LSI has been fairly dominant in the 6.0gbps HBA/ RAID 0/1/10 market for quite a while now. Early market entry, low cost cards, and a myriad of OEM wins have made the SAS 2008/ SAS 2108 architectures the de-facto standard for use with software RAID or as RAID 0/1/10 devices. Adaptec paper launched their 6 series controllers which support the normal high-end features such as RAID 60 and flash backed write cache. Now Adaptec, following the PMC-Sierra acquisition, has moved to the lower end of the market previously occupied by cards such as the Adaptec 1045 with the new 6E series of controllers. The cards come in two flavors, the four port 6405E and the eight port 6805E.
The 6405E is a fairly interesting card as it may be one of the better PCIe 2.0 x1 RAID controllers out there. Previously, most of the offerings were Silicon Image or Marvell-based controllers which did not have things like onboard cache and good management software. With the 6405E one gets 128MB of onboard DDR2 cache that Adaptec claims to intelligently cache reads/ writes with. Without a BBU or capacitor/ solid state protection for the cache, write caching could be problematic.
As a larger sibling to the 6405E, the 6805E gets a PCIe 2.0 x4 interface which provides four times as much bandwidth as the 6405E. Providing two SFF-8087 internal SAS connectors instead of the 6405E’s one SFF-8087 connector, the 6805E provides enough ports to satisfy a lot of small to medium capacity builds.
Both cards use Adaptec Storage Manager (ASM) which I have used in the past. It is much better than the Silicon Image or Marvell offerings since one can manage multiple machines from one GUI. Unlike the higher-end Areca offering, ASM does not provide out-of-band management which some users strongly prefer.
One other interesting offering is a hybrid-RAID setup which most vendors seem to be pushing these days following Marvell’s offerings and Intel’s RST offering on the Z68 chipset. Hybrid-RAID typically uses a SSD as cache for traditional platter storage by caching frequently used files on the SSD and potentially writing data to the SSD first, where it is less prone to loss in the event of a power failure event.
Key Features from Adaptec’s site
- Supports up to 4 (6405E) or 8 (6805E) SATA or SAS devices
- SES and SAF-TE enclosure management
- RAID levels 0, 1, 10, 1E and JBOD
- Hybrid RAID 1 & 10
- Quick initialization
- Online Capacity Expansion
- Copyback Hot Spare
- Dynamic caching algorithm
- Native Command Queuing (NCQ)
- Background initialization
- Hot-plug drive support
- RAID Level Migration
- Hot spares – global, dedicated, and pooled
- Automatic/manual rebuild of hot spares
- Configurable stripe size
- S.M.A.R.T. support
- Multiple arrays per disk drive
- Dynamic sector repair
- Staggered drive spin-up
- Bootable array support
- Optimized Disk Utilization
I need to get one of these cards to take a look at and compare to the LSI controllers. Adaptec does have an enterprise proven set of RAID management tools, and these controllers seem to support a lot of the power management and monitoring features that users look for. Also interesting is that the 128MB of onboard cache is a feature that LSI does not offer even on the 9240-8i so I do want to see how that works. For many, the 6405E has the potential to be the best native PCIe 2.0 x1 controller on the market.