While creating arrays is easy, it sure takes a long time for them to initialize. Initialization time depends on array capacity and, presumably, disk speed, but with large arrays, expect several hours to pass before the array is ready for use. When creating four-drive arrays on the AAA-UDMA, initialization times were generally between three and three and a half hours.
Once the array is initialized, you need to reboot the system so the operating system can "see" the newly-created array and treat it as a new disk. I strongly suggest you do a quick format under Windows 2000, as doing a standard format on a large array takes another two hours or so. Quick format isn't instantaneous, but it takes less than a minute.
It's also possible to create an
array on a system with no operating system installed, using the utility diskette
provided with the adapter, then to install the OS on the array itself. Of
course, the utility can be used to make the array bootable so this can be
achieved, but realize that this works only if you don't have any conflicting IDE
devices on the integrated
motherboard controller with higher boot priority. Most new BIOSes let you change boot order so SCSI will boot before C, so in this case this that's what you want to set it for. I was unable to try this since I don't have a dedicated test system, but this is a good option for those wanting the operating system itself to be on a redundant array.
When booting the system, you can go into the AAA-UDMA's BIOS and configure a few things. Given the nature of the controller, there's not much in there you can configure that will benefit anything, but if you're having problems with the drives, it can display device information for each drive on the controller. The controller's BIOS can be flashed, although Adaptec has yet to release a new BIOS for the controller. The BIOS that ships with the controller is available for download from Adaptec's site, as are all appropriate drivers and the CI/O software, in case you somehow lose the media that come with the controller.
>Note that the guys at Storage Review
(http://www.storagereview.com/) have also been testing the AAA-UDMA, but as they
reported not long ago, it has been giving them some serious problems.
Apparently, the system only sees it when booting about half the time, and when
it does work, the performance is seriously lacking. While I experienced no
reliability problems with my evaluation card, I have to wonder if they just got
a rare bad card or if numerous AAA-UDMA controllers are flaky. With a set of
only two units for comparison, we can't know. Don't get scared and think that
you'll be lucky if any AAA-UDMA controller you buy works, but be aware that
possible problems exist.