AMI Elite 1600 SCSI RAID Review

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Of late, there have been many exciting reasons to upgrade or replace your existing rig. One of them being, AMD’s dual AthlonMP processor. With all the performance advantages of multi-threaded grandeur, one thing is certain; you need a powerful storage subsystem to complement your two ceramic powerhouses.

While SCSI has mostly been reserved to the rich and famous, it is quickly becoming an affordable luxury. Case in point, MSI’s K7 Master-S and Tyan’s K7 Thunder. Both feature a flavour of Adaptec’s on-board SCSI. Though these on-board SCSI implementations provide admirable SCSI performance under Windows2000 (Dynamic Disks) software RAID, they pale in comparison to a dedicated hardware RAID controller such as AMI’s Elite 1600.

For the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to run AMI’s Elite 1600 RAID controller in one of the most contentious mainboards to date, Tyan’s K7 Thunder. While there are many reasons for AMD groupies around the world to rejoice for AMD’s new 762 chipset, one lesser-known and appreciated feature to the storage underworld is the 64-Bit PCI slot. The performance delta between a 32-bit and 64-bit PCI slot can be significant.

SCSI Performance:

Under a 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus, allows for a maximum transfer rate of 132MB/sec. Under a 64-bit/33MHz PCI bus, allows for a maximum transfer rate of 264MB/sec. Under a 64-bit/66MHz PCI bus, allows for a maximum transfer rate of 533MB/sec. With Ultra160 SCSI, two SCSI channels on a single device achieve a maximum transfer rate of 320 MB/sec leaving an abundance of overhead before saturating the PCI bus. However, soon to be released U320 SCSI controllers at 320 MB/sec, two SCSI channels can now achieve 640 MB/sec, which will saturate a 64-bit / 66MHz PCI bus. Because of the performance requirements of the new U320 specification, the current 64-bit/66MHz PCI bus will be replaced by a new architecture such as PCI-X. This new standard promises to double the performance of the host bus from 533 MB/sec to a maximum of 1066 MB/sec.

AMI Elite 1600 SCSI RAID Review - Storage 16
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