Adaptec AVA 2904

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Adaptec AVA 2904

The Adaptec AVA-2904 host adapters are the optimal choice for SCSI peripherals such as CD-Recordable drives, removable drives, DVDs, scanners and magn...

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Review of "Adaptec AVA 2904"

published 10/07/2001 | shearerm
Member since : 04/07/2001
Reviews : 4
Members who trust : 0
About me :
Pro A bargain. Easy to install and used. Good entry level SCSI controller.
Cons No support for higher data rates.
very helpful

"Scuzzy wuzzy, lets get buzzy"

If you plug an SCSI card into your pc, don’t hold your breath because nothing exciting is going to happen. (Unless of course you have made a very bad job of installing the card. Then you might see smoke and flames coming from your cherished/reviled PC or even, in extreme cases, find yourself moving down a tunnel towards a bright light.) However, once you have installed you SCSI card you will be able to attach any number of exciting devices to your pc.

Although this is an opinion of Adaptecs AVA-2900 series of SCSI card, it is also a general review of SCSI. I have done this because as far as I can tell this is the first review at Ciao of a SCSI controller card. This seems to be a bit of an over sight to me as any number of SCSI devices have been reviewed, (such as the excellent Plextor external SCSI cd writer which was the subject of my first ever submission to Ciao) all of which require a SCSI controller in order to connect them to your PC! So as well as discussing Adaptec’s excellent card I will also try and give a simple introduction to SCSI what it is, its pros and cons and why you might want to use it.

A SCSI card is possibly one of the least sexy devices you can plug into your PC. However, it is one of your more useful options as installing it opens up a huge range of possibilities. SCSI stands for "Small Computer System Interface" and is pronounced "scuzzy" and is a system for connecting things to your pc, things like hard drives, scanners and cd writers, devices that need to be able to shift hefty amounts of data about quickly. A while back SCSI walked all over IDE in terms of performance but cost a packet. Not only were SCSI devices vastly more expensive but you also needed to buy a special and expensive SCSI controller card. The price and performance difference gap between SCSI has now fallen significantly (IDE is better SCSI is cheaper). You can now pick up a brand new SCSI card for £30 to £40 and SCSI devices are cheaper too. SCSI does still have the edge though and it is sometimes worth paying just a little bit more. The high rate of data transfer makes SCSI is attractive to those who moving large amounts of data, consequently a lot of servers and high-end workstations use SCSI. The sort of people who work with these systems don’t really need telling about SCSI, grandmother and eggs springs to mind. A good example of why an ordinary mortal might use SCSI would be anyone interested in working with digital video or large sound files or who wants to write cds quickly or scan large images quickly.

Other than a high rate of data, transfer SCSI has two main advantages. The most important is the number of devices you can connect. Even budget cards like the AVA – 2904 can mange a total of seven SCSI devices be they internal or external. The second advantage is that SCSI devices are more reliable. It is true that USB lets you add a lot of devices as well but SCSI still gives better reliability and performance and there are probably still more SCSI devices than USB. Reliability is irrelevant if you are buying new equipment as most pc hardware is good these days, but if you are on a budget (or even just enjoy tinkering) you can buy old SCSI devices and be reasonably confident they will still perform well. Since SCSI has been around a long time there is a lot of old kit available. For example if you are short of storage you can string together a bunch of old SCSI hard drives and end up with a reasonable amount of storage that isn’t too slow and will function reliably.

So in summary SCSI moves data faster, you can connect a lot of devices, it is more reliable but it does cost a bit more.

This brings me to Adaptec’s AVA two thousand nine hundred series. I personally am the proud owner of an AVA – 2904. Adaptec seem to increment the numbers (for example, I have seen a 2906 about) but I think this represents minor improvements to the series or cards intended for different markets. First, the good news this card is cheap. I bought mine for only £30, ideal as I am short of cash right now and I only wanted it to run an elderly SCSI cd writer at home. It also installed perfectly, I popped in the new card restarted my PC, it came back to life (no smoke, no flames, no blue screen) and found the card and its attached writer instantly.

The bad news is that while SCSI is cable of up to 160 mb per second this card will only do 10 mb per second. If that does not mean much, to you then try to think of it in terms of floppy disk per second, the AVA 2704 can move the equivalent of just over seven full floppy disks of data in a second where as its big brothers can move the equivalent of just over 114 floppy disks worth in a second! However, this was not really an issue for me as I only trying en to attach one old SCSI cd writer. Still it would have been nice to have the option! My only other gripe would be the lack of software bundled with it. Adaptec are supposed to have some excellent software for working with SCSI, in this case it was notable by its absence. Although since a lot of the things you can fiddle with in SCSI are pre set on this card I am not sure how useful it would be anyway.

In summary, this is a nice little budget SCSI controller, ideal for any users first experience of SCSI.

USB2 was mentioned in a comment on my article on the Plextor SCSI cd-writer (thanks bigdgaff). This is a fair point. USB2 is going to be of comparable speed to SCSI (60 mb/s as opposed to 160 MB/sec?), will allow many more devices at once to be attached to your pc and will probrably be integrated onto your motherboard and hence be effectively free. The main disasdavantage is that is is not here yet whereas SCSI is. USB 2 is only the second incarnation of USB whereas SCSI has already been through many, the latest being Ultra160 SCSI, and consequently many more devices are available. I think USB2 will not so much replace SCSI as compliment it at the lower end of the market.

(Although bigdgaff comment was originaly on an op I posted on the plextor scsi cd writer I have included my repsonse here as it is more relevant to the material I have included in this op. )

If you want to know more, and there is a lot more to know, the links bellow to Adaptec may be useful or you can always contact me via Ciao.

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Comments on this review

  • bigdgaff published 11/07/2001
    Another great op. There's plenty of detail in there. Don't think I'm nit picking, but aiming at the lower end of the market is normally more successful as there are a larger number of customers. We may well see a VHS/Betamax type battle where the cheapest wins out over the higher quality(At the time). We may expect to see SCSI equipment start to come down in price with the launch of USB2. If that doesn't happen, I guess I will have to eat a truck load of humble pie. C'est la vie.
  • wallstreetwannabe published 11/07/2001
    great op - I'd be the one seeing the smoke I think!
  • brianlfc published 10/07/2001
    A Belated welcome to Ciao, and I have to say, a Superb 2nd opinion (and your first was just as good), well done and keep up the great and very useful writing...Brian
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Product Information : Adaptec AVA 2904

Manufacturer's product description

The Adaptec AVA-2904 host adapters are the optimal choice for SCSI peripherals such as CD-Recordable drives, removable drives, DVDs, scanners and magneto-optical drives. Based on the industry-standard Adaptec AHA-2940 architecture, the AVA-2904 family of adapters provides the superior compatibility Adaptec is known for, resulting in fewer technical support calls and lower costs.

Product Details

Product Description: Adaptec AVA 2904 - storage controller - Fast SCSI - PCI

Device Type: Storage controller - plug-in card, Storage controller - SCSI - plug-in card

Bus Type: PCI

Interface: Fast SCSI

Data Transfer Rate: 10 MBps

Supported Devices: Removable media drive, CD drive, scanner

Max Storage Devices Qty: 7

Package Type: Retail

System Requirements: Microsoft DOS, Microsoft Windows 3.x/95/98, Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 or later

Dimensions (WxDxH): 1.1 cm x 12 cm x 6.5 cm, 1.1 cm x 11.8 cm x 6.4 cm, 6.4 cm x 11.8 cm, 6.5 cm x 12.1 cm, 1.1 cm x 6.5 cm x 12.1 cm

Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year warranty, 5 years warranty

Interface Type: PCI

Localisation: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish

Controller Interface Type: Fast SCSI

Interface(s) Required: PCI

Channel Qty: 1


MPN: 1794000, AVA-2904CD KIT, AVA2904/EFIGS/KIT, ADA1891800EU, AVA-2904 KIT, 1891800EU-R, AVA2904-ROHS-KIT, AVA-2904/EFIGSKIT, AVA-2904AU, ADA-2904KIT, AVA-2904, 1891800EU

Device Type: Storage controller - plug-in card, Storage controller - SCSI - plug-in card

Host Bus: PCI

Localisation: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish

Compatibility: PC

Interface Type: PCI

Width: 6.4 cm

Depth: 11.8 cm

Storage Controller

Interface: Fast SCSI

Data Transfer Rate: 10 MBps

Supported Devices: Removable media drive, CD drive, scanner

Max Storage Devices Qty: 7

BIOS Type / Vendor: Adaptec

Controller Interface Type: Fast SCSI

Channel Qty: 1

Expansion / Connectivity

Interfaces: 1 x Fast SCSI - 50 pin HD D-Sub (HD-50) ¦ 1 x Fast SCSI - 50 PIN IDC

Compatible Slots: 1 x PCI - half-length, 1 x PCI

Provided Interfaces: 1 x storage - Fast SCSI - 50 pin HD D-Sub (HD-50) ( external ) ¦ 1 x storage - Fast SCSI - 50 PIN IDC ( internal )


Compliant Standards: Plug and Play, RoHS

Package Type: Retail

Cables Included: 1 x SCSI cable - internal

MTBF: 543,774 hours

Software / System Requirements

Software Included: Drivers & Utilities

OS Required: Microsoft DOS, Microsoft Windows 3.x/95/98, Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 or later

Manufacturer Warranty

Service & Support: 1 year warranty, 5 years warranty

Service & Support Details: Limited warranty - replacement - 1 year - carry-in, Limited warranty - 5 years, Limited warranty - replacement - 5 years - carry-in

Dimensions & Weight

Width: 1.1 cm, 6.4 cm, 6.5 cm

Depth: 12 cm, 11.8 cm, 12.1 cm, 6.5 cm

Height: 6.5 cm, 6.4 cm, 12.1 cm

Environmental Parameters

Min Operating Temperature: 0 °C

Max Operating Temperature: 55 °C

Humidity Range Operating: 10 - 95%


Listed on Ciao since: 17/12/2003