HighPoint RocketRAID 404

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 The HighPoint RocketRAID 404 (HPT374)
4 Channel PCI IDE RAID Controller...

By, Marco Chiappetta
October 10, 2002

Over the past few years, one of the most prolific integrated accessories found on high-end consumer class motherboards has got to be an IDE RAID controller. Virtually every OEM from Abit to Soyo now ship motherboards that are outfitted with a RAID controller.  These integrated solutions give users the ability to inexpensively boost drive throughput, or ensure data security by "striping" or "mirroring" their data across multiple drives.  They also give users the ability to simply plug more IDE devices into their motherboards.  If you look a little deeper, you'll see that the IDE RAID controllers found on the vast majority of these boards are produced by one of two companies, either Promise Technologies Inc. or HighPoint Technologies Inc.  Buying a motherboard with integrated IDE RAID is not the only way to reap the benefits of an inexpensive array of IDE drives though.  The product we'll be looking at today, the HighPoint RocketRAID 404 PCI controller, is an add in card that can accommodate up to eight IDE devices, in a multitude of different configurations.  Where applicable, we compared its performance to  a similar product from Promise, and even and integrated Intel IDE controller.  Read on, you may be surprised by what you see...

Specifications of the RocketRAID 404
Something New...


SPECIFICATIONS TAKEN FROM HIGHPOINT-TECH.COM

RocketRAID 404 4-Channel ATA133 RAID Host Controller:
  • As a 4 channel ATA133 RAID adapter, the RocketRAID 404 supports up to 8 IDE hard disk drives, and provides multi level RAID support including RAID 0, 1, 0/1, and JBOD. The RocketRAID 404 is a high quality, cost-effective solution for your mass storage needs.

4 ATA channels deliver high-performance data storage and retrieval:

  • The RocketRAID 404 can support multiple RAID arrays, and the 4 independent ATA133 channels provide parallel disk/array access.
    Due to the RocketRAID 404's RAID 0 and 0/1 capabilities, data storage and retrieval is dramatically faster than single drive systems.

Data security features based on RAID 1 mirroring, hot-spare, and hot swap capabilities:

  • For RAID 1 and 0/1, the RocketRAID 404 provides disk mirroring, hot-spare options for automatic array-rebuilds, hot-swap support for swapping failed disks on the fly (works with Hot-Swap capable mobile racks such as Rocket Mate), and disk failure notification (audible alarms, visual warning messages).  These features provide a high level of security and data protection against hard disk failure.

Expand your computer's data storage/drive capacity with RocketRAID 404's mass storage capabilities:

  • The RocketRAID 404 has 4 independent ATA channels, and supports up to 8 IDE hard disk drives. The RocketRAID 404 imposes no restrictions on hard disk capacity, and will meet the requirements of most all business and personal applications.

Windows-based utility for easy RAID configuration/management:

  • In addition to the BIOS configuration utility, the RocketRAID 404 includes Windows-based RAID configuration software. The software provides and intuitive interface, which is designed to make RAID management easy, even for the inexperienced user.

Where would you need the RocketRAID 404?

  • As a high-performance, affordable RAID solution, RocketRAID 404 makes sense for nearly any corporate, retail, industrial, home, and small office environment. The RocketRAID 404 is ideal for LAN servers, critical business data storage, high-end PC workstations, video stream/video editing systems, etc.
Rocket RAID 404 Specifications:

Host side interface

  • 32bit/33MHz PCI

Device side interface

  • ATA133 (IDE)

RAID controller IC

  • HighPoint HPT374 UDMA ATA133 RAID Controller

Number of IDE channels

  • 4 Channels
  • Up to 8 hard disk drives
  • Up to ATA133

Supported RAID Levels

  • RAID 0 (2-8 disks)
  • RAID 1 (2 disks)
  • 0/1 (4 disks)
  • JBOD (2-8 disks)

Supported OSs

  • Windows 98/ME
  • Windows NT4.0
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Linux (SuSE, Red Hat, Caldera, Turbo)

RAID Management Tool

  • RAID Configuration and Management
  • GUI Function
  • RAID Configuration and Management (compatible with BIOS)

Additional Features

  • Bootable disk or disk array support
  • Disk hot spare for automatic mirror rebuilding
  • Hot-swapping failed hard drives for RAID 1 or 0/1
  • Error alarm with on-card beeper
  • Automatic e-mail notification when error occurs
  • Large LBA support capacity exceeding 137GB

Please take a minute to peruse the specs posted above, as they may answer some questions and present a few scenarios where a controller like the RocketRAID 404 is appropriate.  Then again, they may raise a few questions and introduce you to some unfamiliar acronyms like JBOD!  Which, by the way, stands for "Just a Bunch Of Disks".  If the whole concept of RAID is new to you, you may find this link interesting.  There are quite a few different ways to configure a RAID array, and that link explains all of them.  By far the most common configurations for enthusiasts like you and I, are either a dual drive RAID 0 array for performance, or a RAID 1 array for security.  We'll be looking at both of these configurations a bit later....

   

   

The HighPoint RocketRAID 404 is a rather ominous looking beast, with it's 4 ATA/133 capable IDE connectors along the top edge of the card, and large HPT374 controller perched right in the middle.  Off to the right of the HPT374 chip, you can see a small buzzer, that will emit warning messages should a problem arise with one or more of the drives connected to the controller.  Also included with the card, are drivers for all of the major operating systems (Linux included), four 80-Wire/40-Pin IDE cables and a simple user's manual.  Configuring the controller is a relatively painless process.  In the middle picture above is a shot of the RocketRAID 404's BIOS setup utility.  Creating an array is as simple as selecting the "Create Array" option and highlighting the drives you want to use...

   
GET THESE DRIVES AND MORE AT ARENA COMPUTERS!

We used a pair of 80GB Western Digital WD800JB "Special Edition" drives, with 8MB caches, to test the performance of the RocketRAID 404.  These are some of the fastest IDE drives available today.  Before we get down to benchmarking, let's take a look at the GUI utility and mention some of the features of this product.

Setup & Performance...

 

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