LSI Storage Buyer’s Guide

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LSI Corporation offers a broad portfolio of 6Gb/s SATA+SAS silicon, software and board-level solutions that include RAID and host-bus adapters; RAID-on-Chip (ROC), controller and expander integrated controllers (ICs); SAS switches; PCIe-based solid state storage adapters; and software options for enhanced performance and data protection capabilities for LSI MegaRAID controllers. These products are sold through major server and storage OEMs as well as direct through the reseller channel.


The LSI MegaRAID and 3ware 6Gb/s SATA+SAS controller cards are used to accelerate high demand applications such as those used in financial, digital media and medical imaging.

“LSI MegaRAID 6Gb/s controllers enable users to realize the potential of solid state storage deployments with support for LSI software options, which are designed to provide enhanced performance and data protection,” Jeff Richardson, executive vice president, chief operating officer at LSI, told Enterprise Storage Forum.

The LSI 3ware 9750 series controllers, on the other hand, uses StreamFusion+ firmware to deliver higher levels of data protection and boost performance by allowing the controller to simultaneously sustain multiple streams for optimized reads and writes as data loads increase. 3DM2 software allows users to remotely create, manage and monitor 3ware RAID arrays and individual drives.

“LSI ranks No. 1 overall in worldwide host bus RAID controller unit market share, according to the most recent market segment data released by Gartner,” said Richardson.

To date, LSI (NYSE: LSI) has shipped more than 750,000 storage controller cards based on 6Gb/s SAS technology. They provide 2.7 GB/s sequential read and 3.2 GB/s sequential write throughput.

The LSI MegaRAID SAS 9265-8i, for example, has eight internal ports, two 800MHz PowerPC processor cores and a 72-bit DDRIII interface that drives 1 GB cache memory. The recommended retail price is $780.

Solid State Storage and Flash

LSI also provides several products in this category including the LSI WarpDrive SLP-300 PCIe Solid State Storage card, LSI MegaRAID CacheCade Pro 2.0 SSD Caching Software and LSI MegaRAID Fast Path Software.

“The LSI WarpDrive SLP-300 PCIe Solid State Storage Card provides scalable SSD performance inside the box, without requiring extra power, rack space or cabling,” said Richardson. “It is designed to supercharge application performance, sustaining up to 1,400MB/s of throughput, with reliable and consistent performance across both sequential and random reads and writes.”

The storage card can deliver up to 240,000 4K read IOPS and up to 200,000 4K write IOPS, with access latency of less than 50 microseconds. To achieve equal performance on a write IOPS basis using hard disk drives would require more than 400 drives and 36U of rack space, and it would consume more than 300 times the power. Its recommended price is $13,795.

6Gb/s SAS Switch

The LSI SAS6160 SAS switch enables shareable, scalable storage and extends the advantages of SAS from DAS applications to high-performance networked storage environments. It is a 1/2 width, 16-port switch that fits into the 1U form factor. It is aimed at cloud computing, large data-center and SMB environments.

Richardson said the price per MB for this SAS switch is six to eight times lower than for Fibre Channel (FC) and 1Gb/s iSCSI while supplying 2.5x to 3x of the bandwidth of FC and 10Gb/s iSCSI.

“The SAS switch will work right out of the box and does not need a complicated setup like FC,” said Richardson. “After turn-on, the only thing to do is add zoning if required.”

Standard Product ICs

LSI provides a variety of integrated controllers intended to unlock the performance potential of solid state storage and HDDs. This includes I/O controllers (IOC), RAID-on-chip ICs, expanders and SAS-to-SATA bridges.

The LSISAS2208 dual-core 6Gb/s SAS RoC IC, for example, has eight ports and delivers up to 400,000 random IOPS in RAID 5, 6 and 10 configurations.

Host Bus Adapters

LSI has already shipped more than 300,000 host bus adapters (HBAs) based on 6Gb/s SAS with internal and external connectors in a variety of port configurations, including 4,8 and 16 lanes. The LSI SAS9205-8e is for 1U/2U midrange to high-end servers that connect to large-scale storage enclosures. The LSI SAS9205-8e is based on the LSISAS2308 IO controller that integrates the latest enhancements in PCI Express and SAS technology and supports up to 1024 SAS or SATA devices. It offers SAS and SATA data transfer rates of 1.5, 3 and 6Gb/s per lane and can achieve more than 700,000 IOPs.

Hard Drive System on Chips

A hard disk drive (HDD) system on chip (SoC) is an IC that contains five subsystems to encode and decode data as it is written to and read from a hard disk. The five subsystems are the read channel, SATA or SAS serial interface, DRAM interface, micro processor subsystem and the hard disk controller.

“The SoC is like the brain of the HDD that controls the flow of data to and from the HDD,” said Richardson.

Its TrueStore RC9700 Read Channel, for example, is a second-generation 40nm read channel featuring a low-density parity check iterative decoding architecture. The RC9700 is designed to support notebook, desktop and enterprise HDD market segments.

LSI MegaRAID CacheCade Pro 2.0 Caching Software

CacheCade Pro 2.0 software allows SSDs to act as a dedicated pool of high-performance cache, helping to accelerate the I/O performance of HDD-based arrays while minimizing the number of SSDs required. MegaRAID CacheCade Pro 2.0 is an option for select LSI 6Gb/s MegaRAID SATA+SAS controller cards. They are priced from $270 per license.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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