ACARD ANS-9010B ramdrive

tynopik

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Aug 10, 2004
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this looks like a very interesting product and i would like to see a pro review of it

http://www.acard.com/english/f...%20Drive&type1_idno=13

6 dimm slots, up to 8GB dimms, with non-ECC dimms reserves 1/9 of space for parity data, battery backup, compact flash backup/restore (runs off battery), optional external power supply to keep powered while computer off

$250

the big brother ANS-9010 has 8 dimm slots and 2 sata ports (allowing raid-0 for higher bandwidth) for $400, but to me, that isn't worth the extra $150

equipped with reasonably priced 2GB dimms, it comes to:
$250 - base unit
$020 - external power supply
$150 - 6 x $25 2gb dimms (can probably find cheaper)
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$420 + compact flash card for 12gb * (8/9) = 10.6GB capacity

10.6GB should be enough for a boot drive if you're careful with where you install stuff

but that's theoretical, i would love to see a review about how it performs in real-life day-to-day use
 

Denithor

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Apr 11, 2004
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I'll second that request. I've been looking at these for about a month since I first found them mentioned over at extremesystems.
 

davecason

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Jun 4, 2000
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Another article:
http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/16255/1

I read the above article but they didn't test with very good hardware (less than decent SATA controller). I bought a pair of Dell Perc 5i cards and upgraded them with the latest LSI MegaRaid 8840E firmware which really made my ANS-9010 cook. See chart number 4:

http://www.wideopenwest.com/~dcason6634/

You definitely need a decent SATA controller to get the most out of one of these.
 

Denithor

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Apr 11, 2004
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Looks like the main limitation is going to be the SATA interface, period. Wonder if they could come up with a way to interface through the PCIe lanes or something?

EDIT: I also wonder how this would perform in the 4K random writes department that seems to be the Achilles Heel of all SSD drives today.
 

Idontcare

Elite Member
Oct 10, 1999
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Originally posted by: davecason
Another article:
http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/16255/1

I read the above article but they didn't test with very good hardware (less than decent SATA controller). I bought a pair of Dell Perc 5i cards and upgraded them with the latest LSI MegaRaid 8840E firmware which really made my ANS-9010 cook. See chart number 4:

http://www.wideopenwest.com/~dcason6634/

You definitely need a decent SATA controller to get the most out of one of these.
That is an awesome user-generated review of the hardware. I too run dual-iram in raid-0 (well I use too until my iram's shorted each other, lots of smoke and sparkies) for nearly 2 years.

Sounds like the Acard really picks up where iram left off, more capacity and data retention options. Iram requiring PCI slots for power was a real drag.

Quick fellow enthusiast request - if you have the gear and the time - would you mind running the crystaldiskmark bench on your drives (any of them, whatever you still have setup) so we can get a gander at the 4KB random writes?

A screencapture like this is all I'm after, nothing fancier is necessary.
 

davecason

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Jun 4, 2000
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I bought a pair of Dell Perc 5/i controllers on eBay last month for the purpose of testing the ANS-9010 with a RAID controller dedicated to each SATA port on the ANS-9010. I got around to trying them over the weekend and I confirmed that the controller is the bottleneck: using two controllers (duplexing... sort of) with software striping (RAID 0 via software) yielded the most performance.

Check out the charts on the below link:
http://www.wideopenwest.com/~d...20Dell%20PERC%205i.JPG

Basically, I gave each SATA port its own cpu and memory. It seems to work.

I am looking for a hardware solution that can create a hardware controlled bridge that will allow me to establish a RAID 0 or RAID 10 (or similar variant) without a software solution.
If someone knows how to coax this ability out of a pair of Promise ex8350's or a pair of Dell Perc 5/i's, let me know and I will try it on my own.
 

davecason

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Jun 4, 2000
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I noticed that my results were a lot better than your sample, Mr. Idontcare.

Note: I did not run my two iRams through the CrystalDiskMark because they just don't work in the Dell Perc 5/i's as they are SATA I instead of SATA II. I am moving this weekend so I don't think I will have time to put my ex8350 back in for a while to try that. I may get to it eventually.
 

Idontcare

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Oct 10, 1999
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Originally posted by: davecason
I noticed that my results were a lot better than your sample, Mr. Idontcare.

Note: I did not run my two iRams through the CrystalDiskMark because they just don't work in the Dell Perc 5/i's as they are SATA I instead of SATA II. I am moving this weekend so I don't think I will have time to put my ex8350 back in for a while to try that. I may get to it eventually.
Nice results, exactly what I wanted to see. Yeah that particular screenshot of mine was for a 500GB Hitachi spindle drive.

52MB/s randomw 4KB writes is pretty darn nice.

I get about 600MB/s for my ramdisk, and a single Intel SSD gets about 30MB/s.

I'll have to dig up my iram benches but to recollection they scored right around 90-100MB/s for the 4B random writes...but my memory is fuzzy so don't put too much faith in that until I can confirm.
 

davecason

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Jun 4, 2000
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I was getting crazy numbers from a Ramdisk. I downloaded a trial version to try it again yesterday but it just wouldn't let me make a drive (I was running a 32-bit OS with 8GB of RAM so maybe it got confused). The last time I tried it was with a 64-bit OS and it worked very well.

Questions:

What Ramdisk software did you use?


I'll have to dig up my iram benches but to recollection they scored right around 90-100MB/s for the 4B random writes...but my memory is fuzzy so don't put too much faith in that until I can confirm.
What did you use for a SATA controller? I am looking for the best possible option and I still haven't found it yet.
 

Idontcare

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Oct 10, 1999
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Originally posted by: davecason
What Ramdisk software did you use?
I've use superspeed ramdisk for years now, meaning its never given me reason to try another product.

It's not free but it is effective and has the features I like such as the automated data backup and restore on shutdown/reboot cycles.

There is a 15day trial version (full featured). If you check it out I recommend going with the Plus version and don't waste your time on the regular version.

Originally posted by: davecason
What did you use for a SATA controller? I am looking for the best possible option and I still haven't found it yet.
Areca 1280ML. Have you ever been an Areca customer? I only ask because their customer support is CRAZY awesome.

So I buy this 1280ML when it first comes out, fall 2007. $1200 or thereabouts. Naturally I want to pimp it out with the full 2GB of cache, so I go online to some ram warehouse (a tier one guy, nothing surly) and buy the cheapest 2GB stick that matches the spec requirements (banks, sides, speed, etc) for the 1280ML.

I go to install the memory in the card and no boot. I email areca customer support (in Taiwan) and think to myself "great, this will take a week to get a response". I had an email response from "Kevin" within 15 minutes. He's not sure what the problem is with my 1280ML but he suspects the ram is not compatible. He tells me to wait 48 hrs.

2 days later he emails me, the guy had gone online and ordered my exact same ram dimm model from the supplier, brought it in-house and ran full diagnostics on it. He found out the dimm had an improperly configured spd setting of some kind that violated the jedec standard and thus rendered it to be viewed as defective by the 1280ML during initialization.

He then tells me that he knows a dimm from the same supplier (was like $3 more expensive) that is known to work with the 1280ML. Long story short I rma the old dimm, get the new dimm and it all works.

Isn't that crazy? Tell me Adaptec would go to those lengths just to figure out if a customer needs different third-party cache ram for their raid controller.

At any rate let me wrestle up that crystaldiskmark for my iram, I know its saved on one of my drives.
 

davecason

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I've use superspeed ramdisk for years now, meaning its never given me reason to try another product.
That is what I tried (trial version) and had trouble with. The 64-bit version worked fine before, I can't get the 32-bit to work now.

Areca 1280ML. Have you ever been an Areca customer? I only ask because their customer support is CRAZY awesome.
That is fantastic. I will check into it. I know I can upgrade my Perc's to 512MB of RAM (and maybe more) but I am not convinced that the cache is the bottleneck. I have always wanted to try Areca, but the cost... too much for me. I would probably try to find something used or upgrade the cache for my old stuff first.

The Areca 1280ML uses an Intel 800MHz IOP341 I/O processor. I was considering something with a IOP348, but they seem to be comprable:
http://www.intel.com/design/iio/index.htm

I went ahead and tested my 2 iRams in RAID 0 and posted the result:
http://www.wideopenwest.com/~dcason6634/

The iRams certainly didn't fare as well, but it was probably the controller.

I have had a lot of compatibility problems with my iRams. They don't work at all on my nForce Pro 2200/2050 chipset, they work on my ex8350 but they generate errors in the RAID controller's logs, and they did not work with any low-end PCI or IDE-to-SATA converter. I am glad to hear there wasn't a problem with the Arcea card (although, if there was, it sounds like they would figure out what is and offer a solution).
 

Idontcare

Elite Member
Oct 10, 1999
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Originally posted by: davecason
I've use superspeed ramdisk for years now, meaning its never given me reason to try another product.
That is what I tried (trial version) and had trouble with. The 64-bit version worked fine before, I can't get the 32-bit to work now.
I don't know what to say, I've personally not had any issues with them but then again my experience is limited to just the 32-bit version and on XP. I love the memory mapping feature, 8GB on my rig of which XP uses 3.25GB and superspeed uses the remaining 5.75GB.

Originally posted by: davecason
I have always wanted to try Areca, but the cost... too much for me. I would probably try to find something used or upgrade the cache for my old stuff first.

The Areca 1280ML uses an Intel 800MHz IOP341 I/O processor. I was considering something with a IOP348, but they seem to be comprable:
http://www.intel.com/design/iio/index.htm
Says the guy who plays around with Acard ramdrives? Yeah Areca is not cheap. I bought mine when I was in a whole different tax bracket (or two) compared to my current cashflow. :laugh:

If I were in the market today I would not buy the 1280ML, it was top-dog in 2007 when I bought it but now you would be best looking at the 1680 line-up with the 1.2GHz IOP348 if you want brand new. (and lets you plug in 4GB of cache!)

Getting a 1280 (or any of the 12xx products) is not a bad thing, just make sure you are getting the appropriate price discount from wherever you buy it as its peak performance is less than what a 1680 would give you.

Originally posted by: davecason
I went ahead and tested my 2 iRams in RAID 0 and posted the result:
http://www.wideopenwest.com/~dcason6634/

The iRams certainly didn't fare as well, but it was probably the controller.

I have had a lot of compatibility problems with my iRams. They don't work at all on my nForce Pro 2200/2050 chipset, they work on my ex8350 but they generate errors in the RAID controller's logs, and they did not work with any low-end PCI or IDE-to-SATA converter. I am glad to hear there wasn't a problem with the Arcea card (although, if there was, it sounds like they would figure out what is and offer a solution).
I found my old iram crystaldiskmark bench...my memory wasn't too far off but now I realize the results are probably worthless because clearly the cache on the areca is convoluting the benchmark results.

http://i272.photobucket.com/al...iskMarkIRAMonAreca.jpg

Your results are actually in-line with the likely reality of what the iram's onboard controller can handle. 20MB/s for 4KB random writes is probably pretty good for a controller that was developed some 5 yrs ago.

Initially iram was incompatible with the areca cards because gigabyte did not make the Iram's SMART compliant. So any controller that is designed to check for drive health upon initialization would see the Iram as a dead drive. Areca eventually (took about a year) patched their firmware specially for iram so that iram would work on their raid cards.

I'd re-run my iram benches using the mobo's onboard SATA controller to bypass the raid controller's cache but my last iram card just died. Can't get anything to recognize it now. RIP. My other one expired a while ago when it drooped low enough as to touch the neighboring iram card in the next lowest PCI slot. Sparks and smoke ensued, I was pissed to say the least but I was just happy to find it didn't kill the mobo.

My next upgrade is going to be a raid-0 array of 4-6 SSD's whenever the pricepoint reaches a happy place with my wallet.
 

Denithor

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Apr 11, 2004
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Davecason -

What size striping did you use for the Acard in raid0?
Did your controller have any cache to buffer the data?
What kind of numbers does the device post if you run it in single SATA mode (not raid)?

IDK -

The Intel SSDs 'feel' super-fast due to speedy random reads & writes. Do you know where the point of diminishing returns occurs?

4k random writes:
WD VR 1.6MB/s
OCZ Vertex 2.4MB/s
X25M 25MB/s
Acard 9010 50MB/s
RAMdisk 600MB/s

Is there a point beyond which it doesn't feel any faster? Or would the ultimate desktop experience be created using a server board with as much RAM as possible and a massive RAMdisk for all your apps/etc? (Obviously ignoring price completely.)
 

Idontcare

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Oct 10, 1999
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Originally posted by: Denithor
IDK -

The Intel SSDs 'feel' super-fast due to speedy random reads & writes. Do you know where the point of diminishing returns occurs?

4k random writes:
WD VR 1.6MB/s
OCZ Vertex 2.4MB/s
X25M 25MB/s
Acard 9010 50MB/s
RAMdisk 600MB/s

Is there a point beyond which it doesn't feel any faster? Or would the ultimate desktop experience be created using a server board with as much RAM as possible and a massive RAMdisk for all your apps/etc? (Obviously ignoring price completely.)
Back in 2007 my "super desktop" was an nLite stripped-down XP installation that fit entirely on raid-0 dual iram combined with 2GB of ramdisk on which I installed 100% of my apps at the time (was not gaming). This was then powered by a 4GHz QX6700 OC'ed using vaporphase cooling.

I simply cannot overstate how silly stupid fast opening applications was. I mean silly, silly, stupid fast.

Clicking the shortcut to launch Excel resulted in Excel being open and ready to use faster than I could blink my eye, faster than I could even lift my finger from the mouse button after clicking down on the button to launch the link.

Outlook was the same way. A 300MB program would load and present itself literally instantly as far as my eye could detect (so probably talking sub-50ms here).

The user experience was MOST satisfactory. There was zero wait time for anything and everything I was doing with my machine at the time. But with the limited capacity of Iram and ramdisk at the time there were only a few things I could do with such a rig.

Now that we have solutions available with much higher capacities (ACARD and SSD) we get to more choosy about price/performance.

My perception is that the majority of the boost in the user experience is created in that first order of magnitude improvement in small random write bandwidth (the 1.6MB/s -> 20+MB/s jump).

The next order of magnitude improvement in 4KB bandwidth (20MB/s -> 200+MB/s) is really only going to be value-add to those programs that are attempting to literally stream thousands of small file writes or reads to the storage media in a second. The log file for my programs do this, hence the 5GB ramdisk makes a world of difference.

I don't think loading scenes in games is going to flood the storage with tens of thousands of small file IOPs, so whether the storage is capable of retiring say 1,000 small file accesses in 0.1 s or 0.01 s is meaningless at that point, 0.1s is sufficient and is noticeably superior to the 1s or more that a spindle-drive would take.

Just my opinion, could be wrong about that as I don't have the data to speak to.
 

Denithor

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Apr 11, 2004
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So do you have any experience yet at all with the X25M/X25E drives?

Would they provide the "silly, silly, stupid fast" load times for typical apps like the iRam did for you?

How do you set up an iRam/Acard as your boot drive? The data vanishes from it every time you reboot or power down...
 

Idontcare

Elite Member
Oct 10, 1999
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Originally posted by: Denithor
So do you have any experience yet at all with the X25M/X25E drives?
Nope, I have yet to intersect the flash-based SSD product market. Until now it would be a step-down or at best a step-sideways, albeit with a much desired step-up in capacity.

I'm biding my time until I can buy enough SSD's at once to saturate my 1280ML's practical bandwidth capabilities while keeping the cost outlay below $500.

I figure at worst I have another 18 months to bide my time. Until then I will live vicariously thru the likes of the Dave Cason's in the world.

Originally posted by: Denithor
Would they provide the "silly, silly, stupid fast" load times for typical apps like the iRam did for you?
My expectation is that they would provided you had at least 3 or 4 of them in a Raid-0 array.

I'm none too keen on the slow-down degradation, you need to gang a lot of drives to keep the aggregate bandwidth above the noticeable threshold as the array slows.

Originally posted by: Denithor
How do you set up an iRam/Acard as your boot drive? The data vanishes from it every time you reboot or power down...
For Iram the power is supplied thru the PCI slot, which is actively powered so long as the PSU is powered even if the computer itself is shutdown.

For those cases where the PSU must be unplugged or turned off (moving the computer) the iram has a built in battery that keeps the Iram from losing data for about 3-4 hrs.

In my case I just make a full backup of the iram array's contents when I know I am going to unplug the system, then on reboot I recreate the array in the raid controller and restore the contents from the backup. In 2+ yrs I have only had to do this twice.

I leave it to Dave to explain how he keeps the Acard's from losing their memory during power downs. I believe they use a backup built-in SSD solution (adds cost but is more robust than the iram process.
 

Denithor

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Apr 11, 2004
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The Acard has a battery backup like the iRam and also has a slot for a compactflash card for backup purposes.

I guess what I'm asking is how do you do the restore before booting?
 

taltamir

Lifer
Mar 21, 2004
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Originally posted by: Denithor
The Acard has a battery backup like the iRam and also has a slot for a compactflash card for backup purposes.

I guess what I'm asking is how do you do the restore before booting?
slowly and patiently... unless its horribly designed it should automatically restore from it after a power loss (of the capacitor i mean), it automatically backs up to it when the capacitor is about to empty, there is no reason it wouldn't do the opposite when detecting such a power loss.
 

Idontcare

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Oct 10, 1999
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Originally posted by: Denithor
I guess what I'm asking is how do you do the restore before booting?
In the case of Iram I used Acronis system restore no different than if I were restoring my rig from harddrive failure. (use USB thumbdrive to boot the acronis system restore, then restore the partitions, and reboot)

For Acard I am not sure how the internal CF would be used to restore the data but I'm sure Dave could fill us in.
 

Denithor

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Apr 11, 2004
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I need to get a copy of Acronis.

Never used it so don't know how it works. What do you back up onto?
 

Idontcare

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Oct 10, 1999
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For the semi-frequent backups I use sata drive in the same rig. Also I weekly backup to an esata drive.
 

davecason

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Jun 4, 2000
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What size striping did you use for the Acard in raid0? Did your controller have any cache to buffer the data? What kind of numbers does the device post if you run it in single SATA mode (not raid)?
I used a 1MB stripe on my Dell Perc 5/i's and each one has 256MB of cache. The Promise ex8350 has 128MB of cache. The Perc does not have a non-raid mode, even with one disk. The promise card does have a JBOD mode for one disk but the performance was about 30% slower than RAID 0 with just one disk.
 

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