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SSD RAID Setup

Posted on 2011-09-09
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I'm in the process of looking to swap out a bunch of SSD's that run my database server (32 drives total).  I'm swapping them out for more reliable drives (I've had 2 fail in under 6 months).  I'll be creating 6 volumes of differing sizes, and in RAID configurations of 0,1 and 10 (mostly 10).

So, I've read that it's best to let Windows disk manager configure the volumes vs. using my RAID controller to setup the arrays.  Is this true? I've never used the disk manager to setup spans or stripped volumes, always used the controller cards.

Would the advantage be that since the drives aren't being managed by the controller is that Windows will be able to use TRIM on the volume?  If so, is that still the case even though I have to setup the drives on the controller to Post?  I'm unable to directly attach the drives to the Mobo's ports due to the fact that we have so many drives (I have two LSI controller cards, one that runs the 8 drives on my backplane, and one that runs my 24 bay enclosure)
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Question by:JamesonJendreas
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by:McRonis
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If your RAID card support "Garbage collector" then you RAID card can do TRIM.
And you won't need to mess with software raid managed by Windows.
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by:Callandor
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TRIM is not supported for SSDs in RAID arrays.  Some SSDs manage garbage collection better than others; the SandForce and Intel models, for example, but not for Crucial: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3812/the-ssd-diaries-crucials-realssd-c300/8
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by:charlestasse
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The last thing you want to do is create a software raid on top of your hardware raid. Thats bad juju!!!

Let the raid controller do the array management and let windows handle partitions.
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by:McRonis
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But the author want to use trim function, so best option here is to flash raid card with IT firmware (if supported) and use the software raid.
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by:JamesonJendreas
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@Callandor:

I'm aware that TRIM isn't available with RAID, that's was the point of potentially letting windows manage the volumes.   But charlestasse hit on the exact issue I was looking at - using software raid on top of hardware raid just screams issues to me.  Also, that link you posted is a bit out of date, as Crucial recently released a firmware update that really brings them up to par with the SandForce drives.  

I've also heard of issues with SandForce drives throwing BSoD's (at least it was problem with OCZ drives, not too sure about Intel)- something I cannot have happen on my database.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2011/09/08/crucial-m4-vs-vertex-3-new-firmware-face-of/1
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by:JamesonJendreas
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Thanks McRonis,
I'm not necessarily saying I want to use TRIM, I'm just looking at what the best setup configuration would be (software or hardware) for my new SSD'd (BTW we're looking at Crucial M4's).  I'm open to all suggestions (and appreciate them!).  

Note, this is for my Database server (Running MS SQL 2008 Enterprise), so my main concern is with Random Reads and Writes reads being more important then writes (we have WAY more people running reports than actual data entry).  

(tangent)What we are trying to achieve is tweaking our system for the best possible performance of our DB server.  Our ERP software techs are working with us to achieve this (we're pretty much the largest database out of anyone using their software).  We've hit almost every other area we can to increase performance.  We are still looking at a Fusion style storage system, but I'm not too sure if I can drop the cash needed to for the volumes I need.  AT this point the techs state that disk speed is probably the only remaining bottleneck that we can work on (/tangent)
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by:McRonis
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Have you considered ZFS with SSD caching (L2ARC) as storage server and then connect database server with Infiniband (10Gbit/s - 40Gbit/s) ?
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by:JamesonJendreas
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I'm actually not very familiar with ZFS (I have a very basic understanding) - but as I understand it, I'd have a dedicated server for the storage.  My main question is compatibility with cross-platform support - my DB server is a windows 2008 server.

The ZFS seems to me to be a lot like a SAN solution, which I have also considered.  In fact I plan to roll out a comprehensive, enterprise wide storage solution, likely a SAN.  My main concerns are introducing new technology into my most mission critical systems (database and applications servers).  My current plan is to roll out a SAN solution for my file servers and the nin the future possibly roll out to my DB.
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McRonis earned 500 total points
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If you want to stick with your raid card, update their firmware with IT version - Host Bus Adapter, it will be RAID card without RAID firmware, and the you could easily install windows software raid on it. By itself Windows Software raid management is very simple. Your server will work and you will also get the TRIM support, and everybody is happy.

More info about IT firmware flashing.
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