Adaptec 3400S SCSI RAID

Adaptec 3400S SCSI RAID
For our Ultimate Gaming Machine we're building, we wanted a SCSI RAID array. Duh. To accomplish this, we wanted the best SCSI RAID card we could find. In our search for the best, we came across Adaptec's 3400S, a four-channel Ultra160 SCSI RAID controller.

The 3400S is Adaptec's finest, and most expensive, RAID controller. This bad boy packs four SCSI channels with a maximum of 60 hard disks (15 per channel). This beast uses a 64-bit PCI interface. This is almost essential for a card of this type. The 3400S uses the Intel i960RN microprocessor to do the work. It includes a 32MB ECC SO-DIMM, and has another free memory slot with a maximum of 128MB. Adaptec says that the 3400S is for "users who require maximum RAID performance and expandability." Damn straight.

Here's the technical specifications from Adaptec:

Why to buy

High performance RAID solution where performance and expandability are paramount.
Customer Needs
Ideal for mid-range servers requiring up to 60 disk drives
System Environment
Mid-range and high-end SCSI server environments, conventional and rackmount
Ideal for mid-range servers requiring up to 60 disk drives
Data Transfer Rate
Up to 160 MB/sec per channel (x4)
External Connectors
Four 68-pin VHDCI
Internal Connectors
Four 68-pin high-density (recessed)
Bus Type
64-bit/33 MHz PCI
System Requirements
Intel PC or equivalent with available PCI slot
Package Contents
Adaptec SCSI RAID 3400S
CD including Storage Management software, online documentation and drivers; Quick Install Guide; One 5-position 68-pin LVD internal cable with terminator
RAID levels
RAID 0, 1, 0/1, 5, 0/5
Cache Memory
32 MB (expandable to 128 MB)
Key RAID Features
Online capacity expansion
Immediate RAID availability (background initialization)
S.M.A.R.T. support
SES/SAF-TE support
Board Dimensions
3/4 card: 4.25in H x 10.25in L 10.8cm H x 26.0cm L
Full-size card with optional battery backed module installed:
4.25in H x 12.28in L 10.8cm H x 31.2cm L
Power Consumption
4 amps @ +5V
Operating Characteristics
32 F to 131 F (0 C to 55 C)

In addition to four internal channels, the unit also has four external SCSI channels. This is for hooking up all those external SCSI devices you may have. We hooked up a $5000 DVD-R to the external channels and it worked flawlessly. The DVD-R review is coming up, so stay tuned :). The unit is capable of RAID0, RAID1, RAID0+1, RAID5, RAID 0+5, and JBOD (disk spanning). We used RAID0.

The unit comes with a CD, which has some crappy software on it, and drivers. One good thing about the CD is that it is bootable and has some disk management software on it, very similar to PQ Magic. It also includes a quick installation guide and one five device SCSI cable. The device has a three year warranty.

The faint "MT" on these RAM chips signifies high quality Micron memory

To get the four channels, Adaptec simply took the 3200S and added a riser card on top of it. This adds the additional two channels (both internal and external). For this reason, I didn't get a picture of the Intel microprocessor which powers this thing. I didn't want to risk slipping up while taking off the riser card; remember, this thing costs $1000!

The 3400S has a straightforward BIOS with an easy to use flash upgrade system

There are a series of LEDs on the unit as well. These LED not only give boot up codes, they also indicate disk access. There is an onboard speaker on the device, much to my dismay. The speaker will spit out an ultra-obnoxious error signal if all the drives aren't connected properly.

Driver installation was pretty painless. Just find the correct drivers on the CD and wabam there you go. I was somewhat surprised the drivers didn't come native with Win2K, as this controller isn't that new. Adaptec includes excellent instructions for Unix installation as well. We will be testing our mondo array on Windows as well as Linux.

I know you all want some benchmarks on this beast, but you're going to have to wait. We are including the benchmarks in our Ultimate Gaming PC article. We have a bunch of different hard disk configurations and benchmarks we test this with. Sorry!

Pro's: Con's
  • Four channel
  • Worked great
  • Firmware & driver updates are frequent
  • Diagnostic LEDs
  • Good manual
  • High quality Micron RAM
  • $1000
  • Complicated... takes a while to get it all going
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