SAS drives on ASUS P6T RAID 0 Benchmark


SAS drives on ASUS P6T RAID 0 Benchmark

Posted on Dec 7, 2008 by Paul White

When picking out parts for my new workstation, I wanted to make sure I got a balance of performance, and value.  The new ASUS P6T Deluxe Motherboards come with built in RAID support for both SATA and SAS drives.  The board supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 for SATA drives and RAID 0, 1 for SAS drives.  Only downfall is the board only has two SAS ports, but this is fine for your average power user. 

Why I picked SAS drives


Before I decided to go with the SAS drives, I was almost going to go with 3 x 10K SATA drives.  But after talking with some Hardware guys ( thanks Adam and Trey) I decided to go with 2 x 15K SAS drives instead.  The main reason was SAS drives have a much faster seek time than SATA drives.  It wouldn't matter if I had 10 SATA drives, the SAS drives would still be faster on SEEK.  Of course I was sacraficing capacity by going with the SAS drives.  But with two of them mounted in a RAID 0 configuration would give me about 292 GB of storage.  This is plenty for my use   Things like photos and videos I would be storing on a seperate 1 TB SATA drive.  So there was no real need for a massive amounts of storage in the RAID Array.  Normally to run SAS drives you would have to spend a few hundred dollars for a dedicated SAS RAID card.  But this ASUS P6T motherboard came with 2 SAS ports built in suporting RAID 0 and 1.  It seems decent SAS RAID cards cost over $500.  I had my doubts about using the built in SAS ports for this setup, as I knew I would be sacraficing some performance.  But once again after some friendly advice I decided that SAS was a good decision.

Why not SSD?


I also played with the idea of doing a setup using SSD( solid state drives ) which have almost no seek times due to being a non mechanical storage medium.  But I read too many reviews that lead me to believe that SSD's even though are fast, the current SSD's on the market are considered new technology and still have a few bugs that need to be fixed before I would trust them to store my data.

SAS 15K drives mounted in full tower

Here is a Picture of my three drives mounted in the case. The top two with the yellow cables are the 146 GB SAS drives.  The third drive on the red cable is a 1 TB SATA drive for long term storage and backups.  I was happy to find that the ASUS motherboard came with 2 SAS cables (yellow) along with 6 SATA cables (red). No need to run down to microcenter searching for parts

Are SAS drives right for me?


Something to keep in mind is SAS drives were really never meant for home users.  Normally home computers are meant to be quiet and do simple things like surf the web, check email, spreadsheets, ext.  SAS drives were meant to be a continuation of SCSI technology.  They are known to be a little on the noisy side.  I have heard some people saying these drives sound like a dremel tool spinning inside their case.  Not sure about other brands, but the Fujitsu drives I bought are pretty quiet.  They are a little chaty when reading and writing, but nothing too bad.  If you want a system that is dead quiet, these would not be for you, but I can assure you that the performance boost is worth it.

The benchmarks

SAS Raid 0 benchmarks

For 1 Meg blocks the RAID Array had a read speed of 197.38 MB/sec.  5.75ms seek time.  I feel that these speeds would be even greater for larger blocks.  Roadkil's Disk Speed Version 2.0 is a free program. Scroll down for a link to check it out. 

How does this compare to a SATA drive?


even though I don't have two SATA drives to do a RAID 0 comparision test, I did run a benchmark on my 1 TB WD Caviar Black Drive

SATA 1 TB WD caviar Black Benchmark

As you can see the SAS drives are far superior to the SATA drive.  One of things I love about the SAS drives is I no longer wait for stuff to happen.  Most of my disk lag is gone.  Programs like dreamweaver, fireworks, photoshop, now load in a second.  Window boot time is great too.  From the time I login to the time everything is up and processes have finished loading I would say is less than 3 seconds.

Conclusion


No need to buy a dedicated RAID card for SAS drives if you are running with the ASUS P6T motherboard.  The built in RAID gets the job done just fine.

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Discussion

Jake | Jan 9, 2009 11:25 AM
I also have done this with 2 SAS Drives on the P6T with seagate 15K.6 Series Cheetas. My Question, What Stripe Size and What Cluster Size did you use? I am using 4K Cluster (thanks windoze) and 32K Stripe Size for C: and a 16K Cluster on a test partition, both have faster random-reads than your tests, but the same % loss on transfer speed. Let me know!
Jake | Jan 9, 2009 11:33 AM
Below are some pic's of my tests Note the captions. all are run at 32K Stripe size.






Paul | Jan 9, 2009 2:51 PM
Jake, Honestly I don't even remember what I had those set to. But when I look at the disk info on "Disk Speed" the values are 512 bytes per sector, and 8 sectors per cluster. This makes me believe that I am running in 4K clusters. Not sure about the stripe size. I have the two physical drives running in Raid 0, and formated as a single partition. I know that with regular drives there is a speed benefit from breaking up the drives into smaller partitions as it limits the range of movement the arms had to make. Thanks for posting your benchmarks. Considering how cheap SSDs are getting on ebay, I have been tempted to buy a few of those to try an SSD array.
Robert | Jan 26, 2009 9:18 PM
Do SAS drives perform well in a desktop environment? I am curious as to how much 15k SAS drives improve performance over 10k SATA drives, especially in gaming.
Paul | Jan 27, 2009 12:46 AM
Robert, Yes SAS drives perform great in an desktop environment. They have faster seek times than SATA drives, and faster transfer rates as well. The biggest problem SAS is that only the newer ASUS motherboards for the i7 have SAS raid built in. If you get a seperate RAID card you can easily drop down $500 just for a good card. If I had to built the system all over again. I wouldn't go with SAS drives. I would instead get 4 SSD drives, RAID 0 them into a single logical disk, then get a 1 TB SATA HD for daily backups. As SSD drives get cheaper, I think most of the market is going to move in that direction. SAS is still king due to reliability, and cost when compared to SSD.
Robert | Jan 27, 2009 10:58 AM
Thanks for the reply, Paul. I have been teased by the impractical performance of scsi hard drives since my first build 11 years ago. When I saw that Asus was offering SAS RAID in their new MBs I immediately started giving SCSI drives serious consideration.
Paul | Jan 28, 2009 5:42 PM
Robert. I highly recommend the SAS drives over SATA. But Like I said in my previous post. If I had to do it now, I would hold off on SAS, and go for SSD drives. YOu can buy some smaller ones off ebay for pretty cheap. I saw some 32GB SSD drives on ebay that were rated for 165MB/s read and 95MB/s write selling for $85.99 on Buy it Now. Get 4 of these together into a raid array and you got no seek time, plus blazing fast speed. There is still a questions about the drives longevity as the memory only supports so many writes( still in the millions ). Also I might want to get a dedicated RAID card for this type of setup, as I am not sure if the on board controller would support these speeds.
Paul | Nov 19, 2009 12:00 PM
Matt,
My setup is RAID 0 for the two SAS drives, then I have a 1 GB SATA drive, that I do daily backups with. I am just using the built in backup software that comes with windows, Its fast and efficient.  Right now my backups run everyday at midnight.  But its possible to increase scheduling if you really wanted to.  The performance drop is minimal while its running the backups. 

I agree with you though, it would be nice if there was some sort of way the SATA drive could automatically backup the content.  However this kind of constant backup would definately come with a performance hit
John | Nov 7, 2010 11:25 AM
  Hi Paul
I am trying to set up Raid 0 with my P6T and 2 SSD drive.
according the the manual , I would need to make a driver disk for ICH10R controller on a floppy disk, since I don have a floppy drive, I try to make the Mother board unitily programe to make the driver on my USB, but thats does not work.
would you mind to share with me how do you set up the controller, if you want your OS to be installed on the RAID0 set up drive.

thx
Richard | Apr 27, 2011 5:33 PM
I started with 6 cheap SATA Seagate drives in RAID 0 achieving a *6.5* performance on WIN 7 Ult. After buying a second Seagate Cheetah (ST3300557SS) 15K.7 SAS 2.0 drive and finally having too many issues with a SATA drive and then a second, I reinstalled to the two cheetahs, again in RAID 0.
 My performance went *down* to 6.2. Sure, I hoped for equal performance (and hardware-level encrypted OS).
 Finally I got a response from ASUS that its SAS ports on my ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution mb are SAS 1.0 and not SAS 2.0.
Greetings,
None of our boards have have sas 2.0 controllers on them. The drives will step down to sas speeds automatically.
Thank you, Joe ASUS Tech Support
 After spending most of the day reviewing board stats (and SAS and LSI SAS controllers) it seems I cannot find any reference to these ports being only v1.0 or even that the motherboard ports run at 6gb/s.
 Can't even run both Intel and Marvel RAID off this motherboard so I am even more disappointed with ASUS and this mb and it's low-grade implementation of SAS without a mention that it is only SAS 1.0: if this is indeed the case (it took ASUS about 2 months to answer this question). Can't even sleep my system now and have given up on ASUS having an answer to this blue screen on-sleep error.
 Obviously all their motherboards need a controller if one wants SAS 2.0. It is unfortunate not one review I've encountered for this board has mentioned this.
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