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Review: Adaptec 29160

by David Ross on 14 November 2000, 00:00

Tags: Adaptec

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Technical Details

you have your ultra-fast PC, but what about performance tips? We have recently reviewed the Quantum Atlas II drives, which are without doubt the fastest hard drives on the planet. What does this mean to you? If you are interested in getting one of these drives you need a card to run it off, a SCSI Host Adapter.

Adaptec have been the market Leader for as long as I can remember, with their range of cards always being successful and reliable, both in the server and high-end workstation sector.

Adaptec is a global leader in innovative storage solutions that move, manage and protect critical data. The company’s products include host bus adapters and controllers that connect servers, workstations and desktops to storage devices. They produce RAID controllers that boost performance and protect data stored on disk drives; and CD recording and data protection software for desktops.

Adaptec’s products are marketed to the world’s leading PC and server OEMs, and to end users through the company’s more than 115 distributors and thousands of VARs throughout the world. Technical support is available worldwide, with time zone coverage and local support across the globe. All Adaptec’s products have a foundation in the same quality, reliability, compatibility and leading edge technical support that customers have relied on for almost 20 years.

So what is SCSI? It was first developed in the late 80s, and at first there were many different rigs and notations before the industry forced a standard. In the 80s there were many different forms of SCSI, from Fast, Wide, Fast Wide, Ultra, and Ultra wide set-ups. The same problem back then was the one which I hit around 6 months ago when I decided to go the SCSI route. IT is hard to decide what you need in your configuration. Checking that it suits your needs is a hard one for people in the SCSI world.

What made someone develop SCSI? Well it was an idea of getting the fastest, highest size all rigged in to the same bus / connection on the motherboard (aka in the SCSI Host card) Also it was the need for a fast external connection for peripherals, rather than using the slow Parallel connections. So they developed a single controller card which rather than working on "Master", and "Slave" worked on the method of running on IDs, so this single host card was made to support 7 devices in total, both external and internal. This was a revolution as no-one had this sort of data access speed and interface in the world before. And the birth of SCSI occurred.

This development went on, and the development of SCSI 3 was the turning-point in the SCSI world. LVD connections used two wires, one to transmit the signal / data packets, with the second wire carrying the logical inversion of the data transmitted to the first wire.

This was then taken by the controller, which decoded it and got the original data line back. This stops the influences of data corruption, but it also allowed you to have much longer cables. This meant the cases could get larger and more drives could be installed. Before this enhancement a differential SCSI bus could have a maximum cable length of 25 meters while a single-ended fast-SCSI bus had a limit of 3 meters. This is a massive advantage for both end-users and OEM suppliers.

LVD U2W is still very popular but companies such as Adaptec have released a 2nd generation of card called u160 SCSI. This standard runs of course faster, but instead of 1 clock bit per cycle it can push 2 out, giving 160MB /s using 16 Mhz, but it can run with 2 blocks at 40Mhz giving it a wider data bandwidth.

Another problem which people have is, is SCSI worth it for you? The majority of home users and desktop users don’t need SCSI, or will ever take advantage of the performance it offers. This is especially true due to the recent developments of the ATA66, and ATA100 interfaces which is more than enough for home users. With most of the new motherboards coming with onboard IDE raid, well this just rocks.

There is also a lot of cost incurred with the use of SCSI. For example some people when getting a new system say they are going all SCSI, meaning they plan on purchasing not only SCSI drives, but also other SCSI devices such as CD-ROMs. But there is always the glitch in the system, in that the user has to buy a SCSI card. This isn’t that much of an issue in my eyes, for the sake of the 200 quid for the card. Is it worth it? Well Yes ;) but if your an end user I wouldn’t recommend it unless doing massive graphic dependant stuff, or a lot of compiling and video editing. Some of the newer high-end motherboards have the onboard SCSI interface but these boards are massively expensive and I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

The Adaptec SCSI Card 29160 is tailored for entry to mid-range server environments. It delivers the maximum throughput for a single channel Ultra160 SCSI card by using a 64-bit PCI interface. The Adaptec SCSI Card 29160 provides the ideal connection to Ultra160 SCSI hard disks and devices.