IDE RAID Performance

Every last one of the motherboards in this roundup boasted support for IDE RAID using one of two chips - the HighPoint HPT372 (the AT7 used a variant of this - the HPT374) or the Promise PDC20276 (the ECS board used an ATA/100 variant - the PDC20266R). The HighPoint equipped boards were the ABIT AT7, ABIT KX7-333, EPoX 8K3A+, Shuttle AK35GT2/R and the Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra. The rest of the boards used the Promise chips.

To benchmark their performance we constructed a 2 drive RAID 0 array using Maxtor 7200RPM ATA-133 80GB drives. The stripe size used was 64KB and the total array size was 160GB.

IDE RAID 0 Performance
Disk Winbench 99 (Transfer Rate in MB/s)
Shuttle AK35GT2/R

ABIT AT7

Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra

ABIT KX7-333

ECS K7VTA3

EPoX 8K3A+

MSI KT3 Ultra

Gigabyte GA-7VRXP

ASUS A7V333

62.0

62.0

61.8

61.7

60.4

60.0

59.8

59.7

59.0

|
0
|
12
|
25
|
37
|
50
|
62
|
74

When we first introduced this test, the motherboards with the Promise based solutions had some serious performance problems and couldn't hold a candle to the HighPoint offerings. This time around, the performance is virtually identical across the board which is good news for everyone. But what about Promise's 64KB stripe size limitation, does that get you into any trouble with performance? Let's compare the application performance of the HighPoint controllers with a 512KB stripe size to the only selectable stripe size (64KB) on the Promise chips.

IDE RAID Comparison
High End Disk Winmark 99 (Transfer Rate in MB/s)
Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra

ABIT KX7-333

ABIT AT7

Shuttle AK35GT2/R

EPoX 8K3A+

ECS K7VTA3

ASUS A7V333

MSI KT3 Ultra

Gigabyte GA-7VRXP

32.4

32.4

32.3

31.9

30.0

27.1

25.8

21.0

20.9

|
0
|
6
|
13
|
19
|
26
|
32
|
39

Here you can see the 64KB stripe size limitation of the Promise chip holding it back, although it's clear that not all of the performance limitations stem from the stripe size limitation. The five top performing boards all use the HighPoint chip (the AT7 uses the HPT374, the rest use the 372), the remaining boards use some variant of the Promise chip yet they offer very random performance. It seems like there are still implementation issues with the Promise chip on some of these boards, we shouldn't be seeing such great variations in performance between boards.

IDE RAID Comparison
Disk Winbench 99 (CPU Usage - lower is better)
MSI KT3 Ultra

ECS K7VTA3

Shuttle AK35GT2/R

Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra

Gigabyte GA-7VRXP

ABIT KX7-333

EPoX 8K3A+

ABIT AT7

ASUS A7V333

1.76

1.85

1.86

1.87

1.95

2.27

2.59

2.61

3.56

|
0
|
1
|
1
|
2
|
3
|
4
|
4

As you can see here, there's very little correlation between CPU utilization and the chip used as well as the performance of the particular solution.

Onboard Audio Performance Feature Comparison Table

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