One of the true differentiators in this new generation of RAID controllers from LSI and Adaptec is the expanded offerings they have available to customers. The concept is simple in that they are providing value added propositions that will expand the users’ capabilities with the product.
Both companies have begun to capitalize on their unique position in the data tree. Being located between the server itself and the data storage devices means that the cards control everything, and there are an exciting number of technologies that can be utilized. It only makes sense to add functionality that can further enhance the user’s ability to apply the controllers in a vast variety of different scenarios.
Of added benefit to these types of solutions is simply that, if customers do not require them, they do not have to purchase them. Some would say, why not just add these types of things to the card without adding any additional price? The simple answer is that it would raise the base cost of the controller for everyone. In essence you would be paying for capabilities that you would not need. It makes much more sense to purchase the controller itself and later purchase only the functionality that one would need.
Lets compare a few of the products that can be purchased for each controller and the competing version for its counterpart. For LSI, most options are purchased via a software key which allows the functionality to be enabled on the controller. The Adaptec controllers tend to have hardware that is purchased with the option.
These are programs that allow the fusion of HDD and SSD. By caching hot data, the solutions of both companies allow the user to leverage the speed of the SSD while maintaining the capacity and price point of the HDD.
Adaptec utilizes the MaxIQ feature. This is purchased by buying a MaxIQ branded compatible SSD that will come with a CD with the appropriate firmware for the controller. The prices of these devices can be high, with a 32GB drive at 1,128.00 USD and the 64 GB drive weighing in at 1563.00 USD. This allows for read-only caching of the HDD arrays.
LSI utilizes the MegaRAID CacheCade program. This is purchased by buying a software key that is 270.00 USD. A nice feature is that this key also includes the FastPath software. This key will allow you to enable CacheCade using any type of SSD that will work with the controller. There is no need to purchase any branded drives. The CacheCade v2.0 also allows for caching of both read and write.
Battery Backup Modules
These allow for data protection that is held in cache in the event of a system or power outage.
Adaptec offers the ZMCP (Zero-Maintenance Cache Protection) for 166.00 USD. The AFM 600 Module features 4GB of NAND flash memory with super capacitor technology. With the AFM 600 Module, in the event of a power failure, the data is copied from the cache of the controller to 4GB NAND flash memory. An included super capacitor provides enough power for the controller for approximately 60 seconds. Unlike a BBU module, the data can be protected for years when copied to the flash memory.
LSI offers the LSI MegaRAID BBU. For 178.00 USD the BBU will keep the memory in the cache active until such time that the controller can be powered on again. Upon being re-powered, the data is copied back to the array. Unfortunately the BBU can only hold the cache as long as the battery should remain powered, which can vary depending upon the modes that it is used in.
There is a new line of LSI cards called CacheVault, which have built in NAND cache, to preserve cached data indefinitely.
There are several keys that can be purchased from LSI for the 9260 that do not have equivalents for the Adaptec line. The LSI keys are:
MegaRAID FastPath – Accelerates performance up to 3X that of MegaRAID controllers not using FastPath software. Boosts performance of 2208-based MegaRAID controllers to more than 465,000 IOPS and 2108-based MegaRAID controllers to more than 150,000 IOPS. 130.00 USD. (note: this can be bought as part of the CacheCade Package)
MegaRAID Recovery – Uses snapshots to enable rapid file and volume-level data recovery capabilities. Captures snapshots of source volume data at designated points in time to help restore data from those points should accidental or malicious data loss or corruption occur. 109.00 USD.
MegaRAID SafeStore – Together with self-encrypting drives (SEDs), SafeStore helps secure a drive’s data from unauthorized access or modification resulting from theft, loss or re-purposing of drives. Auto-Lock feature locks the drive and secures the data on the drive the moment a drive is removed from a system or a drive or system is stolen. Instant Secure Erase feature allows users to instantly and securely render data on SED drives unreadable. 77.00 USD.