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Adaptec DuraStor Review
Review by Raoul Callaghan
Posted: Jan. 16th, 2003


I had the pleasure of evaluating one of Adaptec's Hardware RAID systems this week.
I received a rackmountable DuraStor 6200S Hardware Controller and a 12 bay 312R SCSI Chassis having four 147GB SCSI Ultra320 Drives with 8Mb cache to play with. (It also came with two 65GB Ultra160 Drives, but I didn't worry about them when I saw the Ultra320's)
The 312R Chassis and Controller are only Ultra160 capable so the drives are a bit excessive.
Nonetheless, the unit retails around $20,000AUD without any drives so another $10,000AUD would get you an entry level RAID.

This is a very brief review as I don't have the time to write this properly, but should give readers an idea of the system's capabilities.

Where to start:
Very Impressive and Very Noisy comes to mind when describing the DuraStor. Compared to the Xserve the DuraStor's Controller bearings whine a lot more and at a higher pitch. the unit has great literature to get the unit up and running quickly and the quality of the High Density 68pin SCSI cables are good also.

The unit can be configured in many ways ranging from multiple drive chassis connected to the controller with dual SCSI channels connected to a server, to a single drive chassis using dual channels to the controller that can support two servers for server redundancy purposes. As I only had one Atto adapter and two HD68 pin cables I could not connect the unit to the Xserve using both channels of the Atto PCI card nor our spare Xserve, so the benchmarking scores I attained for RAID1 could be improved.
The setup I opted for, or should I say was left with was a single channel from the Drive Chassis to the RAID Controller, and a single Channel from the RAID Controller to the Xserve. Ideally, I needed 6 HD68pin cables to test this unit thoroughly. I wanted to test two Xserves with this device acting in IP failover mode to see how receptive the unit would be to a server failure. Unfortunately I could only get one Atto PCI adapter so I had to leave this out of testing.

I used Xbench to attain a quick score for the setup. Additionally, I have four drives in the Xserve, two 120GB drives configured as RAID0, and two 60GB drives configured as RAID1 to compare with the DuraStor.
Below are the xbench scores attained for each RAID Array.

Xbench Results

Two 120GB Drives ATA100

RAID1 (Mirror)

Two 60GB Drives ATA100

RAID0 (Stripe)

Four 120GB Ultra320 SCSI

RAID0 (Stripe)

Results 117.39
System Info
Xbench Version 1.0b3
System Version 10.2.2
Physical RAM 1024 MB
Processor PowerPC,G4@0 [1000 MHz]
L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
Bus Frequency 133 MHz
Processor PowerPC,G4@1 [1000 MHz]
L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
Bus Frequency 133 MHz
Disk Test 117.39
Sequential 124.73
Uncached Write
121.85 45.36 MB/sec [4K blocks]
126.00 44.13 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read
129.17 19.09 MB/sec [4K blocks]
121.89 45.70 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 110.05
Uncached Write
133.03 2.22 MB/sec [4K blocks]
118.30 24.58 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read
76.35 0.82 MB/sec [4K blocks]
112.54 21.66 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Results 193.59
System Info
Xbench Version 1.0b3
System Version 10.2.2
Physical RAM 1024 MB
Processor PowerPC,G4@0 [1000 MHz]
L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
Bus Frequency 133 MHz
Processor PowerPC,G4@1 [1000 MHz]
L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
Bus Frequency 133 MHz
Disk Test 193.59
Sequential 210.02
Uncached Write
210.60 78.41 MB/sec [4K blocks]
258.78 90.64 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read
130.53 19.29 MB/sec [4K blocks]
240.18 90.06 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 177.15
Uncached Write
328.39 5.48 MB/sec [4K blocks]
169.50 35.22 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read
87.79 0.95 MB/sec [4K blocks]
122.94 23.66 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Results 311.22
System Info
Xbench Version 1.0b3
System Version 10.2.2
Physical RAM 1024 MB
Processor PowerPC,G4@0 [1000 MHz]
L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
Bus Frequency 133 MHz
Processor PowerPC,G4@1 [1000 MHz]
L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
Bus Frequency 133 MHz
Disk Test 311.22
Sequential 150.58
Uncached Write
105.15 39.15 MB/sec [4K blocks]
162.61 56.96 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read
82.61 12.21 MB/sec [4K blocks]
251.95 94.47 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 471.86
Uncached Write
491.62 8.21 MB/sec [4K blocks]
237.64 49.39 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read
829.69 8.96 MB/sec [4K blocks]
328.48 63.23 MB/sec [256K blocks]

The results speak for themselves really. I did connect the Drive Chassis direct to the Xserve and used software to stripe the four drives. Software RAID'ing drives in OSX was noticably slower when I was conducting real world tests with large (20GB) files. I wish I had more time as I would re-conduct an xbench score for this setup to see the CPU overhead on data transfer.
Here are some jpeg pictures of the System and components.

Link
Description
Xserve, DuraStor Controller & DuraStor Chassis on Desktop.
MacOSX Server Desktop showing each RAID array.
Xserve used with iMovie to capture images to drive.
DuraStor Chassis with Controller stacked on top.
DuraStor Logo, showing screws (half twist required only to remove).
Size comparison of Durastor with Xserve.
LCD Interface.
Live diagnostic feedback on LCD.
Temperature & Date monitoring.
Controller interface panel removed.
Controller PSU1 Ejected.
Drive Chassis panel removed also.
Controller and Chassis pivoted.
Front Chassis Circuitry.
ATTO Dual Channel PCI adaptor in Xserve.
Rear view of system and cabling.
Controller I/O inputs and outputs.
Controller with spare channel not in use.
I/O for redundant Xserve option, int/ext is for LCD or software monitoring via serial (PC only software).
Dip switches for single or dual channel configuration, auto spin up of drives etc.
Redundant power supplies for zero down time (unlike an Xserve) for Controller and Chassis.
Ejected 3.5" 10,000rpm drives.
Drive shelves are very firm to insert and remove drives which is good to prevent accidentals.
Note: no SCSI ID terminationon the drive as this is controlled by the Chassis in conjunction with the Controller.
80pin Data and voltage interface for the drive.
Fujitsu label of drive. 1,200,000 Mean-Time-Between-Failure (MTBF).

Transferring data at around 100MB/sec sustained certainly boots the Xserve a lot faster.
When creating the array, the controller gives you a chunk size option in kilobytes to best suit your data requirements. 32KB for lots of small files etc.
Considering that the Xserve needs to be shutdown if the PSU fails or is about to fail, the DuraStor is ideal as the Controller can support a redundant Xserve. The Durastor is a very nice addition to any corporation who is very serious about redundancy and 100% uptime.
We also have an Arena Tower here which is also an Ultra160 interface unit but uses IDE drives. Unfortunately I could not test this item as it is listed here as stock.
Here is a link to the drive mechanism drive mechanism for those who are interested, and also for the 312 Chassis and the Controller.

Might I say that I was rather sad when it was time to pack this up and not keep it with our Xserves.
-Raoul Callaghan



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