the Autodesk 3D Studio example showed, throughput is improved and essential efficiencies can be gained cost effectively. These days, IT departments can't ask for much more.
Product: LSI MegaRAID SAS 9260-88i -6Gb/s
VERDICT:This product does what it says on the tin. Running a 3D model on Autodesk's 3D Studio Max 2009 digital content creation system, throughput was improved, while essential efficiencies can be gained cost-eeffectively... IT departments can't ask for much more.
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