17 Replies Latest reply on Oct 11, 2010 9:34 AM by BradshawWhite

    Areca Cards

    Jim_Simon Level 9

      Hey Harm,


      In my several months without Internet, I've fallen waaaay behind in my tech reading.  What's your opinion of the I/O controllers on Areca cards?  What to look for, what to avoid, that kind of thing.  (3 drive RAID 3 planned.)

        • 1. Re: Areca Cards
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          Areca has announced the new 1880iX series, that use new IOP's and that support SATA III (6 G), but there is no clear indication when they will be available, so as things stand today, the 1680iX is their top-line.


          These are available in 8, 12, 16 and 24 port models. All are technically the same, with two differences, number of ports and amount of cache memory that can be installed. The 8-port version has a fixed 512 MB cache and all others allow up to 4 GB ECC cache.


          When I started using Raid, I started out with a Promise 2-port card, then upgraded to a 4-port 3Ware card, which was a very nice improvement and about a year and a half ago, I switched to the 12-port 1680iX, thinking at that moment that ought to be more than enough. Who needs more than 12 ports? My thinking has changed since then. The extra price for a 24-port version over a 12-port version is pretty small and it would allow for a 16 disk raid30 (2 x 7 plus 2 hot-spares) with a net storage of 12 TB with 1 TB disks, PLUS 4 up to 8 SSD's in raid0 (up to 2 TB) for previews, media cache and page file. That would all fit nicely in my case, next to the two burners I have, so no need to use any external casing.


          I know you are thinking of a raid3 of only 3 disks. That would probably result in an average sequential read speed of around 170 MB/s, adding another disk to the array would increase that to around 255 MB/s and adding another one would increase that number to around 340 MB/s.


          The rough calculation rule is (N - 1) x 0.85 = average sequential read speed, where N is the number of disks in the array.


          For sequential writes the rule is (N - 1) x 0.65 = average sequential write speed, so my figures above are based on a 100 MB/s average for a single disk.


          With the low prices of 1 TB disks, it is prudent to have some extra ports avaiable for the future, so I suggest the 12 port version as a minimum because of the cache expandability.


          Your system AFAIK currently has 3 GB memory, which means that you will use the page file quite often, so all extra speed you can get from the pagefile will be most welcome. This still happens when you have 12 GB, especially when encoding to a relatively simple codec like MPEG2. Memory and pagefile are your bottlenecks in that case.


          Hope this helps.

          • 2. Re: Areca Cards
            JCschild Level 3

            and now for the "other guy" devils advocate or the other thought.

            Intel makes some of the best Raid cards out there and are less $.

            benchmarks would be no different.

            managment software is easier and better on the Intel.


            lastly Raid 3/5?   why?

            i would rather see 2 sets of raid 0 (using the onboard raid) and a nice big external storage for backup! (2TB eSata)


            a raid card makes sense when doing 6+ drives in raid.





            • 3. Re: Areca Cards
              Ed Edited It Productions Level 1

              Would it also depend on if it is an internal or external drive array and also the amount of required concurrent video projects (and their size and length)?


              I'm leaning toward an internal onboard RAID 0 configuration (with separate source, scratch and render drives), but external backups as Scot suggests. I'm coming to this conclusion because A) I don't work with a lot of projects at the same time and B) the projects I do work with are smaller (<1hr of footage). Once I'm done with each, I can back them up as I see fit (or hand the backups to the client using various methods)


              An external RAID 3 or 5 configuration would make sense for those users who have the need to add more or swap out drives over time to the array, and/or have to deal with multiple big projects that go on for an extended period of time. (or they make use of file/stock footage that needs to live 'on line' in the array)


              Does my logic make sense?

              • 4. Re: Areca Cards
                Jim_Simon Level 9

                lastly Raid 3/5?   why?


                Because RAID 3 will give you most of the speed of a RAID 0, but with data protection.  And a RAID 3 will suffer only a minor performance hit compared to a RAID 5 if a rebuild ever becomes necessary.


                For video editing, RAID 3 is the clear winner.


                It is too bad that only Areca cards offer such an option, though.

                • 5. Re: Areca Cards
                  Jim_Simon Level 9
                  Memory and pagefile are your bottlenecks in that case.


                  Hope this helps.


                  I'm afraid that MB Looks will forever be my bottleneck.


                  And yes, it helps a lot.  Thanks.

                  • 6. Re: Areca Cards
                    ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                    Overall performance, raid 5 is better than raid 3. Only in the sequential is raid 3 better an not as much as it use to be with the new controllers. The rebuild on raid 5 is also not nearly as bad as it use to be on current enterprise raid controllers using less resources and taking far less time. There is a reason raid 5 or 50 is the most predominant raid level used of all the raid levels. I personally like raid 6 but it costs an extra drive. For data integrity though you can't beat it and the performance is as good as raid 5 is most areas.




                    • 7. Re: Areca Cards
                      Harm Millaard Level 7
                      There is a reason raid 5 or 50 is the most predominant raid level used of all the raid levels.


                      Actually there are five major reasons:


                      1. There is much more choice in Raid5/6 controllers than the single Areca controllers for Raid3.


                      2. Most HP / Dell workstations can be equipped with Raid 5/6 controllers and do not offer the option of installing Areca as a standard choice.


                      3. Most server / workstation environments require high IOPS, not sequential performance, in contrast to NLE machines.


                      4. Raid3 controllers are expensive in comparison to Raid5/6 controllers.


                      5. External cabinets usually offer Raid5/6 capability, but generally not a single one to offer Raid3.

                      • 8. Re: Areca Cards
                        ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                        Hehe ok Harm you got me on there is more than 1 reason. You illustrate my point none the less. Areca currently supports raid 3 but the others have dropped it. Why do you think that is? Some of the cards are cheaper than Areca but some are not. Atto cards are still as expensive as Areca and they don't support raid 3 even on their new cards as you can see.




                        Most raid card manufacturers dropped raid 3 because the performance gap with Raid 5 has shrunk with regards to sequential commands and the rebuilding is no longer an issue especially with background initialization. The rebuild times on raid 5 are not bad anymore either nor do they stop operations and I can even select how much of the Raid CPU I want working on the rebuild and how much I want working on IOP's. Clients still edit uncompressed HD on a degraded raid 5 arrays while it is rebuilding. As you stated, the IOP's when dealing with video is not significant so it does not effect the rebuild process especially with background initialization and rebuilding. Raid 3 does have an advantage in the sequential but it's definitely not enough to justify double the cost or more of another controller that performs just as well with raid 5. I really think you should test this again when you get one of the new Areca 600Gb/s controllers.




                        • 9. Re: Areca Cards
                          Harm Millaard Level 7



                          This argument of yours:


                          Most raid card manufacturers dropped raid 3 because the performance gap with Raid 5 has shrunk with regards to sequential commands and the rebuilding is no longer an issue especially with background initialization.


                          is that the same reasoning Apple applied with the new Mac Pro's to drop support for nVidia and only support ATI, because the performance is no longer an issue, especially when one no longer uses Adobe, but only FCP?


                          BTW, Atto is one of the very few to support Raid4. Could that be the reason for their relatively high prices? They have the drawback of fixed cache however, like almost all others.

                          • 10. Re: Areca Cards
                            ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                            Hehe I have no idea why Apple used that argument but mine is based on fact. BackGround initialization coupled with optimized raid 5 instructions eliminates the Raid 5 rebuilding argument that you and other raid 3 proponents keep harping on. That is the case regardless of the argument.


                            The Sequential commands argument is accurate but highly overstated. So would you pay twice the price on a car that  could go 5 mph faster than another car on long straight aways but went slower in the 0 to 60 category by a significant margin. I sure would not. Once again that is a valid argument and nothing to do with your very good point about Apple


                            Oh and Atto cards have always been expensive. All of the others use to support raid 3 and raid 4 but they dropped them likely to make room on the firmware for raid 50 and raid 60 code. Why waste valuable firmware room for code that is no longer needed. Atto likely kept raid 4 support because they have client's who still use it and they don't want them to have to migrate all of their arrays.


                            Oh and as to the expense on the Atto. Look at the bandwidth per channel. That is absurdly high and makes them worth the price






                            • 11. Re: Areca Cards

                              Hi Harm,

                              Before I ask for a perspective, I just want to thank you for all your efforts in sharing information with folks that are more novice such as myself.  I have spent a lot of time in the various forums over the past 3 - 4 weeks considering a variety of perspectives related to the computer build that I am currently working on and all of your informative posts, as well as your responses to questions by others, have been EXTREMELY useful to me and the thought processes that I am currently going through.  Thank you - very much!


                              I am formalizing my plan on the drive configuration for my new build and have decided to take the SSD plunge for the OS and Program files.  Whereas I am going to buy the ASUS Rampage III MOBO (which offers SATA III), I plan to stick with Intel's X25-M G2 160GB SSD based on cost (and being a suitable size for OS/Programs) as compared with Crucial's SATA III 256 GB SSD at a couple of hundred dollars more.  I'll move my old WD740 Raptor SATA drives, currently in a RAID 1 (MOBO) into the new system and use the new MOBO for a 140 GB RAID 0 scratch drive.  For the media output/storage drive I have decided to invest in the Areca 1880ix-12 controller.  My plans are to stand it up with a RAID 3 with 3 or 4 1 TB drives, likely Spinpoint F3s, thinking that while I will not use all the SATA III capabilities or all the 12 ports now, there will be ample capability for me to expand in the future with a SATA III-based RAID or with additional drives.  (As a novice user, I don't think that I would ever exceed the limit of the board, but then again, neither did you!)


                              My question centers on whether to get the low profile (1880ixl-12) or the full-height (1880ix-12) controller.  Looking at Areca's photo's http://www.areca.com.tw/support/photo_gallery.htm), the two cards appear somewhat different - on the low profile card there's a small fan; on the full-height card there are two large heat-dissipation/cooling fin assemblies.  On the full-height board there's a large connector along the top edge that's not on the low-profile board - presumably this is some type of multi-connector or a "ganged" arrangement for individual drive connectors.


                              Any thoughts on:

                              (1) proposed drive structure, and

                              (2) full-height versus low-profile controller card?


                              In advance, thanks.


                              • 12. Re: Areca Cards
                                Baz R Level 3

                                I  personally went for Areca 1680ix 16 port with 4gb Ram, the performance is very good.


                                Before i purchased the card, I read alot of reviews for areca and all were good.



                                • 13. Re: Areca Cards

                                  i've read as many as Harm's helpful posts as possible and just want to make sure I'm going to choose the correct hardware.


                                  If I got a 16port 1680ix and 5 2tb western digital blacks housed in one of these

                                  http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Icy-Box-IB-555SK-for-5x-35-SATA-SAS-HDD-Backplane-into-3x-5 25-bays to run in raid 3 can i still run a two disc raid 0 for my boot drive off the same card?


                                  My other question is how do you connect from the card to the drives? I don't see 16 sata ports on the cards. I imagine there's some kind of breakout cable but how do you get that and will it work with that 5-bay housing.


                                  Finally, My Dell precision 690 only has one x8 pci-e free but it's wired as x4. Will that be suitable or do I need to look at a new computer. (That would be the subject of another thread!)


                                  Sorry for questions, it's just a lot of money and I want to make sure it works.


                                  If there is an external solution to hold more discs for a raid 3 that might lessen the load on my power supply.


                                  Thanks, Michael.

                                  • 14. Re: Areca Cards
                                    Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

                                    Bradshaw White wrote:


                                    Finally, My Dell precision 690 only has one x8 pci-e free but it's wired as x4. Will that be suitable or do I need to look at a new computer. (That would be the subject of another thread!)



                                    Thanks, Michael.

                                    I my opinion (I have never tested such a configuration) that would be a big mistake and a waste of performance most likely cutting your performance up to 50%.

                                    • 15. Re: Areca Cards
                                      ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                      Yes the Areca card will work in that slot but it will run at half the speed it normally does. I would not bother with that card if that is the only slot you have left.




                                      • 16. Re: Areca Cards
                                        BradshawWhite Level 1

                                        ok, thats a pity but exactly the reason why I asked.


                                        Unfortunately it's the only free slot and there's only one x16 slot which has the graphics card.


                                        Thats pretty much made the decision for me that I need to buy a new computer. I'll have to make a new thread or do some more reading on recommended

                                        systems as I have £4000 to spend if needs be!


                                        Thanks, Michael.

                                        • 17. Re: Areca Cards
                                          BradshawWhite Level 1

                                          just thinking about the battleneck issue of only having a x8 slot wired as x4.


                                          Speed isn't my concern at the moment, I just need a large amount of storage that is foolproof in terms of backup.


                                          If I went ahead and got that card with 5 2TB western digital drives that would that give me plenty of safe storage in raid3 although it would be limited speedwise by the bus.


                                          Would it still be as fast as my raid1, as long as it's as fast I'm not worried as I'll be getting a new computer soon with plenty of fast slots.


                                          So would there be anything wrong with getting the raid3 array sorted now and then sticking it into a new computer once i get it.


                                          As long as it's not slower than now.


                                          Thanks, M.