Adaptec 1420SA is JUNK!

Recently there was a post to Slashdot about a Podcast called “We Hate Tech” in which two guys (supposedly tech support) rant and rave about tech stuff.

I listened to a couple of the ‘casts and just never really got into it. It was a lot of bitching without a lot of content as to why. I have decided to do this in my own style, and I hope to avoid the baseless bitching while still telling people why not to use something.

We recently purchased a SATA II RAID card model number . Everywhere that this was marketed, it was listed as a “Hardware Raid” card, which we took to mean that it actually did RAID in hardware. Turns out that the cards has what Adaptec laughingly calls “”. We didn’t know at the time how got its name, but turns out it is really descriptive. They call it , because the damn host machine does the RAID, not the card. They are selling SATA controllers that simulate hardware RAID, by moving the software RAID into the driver and out of the OS’s control. How is it ok for them to market this as a hardware RAID solution?

Add that to the fact that all the OSes that they support already support software RAID and I don’t really see the point of this product unless it is to just bilk the consumers out of money for something they think they are getting and they aren’t.

The list of non Windows operating systems that they do support is meager at best and only includes versions that are at least a year old. The support is also tied specifically to one version of the kernel, so if you want to update your kernel to fix security issues you are screwed as well.
They don’t even have support for 64 bit Windows. I mean come on. All the new CPUs people are getting are 64 bit and they can’t even be bothered to keep up with that change.

I wrote them to ask if there was any possibility of support for something else and they were less than helpful. Here is the email exchanges:

From Me:

Create-date : 08/31/05 08:29:53
OS : Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 4.x
Problem : 08/31/05 08:29:53 ardev1
Are there any Fedora Core in the works for this card. I need
to get it up with Fedora Core 4. Thanks.

Their Solution (?):

Webmail Solution : 08/31/05 08:50:02 mal23095
Greetings from Adaptec,

Unfortunately, we do not support Fedora Core and currently there are no plans to do so. Since this card is also based on Host RAID technology, there is no source code available. If you need a card that will work in Fedora core we would recommend one or our regular sata or SCSI raid cards such as the 2410 (SATA) or 2120 (SCSI). There are no drivers for these cards in Fedora Core, but the source code is available for users to compile a driver for their particular O/S.

Thank you for contacting Adaptec Technical Support

My Response to that:

I don’t need the HostRAID functionality. When my boss purchased this we didn’t know that HostRAID just stood for junk software RAID. I will be using the builtin Linux software RAID now, BUT I DO need this card to run the drives. The SATA Card that you suggested DOES NOT work for me because we specifically purchased this card and drives to get the SATA II support. I understand that you don’t SUPPORT Fedora Core, but building the driver for EL3 is not that different from building the driver for FC4. Is it not possible to actually provide something for your PAYING customers that they need? I cannot believe that your solution to the problem is to either A) lose the money that we paid for this card, and purchase another card from your company at $350+ or B) change the operating system that I am using and start using a OLDER version that I have to PAY for to get it to work, especially when they are based on the same baseline sytem.

I can tell you that I personally have NO plans to purchase ANY more hardware from Adaptec and I will advise all the technology departments that I can to also follow this plan. To expect me to advise the purchase of another card from a company that obviously doesn’t care to help its customers is insane.

Their final reply:

We’ve made note of your concerns, unfortunately, there just isn’t any support for Fedora Core on this card. The closest we can come are the 2410 and 2120 cards even if we don’t provide a driver of our own.

Adaptec Technical Support

Then I get a customer satisfaction survey in email to fill out. I did fill it out even though I am sure it will get sent to the scrap heap. How is it that companies have gotten so out of control that they can just screw their customers over and nothing seems to slow them down? Adaptec used to mean that you were getting decent hardware. Now our latest server came with an Adaptec SCSI Raid Controller and lo and behold it uses this HostRAID bullshit too.

Adaptec makes crap hardware anymore.

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135 Responses to Adaptec 1420SA is JUNK!

  1. Pingback: Small Business Technology Blog » Fake RAID Cards - from Adaptec?

  2. Justin Wong says:

    Today i discovered that.
    Adaptec 1420SA is not JUNK in CentOS 5 (Linux version 2.6.18-8.el5).
    I installed 2 set of server and using 1420SA .
    Fully function in CentOS 5 (Linux version 2.6.18-8.el5).
    Friends you can try it.

    ### Must using CentOS 5 (Linux version 2.6.18-8.el5) ###

  3. Brent says:

    Justin, so did some aspect of their driver suddenly make the card a true hardware RAID card? No?

    Well then it is still Junk in my opinion. If they didn’t market it as a hardware RAID card then that would be different, but since that is what they sell it as and that is what it is NOT, then my opinion is JUNK.

  4. roms says:

    This card is only a RAID 0 or RAID 1 , there is no RAID 5 so no need of a big processor in it …
    Work like a charm in RAID on Windows 2003 & Linux (Since 2006)

    I think this card was created just to give some raid feature at a very low price (in france)

  5. Brent says:

    See that is the thing Rom: This card provides the illusion of a hardware RAID card, while in reality all it does it have the OS do the RAID.

    There is no reason for it in either Windows or Linux since both OSes already have that in them. Cards like this are the WinModems or RAID. They don’t really do anything other than provide the interface for the OS and CPU on your computer to do the work.

    This card is NOT a RAID card. It is a SATA interface card that works with some drivers to fake RAID inside your OS.

  6. Pingback: Adam Pierce » Adaptec 1430SA on Debian Linux “Etch”

  7. Kevin O'Gorman says:

    Sheesh! I shoulda found this page before I bought this crap.

    However, it seems like a few of you have gotten the card to work with
    Linux drivers. Which drivers? As it stands, my aic7xxx driver is
    trying and failing to work with this card, possibly because there’s
    already an Adaptec SCSI controller in here.

    Advice, anyone? (In the absense of which, I’m just going to junk
    this)

    ++ kevin

  8. Jeff says:

    I am another one of those “I wish I had seen this site before.” However, I got the PCIe 4x 1430SA card. Website for the card says that SuSE is supported. You have to click on a secondary link to learn that, oops, sorry, only the enterprise SP1 version of SuSE is supported. My OpenSuSE 10.3 is of course not.

    I tried that whole SHIM driver build, but the instructions are 2 years old…just like SLED 10 SP1.

    This is a FANTASTIC sata card if you want to add 4 internal sata ports. Calling it a RAID is a sad joke. Claiming linux support is false advertising.

    Now, a word from Adaptec:
    “Response (Tvrtko Fritz) – 06/03/2008 05:55 AM
    Hello from ADAPTEC,

    HostRaid Controllers are (compared to our AAC Raid Controllers) not supported out of the box with linux.

    You will need to build the driver from http://www.adaptec.com/en-US/speed/raid/aar/linux/aar81xx-openbuild-b11949_i386_tar_gz.htm

    Adaptec is currently providing this driver “as it is” – without technical support.

    You can find useful tips under linux.adaptec.com

    Best Regards

    ADAPTEC Technical Support”

  9. Mick says:

    Oh, dear. After being happy with previous products from Adaptec I got sloppy and purchased a 1430SA … just to end up here. Well, bye bye Adaptec. I’ll try to return the card or have a ritual burning party. Man how expensive is a real hardware solution for an 0,1,10 RAID device.

  10. Anwar says:

    So.. basicly.. when you’re going to use the 1420/1430 cards as a SATA JBOD solution it will work just fine?
    Just the RAID functionality is a drama?

    btw, nice artitle Brent!!! 🙂

  11. Duane says:

    If anyone actually reads down this far….

    These HostRAID cards are a little misunderstood. Are they a bit crappy? Well, yes. If you want high-performance RAID, spend $100 more and get a RAID 0/1 Hardware solution or $300 more and get a RAID 5 Hardware solution. Beware some of the cheap Hardware RAID cards as they may claim to run RAID5 (Dell CERC SATA, or SAS5ir/SAS6ir). They will run the crap out of a RAID 1, 0, or 10 array, but put RAID5 on them and you will take 3 drives and end up with 50% of the performance of 1 drive. I would venture that software RAID5 would run faster, but that is something I hope I never find out.

    HERE is how HostRAID controllers beat the pants off true software (OS-controlled) RAID. While it is true they use system resources, they don’t require the OS to be running, which should use less overhead as the OS has one less thing to think about. The real benefit is when your OS gets hosed you still have a fully functional RAID array supported by the BIOS so you can easily retrieve your data. Or, if you want to upgrade to a new OS, you don’t have to break the RAID, then reinstall, then recreate the RAID. Or, in a RAID1 (with windows software RAID, at least) if drive 1 of 2 goes bad, there are additional recovery steps to get the system up again. With HostRAID, it just rebuilds (yes it rebuilds incredibly slowly, but it does just rebuild like a real RAID controller).

    If you want RAID0 for performance or RAID1 only for redundancy, and aren’t talking mission-critical, then HostRAID is a viable option. If you have SATA RAID on your motherboard (ICHxR chipset) then don’t buy a HostRAID card since you already have it. If you want optimal performance on RAID0 or added benefits of striped read performance on RAID1, then you have to get at least a cheap Hardware RAID controller (around $200). Keep the write cache off on these since they don’t have battery backup. If you step up to RAID5, 5E, 6, etc, then you need a bad-boy expensive RAID card or you’re wasting time. If you gotta have RAID-5 and cheap, Promise makes an interesting option by using a cheap processor specifically geared for RAID-5 calculations. It doesn’t have battery backup or lots of cache RAM, but assuming it works it gets hardware RAID-5 done at a fraction of the price.

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  13. patel says:

    Dear Friends,

    I have ADAPTEC 2130slp without battary back up default option is write catch and i am confuse on option, according to adaptec manual its say’s that must select default which is write catch. i dont know whether i should choose write catch or write through ?? can some one tell’s me that what is different between write back, write catch and write through?

    Thank You

  14. Brent says:

    This doesn’t really have anything to do with the post, but none the less:

    Write through means that the card doesn’t cache the writes to the drives. That means that as soon as something attempts to write to the drive it gets written, but you are limited to the speed the drive can write information

    Write cache (not catch) means that the memory on the card caches the writes so that the OS can go on, and then as the drives can handle the data it writes it out. That means that things can go on without waiting for the drives to finish writing, but it also means that a power outage could leave you without all your data, because the cache might not be written out.

  15. Julius says:

    I think everyone is getting a bit too cranky here

    Dont hate the player hate the game lol

    Most cheap cards that offer raid5 for < $150 AU are going to be “fakeraid”. Just because a card is fakeraid doesnt meant it will be of no use, im planning to use a 1430SA purely as a sata controller for my md array. That said i remember hearing the driver for the silicon image chipset on that card had data corruption issues so im still not buying it just yet 😛

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  18. Richard says:

    Thanks for the article, definately won’t be buying this Adaptec card for my Linux server!

    Thanks

  19. lelik says:

    excuse my “french” but Adaptec is su***, really. I thrown card as Adaptec dealer refused to accept it on the following day! I didn’t know that it wont word on linux..

  20. HelloNewman says:

    4 years on since this article the card is still for sale. I was nearly going to buy it and glad this link was 2nd on a google search for 1420SA, sitting just below Adaptec’s link.-

    I would have been scammed as I was expecting hardware raid.

    Thank you very much Brent for taking the time back then to write this blog.

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  22. Zeitkind says:

    Well.. I came here by google too: “Dell cerc forget settings bios raid”
    My intial problem is a Precision WorkStation 670 with 2 SATA drives without RAID enabled. I noticed the FakeRAID before installing Windows XP, so I switched it off in BIOS. Was working fine till the BIOS started to “forget” that RAID is off: BSOD with a 0x0000007b. Took me some time to figure out what was going wrong with that machine, thx to Dell to put such a crap on a workstation motherboard (it’s an ASUS OEM anyway AFAIK). Thanks to the blog I now know that RAID support *on* is the default setting, so I will try to get a new motheboard battery – hope it will fix the issue. Anyone had this before?
    For cheap RAID cards I suggest Areca. Running fine with Debian vanilla since it is fully supported. Not sure about RH or SuSE, but the drivers are open source.

  23. Maximurx says:

    Hello Brent,

    thanks for keeping this blog alive. Adaptec is not a company someone really need today. They live from the name they made in the ’90. But today there are enough other companies that do a better job in

    * manufacturing
    * software development (performance!, compatibility, open source)
    * support

  24. Alex says:

    Hi everyone,

    I remember, back in the day, Promise took their standard ATA/100 PCI controllers and flashed them with a different firmware to make them a software “RAID” controller. This was way back in about 2001.

    Since the 1420 (which I am also unfortunate enough to own) is really just a SATA-II controller with a boot-time GUI that writes the RAID configuration to disk in the form of a superblock, I wonder if the firmware from another basic Adaptec card could be written to this one, to make it a plain old vanilla SATA-2 controller again?

    Then perhaps it could be put to some use….I hate throwing money away!!

    Cheers

    Alex

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  26. Willibald says:

    If you need storage solutions for redundancy – hardware or fake RAID – you also need an extra (identical) controller card that you have tested to be working in the running system. Why? If the controller fails, all your data is gone until you find a replacement card with the same bios version, hw rev no etc etc. Can take weeks to get your “redundant” array on-line again.

    Then if one disk fails in a 4 TB RAID-5 array? With a low-end Adaptec fake-raid in a server with slow CPU, it is probably more cost effective to buy a complete new server, install the OS, controller card and rebuild the array from there.

    So the bad news for all of you still using Adaptec’s fakeraid: move your data to a safer place (software raid, for example) before the shit hits the fan for real. If finding a working driver for your system is such painful experience for many posters here – just wait until you need the “RAID-features” you think you had. It can’t get more painful for a systems administrator to realise that redundancy was just redifened by Adaptec for marketing reasons.

    A have had my battles with many different Adaptec’s SATA-controllers (both HW and fake-raid). My conclusion after those years is: stay away from them. The good Adaptec cards as we know them from the SCSI-era were designed by a different type of engineers. Those cards were fast. Adaptec cards of today are slow. Even the most expensive ones are slower than almost anything else.

    If I need a new SAS/SATA controller today, LSI Logic is my personal favourite. They seem to hire the type of engineers Adaptec used to do.

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  30. Akil Mahimwala says:

    Thanks for publishing this. We are looking out for a Raid 1 controller and I was suggested this card by a hardware vendor yesterday. Luckily I decided to surf the net and see what the reviews on the card were like.

    I will definitely not buy this card. Even if it means we do not use Raid.

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  35. brian says:

    adaptec 1430SA is also junk and will not work under linux.
    ubuntu 10.04 big fat fail.

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