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    Promise Technology Fasttrack66 Raid ATA66 Controller Review
    October 1999


    When people think of disk arrays and RAID they usually think of SCSI RAID. Well, last June Promise Technology changed that by introducing the FastTrak66, the first and only Ultra ATA/66 RAID card. This brought the previously expensive RAID solution down to the masses. FastTrak66 enables transfer rates greater than a single Ultra ATA/66 or Ultra2 SCSI hard drive.

    Just to give you a little history of Promise Technology, they have been around since 1988, so you know they are experienced. They have a track record of design innovations and product introductions, including the first IDE caching controller, the first Ultra DMA controller card, and of course, the first controller to offer IDE RAID.

    The FastTrak66 is targeted towards two different markets, for the entry level servers or corporate workstations where data is critical, and for the performance workstation market. In this review I attempt to see whether this card lives up to the claims or is it all just hype. The following is an overview of the major features and benefits of the card, taken from the manual:

    Advanced Hardware Design



    Supports data striping (RAID 0), mirroring (RAID 1), and striping/mirroring combination (RAID 0+!)

    Provides dramatic increase in drive performance and/or fault tolerant options. Offers performance customization and data rebuilds from the BIOS menu.

    Supports Ultra DMA 4/3/2/1/0, DMA 2/1/0 Burst data transfer rates up to 66 MB/sec from Ultra ATA/66 drives to boost overall system performance.
    PCI Plug-n-Play, PCI Interrupt sharing and coexists with mainboard IDE controllers Easy to install; support four IDE drives on the FastTrak66 while still supported 4 IDE devices on the mainboard IDE controllers.
    Supports concurrent dual IDE controller option Drive workload is distributed in parallel between members of the array.
    Supports IDE bus master operation Allows multitasking during disk transfers which increase CPU efficiency. The CPU is free to process tasks during IDE data transfers through the PCI Bus to/from system memory.
    Utilizes FastBuild auto menu from the FastTrak66 onboard BIOS Offers pre-set application specific settings which can be optimized for Desktop, Server, or A/V Editing. Has "Auto Setup" option for quick and easy array builds.
    Displays status and error checking messages during boot up Notifies user of possible errors and allows for recovery of mirrored drive arrays directly from FastBuild.
    Employs the latest Promise PCI Ultra ATA/66 ASIC technology Fully supports Ultra ATA/66 specifications with 66 MB/sec timing and CRC error checking at high drive speeds.
    Mirroring supports automatic background rebuilds Fault tolerance can be restored automatically without rebooting.


    Complies with PCI v2.1 Local Bus Standard Provides highest level of hardware compatibility.
    Compliant with PCI IDE Bus Master standard. PCI Bus Master support for Windows95, Windows NT 3.5x, 4.0 Provides 32-Bit I/O, IDE Bus Master, and Ultra ATA performance for optimal system performance
    Tested compatibility to coexist with mainboards that have integrated IDE controllers Improves system performance of new and existing installations including mainboards with Intel chipsets.
    Compatible with Ultra ATA/66, Ultra ATA/33, EIDE and Fast ATA-2 drives supporting multi-word DMA Works with newest and current IDE drive specifications. Promise engineers experienced with IDE devices perform verification testing with major drive manufacturers and development partners.
    Features LBA and Extended Interrupt13h drive installation in controller onboard BIOS Breaks capacity barriers for support of drives greater than 8.4GB in capacity. Offers flexible storage options for space demanding applications.

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    Article Info
    Author: Tom Solinap
    Company: Promise Technology
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