Posted on 2006-07-11
Last Modified: 2008-02-01

I have a customer that has a requirement to have as a fast as possible system disk running Windows XP.  He wants to keep the cost down as much as possible so we have already been through the motions of upgrades here and there (ie. SCSI RAID array with SCSI CONTROLLER is too expensive, a new motheboard supporting SCSI or SATA nativly is not an option... etc)

SO have come to the conclusion that a SCSI RAID array would be a speed enhancement for the read/write  operations on hit disk using Photoship and 3D modelling software - he already has a gig of memory and will be adding more to this so please do not answer with "More Memory" or "Faster Processor" - i only require thoughts / opinions and abuse about the idead of a sata raid array.

Does anyone agree with my idea?

I was thinking of putting a PCI SATA raid controller card into the machine and then using this to connect up the SATA disks. Then setting up the RAID array to be either RAID 0, 3, 5 or 0+1.

Fault tolerance is not really that important as the system can be ghosted once built and the image put on DVD for restore if the OS went down and the actual files will be saved on another large SATA / IDE disk that is not in the array.

Raid 0 seems a good idea at the moment as:
1) it only requires two disks
2) Easy to implement and
3) If i wanted to improve performance even more i might be able to install two RAID controllers and stripe the data over two controllers with one disk attached to each.

Raid 5 would give me the best read rate but medium write rate

Raid 3 is extremely fast read/write and need 3 disks min, however can be fairly complex and not entirely sure if a PCI SATA controller would support this

Raid 0+1 would be excellent speed but would require 4 disk to be installed and would be expensive - again not sure if you can get a PCI SATA controller that does 0+1

Thoughts / comments / abuse greatly appreciated.

Any links to specific PCI SATA RAID  controller cards would be handy also.
Question by:net-workx
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LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 500 total points
ID: 17081420
Raid 0+1 isn't that expensive, just 2 more disks which are cheap these days. I'd use that anyway as I don't support raid 0 for any reason, even if you can recover the system easily, it still uses time and it will happen, that the raid 0 array breaks. So in the end that'll be more expensive. WD raptor drives are probably the fastest SATA disks.
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Expert Comment

ID: 17081488
I have both a HighPoint 1820A PCI-X controller and an Areca 1220 PCI-e controller; both are using Samsung 250GB drives in a RAID-5 array.  I saw HDTune measure 50MB/sec throughput for the HighPoint and 250MB/sec for the Areca.  The quality of the controller makes a big difference, and for RAID-5 the parity computing engine is important, as well as onboard cache (the Areca has 128MB).  I had also tried the HighPoint in a PCI slot and measured 40MB/sec, so a PCI solution may limit you.  I have two WD Raptors in an MSI K8N Neo2 motherboard RAID-0 setup and measured 100MB/sec throughput.
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Expert Comment

ID: 17081497
I agree with rindi however I have yet to find a SATA RAID Controller that does 0+1 so up until this point i have been either running RAID5 or RAID0 on the OS/APP drives and RAID1 on the Data Drives. Rindi if you know of a controller PLEASE let me know as I would love to get my hands on one! THANKS!
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 17081575
The areca controller Cal is talking about should support raid 1+0 without problems. I'd also warn against using a highpoint controller I've personally had problems with them and also I haven't heard much good about them. They are cheap but they also act cheap. The problem may be that you don't have a PCI-e mainboard. Areca also makes PCI-X versions, though.

Author Comment

ID: 17085056
i have asked customer to check MOBO manual to see if it support PCI Express or PCI-X.
Will let you know asap.

Expert Comment

ID: 17085683
Adaptec Serial ATA II RAID 2420SA ;
Supports 4 drives, SATA 2

Siig has a 4 channel card that does 0+1, doesn't do SATA 2 though,
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 17086385
I've been using an Adaptec 2410SA (4 channel SATA PCI RAID controller) with 4 drives in RAID 0+1 on my home PC for a couple of years. It works well and I'd be happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a low-cost medium-performance high-availability solution. It's not as good as a SCSI RAID setup, but it didn't cost any where near as much either.

When drives have failed (as they do), the 2410SA has alerted me with its onboard alarm and the rebuild of the replacement drives has occurred without a hitch. I now have 4 x Seagate SATA-2 drives attached to it (no failures with any of these yet, they seem to much more reliable than the Maxtor drives that I originally had, which is aligned with the 5 year warranty on the Seagate drives).

The Adaptec 24xx series of RAID controllers are true hardware RAID controllers. They don't rely on software drivers to do the RAID, which is a good thing, particularly when it comes to recovering a system due to an operating system problem.

Expert Comment

ID: 17087016
Raid 5 is definately NOT an option if speed is the issue.  If speed is what you want with some type of recoverability (which is the ONLY way to go), 4 drives total - two raid '0's mirrored in a "1" will give you the best speed - it's all about the mobo that the end user has...

Author Comment

ID: 17101907
still waiting one end user for this one.... it hasnt been abandoned....


Author Comment

ID: 17300477
Thanks for all your comments guys.  I eventually installed raid 0 as customer did not want to get 4 disks for the raid 0+1  I installed the 10,000 rpm raptors that rindi suggested.  

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