Promise FastTrack/FastSwap IDE RAID Controllerby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 16, 1999 11:55 AM EST
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|We've seen the trend in our everyday lives, two is better than one. Instead of buying a single expensive car for two people to share, we split the cost and buy two cars. Instead of worrying about covering the rent for a dorm room in college by yourself, you split the cost between yourself and a roommate. The reason? Efficiency. It is human nature to want to do things efficiently and at the same time, as quickly and as easily as possible, unfortunately it isn't always possible.|
|How many times have you wished that you could be in two places at once? Although it would be of the utmost efficiency to be able to perform two tasks in two different places at once, it's obviously not a plausible option due to the basic limitations of life.|
Luckily, when dealing with computers, we don't always have to obey the laws that govern our everyday lives, whereas we can't be doing two different things in two different places at once, in a sense, a computer can. The trend is a formation on the same idea behind multi processor systems, which states that if you need more power, adding a second processor should theoretically be able to do just that, allow you to do two different things in two different places at once. It's the equivalent of the fulfillment of the unrealistic wish of having more than two hands, and it is a tenor that has extended as far as the video card industry with 3Dfx's introduction of the SLI Voodoo2, the ability to combine two 3D accelerators to achieve a significant boost in performance. Once again we're faced with the same instinct, to increase performance through the use of common sense, two should be faster than one, no?
The same principle, as you may or may not already know, has also been applied to hard disk drives through the use of a system known as the Redundant Array of Independent Disks, or RAID. As the name usually implies, RAID allows for two or more hard disks to be connected in a manner that allows one of two basic options, striping, and/or mirroring. While the specifics of the many functions of RAID will be diagramed and explained later, generally speaking, RAID has always been reserved for servers or extremely high-end workstations due to the extreme costs associated with RAID based disk subsystems.
Until recently, RAID has been reserved for SCSI disk drives only, since the thought of having a low cost IDE based RAID system never really caught on. There is a great deal of confusion in the market over the actual benefits and functionality of RAID, and it is that confusion and set of common misconceptions that has led to the virtual absence of IDE RAID devices. This is simply because of the fact that the common user probably hasn't been exposed to the benefits of RAID and therefore has no desire to spend extra money on a seemingly "useless" technology.
Promise Technology, Inc., has always been a supporter of higher performing IDE devices, and the company has definitely come a long way in recent times to become a prominent name in the hard disk controller industry. Hoping to push the IDE RAID technology into the hands of high-end consumers on a budget, Promise created two products based on their own IDE RAID technology, the FastTrack and the FastSwap Pro. Will Promise's attempt to integrate an IDE RAID solution actually succeed? There are a number of factors that one must consider before providing a thorough answer to that question, and at the top of the list?