HighPoint RocketRAID 6Gb/s SATA/SAS 2720SGL Review Utilizing 8 Micron C400 6Gbps SSDs

THE 27xx FAMILY

Highpoint has two separate classes of devices at its disposal, the Hardware RAID series and the cost-effective Value Series that are powered by the HighPoint XOR engine. The 2720SGL that we are testing today falls under the realm of the Value Series.

This is, in effect, a software RAID controller that utilizes the host systems processing power to produce some amazing results from a small, low power device. There are quite a few devices in this class that are offered by HighPoint, with a number of features for the end users.

A quick look at the 27xx family of devices illustrates that there is a controller for many different scenarios. With compatibility featured for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and Mac operating systems, these are somewhat universal controllers.

The 2722 and 2711 both offer external Mini-SAS connectivity, with either 4 or 8 ports. The 2721 offers both internal and external, with 4 ports in each direction. Finally, the 2710 and the 2720 (which we are testing today) offer 4 or 8 internal ports of connectivity.

All of these devices are low profile which allows the user great flexibility for placement in rack mounts and smaller cases, this very prevalent in many home server systems.

Lets take a quick look at the test bench, then on to the results!

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ArntOlafMathiesen
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ArntOlafMathiesen

hi what driver di you use on the card i did get 3-600 MB/s on atto test whit old drivers (first ver) ther is a test on HW no that shows this card doing 4170 on atto

MRFS
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MRFS

That figure of “4170” — presumably Megabytes per second — overstates the upstream bandwidth of x8 PCIe 2.0 lanes: x8 @ 500 = 4,000 MBps. Thus, the extra “170” must be a residual result of some other factor, like OS caching. Highpoint’s readme.txt recommends downloading the latest driver and the latest bios for that card, particularly if one wants to DISABLE INT13 — Interrupt 13 — which must be ENABLED in order to boot from that card. Flashing a new bios can be done with a Windows program, so obviously one must be able to boot into Windows in order… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

The maximum results capable with any hardware raid solution over a single pcie 2.0 slot is roughly 2.7-2.8 GB/s. This is true of several different manufacturers. I would like to see a link with these results of anything near 4000 MB/s. According to posted pcie specs, that is impossible.
There is more communication going on with the device and the bus than just the data. There is an overhead with any specification. This is the effective limitation of these devices.

MRFS
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MRFS

I didn’t mean to imply that “throughput” could reach 4,000 with PCIe 2.0. I did refer to that number as “max bandwidth” i.e. x8 @ 500 MBps = 4,000 MBps. Nevertheless, each x1 PCIe 2.0 lane oscillates at 5 GHz; and the reason why that translates into 500 MBps is the 8b/10b “legacy frame” which adds one start bit and one stop big to each byte transmitted — hence 10 bits per transmitted byte: 5 GHz / 10 = 500 MBps The same legacy frame is also used in the current SATA-III standard, only the clock rate is 6 GHz… Read more »

Arntolafmathiesen
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Arntolafmathiesen
Anonymous
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Anonymous

You must read those results with care. something is amiss. Those controllers, and i mean NONE of them, are rated for those speeds. not one of them claim to be able to reach those speeds, simply because they cannot. 9265-8i and 9260-8i are rated at 2.7-2.8 MAX. Also, when they run Anvils benchmark, which i am extremely familiar with, they are also not receiving anything near what they are claiming with the graphs that they made. Also, even though they are running Anvil, they should be getting much higher results. they have it configured to a 1GB test file that… Read more »

MRFS
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MRFS

Paul, I’m sure you are correct: there is NO WAY that x8 PCIe 2.0 lanes can deliver more then 4 GB/second. Here’s why: x8 PCIe 2.0 lanes @ 5 GHz / 10 = 4,000 MB/second MAX!! (I’ve done that calculation literally dozens of times — on paper, in my head, and at numerous Forums.) However, their measuring tool may be watching ONLY traffic between those controllers and 8 x Samsung 830 SSDs (as shown in one of their photos), then: 8 x SSDs @ ~520 = 4,160 MB/second http://prisguide.hardware.no/produkt/samsung-ssd-830-series-64gb-151501 The latter rate is very close to what I see reported… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I have a friend, actually anvil himself, who is the maker of the Anvil Utilities bench. He is norwegian, and is very active on that very site that contains said review. I am sending him a quick email to get his thoughts, he natively speaks the language needed to read over the article. he is very knowledgeable, and like myself, owns every controller used in that very review.
I will report back when he replies 🙂

MRFS
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MRFS

On the other hand, if their test file does fit entirely within the 8 SSD caches which are additive in RAID 0 mode, this is the kind of test that demonstrates how the upstream bandwidth may ultimately emerge as the real limiting factor. I remember commenting, several years ago, how RAID cards were very slow to exploit all x16 PCIe lanes, whereas video cards did so very early after PCI Express first became available. In order to supply an upstream bandwidth that exceeds 4,000 MB/second, either: (1) a RAID controller with a full x16 edge connector must be installed; -or-… Read more »

Christopher
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Christopher

Do the C400s not get the 0009FW? or are they still on 0002?

MRFS
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MRFS

> There is definitely a notable step down in performance when the controller is handling the load.

I’m really glad to see this permutation measured in an apples-to-apples comparison.

With the proliferation of multi-core CPUs, it seemed rather obvious to exploit one or more idle cores to do the I/O processing, that would otherwise be done by a dedicated IOP on a more expensive RAID controller.

Here, we see that general-purpose CPU cores do a much better job of exploiting PCIe bandwidth, than the 2720SGL’s own on-board hardware can deliver.

Very interesting!

MRFS

MRFS
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MRFS

Now, just as the Windows 7 scheduler was recently modified better to exploit AMD’s Bulldozer architecture, it may be worthwhile to distribute software RAID queuing across multiple cores of a multi-core CPU. In the Forums here, we’ve already discussed how Windows may assign all RAID queuing to a single CPU core e.g. like “set affinity” in Windows Task Manager, regardless of the number of RAID members. As such, this single CPU core ends up being a big I/O bottleneck. With 8 x SSDs like those assembled in this review, it would make sense to distribute queuing across 2 or more… Read more »

MRFS
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MRFS

> The Micron C400 6Gb/s SSDs boast a sequential read speed of 415 MB/s and 260 MB/s write speed. > we were able to reach our highest throughput at 2.7 Gb/s with the Software RAID. This is effectively the maximum practical limit of the PCIe 2.0 x8 bus. I don’t think the card is the only bottleneck here: Let’s do a simple parametric analysis: x8 PCIe lanes @ 500 MBps = 4,000 MBps max bandwidth 8 x C400 @ 415 = 3,320 MBps max throughput (perfect scaling) 2,742 / 3,320 = 0.826 –> 17.4% overhead (realistic scaling) My limited measurements… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I believe that in order for the device to take advantage of the jumbo frame the device itself would have to be pcie 3.0 compliant.
Even the highest performing solutions currently available, the 9260 and 9265, can only peak at around 2.7-2.8 GB/s, there is also the 9211 HBA that peaks around this limitation as well.

MRFS
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MRFS

> in order for the device to take advantage of the jumbo frame the device itself would have to be pcie 3.0 compliant. Correct: such a new protocol would require compatibility with the PCIe 3.0 “jumbo frame” at both ends of the data cable. That’s one of the main reasons why I am suggesting that this feature should be standardized in a “SATA-IV” specification, for adoption industry-wide. At the moment, that “jumbo frame” appears to be a feature limited to the PCIe 3.0 chipsets i.e. fixed wire traces that are embedded in internal motherboard circuitry. BTW: I’ve noticed that, when… Read more »

MRFS
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MRFS

Case in point: http://hexus.net/tech/news/mainboard/32968-msi-outs-x79a-gd45-8d-x79-motherboard/ “the latest PCI Express Gen 3 to provide up to 32GB/s transfer bandwidth for the expansion cards” This necessarily implies BOTH an 8GHz clock rate AND the 128b/130b “jumbo frame” in order to deliver 16 GB/s in one direction across a standard x16 PCIe 3.0 edge connector. The Gen3 spec has simplified bandwidth planning: 8G/8b = 1.0 GB/s per x1 PCIe lane (i.e. 1 GB/s per lane). Thus, 16 such PCie lanes @ 1.0 GB/s = 16 GB/s in on direction, and double that in both directions: 16 x 2 = 32 GB/s. But, we must… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Paul,

Where did you read that the 2720SGL supports RAID 6?

According to the packaging this statement is not accurate ‘The HighPoint RocketRAID controller has a surprising amount of functionality for such a small controller, supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50 and JBOD.” I cannot find any reference to supporting RAID 6 in any of the documentation or on the product packaging so I am extremely curious about the discreprency. Especially since you made an extra point of how unusual this option was on a RAID card in this price range.

Thanx,
Peter

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