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Windows 2003 Software RAID 5 performance

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March 1, 2007 4:24:24 PM

Hello

I got a small server with Windows Server 2003 Standard and have been playing with the though of making a software raid 5 with 4x300GB disks.

But which Write speeds can one expect to get ?

My system:
Pentium M 2 Ghz, 1 GB DDR2 ram
1x200gb system disk (onboard controller)
and got 4x300GB seagate pata disks on a promise ata133 controller.


Cheers
Motter
March 1, 2007 5:15:48 PM

I wouldnt expect too much. Perhaps 100-150mb/s. The writes are particularly difficult without a hardware based controller. And it will be a resource hog on the CPU especially with an older single core processor.

Something like Raid0+1 would be easier on your system although it wont give you the same capacity as a Raid5
March 1, 2007 5:24:07 PM

I would go with a hardware solution if i could get one here in denmark.

There are only a highpoint card with "fake" raid 5 and 2 3ware cards which got 12 and 16 channel and thats like overkill especially to the price.

150mb/sec == 150MB/sec or 15MB/sec ?
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March 1, 2007 5:44:41 PM

It would be closer to 100MB/sec now that I see that they are PATA drives. I missed that before.
March 1, 2007 6:10:34 PM

Anything i should remember when i convert the disks to dynamic and start building the raid ?
March 1, 2007 6:18:12 PM

Stripe size can be important. It depends on how this server is being used. Will there be lots of smaller files, a mix of sizes, or lots of large files?
March 1, 2007 6:20:28 PM

Basicly files from 5MB and up
March 1, 2007 7:59:32 PM

depends on what the "and up" part means. If its just a bunch of 5-100+mb files then a 32 stripe should be fine.

if you are talking about GB+ file sizes then a 64 or 128 stripe would suite you better.

Other than that it should be really straight forward.
Setup the raid on the controller.
Grab a floppy and save the driver to it.
Load driver during startup and away you go.

Since this is software based, make sure you get some sort of status software for your controller since it most likely wont have LED indicators on the hard drives themselves.
March 1, 2007 8:09:14 PM

Are there other ways of making software raid than using the build in disk manager in Windows ?

Got a sugestion for a status tool, i'm using a std ata controller without raid at all.
March 1, 2007 8:32:06 PM

ah, this is software...software... raid. In that case I would stick with the disk manager, it will work just fine.
March 1, 2007 8:43:19 PM

Thank you for the answers, ill try to build a raid 5 and return with some bench results.
March 1, 2007 9:52:14 PM

Hmmm write speed are very bad, im only getting like 5MB/sec, taken from total commanders estimate, read speeds is about 50MB/sec and thats fine since its only a 100mbit network the server is on.

Any sugestions on what could be wrong here?
March 2, 2007 12:20:44 AM

5MB/sec is typical for software RAID 5.

Unfortunately, sandman's estimate was way off. He may have been thinking you were going to be using a hardware RAID solution.

RAID 5 requires a hardware solution for decent performance.
March 2, 2007 12:47:49 AM

yeah I made that statement before I figured out the OP was talking about Windows software raid and not firmware. You dont have to have a full hardware solution to get decent raid 5 performance, If you want great Raid5 performance then yes hardware is necessary.

Picking up even a cheap-o firmware based raid controller should get you that 100MB/sec

Checking out benchmarks on the pure Software raid is showing up at 5mb/s. Which is horrific and there is obviously something wrong with the way the OS is utilizing resources for the Raid5 setup. There is no reason for the performance to be that low. Similar Linux software setups can easily exceed 100MB/sec.
March 2, 2007 12:48:30 AM

The sandman had no clue what he talking about raid 5 is much much slower then 100-150 mb

you get 80-100mb with 4 hdd - raid 5 is about 30-50mb if you use build in raid 5 in mobos you prbably crash eventually.

lol sandman your such a noob -- i ran disksppeed 32 on 2 systems with 4 drives each systems a was 4 raptors 100mb max

systems b was 4 drive 7200 sata - raid 10/0 each ran 80mb average.

your sniffing too much vx! lol 150mb raid 5 lol
March 2, 2007 12:52:43 AM

ok pentium 4 boy. go overclock some more and burn down your house already. Oh please tell us how an old netburst P4 is half a Core 2 Duo again, please Im dying to hear that one again.

Im pretty sure my Raid 5 experience far exceeds yours. I have over 300 servers in my Co-Lo that Ive setup over the past years, some of which are 8 or more years old, still running perfectly fine.

I can provide many raid5 benchmarks with 4 disks that far exceed 80-100mb/s even on machines that are running 8 year old scsi 160's
March 2, 2007 1:06:27 AM

lol

you took that out of context - the guy wanted a comparison

a 2.4c is about a half a 1.8 core 2 duo e6300 in over all performance - its ok - i really do have the time to document it but when i do you will look pretty dumb on all the those posts!
March 2, 2007 1:16:17 AM

You can quote all you want but it only takes a few minutes to look around and see all the flak your getting for your outrageously stupid posts.

Pfff, half a E6300, you mean half way down the performance benchmark list right? :lol: 

Quote:
i ran disksppeed 32 on 2 systems with 4 drives each systems a was 4 raptors 100mb max

Who's the noob here? 4 raptors on a PCI controller cannot exceed 100mb/s because of the PCI bus. It has absolutely nothing to do with the drives or the Raid5 setup whatsoever.

Talk about Noob. :roll:
March 2, 2007 5:45:15 AM

So 5MB/sec is okay for a real software raid 5 solution or what ?

File transfers to the raid is okay at start, 50MB/sec but half way speeds drops to 1-5MB/sec.
March 2, 2007 6:30:16 AM

Off topic but I couldn't help myself

Quote:
a 2.4c is about a half a 1.8 core 2 duo e6300 in over all performance - its ok - i really do have the time to document it but when i do you will look pretty dumb on all the those posts!


Are you insane?? Seriously, so let's make a more sensible comparison here, rather than half a Core 2 Duo and a single core p4, we'll take a dual core 2.6GHz PD and the E6300, basically the same thing you said, now which one is gonna win? Yeah the Core 2 is gonna walk all over the Pentium D

Back on topic, software RAID 5 sucks period, at least get a controller even if it doesn't have XOR offloading, it will still smoke that software RAID all around.
March 2, 2007 6:58:47 AM

Which card would you sugest ?

The only card here in denmark is HighPoint RocketRAID 454, the 3ware cards are real server cards.
March 2, 2007 12:43:48 PM

yeah, that should suit your needs.
March 2, 2007 2:51:49 PM

There'd be limits as to how fast you can get with this machine doing software-based RAID 5 over PCI. The HighPoint is software-based.

As suggested earlier, the OP should consider RAID 10 or even simple RAID 1 arrays. It wouldn't cost anything but some space, and should give much better write performance than he's seeing so far, and probably even better than he'd get with the old Highpoint PCI RAID controller in RAID 5.

The customer reviews on NewEgg for that card aren't great, and NewEgg customers (who have already voted with their dollars) aren't the most challenging reviewers.

E.g. one of them reports 8 MB/s RAID 5 writes with the card with high CPU utilization.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/CustRatingReview.asp?DEPA...

The fact that these drives are PATA, while not inherently a performance issue, is a practical issue for finding decent affordable RAID solutions. I'd look on eBay hoping for an old higher-end controller that someone's dumping, or just go with a RAID 1 type solution.
March 2, 2007 3:26:22 PM

The only cards on ebay are the sx4060 and the highpoint ones with the non existing XOR cpu.

Its just that RAID 10 is 50% storage loss vs N-1 on RAID 5.

I'm only wanting like a 200Mbit performance nothing more or less.
March 2, 2007 3:46:44 PM

Yeah, eBay can be short, esp. out of the US. E.g. here's a 3ware that's available just in the US.

http://cgi.ebay.com/3Ware-Escalade-8-port-ATA-Raid-Cont...

Just an example for illustration, I have no idea about card, etc.

Edit, I replaced the example, the original one wasn't RAID 5.

Here's another one. This one will ship internationally, and it looks like it could be a "player", but I don't know anything about it or the seller, so it's just FYI, at minimum an example of some stuff that comes up.

http://cgi.ebay.com/3Ware-Escalade-7410-4-port-IDE-RAID...
March 2, 2007 4:27:48 PM

You can actually do Software RAID 5 on Windows XP, you just have to mod a few files to unlock it.

The performance is dire however, and will be especially so if those 4 drives re on 2 PATA channels.

I mean REALLY dire, think 10MB writes or so :/ 

The last time I tried it was with 3 120GB 7200RPM PATA drives on an Athlon 64 3500+ with 2GB ram.
March 2, 2007 6:25:45 PM

Most decent older cards are 64 bits PCI / PCI-X, however, the nice thing is that most of these are also backwards compatible with standard PCI. Just check the details on the specific cards if you're interested in one of these.
March 2, 2007 6:34:24 PM

Looks like i've to give up this raid 5 project :( 

The adaptec 2400A looks nice but no shipping outside US and the 3ware which looks super nice aint pci 32bit compatible.

Hehe goodbye 900GB raid and welcome 600GB ;) 
March 10, 2007 8:17:07 AM

Quote:
5MB/sec is typical for software RAID 5.

Unfortunately, sandman's estimate was way off. He may have been thinking you were going to be using a hardware RAID solution.

RAID 5 requires a hardware solution for decent performance.

Do not mistake RAID5 with the implementation that crappy Windows or onboard RAID drivers provides. Intelligent software RAID5 implementations, such as geom_raid5, can easily yield >400MB/s write performance, provided that the hardware allows such speeds (8-disk).

Proper RAID5 requires a solution to the raid5 'write hole' which requires reading data in order to write, because else it cannot calculate necessary parity data. These are called '2-phase writes', because they require 2 phases (read, then write) to store the parity data. The result is detrimental performance because the disks have to seek alot, and become a major bottleneck. ZFS's RAID-Z solves this by using a dynamic stripesize so no 2-phase writes occur. geom_raid5 does I/O request combining which transforms 2-phase I/O into 1-phase.

Do NOT say software RAID5 is slow!
March 10, 2007 8:22:16 AM

Nice to recieve more input, but i guess the mentioned sw solutions are linux only `? and require 1 disk per channel ?
March 10, 2007 8:58:26 AM

Quote:
Nice to recieve more input, but i guess the mentioned sw solutions are linux only `? and require 1 disk per channel ?

For now geom_raid5 is limited to FreeBSD and FreeNAS (though FreeNAS does not use the new graid5-tng version yet). So no, this option will not be available to anyone. But it does prove software RAID5 can actually outperform the highest performing SATA RAID5 card on the market (Areca). In terms of STR that is, because controllers like Areca are so strong in reordering no software storage layer has ever achieved. But the same heuristics could be implemented in software. But that does not sell as good as hardware RAID cards i guess. :wink:

What do you mean with 1-disk per channel? You can use any number of disk (minimum of 2) and you can also use partitions instead of disks. Therefore creating a RAID0 and RAID5 on 4 drives, each drive having one portion RAID0 the other RAID5. Like intel Matrix RAID.
March 10, 2007 9:03:09 AM

Its because i got PATA disks and not SATA disks, and the saying is that you should only have 1 disk per channel on the controller.
March 10, 2007 9:31:17 AM

Quote:
Its because i got PATA disks and not SATA disks, and the saying is that you should only have 1 disk per channel on the controller.

That's no problem at all. PATA is either 100MB/s or 133MB/s (assuming you have modern disks), so that means 50MB/s worst-case.

The thing you have to be cautious for is the bus to which the controller is connected. Chipsets themselves have dedicated "embedded" busses to the PATA controller and SATA controller. But some older chipsets have no SATA, or not enough ports, so motherboard makers put an extra chip (mostly silicon image or JMicron) and connect it via the PCI quick-n-dirty :wink:
You should avoid using PCI for your disks, i did not like the benchmark numbers i saw. Though i would not say it's terrible; faster than a single disk. But still detrimental.
March 10, 2007 9:48:06 AM

Its the intel 915 express chipset and there are not much oppotunity to use anything other than PCI since the motherboard only got 1 onboard ata channel and 4 sata channels.

So final verdict is that I should not expect to get more than 5MB/sec when using Windows Software raid 5, 4 Pata disks, 1-2 pci controllers?
March 10, 2007 10:22:31 AM

Quote:
Its the intel 915 express chipset and there are not much oppotunity to use anything other than PCI since the motherboard only got 1 onboard ata channel and 4 sata channels.

And this is not enough? 6 HDDs. What about PCI-express? PCI-express is different in any way from PCI. PCI-express is not even a 'bus'. Anyway; PCI-express simply rocks. If you can use PCI-express, do it!

Else, yeah well then you can use PCI. It might not be that bad since you have disks on the chipset too, so not all disks share the same PCI bus.
Quote:
So final verdict is that I should not expect to get more than 5MB/sec when using Windows Software raid 5, 4 Pata disks, 1-2 pci controllers?

Windows Software RAID5 is a 'dumb' implementation. You should indeed not expect decent write performance (though read performance will be good probably). Choosing a different bus, chipset, disks or interface is not going to change this. It is the implementation of RAID5 which is flawed - or just feature and performance limited. It's not a 'sexy' implementation, as i like to call it.

You might want to consider a relatively cheap hardware controller though, like:
HighPoint RocketRAID 2320 (8x SATA300, PCI-express x4)
It's about 230 euro and does RAID5 quite nice. It falls into the category 'hardware assisted'.
March 10, 2007 10:39:41 AM

Okay so Windows 2003 SW raid 5 is a no go.

Many ppl "whine" about the highpoint cards, if i still want to use my 4 300GB PATA disks shouldnt HighPoint RocketRAID 454 be a okay solution?
March 10, 2007 11:28:36 AM

Quote:
Okay so Windows 2003 SW raid 5 is a no go.

If write performance is any important, then indeed.
Quote:
Many ppl "whine" about the highpoint cards, if i still want to use my 4 300GB PATA disks shouldnt HighPoint RocketRAID 454 be a okay solution?

I don't know all the various controllers, but the 2320 is pretty much a good choice from what i've read. There are also cheaper 4-disk versions and suited to PATA. I would think that 454 is another "class" in the RocketRAID-family, so be careful you're not buying a card that it wanting in performance.
September 24, 2009 9:16:24 AM

All I know is my HTPC has Raid 5 800meg write and over 1tb read
( without cache on tho I have 8 gig read cache the idea of array was lots of storage and low power usage for HD Streaming Video tho with blue ray its now obsolete as the RAM will never hold a disk in memory :S but thats not stoping me from trying nxt HTPC CoreI7 + with more then 24 gig RAM .. )

my only problem is finding a quicker way to dump the data onto another array ..
24 HDD on 2x16 HDD Arrays 0 Mode PCI-x8 Cards ..

its a pain expanding the array :S and its nearly full again

gigabit LAN is soo slow ...

Can not wait for the new LAN / USB revisions mmm USB V3 ,, loving its speed ... 10x faster
!