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"Future proof" 1+0 RAID array?

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April 10, 2006 4:20:10 AM

Hi all,

I am planning on building a new AM2 water-cooled system in a few months (a separate topic in itself :)  ) and I would like to keep all my data files in a 1+0 RAID array (or maybe a 0+1).

I always keep my data separate from my OS installation so that it is easy to migrate data to a new system or re-install the OS if something gets corrupt. So on my new computer I am planning on keeping my OS on a separate, non-RAID hdd (probably a 15,000 rpm) and then put 4-6 hdd's together in a RAID 1+0 array (I have a lot of data).

So the issue is that I don't want to have to make separate backups or clones of my data drives, as it is too expensive and too inconvenient - that's why I'm using a mirrored RAID system. But I also want to make sure I will be able to migrate all my data over to any new systems I may build, and I understand that it can be a problem getting RAID controllers to recognize existing arrays. Would it be safe for me to use an onboard RAID controller? Or should I pruchase a separate PCI-X RAID controller that I can just re-use and re-install in each new system? Will that definitely recognize the array every time? If so does anyone have any recommendations on which controller to use?

Thanks for any help
April 10, 2006 5:22:37 AM

Quote:
Hi all,

I am planning on building a new AM2 water-cooled system in a few months (a separate topic in itself :)  ) and I would like to keep all my data files in a 1+0 RAID array (or maybe a 0+1).

I always keep my data separate from my OS installation so that it is easy to migrate data to a new system or re-install the OS if something gets corrupt. So on my new computer I am planning on keeping my OS on a separate, non-RAID hdd (probably a 15,000 rpm) and then put 4-6 hdd's together in a RAID 1+0 array (I have a lot of data).

So the issue is that I don't want to have to make separate backups or clones of my data drives, as it is too expensive and too inconvenient - that's why I'm using a mirrored RAID system. But I also want to make sure I will be able to migrate all my data over to any new systems I may build, and I understand that it can be a problem getting RAID controllers to recognize existing arrays. Would it be safe for me to use an onboard RAID controller? Or should I pruchase a separate PCI-X RAID controller that I can just re-use and re-install in each new system? Will that definitely recognize the array every time? If so does anyone have any recommendations on which controller to use?

Thanks for any help


Your best bet (in my experience) is to use a software RAID (0 preferred), because even if a drive fails, because it's software, you can rebuild the array with a new disk and it will restore itself. That, and you can transfer it to a new OS and still have the data intact. Some people say that Software RAID's use alot of CPU cycles, but if you're going AM2, and probably (almost definately) Dual-Core, the overhead is negligable.

~~Mad Mod Mike, pimpin' the world 1 rig at a time
April 10, 2006 5:42:57 AM

Hey Mike, I think you meant RAID 1 here:

is to use a software RAID (0 preferred)

Since he seems to want it redundant.

Anyway I have to agree, software RAID is hardly a problem performance wise with todays cpu's. If you think you'll stick with nvidia chipsets it's probably a safe bet to use the built in nvraid. I have had arrays on sil3112's work on 3114's and fastrak controllers with no problems but your milage may very.

The biggest issue with controller compatibility comes with SCSI controllers, and not just RAID ones. I have a couple Adaptec 2940UW and U2W's that HATE each other when I swap drives (not even RAID), but my AAA-131SA and 2940UW work fine together (Non-RAID). It seems to depend mostly on what core chipset is in use. (2940UW and 131sa have the AIC-7880P whereas the U2W has the 7890A) My Adaptec 2110S RAID array's won't work on the 131SA for example.
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April 10, 2006 6:27:33 AM

His best bet would be Software RAID 5, for purposes of parity (which it seems is what you really want fuzz) RAID 0+1 and 1+0 would do the same thing, except most RAID controllers will lack 1+0 and just offer 0+1 as it is more efficient and less overhead/time consuming for rebuilds. You should know that either of those result in losing half your total disk space, and they both require at least 4 disks to run. RAID 5 is your best bet, requiring just 3 disks, having parity, and getting great read times as well.

~~Mad Mod Mike, pimpin' the world 1 rig at a time
April 10, 2006 6:41:09 AM

If you use an add-in controller you can also get ones that will allow you to add a disk and resize without wiping it (don't think any integrated ones do this with raid 5). That would be good if you suspect you may add more hd's, or swap smaller for larger, later on.
April 10, 2006 2:49:27 PM

Yes it does seem like RAID-5 is the way to go as opposed to 1+0 or 0+1... and interestingly enough, I found an article right here on Tom's Hardware that details how to set up a software RAID-5 implementation in Windows XP (question - this is the same as using the onboard RAID controller, right?)... and apparently (surprisingly), the drives can even be transferred to other Windows XP based systems regardless of the motherboard chipset. Which is what I was most worried about.

However there are still a few issues in favor of an add-on card. For one, a Windows RAID-5 array is roughly half as fast as a good add-on card, and second, the ability to add to and resize the array... although I suppose I can solve that by just making sure I leave enough space in the beginning.

And then the other issue is, so the RAID 5 array works with Windows XP, but what about Vista??

Anyway, thanks a lot for the advice. Looks like a RAID-5 software implementation is the way for me to go, though I am nervous about compatibility with Vista..
April 10, 2006 6:41:36 PM

Yup, exactly what we were talking about!

RAID 5 in windows xp is easy, since vista is still built on nt I'm sure it will work across the board. Unless you have a XOR caching controller (3ware or something) the software raid is just about as fast as an add-in card. And resizing was what I pointed out above, one of the real stong suites for add-ins.
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