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Seritek 2eEN4 Enclosure/Seritek 2SE2-2 PCI-e Controller RAID Tests
(G5 PCI Express System)

By David C.
Posted: 12/26/2006

I just finished testing of my new SeriTek 2eEN4 4-Bay Hot Swap SATA II RAID enclosure. The controller used is a Seritek 2SE2-E. I'm using the fastest 7200RPM HDs available in it, Hitachi E7K500 500GB drives. (X4 = 1.8TB RAID 0 made with Disk Utility). System is a Dual G5 2.3GHz, 8GB RAM, Bluetooth/Airport Express/Nvidia GeForce 6600.

Some notable features:

  1. It Boots! (Bootable from connected drives) It's the ONLY PCI-Express bus master system for PC or Mac (that's bootable on Macs)
  2. It Turbo-Boots ( 68 seconds compared to 84 seconds with internal SATA bus)
  3. Supports Sleep, Deep Sleep, Hot-Swap of any HD in the box etc
  4. Using 2 X SeriTek 2/SE2-E PCIe controllers in slots 2, 3
  5. It's faster than anything I've ever had before by a long shot...I haven't run Disk Tester yet (don't own it, guess I'll have to buy it), but everything is now in Hyper-Speed mode
  6. You can mount, and unmount the RAID with Disk Utility!
  7. I expect empty write performance of at least 260MB/sec and reads a little higher (see later sent benchmarks below)

I picked the Hitachi E7K500 HDs on recommendation from one of the project engineers at FirmTek...she said they were the fastest, most reliable HDs and also have a 5-year warranty. Originally I was going to install Seagate 750GB SATA II HDs, but a friend in a big company back East emailed me on Monday to dump my 4 drives (I bought them on Black Friday at Best Buy for $299 each, retail kits too). Seems that there's some major problems with data transfer rates and speed, both read and write, in RAID configurations with both PC and Mac environments. In other words, they're Dog Slow. His company returned 5,000 of them to Seagate!! Wow! That's a ton of drives to return.

So that's a heads-up for your readers on Seagate SATA II 7200.10's in 400GB 500GB and 750GB sizes if they're going to be using them in mission critical systems, especially any RAID sub-system...the performance apparently is very poor. (Note: This came up here earlier this year - first reported by 750GB users with multi-drive internal RAID (Mac Pro, G5 Towers, etc.) - originally thought to be 'fixed' by a Seagate firmware update, but apparently not. A reader's drive db report in the last month said even with updated firmware his four-drive 320GB (each) Seagate 7200.10's performance was very poor. I mentioned in that report I was told that Seagate is still working on the problem-Mike) I took my friend's word for it, considering that the company's IT guys applied 5 ROM updates from Seagate Partners Support, one after the other, and nothing worked to improve the HD's performance.

So I took the Seagate's back to Best Buy and got a refund, and ordered the Hitachi E7K500's from OWC DHL 2nd Day Air, and they got here 10:30AM (Dec. 21st). I saved $600+ doing the swap. I also bought the whole setup from OWC, or shall I say that my wife gave it to me for my Christmas present! I paid for the drives though...

There was a ROM update to the SeriTek bus masters that I had to apply which enables Turbo-Boot, and fixes some other issues, so the cards now have v5.2.0 Nov. 8, 2006) boot ROM...from OWC they had 5.1.5 Boot Rom (May 2006).

The SeriTek enclosure sits next to my Dual Core G5, and it's beautiful! Has LEDs for disk activity and "On" on the drive trays, which are completely perforated for cooling. It's almost dead silent, in fact can't hear anything from it over the G5's 9 internal fans on idle speed.

What can I say? This is the ultimate Mac RAID 0 setup for the Mac consumer that money can buy. I guess Seagate now has some 15K HDs, but I'm happy with the Hitachi's. For my uses (digital film production, archiving, restoration, video capture, lots of RAW Photoshop work, etc) I think I'm set up just fine. The FirmTek engineer I worked with over a period of 3 months helped me decide on this system, and has been right there when I needed questions answered. As you know FirmTek is populated by a bunch of ex-Apple engineers and ALL of their bus masters boot, every single one for all Macs, PCI, PCI-X, and now PCI-Express.

Next up for FirmTek is enabling booting on the Mac Pro, which will happen very soon with another ROM update...right now the system only boots Dual Core or Quad Core G5's (mine's the 2.3Ghz model/8GB RAM/BT/AE/GeForce 6600).
Happy camper here!:-)

This system is such a pleasure to work with...my gosh, it's so flexible. When I'm not booted from it, and it's been shut down/off for many hours, all I do is flip the "On" switch on the SeriTek case, and 20 seconds later it self-mounts (after a couple of beeps from start-up tests). When I'm done using it, I simply use Disk Utility to Unmount it, then flip the switch "Off" and it's safely put down. FirmTek really designed this system right, and those Hitachi E7K500's are dead silent, even at maximum access speeds. I've never had a quieter SATA HD experience so far...
Best regards,
-David C.

(Here's David's Kona 2 and QuickBench 3.1 Test results)

2GB RAID (less than 10% Full) with system cache enabled
sys cache enabled

(Note: The large System cache (RAM) skews the above read rates - cache disabled is a better test of just the drive's performance. He originally had 8GB of RAM installed, later reduced to 6.5GB - see later notes below.-Mike)

2GB RAID Drive (less than 10% Full) with system cache Disabled
sys cache Disabled

I don't know if this helps legitimize the previous test results, but here are the results from Intech Speed Tools QuickBench 3.1 testing:

  1. 20-100MB Read and Write Performance, 5 Cycles, No Write Cache Purging
  2. 20-100MB Read and Write Performance, 5 Cycles, Allow Write Cache Purging
  3. 1GB Read and Write Transfer Performance X 10 Transfers, 2 Cycles, No Write Cache Purging
  4. 1GB Read and Write Transfer Performance X 10 Transfers, 2 Cycles, Allow Write Cache Purging

When doing these, I noted that the longer the test went, the higher the performance for both read and write benchmarks...the average kept creeping higher and higher as the Test Cycles continued on to the end. I guess that's a good thing! (cache effect?)

QuickBench 20-100MB Tests
Quickbench 3.1 tests

QuickBench 20-100MB Tests (w/Write Cache Purging Enabled)
Quickbench 3.1 tests
QuickBench 3.1
Quickbench 3.1 tests

QuickBench 3.1 (Write Cache Purging Enabled)
Quickbench 3.1 tests

I forgot about my temporary RAM issue: I was having intermittent problems with stability on my DC G5, and we traced the problem to the 2 x 1GB modules of Apple RAM that came with the machine, so for now I put in their place 2 x 256MB Apple modules that came with the Mac also, so it's running 6.5GB RAM now...the Apple RAM modules have been RMA'd to Apple for testing/replacement. All I know is since I removed them the G5 is solid as a rock with the OmniTechnologies.biz RAM (6 x1GB + the 512MB Apple RAM).
I hope Apple replaces those modules quick!

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