[lug] Promise Fastrack TX2000 IDE Raid Controller Review

Sexton, George gsexton at mhsoftware.com
Fri Oct 11 12:52:39 MDT 2002

I know there has been a lot of interest on the list lately about Raid
solutions and I thought I would share my experience with the Promise
Fasttrack TX 2000 IDE RAID controller.

I installed the controller, and the controller recognized my drives. Using
the BIOS setup screen from the controller, I set up a RAID 1 mirrored array
using a pair of Maxtor 80GB U133 7200 RPM drives.

Next, I booted the machine running RedHat 7.2 using the current release

Initially, I attempted to use the pdcraid.o module. Unfortunately it didn't
recognize the controller.

I next build a custom kernel using Linux 2.4.19 and selecting the Promise
IDE Raid controller option. Evidently this driver hasn't been updated,
because it reported the same version as the 2.4.9-34 RedHat kernel and still
didn't work.

Bowing to the inevitable, I went to the Promise web site and downloaded the
controllers drivers. Installation of the kernel drivers failed because I was
running an updated kernel. Promise's drivers don't track the current
revision release of the RedHat kernel. Basically, if you are running an
updated RH kernel, their driver will not work. The supported kernel versions
for 7.2 and 7.3 are:

RH 7.2 - 2.4.7-10
RH 7.3 - 2.4.18-3

I then called Promise tech support. After less than two minutes, I was
connected with a technician. After going through some preliminary
information gathering I explained the problem. Essentially, there was no
resolution. The kernel versions that the distribution ships with are the
ones that are supported.

After doing some additional research on Google, I made the discovery that
the Promise TX 2000 isn't really a hardware Raid controller at all. It is an
IDE controller that has a bios that writes some array configuration data.
The driver provides the actual raid functionality. This is evidently why
promise will not release their driver source into the kernel. Their driver
provides the raid.

At this point I decided that it's time to look at a different solution.

Conclusion: For software raid, it makes a lot more sense to use the built in
Linux support for RAID than buying a software raid controller like the
Promise FastTrack TX2000 IDE controller.

George Sexton
MH Software, Inc.
Voice: 303 438 9585

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