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New build - drive configuration advice; Raid or no?

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November 29, 2006 10:31:26 PM

I’m looking for hard drive configuration advice for a new computer I am building. My main objective is fast and efficient processing for PhotoShop CS2 and Nikon Capture NX. I process a large number of high resolution RAW image files at a time and just spend too much time waiting around as the computer churns away processing the hundreds or even thousands of images I may need to edit after shooting an event. I’ll typically run a batch process that applies various adjustments, resizing, and file format conversion.

Photoshop is most efficient when the application and the scratch disk are on separate drives.
My storage needs add up fast and some redundancy wouldn’t hurt although I could store more images on CD or DVD.



Option 1: 2 ea. Raptor 150 10k in Raid 0 for OS and applications.
3 ea. WD3200YS 320GB 7K 16M SATA 3.0G in Raid 5 for scratch disk and storage.

Intel tech assures me the 975XBX2 can support the onboard Raid control. With the C2E CPU will I be alright? If not, is there a compatible Hardware controller?

Option 2: 1 ea. Raptor for OS and Programs.
1 ea. Raptor for scratch and short term storage.
3 ea. WD3200YS 320GB 7K 16M SATA 3.0G in Raid 5 for storage.
975XBX2 onboard Raid control?

Option 3 (No Raid): 1 ea. Raptor for OS and Programs.
1 ea. Raptor for scratch and short term storage.
2 or 3 ea. WD3200YS 320GB 7K 16M SATA 3.0G for storage.

Any thoughts? Has anyone tested raid 5 on the BX2? I may find the processing speed sufficient with the new rig and won’t need to configure Raid at all.

Thanks in advance.

1 ea. CPU INTEL|C2E X6800 2.93G 775 4M R
1 ea. Intel BOXD975XBX2KR 975X Motherboard
2 ea. CORSAIR XMS2 DOMINATOR 2GB ((2 x 1GB) x 2)
1 ea. PSU CORSAIR|HX620W RT –
1 ea. CASE LIANLI|PC-S80 BKl
1 ea. CPU FAN | ZALMAN CNPS 9500 LED - Retail
2 ea. HD 150G|WD 10K 16M SATA WD1500ADFD - OEM
3 ea. Cav WD3200YS 320GB 7K 16M SATA 3.0G - OEM
1 ea. CD-ROM LITEON|LTN-52S1S-05 SATA BK% - OEM
1 ea. DVD_BURN PLEXTOR|PX-755SA BK R - Retail
1 ea. MULTI-SLOT CARD READER XM-28U BLACK - Retail
1 ea. MS Windows XP Pro SP2b 1pk w/Upgrade Coupon for Vista
December 3, 2006 2:12:24 AM

The thing you must keep in mind about onboard RAID5 is that the XOR processor is generally your CPU. This can eat up a surprising amount of power, upwards of 5-10% is common, though with an X6800 I would say 5% is the upper limit.

That said, RAID5 also offers a very nice balance of speed and reliability. With 3 drives RAID5 is as slow as it can be; it is faster with 4, 5 or 6 drives.

My reccomendation for you would be to get the raptors for your applications, and get an extra RAID controller with 4x250GB or 4x320GB and make a RAID5. I think you'll find 4x250 is about the same as 3x320 in price, but faster in RAID5.

Because your needs are largely limited by hard drive speed, 4 drive RAID is going to help, and having the scratch disk seperate from your applications is also permitted.

Depending on your actual needs in terms of size of a scratch disk, this might also work:

- Raptor for applications, OS
- Raptor for scratch disk (no RAID on the raptors)
- 3x320GB RAID5 for storage, onboard RAID5 or RAID0 for storage

Because the 320GBs would be used for storage, the amount of XOR processing actually done is less than if it were used for a scratch disk, so the onboard chip is good enough to not need an actual RAID controller card.

If you want to go with an actual RAID controller, a PCI Express x4 or x8 card would be best.

Depending on the amount of money you are willing to spend:
- Highpoint 2310 (~$140) - 4 port SATA-II PCI-e x4, no RAM
- Highpoint 2320 (~$250) - 8 port SATA-II PCI-e x4, no RAM
- Areca 1210 (~$310) - 4 port SATA-II PCI-e x8, 128MB ECC
- PROMISE EX8350 (~$350) - 8 port SATA-II PCI-e x4, 128MB ECC
- 3Ware 9650SE (~$360) - 4 port SATA-II PCI-e x4, 256MB DDR2

For a 4 port, I would probably go with the Highpoint 2310, but for 8 would go with the Promise due to the onboard RAM. 4 port with RAM is sort of awkward, because the cheaper one is an x8 slot, so unless you have an SLI board and 1 video card you probably won't be able to use it.
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