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IDE / SATA RAID - Which is faster / better onboard or PCI expansion card?

lchambers
lchambers asked
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Last Modified: 2008-03-10
I am working on building a couple of machines that will use a IDE RAID or SATA RAID controller.  I have two PCI ATA IDE RAID  cards a 3Ware Escalade 4LP and a Rocket RAID 404 card.  Also avaiable to me is a ABIT NF7-S v2 motherboard with a(n) onboard SATA RAID controller

I am looking for the following;

+ speed
+ notifications (heat, failure, ect)
+ anything that I may not have considered already.

I plan to use the machines as a workstation by day, and as a backup solution at night after the employees have gone home.

Will I be better served by using the expansion card, or by going with the controller that is in place on the system, and why?
Please advise.
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Top Expert 2012
Commented:
I strongly suspect the 3Ware Escalade 4LP and the Abit NF7-S motherboard will give you the fastest solutions, as the 3Ware cards are high performance cards.  If you go with the motherboard solution, you will likely be limited to RAID-0 and RAID-1, because motherboard RAID doesn't have the expensive hardware to compute parity for RAID-5.  All in all, the 3Ware cards are more expensive, but will provide the most features.  There was a discussion on this in a previous question: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Q_21790692.html 

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Commented:
It might not matter because the controller's speed isn't the real limitation.

Regardless of the drive being SATA, PATA, or SCSI......
The bottle neck to moving data on and off hard drives is more of a mechanical issue and isn't the controller at all.
It's the transfer rate between the actual disk and heads.
The controller interface used has nothing to do with it.

Vendors of hard drives want to sell you on the capabilities of their controller interface and completely disregard the fact that the drive can't get data on and off the heads that fast anyway.
In fact. Most hard drive venders have dropped the head-disk transfer rates out of their specification tables so buyers can't figure this out.

The best sustained head-disk transfer rate I've seen were in the range of 58 to 59 MB/sec.
(I looked at SATA, PATA, and SCSI 7200 RPM drives around 18 months ago before these specs went *POOF* from the tables. Like anything else, as time passes this will improve with newer technology but right now the manufacturers are hiding the numbers.)

The advantage of a faster controller is being able to move data from more than one drive at the same time.
.
Just something to keep in mind when you are figuring out how fast you can more your data through a given setup.
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