Talon ZL 4-150 SATA Controller from Pacific Digital :
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Talon ZL 4-150 SATA Controller from Pacific Digital

Date: 2004-12-30

   We’re returning once again to the Raptor 2 drive from Western Digital and its relationships with Tagged Command Queuing (TCQ). The reason for our stirring up the dying fire searching for burnin...

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Testbed and Methods

  • Intel SC5200 system case;
  • Intel SHG2 mainboard;
  • Two Intel Xeon 2.8MHz CPUs, 400MHz FSB;
  • 2x512MB PC2100 ECC Registered DDR SDRAM;
  • IBM DTLA-307015 HDD;
  • Onboard ATI Rage XL graphics controller;
  • Windows 2000 Pro with Service Pack 4.

We used the following tests:

  • WinBench 99 2.0;
  • IOMeter 2003.02.15.

We created one partition for the entire capacity of the array in WinBench 99; then we ran each of WinBench tests seven times, choosing the best result.

To compare the speeds of the arrays in IOMeter, we used File Server and Web Server patterns:

Talon ZL 4-150 SATA Controller from Pacific Digital

These patterns help to measure the disk subsystem performance under a load typical for file and web servers.

Our own Workstation pattern created by Romanov Sergey aka GReY is based on the disk access statistics given in the StorageReview Testbed 3 description. These statistics data are gathered in the NTFS5 file system, in Office, Hi-End and Boot-up operational modes.

Talon ZL 4-150 SATA Controller from Pacific Digital

This pattern shows how well the controller performs in a typical Windows environment.

Lastly, we checked out the controller’s ability to process sequential read/write requests of variable size and its performance in the Database pattern, which is bombarding the disk subsystem with SQL-like requests.

Our controller had a version 3.08 BIOS and we used a version driver. The controller was installed into a 133MHz PCI-X slot (although the controller itself only supports 66MHz PCI).

WD740GD (Raptor 2) hard disk drives were installed into the rails of the SC5200 system case and fastened at the bottom.

Talon ZL 4-150 SATA Controller from Pacific Digital

Talon ZL 4-150 SATA Controller from Pacific Digital

The TCQ support option is controlled through a special Windows-based utility, rather than through the controller’s BIOS. Unfortunately, the utility doesn’t allow setting each drive independently, but uses the same setup for all the attached devices. The second unpleasant thing that directly affected the number of our tests is that the utility selects “TCQ Enabled?after each system reboot, irrespective of what you’ve selected manually before. We will discuss the problem later on.

We only tested the controller with “TCQ Off?in one mode (a JBOD made of a single drive).

The controller doesn’t have its own memory (we don’t count in its 16 kilobytes of FIFO buffers), so it offers no caching-related settings. You also cannot control the deferred write mode of the attached hard disk drives. Judging by the results of the arrays, the controller doesn’t prohibit the drives?deferred writing.

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