RAID for Workstation

I am buying a new PC to use as a workstation for CAD, GIS, and Visual Nature Studio, a visual simulation app. I'm thinking an Athlon 64, 2gb RAM, with 3-120GB drives, as I have a decent but not large budget. I will use our server's Gigabit port and a GB switch. Can I use the server as the "mirror" data drive? ie. Can  I use 1 drive for the OS/app drive, and the other two striped for data, and the server as my 4th drive?
Is there another option I should be considering? I'm more concerned with speed than reliability, though both would be nice.
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Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
The only thing you can do with the server is store your data on it.  It cannot participate in the RAID.  And your Gb NIC is not going to be as fast as your hard drives would be.  Max throughput on a Gb NIC is 125MB/Sec, RAW.  When you factor in protocol overhead, that's probably more around 100 MB/Sec and then you may be subject to other network traffic or other disk activity on the server.  

I would suggest if you're looking for disk performance, get 3x73GB Western Digital Raptor drives (10,000 RPM, SATA drives with burst transfer rates of up to 150MB/sec) and set them up in a RAID 0  If you want reliability as well, you'll need to double this and do a RAID 10 (though you'll also need a SATA RAID controller capable of handling 6 drives (I'd recommend a 3Ware card).  Altogether, your disk sub-system is probably going to run you $500-$1000.  (SCSI is actually much better; drives potentially as fast as 15,000 RPM and throughput peaking at 320MB/Sec; but it's also MUCH more expensive - a similar system would probably cost in the vicinity of $2000-$4000).
sciwriterConnect With a Mentor Commented:
In fact, a "remote" drive CAN participate in a virtual RAID, with Windows 2003, but only under certain conditions.  If you are concerned with speed, you do NOT want to involve any remote drive in any kind of RAID at all, at least not without very advanced technology, which is not appropriate in your circumstance.

If you are concerned about reliability, you should consider two crucial relaities at present --
1.  although SATA drives are faster than IDE, they are definitiely NOT more reliable, at present.  There are LOTS of incompatibilities between SATA drive types, SATA RAID controllers, and motherboards at the present time, few of which are published or generally known.  Some users coming to EE with SATA problems cannot resolve them because the motherboards with onboard SATA raid controllers are not compatible with the drives they bought, or else add-on SATA controllers don't work reliably with the SATA drives and motherboards.
2.  If you set up a RAID 5 array, there is NO SINGLE drive that holds all your data.  With visual sim, if you have a 5 GB file, for example, it could be split across 2-3 drives, and without a good backup drive, you could lose the file.  If that doesn't bother you, then stick with RAID 5.  If it does bother you, you should consider either having another drive for data backup, or use a drive on the server for data backup.

So that would be the best way to involve the server, as a redundant backup for your data, even perhaps your entire data structure.
RimscorpConnect With a Mentor Commented:
2  x   80 gig scsi drives  500$

1 scsi/raid controller 150$

mirror the 2 drives and you will have the speed of SCSI with the Redundancy of a mirror

then just map a drive off the server for whatever you need off of it

 Keep It Simple

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