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AMD A10-6800K Review ....................

Antec ISK110 VESA Case Review .............................. ....................

Antec P280 Case and HCP1200 PSU ....................

Intel Ivy Bridge i7-3770K CPU

Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR Camera

AMD Radeon HD 7870

AMD Radeon HD 7770 & 7750

AMD Radeon HD 7970 .........................

AMD Bulldozer FX-8150 CPU

ASUS EAH6970 Graphics Card

AMD Llano A8-3850 Review

Cougar GX G1050 1050W PSU

Antec HCG900 900W PSU

Rasurbo Xange Case and 550W PSU ....................

Cooler Master Storm Enforcer Case ....................

AMD Phenom II X4 980BE CPU Review

AMD 6-series Entry Level GPUs

AMD ATI Radeon HD6990 Review

Intel 510 Series 250GB SSD

ASUS ENGTX580 DCUII Review

Sapphire Radeon HD6870 Vapor-X

Antec Minuet 350 Case Review

Sapphire Radeon HD6950

Intel Sandy Bridge Processors

AMD Phenom II X4 975BE & X6 1100T

AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Thuban CPU ...............

Kingston V+ Series 128GB SSD Review

Antec P183 Case and 1000W PSU

AMD ATI Radeon 5670 Review

AMD ATI Radeon HD 5850 Review

AMD Athlon II X4 630 CPU Review

Intel Lynnfield i7-870 Processor Review

Kingston DDR3 Memory Review

ASUS Maximus III Gene Motherboard

ASUS M4A79T Deluxe Motherboard

Antec Midi Tower Case and PSU

Active Media SaberTooth SSD

More Power Protection Products ......................... ...............

DDR2 Memory Roundup

Dual Layer DVD Burners Reviewed

Dual Format DVD Burner Review

QuietPC Product Roundup

GlobalWIN Product Roundup

Sapphire Radeon 9800 AIW Pro

Athlon 64 FX-51 Review

Lian Li PC37 Aluminum Mini Tower Case ...............

Abit IS7-G Motherboard Review 

AOpen AX4C Max Review

Promise S150 TX4 RAID Controller

Silent Power Supplies Reviewed

Nvidia GeForce FX5900 Ultra ....................

Promise TX4000 RAID Controller

ASUS V9900 Ultra Review

Promise TX2Plus RAID Controller

AMD Athlon XP3200+ CPU Review

Intel Canterwood Chipset Review

ASUS P4SDX Deluxe Motherboard

Dual Athlon MP2600+ Review

Pinnacle Systems: Edition DV500

Athlon XP3000+ CPU

  ..

TwinMOS Memory

 

Leadtek K7NCR18D-Pro

Aopen CRW4850 CD Burner Review

AOpen AK77-8X Max Motherboard Review

AOpen AX4PE Max Motherboard Review

Enlight Cases Roundup

Power Protection Products Review

Creative Webcam Pro eX Review

PAPST Fans (Silent PC Part2)

AMD Athlon XP2700+ CPU

Leadtek WinFast A280 MyVIVO

Crucial PC2700 DDR333 Memory

Chieftec Wireless Desktop Review

Intel Pentium4 3.06GHz CPU with Hyper Threading Review

Hyper-Threading Technology Guide

PURE Digital SonicXplosion Sound Card

PURE Digital ZXR-500 Speaker System

Logitech Z-560 4.1-Speaker System

Global Win GAT-001 Case Review ....................

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz Review

Belkin Omniview 4-Pt. KVM Switch + Audio

AKASA Paxmate Acoustic Matting Installation Guide

Chieftec Winner Series: WX-01BD Case Review ..........

Cooler Master ATC-710 Case Review

80mm -> 60mm Fan Adapter

TDK USB Bluetooth Adaptor

Socket-A Cooler Roundup 

Promise FastTrak SX4000 RAID Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promise FastTrak SX4000 Raid Controller Updated 11th April 2003

This review has been beset with delays due to very unlucky set of circumstances. First there was a delay in being able to obtain 4 identical hard drive to test the four channels on this card. After all, we could just test 4 drives on a TX2000 but on this card we can actually have them as 4 Masters rather than 2 Masters and 2 Slaves. Then we had some strange behavior whereby performance actually went down as more drives were added. The technical support guys at Promise were very quick in sending us new tools to use but when these showed similar results they sent us a replacement card. Then there were issues of very slow performance with drives above 120GB but this was fixed with a firmware update. Now we are finally ready to give the definitive review. 

The card also has a lot of exciting features. Here's what you get and the manufacturer's specifications:

  • Supports Ultra ATA/133* and ATA/100 drives; backward compatible with older

  • Ultra ATA drives; 48-bit Large LBA supports drive sizes greater than 137GB

  • 4 independent data channels support up to 4 Ultra ATA drives

  • Up to 266MB/sec bandwidth (depends on drive speed, multiple drives, and use of

  • 66MHz PCI bus)

  • RAID 5 (data and parity striping; 3 drives minimum)

  • RAID 0+1 (striping and mirroring; 4 drives)

  • RAID 1 (mirroring; 2 drives)

  • RAID 0 (striping; up to 4 drives)

  • Generates parity data for RAID 5; mirrors data to second drive or drive pair

  • on-the-fly for RAID 1 and RAID 0+1

  • Allows assigning standby hot spare drive for 2-drive RAID 1 or 3-drive RAID 5

  • array; offers hot swap support of failed drive when used with optional Promise SuperSwap™ chassises

  • Compatible with 66MHz and 33MHz PCI motherboards S1, S3, & S4

  • Single 168-pin DIMM slot for up to 256MB ECC or non-ECC cache memory**

  • Optimizes drive performance by drive type; flashable; boots system from all array levels; BBS compliant; setup menus for custom array creation; supports multiple arrays

  • Windows utility monitors status of arrays, hard drives, and optional Promise

  • SuperSwap enclosures via TCP/IP; warns of drive failure; allows rebuilds of failed arrays; synchronizes data on mirrored drives; e-mail notification for array events

  • Windows XP/2000/NT; RedHat Linux 7.2 / 7.3; TurboLinux Server 6.5 /

  • Workstation 7.0; SuSE Linux 7.3 / 8.0

  • 9.84" x 3.82" (25cm x 9.7cm)

  • 32° to 122° F (0° to 50° C)

  • Universal 5V and 3.3V

  • FCC Class B, CE

  • 2 Years Warranty

Thoughtfully 4 cables are included but you have to provide your own memory chip. SDR memory from 64MB to 256MB is supported. We used a Crucial 256MB 133MHz stick.

Also included are two power splitter cables in the assumption that the card was obtained to make use of all 4 channels (otherwise why not have bought the cheaper TX2000?).

Here's a screen showing the configuration of the test system:

The only change to the above is the use of four Maxtor 540DX 80GB ATA-133 drives and the SX4000 we are testing. The latest drivers from Promise's web site were used. Here's what it looks like with 4 drives attached:

 

Let's dispense with SiSoft Sandra and the like straight away. There is only one tool that will suit our purposes and that's HDTach. This gives us a reading over the whole array and not just snapshots.

First RAID-0 single disk using a 16K stripe size.

This seems about right for a single drive in sustained transfer mode. Now for a 2-disk RAID0 array.

The read speed goes up (approximately double) while the write speed goes down slightly. This seems consistent with other RAID controllers. Now for a 32K stripe size.

This gives a slightly better write performance at the expense of read performance. How about a 64K stripe size?

We can see that 16K is the best stripe set (we can confirm this with many more tests but we'll spare our readers the gory details) and we will stick with this.

We no longer have access to 4 identical drives so took a trip to a data center nearby (name withheld to avoid getting our friends in trouble) where a server using a 4-disk RAID0 array on an SX4000 was in operation. We couldn't run HD-Tach as this requires non-partitioned drives but ran some other benchmarks. Performance with 4 drives was superb with sustained rates averaging about 3 times that of the single drive graph above. RAID5 performance was also excellent and the parity overhead was barely noticeable with the card in a 64-bit PCI slot.

Conclusion

Eventually this card has shown us why Promise engineers have so much faith in it. Performance is very good in all areas and Windows XP seems to fly along thanks to the addition of cache memory. The price point of this card is ideal for just a RAID0 product but when you take into account the RAID5 support there is no competition. If you don't want to settle for onboard RAID or you have 3/4 hard drives and don't want to suffer from a Master/Slave setup then this card will let you run your all your drives as Master.

We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this product and give it our Silver Award.

We would like to thank Promise Technology Inc. for the review sample.

 

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