Test results on two new storage products:
1. The new Acard HARDWARE IDE RAID that works with a flip of a switch.
2. The new 15,000 rpm Seagate Cheetah.
This page has 4 OBJECTIVES:
1. To introduce the new Acard Hardware IDE RAID card for Ultra ATA/66 drives.
2. To use "real world" hard drive tests to compare different drive configurations.
3. To show those who sneer at IDE arrays that they are just as fast as SCSI arrays, even in the "real world."
4. To show how one Seagate Cheetah running at 15,000 rpm compares to a striped array of dual Seagate Barracuda 18XL's running at 7200 rpm each.
ADOBE PHOTOSHOP 5.5 REAL WORLD TEST
The idea is to get a very large Photoshop document (27MB) and edit it with minimal Photoshop app size (23MB). This forces Photoshop to use the Scratch Disk constantly as virtual memory. You define the Scratch Disk using Photoshop Preferences. (The BAR IN RED denotes the fastest SCSI and the fastest Ultra ATA configuration.)
(CHART NOTES: The "Lotza RAM" entry is a test run with Photoshop Application Size of 223MB instead of 23MB in all the other cases. It's to prove that the Scratch Disk is really being exercised. It also shows why nothing beats gobs of RAM when it comes to optimizing Photoshop performance!
Are we having fun yet?
OLD FAITHFUL DUPLICATION TEST
I thought I'd throw this in the "real world" mix. I duplicate 3 copies of the 27MB Photoshop document. It forces the drive to read and write to itself simultaneously. (I usually publish these results in MB/sec but this time it's just TOTAL SECONDS.
Some of those who sneer at IDE raids say, "Just try duplicating a bunch of smaller files." Okay.
UNREAL WORLD BENCHMARK
And, just for yucks, here's the SUSTAINED READ/WRITE numbers from ATTO's ExpressPro-Tools 2.3.2:
(YET ANOTHER CHART NOTE: All the times are for the G4/400 Sawtooth.)
One Cheetah at 15,000 rpm does very well against two Barracuda's at 7200 rpm. You might want to consider one really fast drive instead of two kinda fast drives in an array, especially if you are tight on drive bays.
Ultra ATA/66 striped arrays (one card, two drives) are just as a fast as Ultra2 SCSI striped arrays (one card, two drives). And they cost half as much for a comparable setup (PCI card, and two drives).
The brand new Acard Hardware RAID is an Ultra ATA PCI card that will allow you to create an Ultra ATA hardware array just by flipping a switch. "Look Ma, no software!" It can be used to create striped or mirrored arrays or as a normal HFS drive controller. You can boot a single drive using an Ultra ATA controller but try booting a striped array. Won't work... except on this new Acard. I call it the "A-Hard." (FLASH: As of Dec 2000, Sonnet Technology is selling the AHARD under their label. They call it the RAID66.)
In defense of the VST UltraTek, it is more flexible because it uses SoftRAID. In other words, you could have both mirrored and striped arrays running on one card. Or striped array on one port and normal HFS on the other. The Acard can only do one function at a time.
When it comes to PhotoShop, no matter what kind of dual disk array you buy and configure, nothing works as good as a big chunk of RAM and a large Application Size setting. (For best performance, turn off Virtual Memory, set Disk Cache to minimum, and set Adobe Photoshop Preferred Application Size to at least 5 times the size of your largest document.)
Here's the Windows perspective on the Cheetah 15XL from Storage Review.
WHERE TO BUY
The PCI controller I used for the SCSI drives was the Initio Miles Ultra2 card which I obtained from MacGurus for $200. For even more speed, MacGurus likes the ATTO ExpressPCI Dual-Channel Ultra3 card at $550.
The Seagate Ultra 160 Cheetahs (10K and 15K) are available at reasonable prices and in various sizes at your favorite "e-seller." Ditto for the Seagate Ultra160 Barrcudas. Try going to Buy.Com and do a search on "cheetah" or "barracuda." Or visit MacGurus since they ship free in the continental U.S. if you mention Bare Feats.
The UltraTek/66 is available from VST Technology direct for a special price of $170. But Buy.Com has it for $155. It's also listed on Onvia.com. Check also with OtherWorldComputing and Small Dog. I think the VST is a great value. The price of the VST UltraTek/66 includes a copy of SoftRAID, dual cables, and brackets for extra drives. SoftRAID alone would cost you $149. It's like you're buying SoftRAID and cables but getting the card for FREE!!
Acard Hardware IDE RAID is sold by Acard for $199. Ask for AEC-6860M when contacting Acard. (FLASH: Since posting this page, Sonnet Technologies has announced they will offer this product under a joint venture with Acard. They call it the Tempo RAID66 and offer in-depth documentation and installation guide. )
The IBM 75GXP Ultra ATA/66+ drives used are available in sizes up to 75GB's from Buy.com and Outpost.com at reasonable prices.
TEST CONFIGURATION AND PROCEDURES
The TEST machines: An Apple G4/400 Sawtooth with 512MB of RAM.
The Ultra ATA controller:
VST UltraTek/66 (Courtesy of VST Technology )
Acard Hardware IDE RAID AEC-6860M (Courtesy of Acard) which turns any pair of drives formatted by Apple's driver into a striped array with a flip of the switch and reboot. Switch settings can be used to do mirroring or standard HFS. (FLASH: Since posting this page, Sonnet Technologies has announced they will offer this product under a joint venture with Acard. They call it the Tempo RAID66 and offer in-depth documentation and installation guide. )
The Ultra ATA drives were:
IBM Deskstar 75GXP 30GB 7200 RPM Ultra ATA/100 with 2MB cache
The Ultra SCSI controller:
Initio Miles2 Ultra2 (courtesy of MacGurus)
Adaptec 29160 Power Domain (courtesy of Adaptec)
The SCSI drives:
The "One Fast Drive" was a Seagate Cheetah 15K ST318451LW - (courtesy of Seagate Technology )
The Ultra2 SCSI striped array used two Seagate Barracuda 18XL Ultra160 (ST39236LW - courtesy of Seagate Technology).
THE PHOTOSHOP DISK TESTS:
This is a new one suggested by Charles McConathy, President of ProMAX, home of the TurboMAX. The idea is to get a very large Photoshop document (27MB) and edit it with minimal Photoshop app size (23MB). This forces Photoshop to constantly use the Scratch Disk as virtual memory. You define the Scratch Disk using Preferences in Photoshop. You have to quit and re-launch for the change to take effect.
THE DUPLICATION TESTS:
For the DUPLICATE THREE BIG DOCS test, I copied a 27MB Adobe Photoshop document onto each drive and made three copies. Then I timed how long it took to duplicate the THREE copies of the photo (81MB total) on the same drive. That's a simultaneous read/write of 3 large files.
For the DUPLICATE 205 DOCUMENTS, I copied the Unreal Tournament folder (91MB) onto the drive and duplicated it.
THE EXPRESSPRO-TOOLS BENCHMARK:
The ATTO disk benchmark was run using Express-Pro Tools 2.3.2 benchmark test with 8MB maximum file size and system disk cache disabled. Sustained Rate is displayed in the charts. Peak rates can be impressive but do not reflect typical drive performance.
© 2000 Rob Art Morgan, publisher of
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