Promise FastTrack/FastSwap IDE RAID Controllerby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 16, 1999 11:55 AM EST
- Posted in
The Promise FastTrack
Promise's FastTrack is a member of a legion of very rare RAID controllers due to the fact that the FastTrack is not a SCSI solution, where RAID has primarily made its presence known, rather it is a lower cost IDE solution for the masses. The FastTrack is a single, half-length, 32-bit PCI card that has been outfitted with two Ultra DMA/33 IDE channels which allows the card to function as an Ultra DMA/33 controller as well as a RAID controller. Instead of replacing your motherboard's on-board HDD controller, the FastTrack will work alongside it to provide you with four IDE channels. Ideally, this leaves the two FastTrack channels for all of your RAID hard drives and your motherboard's two channels for other peripherals such as IDE CD-ROM drives and IDE Zip Drives.
The FastTrack comes equipped with its own bootable BIOS that takes precedence over your motherboard's BIOS in the boot process, so your IDE RAID disks will, by default, be the first to boot up. The FastTrack BIOS allows for a number of configuration options, such as having the BIOS automatically setup your drive arrays according to your specification or, if you like the hands on approach, you can choose to proceed with the setup on your own. You are able to configure options such as stripe size for RAID 0 systems, meaning the block size that will be read from each individual drive in the array at a time. The BIOS also features a rebuilding feature that automatically restores your array configuration information from one of the drives in the array should the configuration data from the primary drive become corrupt (array config data is stored on all drives in the array).
If you happen to be setting up a RAID 1 or RAID 0/1 system, the FastTrack BIOS includes a image duplication feature that essentially copies the image of a source drive to all other drives in the array. This removes the need for you to manually copy all data from your primary drive(s) to the rest of the drives in the array.