New LSI 9266-4i and 9266-8i Features

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Posted March 19, 2012 by Pieter in Servers

Today we have another installment in Pieter Schaar‘s LSI series. Pieter is  perhaps best known as the one behind laptopvideo2go.com. He has been a regular contributor in the STH forums and has been detailing his learning, specifically in the area of LSI controllers in the forums and in series such as his IBM M1015 series pieces.

The LSI9266  comes in 2 versions the 9266-4i with single 4port mini SAS connector (SFF-8087) and the 9266-8i with 2x SFF-8087 connectors to attach 4 or 8 SAS/SATA drives respectively. It is a very common practice for LSI to offer both four and eight port versions of a given card.

I always wondered why the LSI9265 card never supported CacheCade Pro 2.0, whereas the LSI9260 series had a Firmware update to support it. Now the new LSI9266 has CacheCade Pro 2.0 option and the option for CacheVault flash cache protection. From the LSI press release on the 9266 family:

Flash-based features and functionality:
  • Supports MegaRAID Fast Path software, providing high-performance I/O acceleration for solid state drives (SSDs) connected to a MegaRAID controller. The advanced software option unlocks the full performance benefits of hybrid or SSD arrays, delivering up to 465,000 RAID 5 random IOPS for applications requiring high transactional throughput like e-commerce and data warehousing workloads.
  • Supports MegaRAID CacheCade® Pro 2.0 read/write SSD caching software that dramatically accelerates application I/O performance for hard disk drive (HDD)-based arrays by intelligently caching frequently accessed data to SSDs. MegaRAID controllers featuring CacheCade Pro 2.0 software deliver up to 13X more transactions per second and an 82 percent cost savings compared to HDD-only arrays.
  • Supports MegaRAID CacheVault™ technology, providing flash-based cache data protection from power and server failures by automatically transferring data stored in MegaRAID controller cache to NAND flash memory in the event of a power failure or other system interruption. CacheVault creates a greener, lower total cost cache protection solution by eliminating the need for Lithium-ion battery backup units, and their hardware and maintenance costs.

I’m taking a gamble and assuming that a hardware tweak was needed to allow CacheCade Pro 2.0 to work on a dual core processor. One thing I like a lot is where the SFF-8087 connectors are at the back of the card where they should be for ease of cable management in low profile thin server chassis. Readers of the IBM M1015 series pieces will note that that card has SFF-8087 connectors that exit on top of the card.

LSI 9266-8i Eight Port Controller

LSI 9266-8i Eight Port Controller

It looks like the Cache is on the back of the card, and that there is room for additional memory chips on the front of the PCB. At this point, we don’t know if the cache will be located on a daughter board or on the back of the card, as I cannot see any chips on the front. Being on a daughter board means its interchangeable with  CacheVault, time will tell as these come available.

If you are looking at this card, get the 8i version to utilise it to its full capability since the onboard processor is very powerful and the price differential is not great, especially once one purchases feature keys. The 9266 family, like the LSI9265 products, will have plenty of power for RAID 5 and RAID 6so we can expect that the more drives the better it will perform. The 9266-4i version will not be able to run RAID 50 or 60 at all or RAID 6 either very well due to lack of drives it can access.

Below are the main points of interest on the LSI9266 range of controllers. The main difference over LSI9265 are CacheCade Pro v2 and Cache Vault options.

Features

  • Eight internal SATA+SAS ports
  • Two mini-SAS SFF-8087 x4 connectors – side mount
  • 6Gb/s throughput per port
  • LSISAS2208 Dual Core ROC
    o  800MHz PowerPC®
  • MD2 Low profile (6.6″ X 2.536″)
  • x8 PCI Express 2.0 host interface
  • 1GB DDRIII cache (1333MHz)
  • Optional CacheVault Module (LSICVM01)
  • Optional battery backup unit (LSIiBBU09)
  • Connect up to 128 SATA and/or SAS devices (using SAS expanders)
  • RAID levels 0, 1, 5 and 6
  • RAID spans 10, 50 and 60

Benefits

  • Second generation 6Gb/s SATA+SAS with unprecedented levels of performance
  • Ideal for internal storage environments using up to 128 SAS, SATA and solid state drives (SSDs)
  • Unsurpassed IOPs performance and advanced software options help users realize full benefits of SSD deployments
  • CacheVault technology option for greener, lower total cost cache protection
  • Support for MegaRAID CacheCade® Pro 2.0 read/write caching software to accelerate I/O performance of existing HDD arrays using SSDs as high-performance cache.
  • Meets high I/O transaction demands of database and datacenter applications
  • Provides the sustained data transfer rates and high sequential bandwidth to meet processing requirements of digital media, video and imaging environments
Pricing(1) and availability:
Internal ports
External ports

(1) Estimated MSRP. Actual prices may vary.
(2) Pricing reflects 9285CV-8e controller with CacheVault technology included.

The card with options for Battery backup, CacheCade Pro v2 and Cache Vault is not going to be cheap, but performance and data security will be unmatched with anything available today. On paper a very nice controller to see us through till the new SAS3/SATA4 PCIe v3.0 controllers come out. It would have been great to see LSI utilize a PCIe 3.0 interface for the new generation cards, given that the Sandy Bridge EP/ EX families have come out and the Xeon E5 machines users will be purchasing are PCIe 3.0 capable.

Note: LSI I am more than willing to take one for a spin ;)


About the Author

Pieter

Pieter is perhaps best known as the one behind laptopvideo2go.com. He has been a regular contributor in the STH forums and has been detailing his learning, specifically in the area of LSI controllers on STH. He is quickly becoming the resident LSI controller guru.

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