I'm a big fan of computer parts that do their jobs so well that you have to deal with them only when you want to. Because I've made a SCSI-only commitment for all my personal desktop and server systems, a good SCSI controller is a must.

I have a few minimum requirements for SCSI subsystems in my computers: hardware RAID support, more than one channel (via either multiple controllers or multichannel support), and good OS support (Windows NT). Having multiple channels lets me separate the slow peripherals (e.g., tape backup, CD-ROM) from the fast ones. And having three channels gives me many different configuration options for fast devices.

Early in 1998, I was assembling a new desktop SMP workstation for myself, but the Pentium II motherboards of the time had only a few PCI slots. I needed a minimum of four slots just for my planned accessories (two for SCSI adapters, one for hard disks, and one for low-speed peripherals).

Searching for ways to reduce the use of PCI slots, I came across Adaptec's recently released AAA-130SA SCSI RAID card series. With a retail price of less than $800 (and a street price around $600), the AAA-133SA offered me a solution. It provides a 40MB transfer rate, three Ultra Wide SCSI channels, support for my legacy SCSI-1 devices, and hardware RAID to give me the best possible system performance on a limited budget. The AAA cards use the same silicon that you will find in embedded controllers in top-of-the-line NT workstations from vendors such as HP, IBM, and Dell, so I was fairly comfortable with my decision.

The AAA-133SA adapter is easy to install, works well with NT, and comes with an added advantage—Adaptec CI/O Management Software. The CI/O software interface gives the user detailed information about installed drives and permits the easy configuration of new drives and drive arrays.

The AAA-133SA has been a reliable component of my system and has made it somewhat easier to recover from recent system failures. It would make a great controller for a mid- to high-end workstation like the one I built for myself and for low- to medium-end servers. The ability to monitor drives and the array status, and to use hot spares are bonuses at a price point well below the cost of other vendors' dedicated RAID controllers. I also appreciate that the controller has worked well since I installed the OS beta software (probably because Adaptec has one of the most commonly supported SCSI controllers). Also, Adaptec has been proactive about providing updates to accompany NT service packs.

AAA-133SA
Contact: Adaptec * 408-957-7274
or 800-442-7274
Web: http://www.adaptec.com