LSI SAS 9207-8e SAS II and SATA III HBA: A First Look
I did want to take a few moments to highlight the LSI SAS 9207-8e that we have in the labs. Although Jeff is currently working on performance numbers for the card, the LSI 9207-8e is a SAS 2308 based card. Two major trends the industry is going through at the moment are a transition to PCIe 3.0 and the widespread usage of SSD technology in storage arrays. Addressing these trends, the LSI SAS 9207-8e is designed to provide eight ports of SAS 2 or SATA III 6.0gbps connectivity to external disk shelves in a variety of configurations.
LSI SAS HBA’s are very popular. Most major OEMs including HP, Dell, IBM, Oracle/ Sun, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Supermicro and etc. utilize LSI designs both on motherboards as well as through expansion cards. Responding to the two trends above, LSI takes advantage of the faster PCI Express capabilities with its newer cards. The LSI SA 9207-8e has a PCIe 3.0 bus, compared to the previous generation’s PCIe 2.0 bus. While most HBAs, including the LSI SAS 9207-8e will have difficulty taking advantage of full PCIe 3.0 x8 slot bandwidth, it should be noted that now one can have essentially the same bandwidth as the previous generation PCIe 2.0 x8 interface in a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot. For those wondering, that allows cards like the LSI 9207-8e to be effectively used in low power platforms, such as the Intel Xeon E3-1200 series platform where PCIe lanes are scarce.
Along with addressing the interface bandwidth, LSI also increased the processing power of the LSI SAS 9207-8e. For a quick primer, the LSI SAS 9207-8e uses a LSI SAS 2308 controller, which is a significant improvement over the LSI SAS 2008 controller, especially in terms of SSD performance. Here is a good comparison of LSI SAS controllers.One of the biggest changes is a faster PowerPC based processor running at 800MHz in the LSI 9207-8e versus 533MHz in previous generations. That extra speed gives extra performance headroom.
Looking at the LSI SAS 9207-8e, one can see that the design is fairly simple. The HBA has a large heatsink for the SAS 2308 controller. One can also see the RAID cards used for RAID 5 and RAID 6, the LSI SAS 9207-8e is a HBA without memory or a battery back up unit mounting point.
The rear of the LSI SAS 9207-8e has two SFF-8088 connectors. Each connector carries four lanes of SAS or SATA at 6.0gbps each.
With the popularity of external JBOD storage arrays, this type of HBA is very popular. After-all, one is somewhat limited by the number of disks that can be crammed into a single rackmount chassis. HBAs like the LSI SAS 9207-8e make it really easy to add additional storage chassis with either SSD storage or traditional hard drives.