ATTO R680 or Areca 1880x

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Honbe, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. Honbe macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    I am trying to decide between these two for 5.1 with Lion. Besides the price, what is the difference? I've seen @nanofrog mentioning advantage for Areca in some thread, but cannot recall what it was.
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Don't use Lion yet, as it's unstable with RAID (hardware cards as well as software implementations). 10.6.8 as well, so stick with 10.6.7 until Apple gets Lion stable for use with more than a single disk (even multiple disk users, but not in a RAID, are also having issues from what I've seen).

    But to answer your question between the two different brands, they're both extremely good cards (they vie for the top spot in terms of performance, particularly once you're using more than 8 ports).

    Areca offers a better price/performance ratio than ATTO (especially when combined with Sans Digital external enclosures, as they include the SFF-8088 to SFF-8088 cables), but they're based in Taipei, Taiwan, so the support can be a bit slower if you use email, and it can take time to understand, as English isn't their native language (you can call as well for a faster response, but will incur international rates).

    ATTO on the other hand, has a nicer user interface for card management (Areca uses a browser to access the settings), and are based in the US (Amherst, NY). So English is their native language, and a response is likely to be quicker (time differences aren't such that it can make it a different day, depending on when you sent the email as it is with Taipei).

    So I see the trade off in terms of support (not drastic), and a little prettier interface (functionality speaking, both are equals to one another). But for novices that aren't interested in learning how the card will function/behave, usually do better with ATTO (they're easier to get hold of for US based users, and will "hold your hand").

    To give you an idea as to what the interface for the Areca looks like, take a look at this thread (here).
  3. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    nanofrog, thank you for response. i am from europe and english is not my native language, therefore the time difference and language issues might not be a hughe problem. i still think i can use the hands on assistance atto may provide (as i am far from being an expert in respect with raids).
    i've had a look on the areca's user interface (in their manual), however did not have a chance to discover the atto's one yet.
    there are other brands more popular here, like adapter, 3ware, etc. did not see so much local support for either atto or areca, which still seems to be more used in a mac community.
    will look further on these two - specs, interfaces, etc. maybe the price factor will play its role in case the rest will be in par.
    i still think i've seen you mentioning an advantage (feature) of this particular areca's line over the atto's, i just cannot find it anymore...
    thanks again.


    btw, as much as i believe lion IS the os future for apple, i have so many troubles with it, that i am preparing a clean snow leopard install. will take your advice to make it 10.6.7, no further.
  4. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    couple more (maybe noob) questions if i may:
    - do both have the pass the disc capability?
    - will i be able to see the array from the fusion vm running win 7 (under osx)?
    - i will attach 8 disk enclosure with 8 disks. would be raid 5 with hotspare best option performance wise?
    - is it possible to attach esata enclosure to the controller somehow (to get rid of my current rr esata controller)?

    thank you in advance
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    ATTO may be the way to go then, though you'll need to communicate in English.

    ATTO and Areca are used heavily in the enterprise side (think SAN), so the users are typically familiar with RAID cards in general (once you learn how they work, you'll be fine with pretty much any brand that's designed properly).

    One example that can be a problem, particularly on the support end, is Highpoint, as they don't design or manufacture anything they sell (it's all done by ODM's, which is why their product lines are so inconsistent).

    As per what ATTO's are like, go to ATTO's Download site, create an account, and download the User's Manual and Utility Manual. The screen shots are for Windows, but it will give you a good idea as to what to expect in the OS X version (can't find screen shots of that one - you could try looking for reviews of both the 3.0Gb/s and 6.0Gb/s cards in a Mac, and see what you can find).

    As per the other brands, they haven't offered support for OS X in the past (most still don't, which is why you don't see Adaptec in a MP), so they don't have any following under OS X.

    LSI has recently added OS X support IIRC, so you could look into those if you wish, but I'd skip it (OS X is new to the support dept., so they may not be as helpful as ATTO in really odd situations, which has offered OS X support for years).

    Some of Areca's cards (usually 12 ports or more), use a DIMM slot for the cache, which allows users to upgrade the capacity if they wish. Most boards solder it directly to the card, so it cannot be upgraded (this is even the case for the lower end models from Areca, as it saves on costs).

    Now it seems that ATTO is adding memory via a daughterboard, but it's not a standard DIMM, so upgrading the capacity would be much more difficult, if even possible.

    Good move. Don't mess with Lion until Apple gets it sorted (generally speaking, it seems they don't get it stable until 10.x.2 at the earliest).

    Also keep in mind, that subsequent updates can break things (becomes unstable). For example, 10.6.3 rendered RAID systems unstable, as does 10.6.8, yet the other update revisions are fine (hence 10..6.7 being the lastest, stable revision of Snow Leopard).

    I'm not quite sure what you're asking here...

    Do you mean Pass Through mode (= member can be used as a single disk while in RAID mode)?

    If so, then Yes.

    If configured properly, Yes.

    You'd be able to eek out a bit more by not using a hot spare in RAID 5, but it means the set cannot automatically rebuild (you'd have to manually add a disk, make it part of the set, and then the card will rebuild the set for you).

    So it's your choice.

    Here's how I look at it... If you're working on the system all of the time (always physically present), then running without a hot spare is feasible. If not (either it's a remote, or you're not always present), then run the hot spare.

    But another thing you an try, is build a set of 7 disks in RAID 5, and test out the performance. If it's sufficient for your needs, then use the 8th disk as a hot spare (you can use Online Migration to add the disk as a RAID 5 + Hot Spare).

    But if the performance is too slow, then make the 8th disk an active member (if you've physical access to the system often enough - otherwise, you need to run more members, and then you'd also be better off running level 6 + Hot Spare due to the additional member count and lack of physical access to replace a bad member quickly).

    If it's a Port Multiplier based enclosure, NO (one eSATA port on the back of the enclosure <one port operates more than one disk> rather than 1x eSATA port per disk = 1:1 port to disk ratio).
  6. Torster macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2010
    Folsom, CA
    We like the ATTO R680 card. Here is a link to a speed test we just did with the latest drivers:

  7. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    nanofrog, thank you again for the efforts to answer my questions.
    yes, i've meant "pass through" disk.
    will investigate the user interfaces a bit more to have an idea.
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Is this what you're testing?

    Similar hardware to other configurations (8 port ATTO or Areca card, SAS Enclosure, and disks), but @ $6495, it's expensive.

    I can get the same parts and put it together myself for quite a bit less. And lets face it, tossing 8x disks into the enclosure isn't worth the price difference.
    Enclosure (ST8-U5) $675
    ATTO R680 $833
    Hitachi Ultrastar 7k3000 (8x) = $2800 (7200RPM Enterprise models)

    Total is $4308​

    :cool: NP. :)

    Take your time, and investigate things thoroughly, as this sort of storage system isn't inexpensive if you make a mistake and get the wrong gear (granted you can return things, but there's lost time and money in restocking fees and shipping; it's a massive headache if you find yourself in this situation).
  9. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Maybe it is as it suppose to be, but I've been surprised. I ran AJA test on my OCZ II Vertex SSD, with results about 250 MB/s. I did the same test on the two internal WD Black Caviars in RAID0 with similar results - about 240 MB/s! With one of the two higher end RAID cards and enterprise class disks in hardware RAID I think I'll get even better results. What is the point of having SSDs in Mac Pro then (maybe besides having an OSX installed on it as I do not like to have the system on RAID array)?
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    SSD's are the fastest disk technology for random access performance, which is what OS and application loading relies on.

    Now you can use certain levels of RAID to improve random access performance, but a stripe set (RAID 0) isn't one of them. RAID 5 is, but it's not the only one (10/5/6/50/60). RAID 1 if it's on a hardware controller, but not if it's implemented by software.

    The actual random access performance increase would need to be tested, as it's dependent on the card, member count, level used, and the actual drive model/s used. So there's no simple answer in this regard I'm afraid.
  11. YANewbie macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    Nano - what problems are you getting with 10.6.8? I'm running a very fast software-based RAID 0 (over 700 MB/sec read/write on AJA system test). But it feels like Apple is losing interest in computers. Downloaded a driver from Nvidia - they state they had to modify it due to a slowdown introduced by Apple's latest updates. Apple seems to be wandering along, making whatever changes they like, and expect everyone - from developers to professionals - to keep making the necessary changes to keep up. FCP X is a change many are simply not going to be making. And I doubt I'll be upgrading to Lion anytime soon. I mean, what's the pay-off? Gestural editing when sitting at a desktop?
    Minority Report was cute, but I swear, with all of Tom Cruise's hand-waving as he "searched" databases, a keyboard and trackball takes up 1/30th the real-estate of his hand-waving office, and would be far more efficient.
    Check out Apple's list of management. No-one representing OS X development.
    And you're telling me 10.6.8 is flawed as well. Ouch. I just upgraded to support the latest NVidia driver for the Quadro 4000.

    I'm definitely getting tired of the Mac platform. Too many limitations on one end, and too many wild changes at the other.
    Yeah, I'm grouchy. :)
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I don't run 10.6.8 (very cautious about upgrading OS's for this very reason). Others however, did have issues.

    Since you're curious, I'd recommend doing a search (for example, use "10.6.8+RAID"), and see what you come up with. Then expand from there...

    Here are a few members I seem to recall that had something to offer about 10.6.8 (not sure if you can send PM's yet, as you need 5 posts).
    There's more reports of issues under Lion, which uses the underpinnings from SL (which includes 10.6.8).

    Unfortunately, there's a lot more money in the consumer side, and particularly in the devices. Apple is a corporation just like any other, and will follow the money.

    The professional desktop market is very small, even smaller for Apple vs. other vendors which have a much larger presence in the enterprise market (servers and tie-ins with software for integrated solutions in this segment), and therefore on the bottom of the totem pole for Apple.

    So if you're tied to the OS X platform (software investments, training, ... whatever), you're stuck. If not, it's up to you to determine if moving to a different platform makes better sense in the long run.

    Which really, has always been the case.
  13. YANewbie macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    OK. I'll post some more then :)
    Thanks for the RAID and 10.6.8 hints.
    I'll look around.
    And yes, the desktop market is small. But what happened there was far from typical. I could go on, but it's rather off topic.

    Treading carefully in the "upgrade" world of Apple.
  14. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Well I think, that the desktop market (and pro users) were those supporting Apple during difficult times.
    Sure the consumer is and will be somewhere else - mobile, tablets, etc. This is where the market for Apple (and others) is and will be. But market position in this segment can change very quickly. Look at Nokia - most people thought its no 1 position in the mobile market is unshakable. This can happen to anyone, even Apple in the consumer market (not in the near future for sure), it takes just one good product, excellent marketing and couple of teenagers (just kidding...).
    What I' like to say is, that even the pro desktop market is a small piece in Apple's portfolio right now, they should keep it in the center of attention. It usually brings close ties with software and loyal customers.


    I think I hacked my own thread with off topic... :)
  15. YANewbie macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    Man, if you can hack your own thread, can I jump in on the hack? It's the closest thing to "hacking" I can do on a Mac at this moment :) (I am running an ATTO H30F hooked to 10 WD Velociraptors -300 GB a piece - in a RAID 0 as a test rig for a possible Smoke on Mac setup. I like Atto, they have a good reputation, and in the Apple world, reputations mean more than they used to. But that doesn't help you at all, does it :))

    I agree with your desktop comment. With the desktop world, loyalty was built in with the financial commitment required to get in. And with editing in particular, it effected the entire ecosystem built around the editor. Every copy of Final Cut Pro was a possible seedling to "grow more macs." Because FCP could work with so many different software and hardware packages. That has died for now. And even if FCP X picks some of those characteristics back up, the sour note they struck has many running scared. I had a Smoke operator warn me, "Don't trust your work flow to a company that has no concern with backwards compatibility. Your profession is worth more than their secret agenda."
    Apple's the only software brand I know that fits that description. Hopefully some a$$es will get kicked in gear to fix the mess, but I wonder if it's too late.

    There. Now back to Atto and Areca. Heh. Can they both work with PCs? You know . . . just in case :p

    oops :eek:
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Of course they can. The PC side (Windows and Linux) generate more sales for either of them by far than OS X does. :D

    The reason they work, began with the need for working with Itanium (EFI was developed specifically for these machines in the beginning), and then they decided that it was worth creating drivers for OS X as a means of increasing their sales volume once Apple moved to Intel based Mac Pros (run on EFI firmware).
  17. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Cannot find it, so that I ask. s there a card from either ATTO or Areca (or other which supports OSX) with ONE (or more) INTERNAL and TWO (or more) EXTERNAL ports?

    ATTO R680 - one external
    ATTO R644 - one internal and one external
    Areca 1880x - one external
    There are other Areca cards with more internal and always just one external port.
  18. YANewbie macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    Sure there is. You buy the R680 and some 1 meter cables to go external. Next, using a small cutting wheel - like a dremel - you cut a small square in the side of the Mac's lid. Now you have as many innies and outies as you need, plus extra access for more power lines for video cards or whatever. Add a couple strings of blinking leds inside, and you have a portal with a light show. ;)
    Glad to help - heh, heh.
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There are hybrid cards, but they only have 4x ports (1x SFF-8088 connector).

    But as mentioned, you can take an internal port externally if needed (here's the correct cable). No need to cut a hole though, just run it through an open PCI bracket (only cut if there isn't an open bracket available).

    Please note the cable length, as SATA is only rated at 1.0 meters (disk type that matters, even if it's actually a SAS card). SAS disks can go 10 meters due to much higher signal voltages.
  20. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Yeah, I'd like to avoid the cutting, however the LED thing is really tempting :)
    The only cutting I can imagine is into the bracket of current eSATA controller (seems there is enough space).

    The problem is, that ATTO has just the R644 with one internal and one external connector. I would need to go with Areca for more internals in this case...
  21. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Which kind of disks to use for best RAID performance in an external enclosure - (capacity and price to be NOT considered)?
    - SSDs
    - 15,000 rpm SAS disks
    - 7,200 rpm SAS disks (like WD RE SAS)
    - 10,000 rpm SATA 6Gb/s (Velociraptors)
    - enterprise class SATA (like WD RE4)
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Depends on specific performance needs (i.e. are you dependent on random access or sequential file transfers and IOPS).

    For a single user, SATA is fine for sequential throughputs (single disk or otherwise), but in the right RAID configuration, they can also improve random access performance.

    If you've insane IOPS or random access performance requirements, SSD's would be the way to go (depending on the RAID level used, SLC may be needed - keep reading).

    SAS disks are usually implemented in high IOPS as well, particularly due to budget limitations (fast disks that have much better than SATA figures for IOPS, random access, and sequential access, particularly for the 10k and 15k rpm variants).

    7200 rpm SAS are for instances where you need the improved IOPS vs. their SATA counterparts, or need specific SCSI commands.​

    BTW, all of the mechanical disks you're asking about are enterprise grade models (all SAS = enterprise; you'll have to check further into SATA models).

    Most SSD's are MLC based, so aren't really suited to parity based arrays (fine for 0/1/10). So if you plan to run SSD's in a parity based array, you'll need to go with SLC based models, which aren't cheap (most expensive disk tech in terms of cost/GB). The reason for this is that for every write request by the system, there's actually 2x to each disk = primary data stripe + parity block).
  23. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    nanofrog - thank you, informative and helpful as always. The software I am working with is building financial genetic algorithms. I know it is greatly demanding in respect with CPU and RAM, however I am not sure about its needs in respect with disks performance. Basically, there is some source of raw data (couple of GBs) and the software continuously digs into this source for couple of hours and calculates the algorithms - therefore I would suspect random access and IOPS more than sequential transfers?
    The SLC based SSDs are probably too pricey. What would be the second best option in this case?
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I'm thinking SAS or possibly SSD, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

    See if you can't find out what your performance needs really are (which ATM, I suspect you can't put numbers to it).

    So you'll likely need to research out how the software you're using works under the hood, particularly the read/write operations (check online, but you'd probably have to contact the software vendor directly, and ask to speak with one of the engineers who actually helped to write it). Professional software vendors will do this generally speaking, as I've had to resort to this with my own needs (for example, found out which applications within the suites were single threaded, or true n core multi-threaded, and it wasn't publicly available <couldn't find it by searching>).

    The reason for this, is the disk operations may only be single threaded (Photoshop is designed this way for example), but other areas may be highly threaded. But as you're talking about disk operations, a single threaded implementation will slow you down (only as fast as a SAS/SATA port will allow, which would be ~540MB/s or so for 6.0Gb/s).

    Capacity requirements will help as well, particularly in terms of budget (i.e. SSD's might be viable if the library is small, but if it's huge, or the output data is huge, mechanical would most likely be necessary).

    Multiple arrays could also be the best solution (i.e. random access for one area, sequential for another is usually best handled by separate arrays designed for each of those performance characteristics).
  25. Honbe thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    I gave the SW vendor a quick call. The app is truly multi threaded. Multi core CPU, amount of RAM and random read IOPS increase productivity - that's what the guy have said.
    I think I'll go with two arrays (will still give some more thought to it):
    Two MLC based SATAIII SSDs in RAID0 (for this particular app, highest possible performance, no need for parity)
    Remaining six disks (have to think which) in RAID5 (?) for video editing (Premiere / AE).

    I believe mixing disks like this in the enclosure wouldn't be a problem.

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