Intel 520 SSD Review (Round Two) – RAID Testing at 1.5GB/s With Highpoint 2720SGL RAID Controller

THE RAID/ENTERPRISE TEST BENCH

This is our test bench for the RAID and Enterprise testing. Currently in a state of flux, this bench has undergone some transitions as of late. Although most of our original build remains, we have recently upgraded to the x79 chipset with an Intel 3930K processor. While this may look a tad messy to the reader, it is actually very organized by our standards!

SYSTEM CONFIGURATION

CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor   –Overclocked to 5.0 Ghz–

MOTHERBOARD: ASRock X79 Extreme9 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel

RAM: 16GB Crucial Ballistix 1866, 9-9-9-27

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 Serial loop, two MCR320-QP rads, and 1 BIPS 240 rad, CPU only.  Loop 2- MCP-655 and Honda Radiator on dual 480GTX GPUs with EK Blocks.

A BIT MORE ON THE HIGHPOINT 2720SGL

The HighPoint 2720SGL RAID card used for this report includes the manufacturers newest firmware revision which drastically improves end performance. With many RAID Controllers being prohibitively expensive for enthusiasts, this device is a breath of fresh air, coming in at roughly $160US. Our usage is of this RAID card is to demonstrate its potential in an enthusiast-type application.

The HighPoint controller uses a low powered ROC to ‘boost’ the device through boot-up, and then the driver and the host system perform the brunt of the computation. Another great benefit to this controller is that it does not utilize any cache like full featured RAID controllers, which will keep the results free from any caching solutions.

The device sets a 64K stripe and it is not configurable. We tested with the drives write cache and NCQ enabled.  In effect, what you see is what you get!

RAID PERFORMANCE

 ATTO DISK BENCHMARK VER. 2.46

ATTO Disk Benchmark is perhaps one of the oldest benchmarks going and is definitely the main staple for manufacturer performance specifications. ATTO uses RAW or compressible data and, for our benchmarks, we use a set length of 256mb and test both the read and write performance of various transfer sizes ranging from 0.5 to 8192kb. Manufacturers prefer this method of testing as it deals with raw (compressible) data rather than random (includes incompressible data) which, although more realistic, results in lower performance results.

As it is the industry standard, ATTO Disk Benchmark is able to illustrate top speeds with the Intel ‘SandForce Driven’ SSDs as it uses compressible data in its testing.  The scaling tops out at 1.5 GB/s at the larger file sizes, and there is also some impressive scaling at the lower end with the smaller file sizes.

21 comments

  1. Wow thats alot of benchmarks to be running on the SSDs. I would never do that many within a months time on my SSD.

    • That is true, many would not. A funny aspect of this is that by the time I had tested this on the HighPoint, I had ran it through two other controllers, putting it through its paces. We used the HighPoint in the end because it gives the clearest view of the drives performance itself, with no caching involved. These drives have taken quite the beating before we even reached review time, and they have much more in front of them in Enterprise testing!

      • It looks very impresive #s at a highly price cost, when I compare a bit less performance of my Revodrive3 X2 for the half of the cost of all this hardware setup the only thing that I envy out this setup is the 4k #s compare of the Revo3X2. Im still happy with my revo.

      • They both certainly have their place. the nice thing about this controller is future expandability. you can upgrade drives as new tech comes out 🙂

      • That’s some sexy stuff, Paul.

      • Thanks Chris! the full review of the new drivers for the highpoint is now up 🙂

  2. Paul, will you do a step by step how-to install of the Highpoint 2720sgl on a X79 motherboard? Or is it just plug-n-play w/ update firmware? Meaning just let it boot after updating the firmware then do a soft raid. I have an Asus RIVE, but read some review on an e-tailer it’s not compatible with it, but it seem to work with your ASRock.

    • i have no issues with it. If you are having issues though here is some pointers:
      boot the computer with NO DEVICES connected
      instal the management software for the card (its called RAID Management)
      then once installed, flash the BIOS to the “QuickBIOS”. This bios allows the user to not see the control panel that comes up pre-boot. therin usually lies the problem, with incorrect option rom assignments from the motherboards.
      So, once installed, reboot. you will see no pre-boot GUI, just some test.
      that should be curative 🙂 it is a ‘low profile’ boot method to get past any incompatibilities with certain mobos.
      you lose no functionality, all can be manged via the Software in the OS 🙂
      lets us know how you fare!

      • Hey Paul,

        I just bought this raid card and am trying to use 2x intel 520 240GB ssds via this card as a main boot drive. How do I go about doing this?? I have posted this question in the forum as well. And how do you boot to the raid management?? And BIOS version for the card you suggesting. I have installed the latest bios that was available in highpoint website!!

        Thx

      • The factory enables INT13 by default, so the following sequence is what I would recommend, having previously installed 2 of these 2720SGL cards:

        (1) boot into the card’s BIOS with CTRL-H;

        (2) initialize all member SSDs;

        (3) create a RAID-0 array with 2 x SSDs as members;

        (4) re-boot into your motherboard BIOS and
        choose this RAID array in your Boot Priority;

        (a) Highpoint recommends that all other storage
        devices be disconnected from the motherboard’s ports,
        temporary: see README.TXT for further details;

        (5) proceed to do fresh install of Windows,
        from your Windows Setup disc.

        (The above sequence is obviously for a fresh install sequence.)

        If you already have an OS installed on other storage media,
        you can try the following:

        (6) download the latest device driver and bios for the card
        from Highpoint’s website;

        (7) install the card, but do NOT connect any cables or
        storage devices;

        (8) load the device driver when requested to do so;

        (9) flash the card’s latest bios, using the Windows program
        that you downloaded with the bios;

        (10) here, you need to decide whether to DISABLE INT13 or not;
        if you do NOT intend to boot from this card, then you should
        DISABLE INT13 when you flash the latest bios.

        I haven’t tried restoring an OS drive image to the 2720SGL,
        which requires that you ENABLE INT13, to boot from this card
        (i.e. leave the factory default unchanged).

        Don’t forget to review README.TXT which explains
        when to disconnect all other storage devices.

        Hope this helps.

        MRFS

        Here’s README.TXT from the driver download:

        Readme file for RocketRAID 272x/271x SAS Controller
        Windows Device Drivers

        Copyright (C) HighPoint Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.
        Last updated on Jun 24, 2010.

        Please review this file for important information about compatibility issues and
        differences in operation that were discovered after our product manuals were
        created. In case of conflict among various parts of the documentation set, this
        file contains the most current information.

        Note: The latest firmware and product documentation will be available for
        download at https://www.highpoint-tech.com

        This file is divided into the following major sections:

        1. Software Version
        2. Files Listing
        3. Revision History
        4. Device Mapping Order
        5. Known Problems

        1. Software Version
        ====================

        Driver version: v1.1.10.624

        Operating Systems:
        Windows 2000
        Windows XP
        Windows 2003
        Windows x64 Edition

        2. Files Listing
        =================

        |- Readme.txt This file
        |_ win_2000 Windows 2000 driver
        |_ win_xp Windows XP driver
        |_ win_2003 Windows 2003 driver
        |_ x64 Windows x64 driver
        |_ disk1 Driver disk label
        _ txtsetup.oem Windows text mode setup file

        3. Revision History
        ====================

        v1.1.10.624 06/24/2010
        * Add Winbond W25X20BV/W25X40BV flash support

        v1.0.9.1229 12/29/2009
        * First release

        4. Device mapping order
        ========================

        The device mapping order in system is same as BIOS setting utility. The disk
        marked as “BOOT” will always be mapped as first SCSI disk. Please keep it in
        mind when installing Windows, otherwise OS may be installed to wrong location.

        5. Known Problems
        ==================

        * Install OS to devices attached to RocketRAID 272x/271x SAS controller

        Before installing OS to devices attached to RocketRAID controller, you
        must remove the drives connected to other controllers from your system
        temporarily. After OS installation complete, you can put them back.

        * Moving disks to other controllers

        When you want to use disks previously attached to RocketRAID controller
        on other controllers, please first delete any array information on the
        disks. Otherwise your data may be lost when you want to put it back later.

    • First, read the README.TXT file (what a concept, eh?)

      INT13 is enabled by default at the factory and,
      if you are not hosting your OS on that controller,
      you should DISABLE INT13.

      There is a Windows program that makes this easy, BUT you must download
      both the latest device driver and the Windows program to update the card’s BIOS.

      Obviously, you need Windows installed on some other storage device(s),
      in order to be able to run this BIOS update program.

      If you plan to install an OS on this card, you don’t need to change the INT13 setting.
      Installing Windows is easy: just have the device driver ready on some other
      medium like an optical disc, USB flash drive etc.

      MRFS

  3. What is the water cooling system you have installed here on the test images? Great review on these hard drives by the way. =)

  4. newbie question. How did you connect the 3 drives to two ports on the raid card?

    • each port on the controller has 4 sata channels. Usually you would connect the two ports to the backplane of your computer case, which in turn has connectors for your disk. Alternatively you can probably pickup a splitter cable on Ebay

  5. Does trim function with RAID in this line? When can we expect TRIM to work in RAID configurations?

  6. Where can I download the new driver for the raid card???

  7. Another newbie question: what sata cable did you use? they look awesome.

  8. Fernando Martinez

    Did the same, here is my result:
    https://i46.tinypic.com/23j1wd2.jpg

  9. LOL. that radiator makes me smile 😀

  10. wow. It is very popular in NAS users who want to build it self.
    Some hackintosh users also share their threads in process of building.

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