posted 10/14/03 by rob-ART
It was a reader
who tipped me off to the existence of the
Channel FireWire 800
controller from Indigita back in May, 2003. I've
long been a fan of multi-channel FireWire RAID.
This sounded too good to be true!
The first time I
tried to test the card, I found out it wouldn't
plug into a G4 Power Mac's 33MHz 64 bit PCI slot.
It was made for PCI-X 66/100/133MHz PCI slots, like
those found on the Xserve and many high end Windows
PCs (like the Dual Xeon).
I tested it on an
Xserve. Abysmal results. Indigita claimed the PCI-X
controller chip on the Xserve is at fault, not the
When I heard the
G5s had PCI-X slots, I was pumped up again. When we
took delivery of our Dual G5 in the lab, within 24
hours, I had tested the Indigita QuickFire in it.
More bad news, as you will witness below. For
perspective, I've posted results from the Dual
2.4GHz Xeon running the same card in its 100MHz
PCI-X slot. I also included the results for a "roll
your own" dual channel setup by using a
FW800 PCI card
in tandem with the built-in G5 FW800 controller
(labeled as "1+1" in the graphs).
"If it's too good
to be true, it usually is."
idt800pci (with the current firmware) has some
bizarre "bottlenecking" issues when all four
channels are used to drive a 4 drive striped array
(RAID 0). That applies to both the G5 and Dual
Xeon, but the G5 is worse.
no difference what PCI-X slot I used in the G5.
By the way, no other PCI cards were present, so
we can't blame them.
does better when only 2 channels are used, but why
would I want to pay $500 for a 4 channel FW800
controller and only use 2 channels? Why do that
when I can pay as little as $50 for a single
channel FW800 card to create a 2 channel RAID in
concert with the G5's built-in FW800
There's a slim
chance that if someone tweaked the firmware code,
the QuickFire would "fire" more quickly (pun
intentional). I say "slim" because I received this
response from Indigita two days after testing the
bridge in the G5 doesn't 'like' other bridges.
We realize the performance is lacking now. We
were told this would improve on the G5 but it
has not, as you have seen. We are trying to work
on getting a new driver but it does not exist at
this time. The focus of our company is now in a
different direction and we still have not gone
into production of the QuikFire board... it may
be best that you don't recommend this board to
your readers at this time. If and when we go
into production and we have the driver issues
worked out I will let you know..."
There have been
other attempts to create 2, 3, and 4 channel
FireWire controllers by veru capable engineers. So
far, the results have been disappointing and
frustrating. I have had much better success with
using multiple single channel cards.
LINE: I DO NOT RECOMMEND THE INDIGITA
4 CHANNEL FW800 PCI-X CARD in its present form. If
an improved version is released in the near (or
far) future, we'll be the first to try it again and
update this recommendation.