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

CONCLUSION

Every device has its intended target audience, and here HighPoint is effectively aiming for value conscious users, especially those that are looking to upgrade their current equipment.

With the 6Gb/s specification firmly taking hold, there are many SSDs and HDDs that are taking advantages of the benefits of this new interface. Unfortunately, many users are still using motherboards that only support SATA 3Gb/s. This leaves them ‘out in the cold’ when it comes to utilizing their new hardware to its fullest capabilities.

The RocketRAID 2720SGL is aimed squarely at these users providing the performance within a price point is a challenge for the manufacturers of these types of devices. A challenge of much greater proportions is delivering performance that justifies the cost.

The price of the 2720SGL is just right, coming in at a MSRP of 170. This is perfect for the users who are looking to upgrade their current computers. With its small form factor, this device is surprisingly compact; slipping this in between video cards or other PCIe equipment is a breeze.

The device itself runs relatively cool and the heatsink is merely warm to the touch. With some of the full-fledged enterprise RAID solutions, heat can be a big issue. This requires spot fans to effectively allow those devices to be cooled correctly. A large concern with those scenarios is that when the controllers are between other cards, they become very hard to get forced air to them. Also of primary concern is the amount of heat that they dump into the systems case. The user of this device will have none of these problems, as the RocketRAID is very good in this regard, as it is a cool device overall.

The only downside to the device lies in its GUI. The Graphical User Interface can use some tweaking to allow for easier modification of device settings. As it stands, the user has to repeatedly select multiple devices from drop down menus, and then modify each device setting individually. This can become time intensive and tedious. Some sort of ‘global’ commands in this regard would be very helpful.

Another area that can be improved upon is the amount of documentation that comes in the box with the device. The documentation that we received was a small leaflet. By going to the HighPoint support site one can download the full manual, but it would be very helpful for users if there were a printed copy. If a user were to have a question while installing the controller, they would need another computer to access the manual.

In the performance department the 2720SGL delivers. Some would question the wisdom of testing this device in RAID 0 with a large number of devices. The key reason is to test the point of saturation of the controller, and how it handles under extreme loadings. Some controllers will become buggy when pressed to the limits of their capabilities, and this can be observed with various test scenarios.

The 2720SGL performed very admirably in this regard, with a maximum overall latency in Winsat testing of 3.859. We have tested full featured cards, in the 500-600 dollar range, that have performed much worse in that regard. Maximum latencies can be a performance killer, but with this device it definitely is not an issue.

This device will work fine with SSDs in RAID 0 and passthrough configurations, but for the parity RAID sets one would be best to use HDD, as SSDs aren’t as conducive for causal users with RAID 5 and RAID 6. Performance degradation can set in very quickly for SSDs in RAID 5 and RAID 6. Also, the device does have lower performance in those areas that would not be suitable for SSD use, but just fine for HDD.

The last key here is RAID 6. RAID 6 is a very popular option in full-fledged enterprise controllers, as it allows for the array to sustain the loss of two drives, yet continue functioning. In most cases, it would take at least 500 dollars to purchase a card with this capability. The onboard RAID on motherboards does not allow this functionality.

The 2720SGL, having these capabilities with these low price points, is surely going to force the competition into action as well. There simply is no other device that can offer that functionality at this price.

All things considered, overall the 2720SGL is a solid device that I would recommend to the casual user upgrading existing equipment, or those with home servers. It is surprising that they can pull off such solid performance in such a small package at such a great price point. In the price vs performance category, they certainly win!

 CATCH THE ACTION IN OUR FORUM DISCUSSION!!!

User Rating: Be the first one !

27
Leave a Reply

avatar
12 Comment threads
15 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
Kai NilsenbherdeAhmed Medhatrreaderamadoj Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
ArntOlafMathiesen
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
Arntolafmathiesen
Anonymous
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
Christopher

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

MRFS
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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