I currently have four identically sized HDDs in RAID-10 on an Adaptec 8805. Unfortunately this controller can't do read/write caching of the array's blocks on SSDs attached to the RAID controller.

I now have several SSDs (two right now, possibly expanding to four later) and would like to utilize them in this fashion without incurring the CPU overhead of doing it in software. I would use ZFS ZIL/L2ARC if my operating system were Linux/BSD/Solaris, but I'm running Windows, so that's out of the running.

This is for a gaming workstation, not a dedicated server.

I am looking for a RAID card that meets the following criteria:

  • Can do RAID-10.
  • Can do read/write cache on multiple SSDs. The caching stuff should be handled on the RAID processor so that the CPU is not impacted by the calculations required for managing the cache.
  • Supports at least eight attached devices without needing a daughter board (can be "external" via breakout cables or individual ports attached to the card itself). If the ports are SAS, I can get the SAS to SATA cables, no worries.
  • Supports booting via UEFI firmware with the BIOS Compatibility Support Module disabled.
  • Drives that use "Advanced Format" 4K native sectors are supported in 4K native mode (NOT 512e).
  • Supports a non-volatile cache or battery backup module.
  • Desirable, but not essential: Boots up in an above-average time for a RAID card. Faster is better.
  • Connects to the system by PCI Express. The slot width and revision are not important for me, since I am planning to put it into a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (with all 16 lanes enabled), so I have more than enough lanes to throw at it.

Given all these requirements, I'd like to go for minimum cost, while buying the card "new".

What options are available to me?

  • So, because the costs involved here may go into the thousands depending what I choose to recommend, what did you expect to end up paying for that functionality? Here are the requirements potentially driving the price WAY up: supporting 8+ devices, caching on multiple SSDs, not touching the CPU at all.
    – Adam Wykes
    Jul 11 '16 at 19:26

There are probably CHEAPER ways to do this, but here's A solution:

  1. Intel RS3DC050 PCI-Express 3.0 x4 Low Profile Ready SATA / SAS Controller Card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816117427
  2. Intel Upgrade RAID SSD Cache-with Fastpath for RS25 http://www.provantage.com/intel-rs3sc008~7ITE90QU.htm
  3. Intel AXXRMFBU4 RAID Maintenance Free Backup Unit with Super Capacitor Brown Box White Box https://www.amazon.com/Intel-AXXRMFBU4-Maintenance-Backup-Capacitor/dp/B01DIT7ZO8

Notes: http://www.intel.in/content/www/in/en/support/server-products/raid-products/000008342.html

Basically you get this RAID card installed, you attach the key to it, you fire it up, you configure SSD Cache and possibly also Fastpath as needed, you make your SSDs into a cache array and get it assigned to your RAID10 array, and off you go.

You've now dropped a something near a grand into something that could be performed at a fraction of the cost if you'd just let it hit the CPU a teensy bit, but there you go, SSD caching on hardware RAID with a ridiculous number of SSDs and HDDs simultaneously in play.

Finally, just for the record - "This is for a gaming workstation, not a dedicated server."

You emphatically do not need this and will not notice performance differences between this and a standard software-cached SSD+HDD RAID solution using something like PrimoCache. It is one of the most overkill solutions I have ever come up with at the behest of someone else, and I did it only to see if it could be done. You personally have no viable use case for this hardware.

EDIT: I forgot to add in the cost of the SAS to SATA cables themselves; that's another couple dozen bucks at a minimum.

  • I ended up going with the Adaptec 81605ZQ. Meets all my needs. Been using it for several years. I've completely ditched HDDs, too; now I just have SSDs in hardware RAID. It's really fast and high capacity, but it was very expensive to put together. :) Apr 12 '19 at 13:38

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