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HighPoint SSD7101A-1 NVMe RAID Controller Review – Samsung and Toshiba M.2 SSDs Tested

TEST SETUP AND METHODOLOGY

For our testing today, we are using our newest ASRock X299 Fatal1ty Test Bench which has the Intel i9-7900X processor installed.  We mention this because this processor because it has 44 PCIe 3.0 lanes and was the only motherboard we had on hand that allowed us to run our graphics card and the HighPoint SSD7101A-1 NVMe SSD RAID controller at full x16 bandwidth.  In addition, our testing today will be done with both Samsung 960 Pro and Toshiba RD400 NVMe M.2 SSDs, and we will also be exploring performance of the two different RAID drivers, as well as HighPoint software RAID vs OS RAID. For all tests, the SSDs were reset with a secure erase and this was another benefit of the SSD7101A-1, four could be done quickly and concurrently.

THE SSD REVIEW ASROCK X299 FATAL1TY TEST BENCH

Clicking the title above will bring you to our full report and testing on our newest ASRock X299 Fatal1ty test Bench shown here:

The SSD Review ASRock X299 Fatal1ty Test Bench

SYSTEM COMPONENTS (linked to purchase pricing)

This Test Bench build was the result of some great relationships and purchase; our appreciation goes to those who jumped in specifically to help the cause. Key contributors to this build are our friends at ASRock for the motherboard and CPU, as well as Corsair for most of the components shown and listed. We have detailed all components in the table below and they are all linked should you wish to make a duplicate of our system as so many seem to do, or check out the price of any single component. As always, we appreciate your support in any purchase through our links!

PC CHASSIS:Corsair  Arctic White 760T Graphite
MOTHERBOARD:ASRock X299 Fatal1ty Pro Gaming i9
CPU:Intel i9-7900X 10 Core
CPU COOLER:Corsair Hydro Series H115i
POWER SUPPLY:Corsair RM850X
GRAPHICS:PNY GeForce GTX 1080 XLR8 Gaming OC
SYSTEM COOLING:Corsair HD140 RGBDual Fans with Controller
MEMORY:Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR-3600 (32GB)
KEYBOARD:Corsair Gaming K68 Mechanical
MOUSE:Corsair Glave RGB Aluminum Gaming
MOUSE PAD:Corsair Gaming MM800C Polaris RGB 

STORAGE TESTING

Our initial testing for this report will be conducted with four Samsung 960 Pro 512GB NVMe SSDs.  Our initial report of the 960 Pro was on its 2TB capacity and listed performance for the 512GB version is similar with 3.5GB/s read and 2.1GB/s write throughput with over 300,000 IOPS.

HighPoint SSD7101A-1 RAID Controller with Samsung 960 Pro SSDs

For our testing today, we also have four Toshiba RD400 512GB NVMe SSDs as well.  Our initial report of this SSD demonstrated its throughput to be 2.6GB/s read and 1.6GB/s write with up to 190,000 IOPS.  

HighPoint SSD7101A-1 with Toshiba RD400 NVMe SSDs

Lastly, we are not suiting up Samsung and Toshiba as any type of competition as both differ in performance and price, but rather, to demonstrate just how capable the HighPoint SSD7101A-1 is able to use different storage brands, dependent on user need;

  • frjoethesecond

    I wonder if a Threadripper build could run this with dual GPUs?

    • Waiting for it to arrive. I am told it can…and then some.

      • roadkill612

        I heard only intel boards are listed as supported at their site?

      • roadkill612

        Wow, I look forward to your piece on it.

        Comparing this w/ the native TR raid drivers coming soon.

        I nurse a hope that amdS lanes are cleaner than intels. Certainly there are a lot of ifs and buts attached to pre x299 mobo pcie3 x16 slots.

        The normal spec for TR is 3x native m.2 ports on the mobo, so 3x ssd in raid on TR is very democratic – available to most wise TR buyers if u boot on sata ssd – no expensive controller needed.

        From raid benches i have seen, 3x raid 0 seems a sweet spot in the diminishing returns table.

  • pathfindercod

    Hey! Great review. So this unit is suppose to be bootable? Just possible issues with your particular motherboard?

  • lorki

    Nice review! Could also review the native nvme raid on threadripper with the drivers that will be released on 25th of September. Amd claims that it supports up to 7 nvme drives on raid.

  • roadkill612

    I dont recall details as of no use to me, but i did research bootable raid on the net, & the upshot is u can boot on anything, there is just an arcane procedure to set it up – like a clean install of win from a flash stick onto a suitably pre-configured array ~.

  • roadkill612

    I gather from comments the article hasnt clarified that only intels are listed in the supported moboS, or so I hear.

    It seems odd, as its perfect for lane rich TR/epyc, bar the high cost & possibly superfluous raid capabilities (tr & epyc can perform raid unaided by controller)

  • roadkill612

    The usual frustrating refrain re raid nvme is “its already so fast, u wont notice the difference” – true, but your system will, and u will notice that.

    To me the exciting concept is virtual memory. For the first time ever, the boundaries between ram and storage are getting blurred by such arrays.

    For discerning parts of this virtualising process (as we see here, iops are no better on raid), intelligent 8GB/s paging/juggling of big slabs of contiguous data from such storage arrays up and down the speed hierarchy of the cache pool, could be extremely useful.

    As a sign of things to come, we see the radeon vega pro ssg, with 2TB of raid nvme attached tot the gpu card – a snip at $7kus. The onboard nvme raid can be used as a cache extender for the gpu onboard 16GB hbm2 ram.

    All vega cards can use hbcc to do same cache extending, only via the more handicapped pcie3 bus to system resources like these arrays or spare system memory.

    This auto expand and contract of cache at system level is a revolution for coders. They can simply assume ~unlimited gpu cache, and let the system handle the details.

    AMD “slides” on hbcc claim a bump in gpu ram of 2-3x can be simulated, un-noticed by users, by adding spare system ram to the hbcc vega gpu cache pool.

  • roadkill612

    I posted thoughts on what boil down to – add a small fast non boot array to your system, and soon a use will come along & u will be glad u did.

    So here is what i figure for a cheap rig to test the water.

    Get a TR w/ 3x nvme ports. preserve these precious native raid supported ports for your raid and find another way of booting.

    factors are:
    the drives are dear. u have been generous with ports/lanes, nand improves fast, u dont need space (multiples of existing ram are nothing vs ssd array capacities), only speed,…

    If the progression in specs from the 950 pro to the now oldish 960 pro are any guide, we will soon see nvmeS which saturate their allotted 4GB/s pcie3 bandwidth – in both read and write.

    at that point, you can get the most from your 3x array, so its tempting to go cheap til then.

    while the samsung 960 pro 500GB ssd is the current king for this, 3x ~$370us? is a lot, and still well shy of the magic 4GB/s at ~3.2 GB/s SeqRead & 2.2GB/s SW.

    The samsung evo retail range are good, slower and cheaper, and also come in much cheaper 256GB size, and may stripe to some very respectable speeds, yet keep outlays minimal until the really cool ssdS arrive, at which point, you have 3 x very salable 256GB ssd ~desktop boot drives.

    then we come to the matter of oem versions of these same drives, which are available out there even cheaper.

    Really cheap? There are even such panasonic 128GB nvme ssdS – dunno, some say they lack sufficient cache, oth, maybe raid 0 has the effect of tripling the apparent cache?

    NB I am not suggesting u rely on this storage. I am suggesting it as a scratch workspace for temp files and virtual page files as above. Its like volatile dram, if suddenly lost, the job can be recovered. This is the coding norm for such files. Debate on possible failure rates (~anachronism from hdd days imo) is beside my point.

    So yeah,w/ a 3 x nvme port TR w/16GB & even a future 4GB VEGA card, the above array could realistically provide ~12GB/s read and write in a year or so, 9 & 5.25 GB/s now w/ 960 pro, & for not much money (compared to large ram certainly), 256GB panasonics should yield 7GB & 4.5GB/s.

    (remember sata ssdS are ~500MB/s & HDD is about 120MB/s when they finally find the file)

    In perspective, most agree,few games suffer from using 8 lanes vs 16 lanes for demanding gaming, and 8 lanes equates to 8GB/s, so an 8GB array is like system memory bandwidth to a gpu card.

    Apart from the drives, it wont cost a nickel extra on your planned TR, maybe even a smaller spend on “precautionary” memory.

    There are those who slag off bios raid & some who praise/slag off software raid. Dunno. Its hard to trust anything when so many attitudes seem remnants of another era.

    A curious one is some round on windows software raid for the huge? overheads it introduces, which begs the question, does it matter when we now we all 🙂 have cores doing nothing.

    It puzzles me that there is a huge demand for such cards as these, but they almost dont exist. You can get a pcie3 x4 lane adaptor for a single nvme ssd cheap as chips ($15) anywhere, but ~nothing bigger exists i can find, even lacking raid.

    Why is it so simple to make a dumb 1x adaptor, and so hard to make a dumb 2x (8 pcie3 lane) or 4x (16 lane) adaptor? Thats all thats needed for AMDs bios raid or MS software raid.

  • roadkill612

    fyi

    comparison results on an x99? intel mobo, 6x 960 pro 1GB invarious raid arrays

    http://imgur.com/a/a68Sd

    There always seem to be some glitches in all of them, but patterns emerge, raw numbers aside.

    The table gives a good idea of the sort of multiple in raw speed that can be expected i the eco system can handle these radical bandwidths.

    one pattern is there seems to be a big drop of in read gains for the fourth drive in an array – ?, maybe its just me?

    another pattern that stands out, is write speeds, as alluded to in the article.

    In some apps, fast read may be meaningless if writes are slow, and writes lag seriously on single ssdS.

    The numbers show tho, that writes profit far more from striping than read speeds, and it may pay a user to keep adding drives to the array, even when write gains are dropping off.

    another curiosity I noticed elsewhere, was they tested the arrays 4x 960 pro individually, and the variance was quite extreme – ~2800MB/s vs 3200MB/s read? Its very damaging to add sub par drives to an array, asthe lowest speed drive dictates the pace for the whole array.

  • crion

    This card is passe now on the TR4 platform as you get FREE RAID from AMD:

    Der8auer hits 28GB/s on TR4 in I/O meter and 8xNVMe Samsung 960 Pro!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CoAyjzJWfw

    ASUS Hyper M.2 x16 Card (less than 100$)
    https://www.komplett.se/product/945185/datorutrustning/lagring/haarddisk/ssd-pci-express/asus-hyper-m2-x16-card

    ASUS X399 Rog Zenith
    Change the PCI slot into 4x4x4x4x mode from original 16x mode.

    1900X can push 64 pci-lanes.

    Done.

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