question on raid

I have no prior experience with RAID and SCSI devices. Can anyone recommend the necessary devices? I want to start playing around with it. I'm assuming I need at least 3 scsi hard drives, scsi cables, and a raid controller?  Now for the questions:

1.  Is it better to learn hardware raid or software raid? (read: what is mostly used)?

2.  SCSI hard drives can be run WITHOUT using raid right? You just need a SCSI card that interfaces to PCI slot?

3.    What is a "perc" controller and why would I need one?  

Any other important terms or devices I need to know?
Thanks
dissolvedAsked:
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nihlcatCommented:
Three hard drives is best.  It lets you create a RAID 5 array.
1.  Dedicated hardware is usually best, because it runs independently of the OS.  If the OS goes, your RAID aray is usually still ok.
2. Correct, all you need to use SCSI drives is a SCSI controller card.
3. PERC controllers come on all the Dell servers I buy.  I don't know if it's proprietary to them or not.  I think it's their own model of RAID controller.

Here's a good SCSI tutorial:
http://www.hardwarecentral.com/hardwarecentral/tutorials/36/1/
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dissolvedAuthor Commented:
So in my fileserver right now (just a tower server), do I need both a SCSI card and a RAID controller?   Or does the RAID controller allow interface with SCSI devices?

Thanks for the link. Good read
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nihlcatCommented:
No, you only need the SCSI RAID controller.  It handles the task of controlling the drives.

Here's a typical RAID controller standard (Ultra-320)from Adaptec, a recognized leader in RAID controllers:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=706701&CatId=509


Here are the associated hard disks you would want to look at.  Fyi: Ultra-320 standard represents 320 Megabytes per second throughtput.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/category/category_slc.asp?CatId=135
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dissolvedAuthor Commented:
Thanks. So the raid controller goes into the PC. Hard drives connect to raid controller. Got ya.

That Adaptec you linked me to, how many hard drives can connect to it?

Also, I notice it said "The Adaptec SCSI Card 29320LP-R is a low profile, 64-bit 133 MHz PCI-X, single-channel"

Does it just fit into a PCI slot?  What does the "Single channel" mean?

Those are my final questions , thanks :)
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dissolvedAuthor Commented:
eh: another question. Could I learn the same stuff by going IDE raid? I know SCSI is faster, but I will learn the same concept right? Does IDE need to be terminated the way RAID does?  what are your thoughts on IDE raid?
Thanks
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CallandorCommented:
IDE RAID will let you learn the same concepts using cheaper hardware.  There are also dedicated IDE RAID cards that do all the things SCSI cards do, for example, the 3Ware Escalade series.  IDE doesn't have to be terminated, but unlike SCSI, you can only have two devices per cable.  
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nihlcatCommented:
The link to the card I sent indicates that, yes, it is a PCI interface for installation, and it is a single channel Ultra-320 adapter.  On each ultra-320 channel, 16 devices can be chained together.  More sophisticated cards have multiple, independent channels for a wider array of RAID redundancy features, or failover.

SCSI allow for many devices on a single chain, but as Callandor established, is considerably more expenssive.
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dissolvedAuthor Commented:
Thanks
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