HighPoint RocketRaid 4520 Raid Card SSD Benchmarks and Review


HighPoint RocketRaid 4520 Raid Card SSD Benchmarks and Review

HighPoint RocketRaid 4520 Raid Card SSD Benchmarks and Review

Posted on Feb 21, 2013 by Paul White

I took a gamble and decided to try Highpoint's latest flagship Raid Card ( RocketRaid 4520 ) for my new web server.  Naturally when I get a new piece of hardware I like to put it through some benchmarks to see if it really performs the way it should.  When this combined with your Operating System's Buffering and Caching this card is Excellent, but when Direct I/O is tested is falls short.  To make a long story short, the Rocketraid 4520 does not perform well for IOPS at 4K.  I have already contacted HighPoint and they inferred that their engineering team is aware of this, and are working on a new firmware that should fix the issues.

Highpoint RocketRaid 4520 Overview

The RocketRaid 4520 is a beefy card boasting 6 Gbit SAS/SATA connections.  2 internal Mini-SAS ports ( SSF-8087) provide connections for up to 8 devices without the use of SAS expansion cards.  It has a dedicated RAID-on-Chip processor and 512MB of DDR 3 cache memory.  Its a low profile PCI Express 2.0 x8 card allowing it to fit in just about any configuration.  It supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and JBOD.  It also supports drives larger than 2TB, and is compatible with Windows server 2003, 2007, 2008, 2012, and Windows Vista, 7, 8, as well as major linux distributions and FreeBSD.

What comes in the box?

Highpoint includes the Mini SAS cables, and both a low profile and regular mounting bracket.  Manual, Drivers disc and other papers are also included.  I also bought the BBU separetely, and it comes with its own low profile mounting bracket, and cable to attach it to the RAID card.
HighPoint RocketRaid 4520 Raid Card with Accessories
HighPoint Battery Backup Unit

Installation

Installation was straight forward.  Though I decided to use the cables already installed in my server as the ones provided by Highpoint are a bit bulky.  When you are installing anything in a 1U rack server, space is not always abundant.

HighPoint RocketRaid 4520 Raid Card installed in 1U Rack ServerHighPoint RocketRAID 4520 Boot Manager

One thing I like about this card is the boot manger to setup your RAID arrays is very intuiative.  Below are some screen shots of what you will see when setting up an array.

RocketRAID 4520 RAID Boot Manager

RocketRAID 4520 RAID Boot Manager Creating Array
RocketRAID 4520 RAID Boot Manager Configuring Array
RocketRAID 4520 RAID Boot Manager Selecting Stripe Size
RocketRAID 4520 RAID Boot Manager Initializing new Array
RocketRAID 4520 RAID Boot Manager List of Logical Drives

RocketRAid 4520 vs Other Raid Cards

 When comparing it against other cards it appears to be the best value
CardHighPoint
RocketRaid
4520
Adaptec
6805
LSI
MegaRAID
9261-8i
InterfacePCI Express 2.0
x8
PCI Express 2.0
x8
PCI Express 2.0
x8
Devices888
Port Speed6 Gbit6 Gbit6 Gbit
ProcessorMarvell
88RC9580
PMC-Sierra
PM8013
Dual Core RAID
LSISAS2108
RAID-on-Chip
Cache512MB DDR3
ECC Protection
512MB DDR2
(667 Mhz)
512MB DDR2
(800 Mhz)
Raid Levels 0, 1, 5, 6
10, 50, JBOD
0, 1, 1E, 5, 5EE, 6
10, 50, 60, JBOD
0, 1, 5, 6
10, 50, 60
Low ProfileYesYesYes
Backup PowerOptional
Battery
HPTBBU-05
Optional
Capacitor
AFM-600
Optional
Battery
LSIiBBU07
Price Point$429.99$549.99$484.99

Benchmarking the RocketRaid 4520

I bought this card for use in a multipurpose Web Server ( IIS 7.5, MySQL, Email, Stats ).  My Final Production setup will be 6 x 250GB Samsung 840 SSD drives, and 2 x 2TB WD Green SATA drives.  The SSDs will be configured into an array, and the SATA drives will be used for daily backups.  But for our testing I have installed the OS ( Windows Server 2012 Essentials ) onto a 160 GB SATA drive.  Then I will configure the 6 SSD drives into various RAID levels and stripe sizes testing each one to see what kind of performance I get.  The Software used to Benchmark these will be ATTO 2.47.  My goal is to determine what the optimal RAID setup would be with these SSD drives, or if I should sell the card and upgrade to something faster.  

Benchmarking Platform

  • Supermicro 1026T-UF
  • 8 x 2.5" Hot swap Trays
  • Dual Xeon 5570s( 2.93 Ghz Quadcore with hyperthreading )
  • 48 GB of DDR3 Memory
  • 560 Watt Power Supply
  • 6 x 250GB Samsung 840 SSD drives
  • 1 x 160GB SATA HD ( primary with OS )
  • Windows Server 2012 Essentials

SuperMicro 1026T-UF 1U Rack Server
SuperMicro 1026T-UF 1U Rack Server 8 x hot swap drives

Why the Samsung 840 SSD and not 840 Pro?

The only reason to get the 840 Pro would be for fast Writes Especially IOPs at 4K, or because you are worried about wearing out the flash memory since the 840 is TLC based and the 840 Pro is MLC based.  Theoretically the 840 Pro can handle 3 x the writes of the 840.  But in my case I have already calcuated what kind of wear I will be putting on these drives and wearing out the drives is not likely.  A single drive will last 11 years in my server, and considering I will be using these in a stripped array, this multiplies the expected life by the number of drives in the array.

About ATTO Disk Benchmark

We will be using ATTO 2.47.  We are using the default settings which are Transfer size 0.5KB - 8192.0 KB, Total Length 256 MB, Overlapped I/O and Direct I/O enabled. Queue Depth of 4.  These are the typically settings most websites use when benchmarking the drives, but they don't tell the whole story.  

1 setting in particular ( Direct I/O ) deserves more attention.  When Direct I/O is checked it will bypass the Operating system's caching and buffering.  Each version of Windows has made imrpovements in it how it cache's and buffers frequently accessed data.  When Direct I/O is unchecked, the benchmark will reflect any performance benefits the operating system brings to the drive.

Another notable setting is the Queue Depth. This is the number of files to be Queued at once.  The higher the value the more files that can be transferred at once.

Our first benchmarks will leave Direct I/O enabled to get the drive's stand alone performance.  This also helps to standardize our performance against other benchmarks around the web.
RocketRAID 4520 with Samsung 840 SSD drives

HighPoint RocketRaid 4520 Benchmarks

Using ATTO I benchmarked the RAID card using various raid levels and stripe sizes.  I also ran some benchmarks that were direct IO ( which bypass any buffering or caching by the operating system ), this should show the cards true stand alone performance.  Benchmarks were performed with 250GB Samsung 840 SSD drives ( Not the PRO versions ).  

1 x Samsung 840 SSD Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

Samsung 840 SSD drive on RocketRAID 4520Samsung 840 SSD drive on RocketRAID 4520 with Direct IO disabled

2 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 0 with 64KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

2 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 45202 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 with Direct IO disabled

4 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 0 with 64KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

4 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 45204 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 with Direct IO disabled

6 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 0 with 64KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

6 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 45206 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 with Direct IO disabled

6 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 0 with 16KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

6 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 16KB stripe size on RocketRAID 45206 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 16KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 with Direct IO disabled

6 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 0 with 1024KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

6 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 1024KB stripe size on RocketRAID 45206 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 0 with 1024KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 with Direct IO Disabled

6 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 10 with 64KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

6 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 10 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 

6 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 5 with 64KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

6 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 5 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 

6 x Samsung 840 SSD RAID 6 with 64KB Stripe size Benchmark on RocketRaid 4520

6 x Samsung 840 SSD drive RAID 6 with 64KB stripe size on RocketRAID 4520 

RocketRaid 4520 Benchmark Chart on Samsung 840 SSD drives

Number
of SSDs
Raid
Level
Stripe
Size
ATTO
Direct IO
IOPs Read
@ 4KB
IOPs Write
@ 4KB
Max
Read
Max
Write
1JBODNAenabled20,36217,457537 MB/s295 MB/s
1JBODNAdisabled230,647182,8763,688 MB/s3,689 MB/s
2RAID 064KBenabled20,06018,4761,060 MB/s545 MB/s
2RAID 064KBdisabled251,286205,9344,252 MB/s3,286 MB/s
4RAID 064KBenabled20,36118,9861,993 MB/s1,058 MB/s
4RAID 064KBdisabled266,863198,3734,273 MB/s3,910 MB/s
6RAID 064KBenabled20,76919,7501,723 MB/s1,556 MB/s
6RAID 064KBdisabled205,422180,5724,273 MB/s3,872 MB/s
6RAID 016KBenabled19,75019,0811,147 MB/s1,322 MB/s
6RAID 016KBdisabled232,115181,3404,284 MB/s3,702 MB/s
6RAID 01024KBenabled17,32818,3132,214 MB/s1,532 MB/s
6RAID 01024KBdisabled218,359181,3984,284 MB/s3,739 MB/s
6RAID 1064KBenabled20,51426,5051,669 MB/s785 MB/s
6RAID 564KBenabled41,64233,3331,750 MB/s963 MB/s
6RAID 664KBenabled19,75015,5381,484 MB/s813 MB/s

Final Thoughts on Benchmarks

When ATTO is not forced into Direct I/O mode benchmarks are great,  but it when the Operating System's caching and buffering is taken ouf the picture the performance plumets.  Hopefully HighPoint releases a Firmware update to fix the poor IOPs @ 4KB.  The Samsung 840 SSD are cable of 96,000 IOPs read.  Granted I don't expect to hit 500,000 IOPs with a 6 drive RAID array, but I do expect to hit at least 250K.  However considering that the Operating system will be implimenting its own caching and buffering, I feel that my numbers are likely to be closer to the Direct IO disabled values.

The performance of this card by no means on the bleeding edge.  At this point I think the LSI Cards with their Fast Path addon Module is probably the best way to go for those wanting serious performance out of their SSD arrays.  But I have to remember I am building a multipurpose web server, and not a monster gaming rig.  
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Discussion

Brad | May 2, 2013 8:01 AM
Thanks for taking the time to post the info, just what I was looking for. I will be using the 840 pro in a 6 disk raid connected to an H710 in a Dell. I will report the similar Atto direct I/O speeds. I think the only way to really improve 4k speeds is to use an Intel 910 PCIe based or similar setup. 


dani | May 19, 2013 3:42 AM
i just had a quick look because you mentioned it, but on the lsi site that fast path addon is mentioned as for linux systems... which yet doesnt really agree with gaming rigs. maybe you can give a quick hint if i just should read more about it?
Jose Ricardo | Mar 27, 2014 8:27 PM

Hello good morning.

i know this kind of results. Adaptec Series 6 shows exactly the same performance numbers. Each card manufacturer do their cards exactly what environments they want to do and in this case,HighPoint, Adaptec, Atto and 3ware are cards to perform extremely well just on sequencial/streaming worlds or random 4k with very high queue depths. Forget 4k QD1.

LSI and Areca are the kings of speed on every type of random,specially Areca with 4GB or the last gen with 8GB cache, match 250MB/s 4kQD1 even if HDD is attached on it thanks to fully cache support.

Noel Carboni | May 26, 2015 9:39 PM

Hi,

Thanks for publishing this article and your benchmark results.

Just wanted to mention I've been using your board's little brother, the 2720SGL, for over 3 years now with 4 x OCZ 480 GB Vertex 3 drives.  I WAS considering buying a 4520 to see if it would improve my speeds, but now not so much...  I'm already seeing better Direct I/O write times than you did with 4 drives.

ATTO, Direct I/O:

  • 4.0 - 97,342 Write, 107,044 Read
  • 128.0 - 1,351,297 Write, 1,340,604 Read
  • 2048.0 - 1,505,857 Write, 1,714,821 Read
  • 8192.0 - 1,548,666 Write, 1,723,289 Read

ATTO, unchecked Direct I/O:

  • 4.0 - 664,395 Write, 763,797 Read
  • 128.0 - 2,656,219 Write, 3,171,029 Read
  • 2048.0 - 3,255,776 Write, 3,872,949 Read
  • 8192.0 - 2,710,801 Write, 3,087,007 Read

I'd be curious if you've seen any performance increases with more recent drivers.

-Noel

Paul | May 26, 2015 9:56 PM

@ Noel,

The server is running in a production environment now, so any tests would be skewed with background activities.  In production the server is running 6 x 250GB Samsung 840 Drives configured in RAID 6.  Which is plenty of performance for my server's setup.  I think the only benefits to the 4520 would be the memory cache, and available backup battery for protecting data in the event of the power outage.  Which is more important for Servers, than home and office users. Performance wise I don't think you will see much difference between the two.  I haven't seen any difference in performance when I update drivers for my device either.  My next Workstation I am considering a PCIE based SSD card and just skipping RAID.  

Steve Stoddart | May 22, 2016 8:04 AM

Greetings Paul,

I consider myself fortunate to have found your blog about the 4520... Thank you for posting it :-) 

I am considering purchasing the beast to beef up the performance of my video edit rig - hence the interest in the 4520. While data sheets, etc give detail about the card,  I have not been able to find details of the cable harnesses supplied...

The rig I have built has a number of drive bay modules complete with SATA backplanes to allow hotswap. SATA cables terminate at the backplanes (hardwired) and at the free end, a female SATA connector. Please forgive what might well be a daft question but what gender are connectors on the RocketRaid harnesses? Will I need to find SATA gender changers and if so, will they compromise the 6Gb performance?

Thank you

 

Steve

Paul | May 22, 2016 10:07 AM

steve,

I am pretty sure the mini SAS to SATA cables have Male ends, so they can plug directly into the drives.  They should fit most back planes as well.  I don't think any adapters would effect performance.  

Steve Stoddart | May 22, 2016 11:27 AM

Hi there Paul,

 

Many thanks for the prompt reply...   

Yes, I thought as much.  I could connect directly into the drive but to do so would mean rmoving the hardwired backplane that is part of the drive enclosure making drive access / maintenance more of a hassle. So, I reckon using the gender changers would be the neater solution...

As to adaptors and performance, reflections can be intoroduced but SATA is far more resilent than other standards so I too, would think there would be little issue.. 

Thanks once again :-)

Steve

mike | Sep 4, 2016 9:07 AM

the 4520 DON´T WORK WITH SSDs AND "WRITE BACK" policy. you have switch to "WRITE THROUGH".

 

/mike

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