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Adaptec AAA-UDMA RAID Controller
Adaptec AAA-UDMA RAID Controller - PCSTATS
Abstract: The controller is the AAA-UDMA, a four-channel UDMA/66 RAID controller supporting up to four hard drives in RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0/1, and RAID 5 configurations.
Filed under: Servers Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Adaptec Mar 30 2001   D. Dee  
Home > Reviews > Servers > Adaptec AAA-UDMA

Adaptec AAA-UDMA RAID Controller Review
A few months ago I noticed an interesting new product on Adaptec's Web site: an Ultra DMA RAID controller that was not only a full hardware RAID but also supported RAID 5. I immediately wanted to test this device, and after several months of attaining the appropriate hardware and weeks of benchmarking, it is finally time to write up this review of it. The controller is the AAA-UDMA, a four-channel UDMA/66 RAID controller supporting up to four hard drives in RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0/1, and RAID 5 configurations.

It comes with a 2 megabyte ECC EDO DIMM as a cache buffer, and the slot supports up to a 64MB module of the same type for increased performance.

Adaptec makes it clear on the box and in the product literature that the AAA-UDMA is meant for entry-level servers. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with RAID systems. SCSI controllers can have 15 or more devices per channel (depending on exactly which type of SCSI is used), and since arrays can span multiple channels and even multiple cards in high-end configurations, SCSI RAID arrays consisting of tens of drives are not uncommon in large servers.

And since even a single-channel SCSI controller can hold many more than four drives, this ATA solution is strictly intended for small servers for those on a budget. The box says such a server should support no more than 25 users, so this is the kind of device a company might consider for use in a workgroup server. Despite Adaptec's recommendation, it seems from the specifications that this card would also be great for high-end desktop or workstation systems that need a lot of hard disk throughput and redundancy, but can't afford a significantly more expensive SCSI array.

The retail box contains the following items: the full-length PCI adapter itself; a card with installation tips, Adaptec's contact information, and a registration card; serial number stickers (one to put on the registration card, one to put somewhere that's easily accessible so you can read the number should you need to call technical support); four UDMA/66 cables; an installation and hardware guide; a user guide for the Adaptec CI/O management software; the CI/O management software on CD-ROM; one floppy disk with the BIOS, firmware, and flashing utilities; two floppies used to boot and configure the system when setting up the array as the boot device; three floppies with drivers for Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, and NetWare; and finally, the ever-present licensing agreement for using the software.

As mentioned above, the card also comes equipped with a 2-megabyte unbuffered ECC EDO DIMM for cache, and can support up to a 64-megabyte module. The card supports up to four hard disks and has one ATA channel per disk. Note that the card does not support any devices other than hard disks, and it has only internal connectors. Interestingly, the card supports only UDMA/66, not the newer UDMA/100.

My assumption is that Adaptec started designing the card a while back, and even though its design was completed earlier this year, they spent several months testing it and did not release it until recently. Perhaps a similar UDMA/100 card is in the works. In any case, no single ATA drive can reach throughput speeds of 66 megabytes per second anyway, so it's not a big issue, and ATA/100 drives will work fine with the card.

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Contents of Article: Adaptec AAA-UDMA
 Pg 1.  — Adaptec AAA-UDMA RAID Controller
 Pg 2.  A little about RAID
 Pg 3.  Initialization time for the array
 Pg 4.  The full specs
 Pg 5.  Three Drives improve performance
 Pg 6.  RAID 0 Performance
 Pg 7.  RAID 1 Performance
 Pg 8.  OS Supported
 Pg 9.  Software management
 Pg 10.  CI/O software
 Pg 11.  RAID 5 benchmarks
 Pg 12.  processor usage
 Pg 13.  Conclusions

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