Sonnet's Tempo Ultra ATA PCI card jumps into a crowded field with a little surprise.
I'm getting email almost daily asking, "When are you going to test Sonnet's $99 Tempo card?" I wasn't too excited at first about redoing the test graphs for a card that I understood to be YAAiD ("yet another Acard in disguise"). But when I used it to set up a striped array on a Sawtooth, its WRITE speed surprised me.
1. The UltraTek/66 produced higher sustained READ times than any other Ultra ATA PCI card using SoftRAID to create a striped array.
2. The "A-hard" produced highest sustained READs of the Ultra ATA cards due to being true hardware based RAID0. This card is unique. By flipping a switch, you can create a striped array of two drives. SoftRAID isn't needed. The drives don't have to match either. ONE OF THE BIG ADVANTAGES is the ability to boot from this hardware array. No IDE arrays created with SoftRAID can be used as startup volumes. (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. )
3. All cards produced high sustained WRITE speeds when installed on a G4/Yikes, graphically illustrating the design flaw in the Sawtooth. The surprise exception was the Sonnet Tempo, which attained 37MB/sec. Not as fast as on the Yikes but significantly faster than any other card tested on the Sawtooth.
When I was briefed by Sonnet Marketing, I asked if they were tweaking the firmware knowing they were using Acard as an OEM supplier. They said, "No." So how do they account for the fact that it WRITES faster than the other cards on the Sawtooth? Maybe Sonnet Engineering did something and forgot to tell Marketing. ;-)
4. On the Acard and all cards based on it (TurboMAX & Tempo), I observed a strange phenomenon in single drive mode. The transfer rate drops to zero when file size reaches 8MB or larger. (What's with that???!!! Oooga boooga??) I received an email from the individual who co-authored the firmware for the TurboMAX33 and UltraTek/66. He pointed out that Finder typically breaks files down into smaller than 8MB chunks but that there is no guarantee that Finder or any application will not try to transfer larger than 8MB chunks at some point. If that were attempted, the user's data would be ruined. (Editor's NOTE: Firmware version 3.0.7 is supposed to fix this but all it does is increase the maximum file size to 8MB + 64K so the flaw doesn't show up in the ExpressPRO Tools test.)
WHERE TO BUY
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!!!
The Acard AEC-6260M Ultra ATA/66 PCI card can be ordered direct from the Acard website for $129. Check their web site for the latest firmware release for the Mac. The "A-hard" is model AEC-6860M with Hardware IDE RAID for $199. (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. )
ProMax TurboMAX/66 is available from their web site or from OtherWorldComputing. Although it's based on the Acard, the firmware is supposedly optimized for video playback.
The Sonnet Tempo sells for $99 at Sonnet's Online Store including a cable with three connectors. (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. )
Bare Feats Compares two Ultra ATA arrays to various Ultra SCSI combinations.
George Cole of OWC tested a Blue & White G3/500 with Dual 40GB Maxtors connected to a TurboMax/33 in a striped array as well as a Dual 45GB IBM 75GXP's connected to a TurboMax66.
Barney Buoy tested a G4/400 Yikes for XLR8YOURMAC with dual IBM 75GXP's in a striped array using the Acard.
TEST CONFIGURATION AND PROCEDURES
The test machines: An Apple Power Mac G4/400 Yikes and a G4/400 Sawtooth
The Ultra ATA controllers:Built-in Ultra ATA/66 controller of Sawtooth
SmartDisk/VST UltraTek/66 (Courtesy of VST Technology )
Acard AEC-6260M Ultra ATA66 PCI and AEC-6860M "AHARD" RAID PCI (Courtesy of 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. )
ProMax TurboMAX/66 PCI (courtesy of ProMax)
Sonnet Tempo (Courtesy of Sonnet Technology)
The Ultra ATA drives were:IBM Deskstar 75GXP 30GB 7200 RPM Ultra ATA/66+ with 2MB cache
IBM Deskstar 75GXP 46GB 7200 RPM Ultra ATA/66+ with 2MB cache (courtesy of Other World Computing)
The Ultra3 SCSI controller:ATTO ExpressPCI Dual-Channel Ultra3 or UL3D (courtesy of ATTO Technology)
The SCSI drives:Two Quantum Atlas V 9GB drives (courtesy of Other World Computing)
The sustained READ/WRITE speeds were obtained 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, editor of
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