3ware – SATA RAID

After being disappointed with Linux support for low-end SATA RAID cards I began searching for a controller card which would give me optimal performance, and complete Linux support. A few quick Google searches later I found a candidate. 3ware is a smaller company (now owned by AMCC) which builds an extensive line of SATA / ATA RAID cards. They also make their drivers open source, which allows for quick release of quality drivers. There is also a good amount of documentation on the Internet on how to compile your own drivers as well. They clearly build their product around the Linux environment.

For this test I am using the following equipment:
Dual 1.4GHz Athon MP CPUs
2GB SDRAM memory
3ware 9500S-4LP controller
3ware RAID Drive Cage
3x 36GB Western Digital 10K RPM SATA hard drives

During the installation I did have some problems using the 3ware 9500 SATA controller with Red Hat Enterprise 3. With some research in found the 2.4.xx kernel does not have support for the SATA controller in the original build however the 2.6.xx kernel does. They also gave additional documentation on how to compile your own driver into the 2.4.xx kernel to give you support. To keep this test simple I moved to a 2.6.xx kernel and everything installed perfectly.

Beyond the initial setup I found the BIOS and CLI to be simple, and powerful. They are not pretty, but they do everything I want them to do. During the initial hardware build I found the 3ware RAID cage to be well put together. Again I think this company focuses on keeping things simple. The drive bays were well built, but very simplistic.

It seems like they have a well support, quality product. Their website makes it easy to find drivers as well. Overall I was fairly happy with their product. We’re likely going to bring this server into the production early next week running MySQL. If all goes well; I will likely continue using their hardware for all my server RAID configurations.

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