Areca ARC-4036 6Gb/s SAS/SATA JBOD Enclosure Review – Test Bench and Protocol

This is the Test Bench and a quick click will display it close up.  As you may have guessed, it truly is no ordinary Test Bench, and I have dedicated many many hours creating this build, which has been used in many benchmarking excursions and extreme overclocking sessions. She has even set a few HWBot world records along the way!

Our main focal point in this report will be the ability of the ARC-4036 to pass along both bandwidth, and sheer IOPS, up to the full specification of the 6Gb/s protocol. Unfortunately there isn’t a device that can saturate the individual ports of each 6Gb/s connection yet so we are going to be using the next best thing!

We have some of the fastest SSDs commercially available, 8x128Gb Patriot Wildfires, which we will be using in RAID 0 on the LSI 9265-8i controller with FastPath enabled. These SSDs will be used to test the SATA functionality of the enclosure.

These SSDs are provided by Patriot and are using the newest and most powerful SandForce controller available, the SandForce SF-2281 controller, which gives stupendously fast read and write speeds of 555MB/s and 520MB/s from each device! Rated at 85,000 IOPS per device, we surely shall be able to get as close to the maximum throughput possible out of these devices.

Also, we want to test for the maximum IOPS attainable with a SAS interface, and for that testing we will be using four SLC Lightning LS 300S EFD (Enterprise Flash Devices) graciously provided by SanDisk Enterprise Storage Solutions (formerly Pliant)  for testing. Many in the consumer realm will not be very familiar with SanDisk ESS. These are heavy duty drives that are used in server applications and SanDisk ESS  is leading the way with the absolute most powerful devices on the market. These aren’t your typical devices, weighing in at $6,800 USD EACH and these devices aren’t for the fainthearted but packing 300 Gb of SLC per drive is certainly going to carry a premium. Rated at a blistering 160,000 IOPS per device these are definitely the heavyweights of Enterprise Flash Storage.
SYSTEM CONFIGURATION

CPU: Intel i7-920 DO @ 4.46 Ghz

MOTHERBOARD: EVGA E760 Classified Motherboard

RAM: 6 GB EK-Watercooled Corsair Dominators 2000MHz CL8 kit. 7-8-7-24@1700

GPU: Dual EVGA GTX480

POWER: ST1500 Fully Modular 1500 Watt Power Supply 1500W (Peak 1600W) 12v1320W/110A (Peak 120A) combined+3.3 5v 280W

CHASSIS: Danger Den Torture Rack

CPU COOLER:  HeatKiller 3.0

WATER SYSTEM: Two KMP-400 w/reservoirs in a Parallel loop with Bitspower reservoir, two MCR320-QP rads, and 1 BIPS 240 rad. Areca 1880IX-12, EK Ram Block, EK Fullboard Mobo Block on Loop 1.  Loop 2- CPU only.  Loop 3- MCP-655 and Honda Radiator on dual GPUs.

STORAGE:  8x 128 GB Patriot Wildfire SandForce SSDs. 4x 300 GB SLC Sandisk Lightning EFD (Enterprise Flash Drives)

CONTROLLER: LSI 9265 W/ FastPath enabled

ENCLOSURE: ARC-4036 6gb/s JBOD, provided by Areca for our test bench.

RAID CONTROLLER CONFIGURATION: RAID 0/64KB Stripe Size/Write Through/Direct IO/No Read Ahead/Disk Cache Enabled

BENCHMARK SOFTWARE

We will be using Iometer for testing. We will be only doing one series of runs for each device. There will be a RAID card shootout article released very soon that will explore the full potential of this setup in a few days. Upon completion a LINK will be inserted here. Our main consideration is to show the throughput from the ARC-4036 in limited scenarios here, with both Throughput and IOPS. We will do a test with one cable, then another test with two cables, to highlight the difference between the normal and performance modes of the enclosure.

We have amassed a number of big name sponsors for a number of high-powered reviews that will be released fairly quickly, and we would like to thank Areca, LSI, Patriot and Sandisk for making this installment possible.

OF SPECIAL NOTE

The Lightning LS 300S drives aren’t your standard equipment. In order to receive maximum performance with one controller the devices have to be configured in WidePort mode, which essentially uses two connections to one drive. It is, in essence, like having two devices connected in one. The SAS expander we are using does support two connections to each device through failover mode. The typical expander does not support the WidePort function in the capacity that the Sandisks use it, so we sourced some special cables to enable us to get the job done. Using these cables we were able to connect to the rear of the expander, and use it as a pass through device to carry the data through the expander and into the RAID controller. This is where the ability to daisy-chain the ARC-4036 really came in handy!

Here is a ‘mock-up’ of how we ran the drives. The top two SAS cables went to the RAID controller, and the bottom two cables were used to connect the Sandisk drives. The typical set of cables will allow four devices to be connected to each cable, but the special DualPort cables we used actually uses two ports per device, for a total of two drives per cable. They are certainly beastly drives, so come along as we come off the starter blocks with the Areca enclosure results!

NEXT: SANDISK LIGHTNING RESULTS

~ INTRODUCTION ~ CONCEPTS AND USAGE ~

~ UNBOXING ~ INTERNALS ~ CONNECTIVITY OPTIONS ~ CONNECTING DRIVES ~

~ ENCLOSURE MANAGEMENT ~ TEST BENCH AND PROTOCOL ~

~ SANDISK LIGHTNING RESULTS ~ PATRIOT WILDFIRE RESULTS ~

~ CONCLUSION ~

JOIN THE DISCUSSION IN OUR FORUMS!

 

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