ATTO ExpressPCI UL3D SCSI RAID Review – Part 2

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ATTO ExpressPCI UL3D SCSI RAID Review - Part 2 - Storage 37 This article has been updated. All new content begins on page 9 of the article.

What does the ATTO ExpressPCI RAID Kit offer that other no other RAID kit can? Speed! Who is ATTO, you ask? Founded in 1988, ATTO Technology, Inc. headquartered in Amherst, New York is a global leader in Fibre Channel and SCSI storage connectivity solutions for data-intensive Content Creation and Enterprise environments.

What makes the ATTO ExpressPCI RAID Kit special is that it implements software RAID or striping to be exact; within it’s BIOS. At first glance, it seemed like just another high quality Ultra3 or U160 SCSI dual channel controller. Actually, this little pocket rocket was discovered by accident. As many of you may know, ATTO’s disk benchmark in addition to *ntel’s Iometer has been widely accepted as the standard for high performance SCSI benchmarking. Upon browsing through ATTO’s website, noticed that they implement RAID into their Ultra3 or U160 SCSI controllers.

Intrigued by their implementation of RAID, felt I needed to give the UL3D a closer look. Upon contacting ATTO, I was pleasantly surprised to have my telephone call received on the second ring. Within seconds, I was talking to a salesperson. I expressed interest in evaluating the UL3D, and almost immediately received a faxed consignment form. Further, the salesperson offered to transfer my telephone call to a technical engineer for additional questions. It is important to note that ATTO products are sold worldwide through Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), System Integrators and Value Added Resellers (VARs). Some of ATTO’s clients are Apple Computer, EMC – Data General, Eastman Kodak, Quantum/ATL, SUN Microsystems, and Avid Technology to name a few. In addition, Over 80% of the movies produced in Hollywood are assisted by an ATTO ExpressPCI SCSI Host Adapter. Therefore, my first experience was with a MAC engineer. During our long conversation, the level of expertise, given the fact that my interest was pertaining to the PC platform, surprised me. In no time, the “Mac” engineer promptly transferred me to a PC engineer. Low and behold, he picked up the telephone. I do not believe that there is one answering machine present at ATTO! Where ATTO completely outshines its competition is not only in the performance department, but also in CUSTOMER SERVICE. I have never felt so welcome by a company in a long time.

What was especially comforting was that the PC engineer’s level of expertise was very impressive. Much deeper than those “canned” responses one receives from other RAID manufacturers. When I asked to what level of performance I should expect from two hard drives, the engineer was “right-on” with his estimate, which was between 50-55mbps. Further, he stated that the controller was setup for a block size of 64kbytes within the BIOS. Therefore, those gaming enthusiasts, may want to set it to 32kbytes for added performance.

After dealing with Adaptec/DPT for almost a year regarding the “questionable” performance with their Decade, Century, and now 2100S controllers, I was understandably pessimistic pertaining to the claimed performance by ATTO.

Technical specifications of the ATTO ExpressPCI RAID Kit:

  • Dual Independent Channels • Dual Independent Channels • Dual Independent channels
  • Up to 320 MB/sec. • Up to 160 MB/sec. • Up to 80 MB/sec.
  • 66/33 MHz PCI Compatible • 64/32-bit PCI Interface • Available in Single-Ended
  • 64/32-bit PCI Interface • LVD or Single-Ended SCSI and Differential
  • Fully Compatible with • Full ADS™ Technology • Full ADS™ Technology Ultra160/m Initiative
  • LVD or Single-Ended SCSI ATTO ExpressPCI UL2S ATTO ExpressPCI PSC/PSCd
  • Full ADS™ Technology*
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