Highpoint RocketRAID 404
hard disk drive controler

Thursday, May 09, 2002


Not all hard disk drive controllers are created equal. In fact, they abound in a pretty startling variety. First, there are the conventional IDE controllers that we're all familiar with, which run the range from ATA33 to ATA133 hard disk drives. Next, there are SCSI controllers, which are more expensive, but also much more powerful. Then, you have RAID controllers, which are themselves available in IDE and SCSI varieties and with each of those varieties further sub-divided by the RAID standards they support. The most common of course, are RAID 0-1 controllers, which support RAID standards 0, 1, and 0+1 also called RAID 10. There are other species of RAID cards however, and the most notable of these are those that support RAID 5, and RAID 50. And, while RAID 0, 1, and 5 standards can be (and are) used in conjunction with either IDE or SCSI drives, RAID 50 is distinctly SCSI-only, at least, until now.

In this article, we'll be examining one product in particular, the Highpoint RocketRAID 404 - a 4-channel, RAID 0-1 controller.

Below, you can see a picture of the Highpoint RocketRAID 404

The RocketRAID 404

Up until the time that the RocketRAID 404 arrived on our doorstep, we had grown used to IDE RAID controllers having two things in common: they only had two channels, and didn't support Hot Swap. Hot Swap is particularly important, because it allows users or system administrators to remove defective hard drives without powering down the entire computer system. Hot Swap technology is typically enabled through the RAID controllers BIOS system, or, occasionally, through a Windows application provided by the manufacturer. Until now though, it has only been available for SCSI RAID systems. Thanks to the Highpoint HPT374 (part-and-parcel of the RocketRAID 404 card), that's all changed. Now, all users of the RocketRAID 404 need to do to support hot swapping is install their drives on appropriate drive trays/mechanisms.

Of course, the fun doesn't end there! Not only does the RocketRAID 404 make swapping drives a whole lot easier, but it also allows users to install a whole lot more of them. Thanks to its 4 IDE channels, the RocketRAID can support up to 8 simultaneous drives.

Clearly, this card represents a revolution in the RAID technology, at least, as far as IDE RAID is concerned. After all, not only is it decked-out enough to find a place in servers, but its also inexpensive enough to find its way into the home-systems and workstations of real power users.

Other details

The principal component of the RocketRAID 404 - the Highpoint HPT374 RAID controller - is also available as an integrated component of the Abit AT7 Max motherboard. Today, obviously, we'll be testing the RocketRAID 404 in its alternate form of a standard PCI adapter. The card was generously provided by the people at Highpoint, and we'll be comparing its performance against that of the standard IDE controller of the Abit AT7 Max. To our knowledge, the Abit AT7 Max is the only motherboard that currently offers the HPT374 controller as an integrated solution.


Next: The different RAID modes explained