Creating RAID system using SSD HDs

Hi,

 I am trying to build a RAID system in a PC with 4 x 2TB SSD HDs (model:  Micron 1100 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5" Internal Solid State Drive Part#: MTFDDAK2T0TBN-1AR12ABYY)  and like to hear your recommendations on RAID controller card.
 I usually put LSI MegaRaid controller cards on server, but I have not build a personal computer with a LSI Raid Card, let alone outting SSDs on it.
 Having said that, this computer that I am buying comes with ASUS PRIME Z370-A ATX MB which has built-in SATA RAID 0/1/5/10 option.
 Is it wise to just use built-in RAID since SSD HDs are pretty fast anyway or is it worth the money to buy a separate LSI MegaRaid 12Gbps SAS/SATA Raid controller to hook up these 4 x 2TB SSD HDs?

This computer will be used by one person for graphics related work.

Thanks.
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sgleeAsked:
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Mario EscobarCommented:
If the built-in raid controller offers you a raid option you need go for it. An external raid controller does not mean faster or better performance.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
@Mario,
 
 I am not talking about external RAID controller. It would be an internal RAID controller like LSI 9300-4i PCI-Express 3.0 SATA / SAS 4-Port SAS3 12Gb/s HBA.
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Mario EscobarCommented:
I mean external because it's not a built-in controller.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
"I mean external because it's not a built-in controller." --> Got you.
Have you personally done both? SSDs on on-board raid and a separate RAID controller?
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Mario EscobarCommented:
Sure i did several times, and there's no big differences between one or other.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
"there's no big differences between one or other" --> That is what I guessed too. Since SSD is so fast, I was not sure if it is worth getting a separate RAID card, particularly this is a standalone PC.
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Mario EscobarCommented:
It's almost the same you use a separate or built-in controller. Remember that depending of the raid you use it can lower the ssd read/write speed. But again, because it's ssd the difference will be very very little. You have nothing to worry about
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
You should not use any RAID controller with SSD drives because it will disable thr trim functionality of ssd drives. As a result the SSD drive pages will get worn out faster and your drive get bad.
Instead you should go with so called software RAID where you convert the drives in installed Windows - Windows Disk Manager - into dynamic type and the build software RAID configuration there.
Only very expensive vRAID controllers do support TRIM.
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robocatCommented:
I agree with noxcho.

TRIM is very important to keep the write performance of your SSD drives from degrading. At first, everything will seem to work fine, but over time your writes will become much, much slower.

Most RAID controllers for personal use do not support TRIM and should not be used with SSD.

So the question you need to ask: do you need RAID? From a speed perspective, there's not much to gain as your SATA interface will be the bottleneck, not the drives. So why RAID?
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DavidPresidentCommented:
TRIM is not a factor with premium server class SSDs ... which you don't have, so just throwing it out there.  You are proposing using horrible crap toy SSDs attached to a higher-class LSI RAID controller that wont support TRIM pass-through for those SSDs.   You'll take  performance hit.

THE BEST WAY to solve your problem is simple..   Go software (host-based) RAID1. Then TRIM will work.  RAID1 also does read-load balancing so in perfect world, read performance will be double

The money you save NOT buying a controller will let you buy a better class of SSD, and/or motherboard.   Take notices of how many lanes you have for the SSDs.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
@noxcho
"As a result the SSD drive pages will get worn out faster and your drive get bad." --> Thanks for the info.
"Only very expensive vRAID controllers do support TRIM. " --> Can you name a RAID controller that support TRIM?

@robocat
"At first, everything will seem to work fine, but over time your writes will become much, much slower. " --> It is good to know that.
" So why RAID? " --> The user wants redundancy and speed. Since current data size is close to 2TB. I figured that I can get four 2TB SSD HDs and put them in RAID 10. The choice of multiple 2TB SSD HD is because they are cost effective (< $500) vs 4TB SSD (<$1,500).
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Can you set up software RAID 1 using Disk management in Windows 10 OS ?
Last time I did software raid using Disk Mgmt. was Windows Server 2003.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Yes, you can. Dynamic drive type is supported by Windows 10.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Can you name a RAID controller that support TRIM?
Not really. They are used in HP EVA 3000 as long as I know.
And there are intel chipsets which support RAID0 on latest versions via Intel Rapid Storage Technology.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
can I create RAID 10 on Windows 10 Disk Management?
Can I also create a global hot spare in  Windows 10 Disk Management?
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robocatCommented:
Just google for: windows 10 storage spaces.

Lots of websites and youtube videos that will describe how to do this.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
I was getting a Windows 10 PC that has ASUS PRIME Z370-A ATX MB that has 6 SATA ports and on-board RAID controller that supports RAID 0,1,5, 10. Before posting this question on EE, I initially was planning on using either on-board RAID controller or separate RAID controller to set up RAID 10. Then I heard from EE experts that TRIM is not supported by on-board controller or most RAID controllers and I should use Windows built-in storage spaces & Disk management to construct RAID 10.

But my computer vendor told me the following when I mentioned that I was going to create RAID 10 using 4 SSDs on Windows 10 PC.

"on board raid will only allow pass throw support for TRIM in raid 0, it doesn’t support TRIM on raid 10.  

TRIM handles cleanup to keep drives performing optimally.  Enterprise drive do the cleanup themselves.  Client drives require the OS to handle it through a function called TRIM.  TRIM is only supported for single drive configurations or RAID 0.  The OS cannot TRIM when the drives are in a RAID 1, 10 or 5. "

If what he said is true, then TRIM will not be supported even when I use Windows 10 storage spaces & Disk management to construct RAID 10?
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Yes, RAID0 is supported by newest Intel chipset for Intel onboard RAID controllers and latest RST driver, that's true. I've read about it as well.
And Windows Storage Spaces indeed should work with TRIM properly. Because Storage Spaces is a technology similar to JBOD (just a bunch of disks) which are used by overlayer to write the data to.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
"Yes, RAID0 is supported by newest Intel chipset for Intel onboard RAID controllers " ---> how about raid 10?
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
RAID10 is not supported. Intel declares it clearly that only RAID0 is supported. Though for me it is pretty strange because SSD is already fast enough and RAID0 is the good for its speed.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
"because SSD is already fast enough and RAID0 is the good for its speed." --> agree, but RAID0 does not provide fault tolerance.

So then what do you suggest that I do?
(1) Do Raid 10 using Windows built-in raid anyway?
(2) Do Raid 10 using on-board raid?
(3) Get a separate RAID card that does support TRIM? This option sounds very expensive.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
I would go with single SSD for system and then use Storage Spaces for other SSDs or do dynamic disk configuration. Storage Spaces sound more attractive because it is newer and dynamic drive approach is now legacy feature.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
@noxcho
"I would go with single SSD for system and then use Storage Spaces for other SSD" --> Are you suggesting one SSD for OS and two 2TB SSDs (RAID 0) for data?
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
RAID0 is not redundant. Thus if you do not have over 2TB data then I would use RAID1 software mirror.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
I need to have 4TB as a single partition using 4 2TB SSDs.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Ok, then use dynamic drives and stripe the volumes on both drives. See here how: Stripe volumes
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
RAID 1   0Can I do RAID 1 + 0 (RAID 10) on WIndows 10 and if I can do this, does this support TRIM?
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Yes, but making a RAID0 is just nuts.  Real-world you will not only take a performance hit, but also it is more likely it won't even work on your computer's BIOS.   Go 2 x RAID1 instead.  Then you can configure the 2nd RAID1 for larger chunk size so it will work better with database (set to 64KB chunk size, which is what MSFT uses by default).   You can then move index, O/S, and so on to the 1st RAID1.  Sure you will have to manage where things go, but then again you would end up with two separate devices where the 2nd one is optimized for large block I/O, and the first one is better suited for random I/O.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Two RAID1s@David,
 
 Are you talking about this?
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Yes,  leave it as 2 x RAID1s .. BTW each RAID1 will be 2 TB usable, not 4TB as you displayed.  You got RAID1 & RAID0 mixed up.  RAID1 = mirror,  where each disk in the RAID1 has same contents (other than metadata).   A RAID0 is concatenation or striping, depending on subtle differences in methodology used by the RAID software or hardware.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
RAID 1 x 2My bad ... yes RAID 1 is mirroring; therefore I should have put 2TB out of each 2 x 2TB HDs.
However if I get 2TB from each RAID 1, I would have do RAID 0 in on two sets of RAID 1 (effective space 2TB) in order to get 4TB effective space?
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DavidPresidentCommented:
2 x RAID1 =4TB effective.   a RAID10 comprised of 2 x RAID1 = 4TB effective .. BUT there are numerous problems doing a RAID10 that you do not want,  most important of which it won't likely even work on your config, then it will be slower in almost all cases than if you spread things out and balanced files yourself.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
I am completely lost.
Can you draw a diagram that shows how I can get 4TB effective space using 4 x 2TB SSDs using Windows 10 built-in functions like Storage Space and Disk Management?
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Your last drawing is fine.  just remove the 2nd RAID1.  Leave it as 2 separate 2TB usable RAID1s.  The first RAID1 is C:> (Disk 1-2) the 2nd RAID1 will be D: (Disk 3-4)
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
I wanted to have one 4TB partition.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
You cannot have 4TB single partition the way you want it. Use stripe for two 2TB drives and see what you get.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
If you MUST have 4TB usable, then your only practical, and least expensive solution is to buy a pair of 4TB SSDs, and use software mirroring to make a single 4TB RAID1. Assuming your PC is UEFI BIOS then that will work and let you boot.  If your PC is not UEFI then you have no choice, you will have to install a 5th SSD and make it the boot device, then you can do a RAID10 with the 2 SSDs.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Using two 4TB SSDs would have been ideal except a 4TB SSD is only made by Samsung and it costs $1,400 where as Micron  2TB SSD is only $319. That is the reason I like to get four of these 2TB SSDs if I can set up RAID10 array that supports TRIM at the same time.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
You can't always get what you want.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
This question went into the area that I did not intend and no end in sight.

So I have decided to use on-board RAID on motherboard to connect all 4 2TB SSDs and create a RAID 10 and load Windows 10 operating system so that I can have 3.6TB of contiguous space. We will monitor space usage on SSD HDs and replace them as they wear out. As the price of SSD has been coming down fast in the past ( I am getting Micron 2TB SSD for $320 at Amazon), it would be even cheaper 3 to 5 years down the road.

So even though I understand TRIM function is important, I am not going to worry about it. First this computer is not a network server. This is a personal PC where the user will use Adobe LightRoom software to work on pictures during weekends or evenings. So it is going to have a minimal read & write.

Thank you for your help.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
You are welcome. Important was that you know about this problem with TRIM and what it could lead to if TRIM is not used.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
You won't be able to monitor space usage.   Usable capacity won't change.  What will happen is performance degrades and then eventually you lose data and the O/S won't detect any problems.   Such is the risk.  How long that will take is a function of writes vs read ratio.  The more writes you do, the sooner it will come.

Also make sure you turn OFF all disk defragging options.  Defragging will only make the wear leveling rate higher.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
@David,
"You won't be able to monitor space usage" --> now that is a bad news. Since it is SSD and come with a finite number of writes, it is important to know how much life is left. Hmmm... back to square one.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
There is software for SSDs which ahows the lifetime left but it does not work on drives in RAID configuration.
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robocatCommented:
You say that your user wants (1) speed (2) redundancy and (3) 4TB. The use case is Adobe lightroom (LR).

1. speed: a hardware or software RAID build of SATA disks will likely not improve speed as one single disk can easily saturate the SATA bus. Not a good reason to build a RAID. Using hardware RAID will actually hurt performance a lot in the long run.

2. Redundancy is a valid reason for a RAID but not a replacement for good backups.  In your use case, frequent backups can be a good alternative  because this also protects you for other kinds of issues than drive failure. After all, you're much more likely to suffer data loss from user error than from drive failure.

3. In the case of LR, there's no need for a single 4TB space. LR can easily handle multiple individual drives to store either catalogs or photos. As many LR users use external drives, this is a very common way to work.

So for your use case you should get priorities right. Does your user need great speed and redundancy or is this just for light work during evening and weekend with minimal read and write, as you stated?

Imho most LR users get by using single SDDs. Perhaps for the price of 4 small SSDs in RAID you can get one big SDD? Or spread data manually over multiple drives? Esp. if this is for light work only. But do get a good backup system.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your insight. I have decide to set up RAID 10 using On-Board RAID Controller for simpler management.
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