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Hard disk solutions for budget servers

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February 5, 2008 12:13:33 AM

Am just wondering if this would be an ideal set-up for a server running primarily sql server.

1 74GB Raptor for the primary drive with SQL Server and Antivirus Management Software.
2 Sata II 7200 RPM drives in Raid 1 for the actual data being run by SQL Server.

My questions are...

1. Is it worth getting the raptor considering all of my data is on the larger sata drives or would accessing these files through the SQL Server give me enough speed gain to make the purchase of the more expensive Raptor worth it?

2. If the raptor is worth it in my setup, should I set-up TCQ for it?

3. Is it adviseable to run RAID 1 with an onboard controller or should I just back it up everyday?

4. I also have an 18gb scsi with card lying around here. Would you advise me to use it for anything?

Any comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

February 5, 2008 1:35:19 PM

Can anyone with a good grasp on how SQL Server works help me with the above dilemma?

Thanks.
February 5, 2008 3:15:13 PM

Without any offence intended!

What is your relationship to the server?
Are you a developer?
Are you selling on to a client?
What is it going to be running?
How many users?
Are you going to be running a third-party app?
How many transactions a day?
How much data will move across the box?
What is the spec of the server?
What O/S will you run?

What are you trying to achieve?


My first take on your questions:

1. Is it worth getting the raptor considering all of my data is on the larger sata drives or would accessing these files through the SQL Server give me enough speed gain to make the purchase of the more expensive Raptor worth it? No - get two relatively small drives for your OS and SQL run them in RAID 1. Throw as much memory as you can at the box.

2. If the raptor is worth it in my setup, should I set-up TCQ for it? TCQ = ¿

3. Is it adviseable to run RAID 1 with an onboard controller or should I just back it up everyday? You should back up every day. RAID will protect you against hardware failure. If somebody deletes data it's gone.

4. I also have an 18gb scsi with card lying around here. Would you advise me to use it for anything? Tape streamer for backup and restore.

Related resources
February 5, 2008 10:11:17 PM

Without any offence intended!
None taken... sorry I'm just such a newbie at this. I'm just the one researching and buying all the parts together from what I have researched and will be learning over here. So I'm thankful for any input or clarificatory questions that you might have for me.
What is your relationship to the server?
I don't quite understand this question but the system I will be assembling will be the main windows server.
Are you a developer?
No I am not a developer... my company is the end user
Are you selling on to a client?
Refer to the above answer
What is it going to be running?
It is going to be running windows 2003 and sql server 2005 and our accounting, inventory tracking system. It will also be running the antivirus for the network. It will also be the domain controller for the network.
How many users?
The accounting/inventory system thru sql will only allow 10 concurrent users. However the antivirus will be administered to 25-30 users.
Are you going to be running a third-party app?
Only the accounting/inventory system
How many transactions a day?
I can't quite quantify the number of transactions.
How much data will move across the box?
This I can't answer as well as we have yet to start. However, transactions will be more on data encoding that anything else. Its more of writing data to the server and retrieving data for tracking purposes. Note that the server will probably not run 24/7.
What is the spec of the server?
I decided to just assemble a high-end desktop running on q6600 processor and so far 2gb unbuffered ecc ram. Everything else is still undecided at this point.
What O/S will you run?
Windows 2003
What are you trying to achieve?
I'm trying to achieve a balance of speed and security.

My first take on your questions:

1. Is it worth getting the raptor considering all of my data is on the larger sata drives or would accessing these files through the SQL Server give me enough speed gain to make the purchase of the more expensive Raptor worth it? No - get two relatively small drives for your OS and SQL run them in RAID 1. Throw as much memory as you can at the box.

Ok I was always reading that it was advisable to use a faster drive such as the raptor for the system drive for speed and 2 drives at raid 1 for system security. Would this not be true for me?

2. If the raptor is worth it in my setup, should I set-up TCQ for it? TCQ = ¿

TCQ is Tagged Command Queueing... the older version of Native Command Queueing for the newer SATA drives. It supposedly helps in multi-user environments.

3. Is it adviseable to run RAID 1 with an onboard controller or should I just back it up everyday? You should back up every day. RAID will protect you against hardware failure. If somebody deletes data it's gone.

Point taken.

4. I also have an 18gb scsi with card lying around here. Would you advise me to use it for anything? Tape streamer for backup and restore.

whats a tape streamer?
February 6, 2008 7:06:58 AM

dips said:

sorry I'm just such a newbie at this.


No problem, we all had to start somewhere! BUT I must caution you that you are talking about running your companies accounting system on the server - can you afford to have this as a learning exercise? Who will back you up if something goes wrong? You also need to realise that the server is just part of a system. Are your PC's currently networked? Do you have Internet connectivity for the office? Who will configure the users, login scripts, client PCs, etc.? Enthusiastic amateurs (no insult intended but that is how you come across) used to be a great source of revenue for me. dips, with all due respect you don't know what a tape streamer is (it's used for backing up your data) I really think you should get somebody with more experience to setup a server in a commercial environment! Ask them if you can look over their shoulder, ask them the questions - but please don't take the responsibility for doing yourself right now!

To answer your questions:

dips said:

What is your relationship to the server?


I was trying to understand if you are selling the machine on to client, setting it up for your self, maybe a development machine, etc. Trying to find context. Just jotted down questions as they popped into my head :D 

dips said:

It is going to be running windows 2003 and sql server 2005 and our accounting, inventory tracking system. It will also be running the antivirus for the network. It will also be the domain controller for the network.[/#d4002a]


Does the company that provides the "accounting, inventory tracking system" software provide guidelines as to minimum hardware specifications? I would certainly see if there is a local consultant for the company that can advise on configuration, etc.

dips said:

The accounting/inventory system thru sql will only allow 10 concurrent users. However the antivirus will be administered to 25-30 users.


So 30 people on the network? That's fairly small, but now ask yourself what happens if the server fails or is unavailable? Can you fix it? Should you have one server that is your domain controller that acts as a hot-standby? If your accounting server is unavailable for 4 hours - you've lost one man-week (10 people who can't work for 4 hours)!

dips said:

I decided to just assemble a high-end desktop running on q6600 processor and so far 2GB unbuffered ecc ram. Everything else is still undecided at this point.


Please consider this in the light of what I have said above.

dips said:

Ok I was always reading that it was advisable to use a faster drive such as the raptor for the system drive for speed and 2 drives at raid 1 for system security. Would this not be true for me?


In this context no. Remember that your access to the server is only via the network that is normally your limiting factor . On a server it's really about how quickly the data gets to your PC from the time you request something, that's a combination of factors. On a desktop you have a one to one relationship with the PC so Raptors and RAID 0 play a very big part.

dips said:

TCQ is Tagged Command Queueing... the older version of Native Command Queueing for the newer SATA drives. It supposedly helps in multi-user environments.



Thank you, I will always recommend SCSI in a server. Some people will argue going for enterprise quality SATA drives, they may have a valid point. SCSI is going to end up costing more but I believe will provide a better platform going forward.

dips said:

whats a tape streamer?


A device for backing up data from your file server. As part of your strategy you'll need to consider how often to backup data, whether to store tapes off-site, how many generations of backups to keep, etc.


I hope this helps.

UD
February 6, 2008 2:27:38 PM

Actually I won't be the one who will actually be setting-up the system. I have a consultant who will be doing that for me. So don't worry about that. As for minimum specs for the Accounting/Tracking system, the quad core set-up seems to be way above the minimum and even recommended server requirement.

I do recognize your point about backing up though. Since we don't have a full time I.T. person, our consultant is actually suggesting Norton Ghost (or Acronis) so that we can easily recreate the system. This along with daily back-ups may be enough security for us. Should we just go with this set-up or go with raid 1 for the data, or both?

As for the scsi suggestion, while I will have to agree with you, we may not have that much budget at this point.
February 6, 2008 3:27:47 PM

UncleDave has it right on the money. (again, dangit!)

Raid is only going to prevent your system from trashing the data your using as the drive fails, it's not a 'backup' of your data. When (not if) one of your drive fails the other disks will still have viable information so your business can keep running until that consultant can come in and charge you $$ to swap the disk out for a new one.

That has nothing to do with your backups, which are there to prevent someone from closing out the accounting year end, deleting users from the payroll system, and generally deleting necessary files because they didn't know what they were for. FYI - don't just back the files up. Look to see that the backup jobs actually worked, and test restore some files once in a while to be sure the systems working.

Do the 'both' thing if you can afford it......us IT guys really like the combination of fault tolerance and disaster recovery for the businesses we work for. Mostly so that there will still be a business to work for-standard lightning strike that caused the fire that burnt your office and had the sprinklers flood the building scenario kinda planning.

UD - so, have the bastards been grinding you down? :) 
February 6, 2008 4:08:01 PM

So the advice is actually for me to (1) back-up my data and budget permitting (2)set-up raid 1 for fault tolerance. So I would at least need three drives in such a scenario. I've pretty much decided on getting a raptor for my OS and applications, if not for speed, at least for what seems to be reliability since it claims to have an MTBF of 1.2 million hours.

Correct me if I'm wrong but as I understand it, I'd also need a second drive for my data and a third drive for backups of the data and possibly storage for the image of my primary drive for easy restoration. Finally budget permitting, I could have a fourth drive to run on RAID 1 with the second (data) drive for fault protection.

Would that summary be correct? Would such then be a good set-up?

Thanks for all your help.
a c 114 G Storage
February 6, 2008 4:14:16 PM

Today, the Raptor's have lost their niche. Expensive, small and with short warrantees, they have been eclipsed by faster, quieter and larger drives with 5 year warrantees....and WD's not doing that well at the moment.

I normally stay outta the > 10 PC network issues so my 1st advice would be to ask the accounting / inventory program people as well as the "consultant who is setting it up for advice.

But "off the cuff", if the app is "mission critical, I'd set it up with a pair of RAID 1 drives for the OS and programs and a second pair for the data. I'd also want dual power supplies in that rig. Alternately a RAID 5 or 1/0 system might be considered but again, I would be asking the software company for advice.

As for backup, you have to think about what you are protecting against. Having a stack of tapes, DVD's, exterior hard drives or whatever does little good if a fire takes them all out at the same time. An offsite backup location addresses this need. A small NAS would also work (I'm assuming single ext HD would be too small), presuming someone grabbed it by the handle and took it with them when they went home or grabbed it as the fire alarm went off.
February 6, 2008 4:52:47 PM

Doesn't the WD site publish that their items including the raptor have 5 year warantees? In any case you're probably right.

With regard to the raid options, I'm becoming a little bit hesitant in that if my on board raid controllers fail, I might have a difficult time accessing my data. On the other hand budget is also an issue especially with Raid 5 setups.

As for the backup protection, I never really considered fire. I will have to discuss the offsite/NAS options with my consultant and software supplier on how best to store backups. I'm not so worried about the OS and programs as my software supplier assured me that reinstallation would pose no problem. Furthermore, I think we would survive without the system for at least a few days. It is my data that would take months repopulate if it becomes lost.
a c 114 G Storage
February 6, 2008 5:48:02 PM

Since NAS's became mainstream, I'm seeing a lot less servers. A sub $1k X-RAID NAS can easily serve the "file server" needs of just about any office with up to 10 people.
February 6, 2008 9:04:42 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
Today, the Raptor's have lost their niche. Expensive, small and with short warrantees, they have been eclipsed by faster, quieter and larger drives with 5 year warrantees....and WD's not doing that well at the moment.

I normally stay outta the > 10 PC network issues so my 1st advice would be to ask the accounting / inventory program people as well as the "consultant who is setting it up for advice.


I'm not sure where this myth that people keep bringing up has come from, that the Raptors are worthless. This notion is not correct at all.

First of all, the Raptors are enterprise drives and always have been. They're 1.2M hours MTBF and have 5-year warranties.

Second, I have one spec for you: 10,000 RPM. I don't care how cheap, fast by the STR measure, quiet, or big the other drives are getting, they're still 7200 RPM with nearly double the access time. For applications that need high IOPs (like databases), the Raptors will destroy any other SATA drive, period, end of story.

This is a corollary to why you "stay out of the > 10 PC network issues". When you get into enterprise networks, things that were adequate for the SOHO market don't work anymore. You need enterprise-level stuff to do what you need to do. A NAS? For an accounting and inventory system? Ridiculous. It would be so slow as to be unusable, and unreliable to the point where you couldn't transact business. And Lord help you if a drive ever fails, because I haven't seen one of those cheap things even be able to properly rebuild their own array.

A 30 person network is beyond the NAS things. That is a network that needs two fault-tolerant dedicated servers minimum, RAID for availability/uptime, a tape backup system, an enterprise-level UPS, a corporate-level malware solution, and a corporate-level firewall. None of the following manufacturers should even enter your mind: Linksys, D-Link, Infrant, Buffalo Tech, or Netgear. Those are consumer-gear/SOHO device manufacturers that have no place in the enterprise. You should be thinking of: Dell, HP, Cisco, APC, SMC, Symantec, Adaptec, LSI, and the like.
February 6, 2008 9:47:59 PM

Thanks SomeJoe7777, so going back to my original question, would using the raptor merely as my primary drive for OS and applications including MS SQL Server but leaving the data in ordinary 7200 rpm drives negate the speed advantage of the raptor?

February 6, 2008 11:24:18 PM

dips said:
Thanks SomeJoe7777, so going back to my original question, would using the raptor merely as my primary drive for OS and applications including MS SQL Server but leaving the data in ordinary 7200 rpm drives negate the speed advantage of the raptor?


Well, the Raptors strength is when it's serving the high IOPs load of things like databases. So it would be much more beneficial to use the Raptor as the drive where the SQL Server database files are rather than use it as the OS drive.

A typical storage configuration for an enterprise server varies, depending on what the server is designed for:

For a database server, I would use a 4-drive configuration, 2x anything (even plain 7200RPM 80GBs) in a RAID-1 for the boot drive, and 2x Raptors (if you want to go inexpensive) in a RAID-1, or 2x SAS (more expensive but higher performance) in a RAID-1 for the database files. For extremely high transaction rates (i.e. hundreds of database clients hitting the server simultaneously and continuously), you go to a 6 drive configuration, with 2 in a RAID-1 for the OS, 2 in a RAID-1 for the .mdf (database files), and another 2 in a RAID-1 for the .ldf (transaction log files).

For a file server, where transaction rates are typically lower and storage space is needed, now you look at RAID-5 configurations with 7200RPM SATA drives (low load), or 10K RPM SAS drives (high load). Typically I will see a 5-drive configuration, 2 in a RAID-1 for the OS, and 3x in a RAID-5 for the data. Also remember that even in a file server, sequential transfer rates are largely unimportant; it's the network that limits the speed. More memory in the file server is also valuable for file cache purposes.

If you have 3 servers or more that use storage space (for instance, file, database, and e-mail), and you need a lot of storage space (>2TB for the file server, for instance), you start to see benefits of moving to a SAN system instead of having storage on individual servers. You may not be quite there yet, but it's something to consider. Take a look at the Dell MD3000i.

For these servers, I would seriously investigate purchasing them from a top-tiered company like Dell or HP. In addition to getting exactly what you need, you get the proper amenities like redundant power supplies, monitoring and management software, hardware warranties with next-day service, properly engineered cooling and power solutions, etc. Self-built servers can be cost effective, but when you start to talk about the criticality of business operations, it's time to move to something better.
a c 114 G Storage
February 7, 2008 5:02:59 PM

SomeJoe7777 said:
I'm not sure where this myth that people keep bringing up has come from, that the Raptors are worthless.


Every hardware review site you look at. The Raptor is no server HD. WD figured that if people would pay $1,000 for twin vid cards, they would pay twice the price for a HD with an advantage. They couldn't get this advantage with better densities so they sped up the drives and, for a time, had a niche as it fit nicely between the cost of SCSI for those really serious about speed and the more budget conscious. They tried for the server market ... they became like the cheap "e-machine" of the server HD market and they pretty much cornered the enthusiast market ... well those with big pockets. But that niche is gone. The Raptor just doesn't stand up today in desktop performance and it never made a mark in server performance.

SomeJoe7777 said:
Second, I have one spec for you: 10,000 RPM. I don't care how cheap, fast by the STR measure, quiet, or big the other drives are getting, they're still 7200 RPM with nearly double the access time. For applications that need high IOPs (like databases), the Raptors will destroy any other SATA drive, period, end of story.


And will similarly be destroyed by the 15k Cheetah so what's your point ? If you wanna argue that the expense of the Raptors are "worth it", you've argued yourself into a set of 15k Cheeetah's. The Raptor's are a Hard Drive w/o a niche. Take a trip over to the storagereview leaderboard. The site's been a bit lazy of late and haven't done reviews of any of the newer SATA drives....but let's look at their leaderboard recommendations:

http://www.storagereview.com/leaderboard.sr

Best Hi performance Server Hard Drive: Seagate Cheetah 15k.5 , Honorable Mention Savvio 15k.1
Best Hi capacity Server Hard Drive: Seagate Cheetah 15k.5
Best Light Duty Server Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda ES2 (The Seagate ES2 is the "Enterprise version of the 7200.11)

Hmmm.....not a WD product in the bunch, I wonder why.....well we'll see when we look at the reliability history. But for now, let's just compare, performance shall we ?

Access Time:
Cheetah 5.8 - 6.2
Raptor 8.0 - 9.0
as much as 45% faster

DTR:
Cheetah 135.0 / 82.6
88.3 / 60.2
as much as 53% faster

I/O's per second @ 32 que depth:
Cheetah 380
Raptor 195
twice the capacity !

Now let's look at the reliability comments covering past performance reliability of each vendor's offerings:

"According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, a predecessor of the Seagate Cheetah 15K.5, the Seagate Cheetah 15K.3 , is more reliable than 100% of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, the Western Digital Raptor WD1500 is more reliable than 12% of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation."

Yeah, I'm sure many IT folks wanna put their jobs on the line putting the company's mission critical apps on hard drives which are 1/8th as reliable, handle half the I/O's and are outperformed by 50% !

SomeJoe7777 said:
A 30 person network is beyond the NAS things.


Clarification.....A 30 person network with 10 users. I have seen NAS's work perfectly well for 10 AutoCAD users working 3D drawings. And I don't set up networks with more than ten users but I have built boxes for them. I wouldn't create the hardware specs, but I don't mind building them.

I have a 4 disk 15k SCSI box with twin tape drives about 8 feet behind me. We replaced it a couple of months back with an NAS with no impact on network (9 users) performance....the SCSI box now used for backups. Let's also remember that the actual data, according to the OP, was to reside on a 7200 rpm drive, not the Raptor. The Raptor was designated for the OS and AV update needs. If the need is there what you are proposing makes sense but the OP hasn't stated that. Only two needs were stated:

1. Keep AV programs on 30 boxes signature files up to date (Raptor's job)
2. Run some accounting program with up to 10 users and no defined hardware requirements (data stored on 7200 rpm drives)

Without knowing the level of integration between the groups of 10 and the 20, most would be hard pressed to make full systems recommendations. Sending AV signature files to 30 users is hardly "mission critical". There's simply not enough information to address the needs imposed by the accounting / inventory system.

If performance and reliability is critical, then the user is in Cheetah territory. No drive can compete with it in either the performance or reliability category. If you can't justify the cost of the Cheetahs, then one is hardly in position to call their needs "mission critical".

I have seen the argument made that two Raptors in RAID 0 is cheaper and faster than a high end SCSI drive. Again, that same argument kills the Raptor as two 7200 rpm drives in RAID 0 would be faster and cheaper

One SCSI 300 GB @ $600 = $2 / GB
Two 150 GB Raptors @ $175 = $1.17 / GB

One Raptor 150 GB @ $175 = $1.17 / GB
Two 7200.1's @ 500 GB @ $120 = 0.24 GB

Now where 's the big leap ? Seems $0.24 -> $1.17 is the bigger stretch than $1.17 -> $2.00

From a performance, reliability or cost basis, it's extremely hard to make a case for the Raptor today....12 months ago, yes, but not today. There used to be a saying that "Oh that item is the Cadillac of the industry" .... you don't hear that anymore. The Raptor used to have that kind of mindshare but it's simply as out of date as the Cadillac one. Just doesn't mean the same thing or hold the same position anymore.
Anonymous
February 7, 2008 5:38:19 PM

Well benchmarks aside. I use both hard drives in real world. I took out the Raptor due to the praise of these new Seagates (the 7200 not the 15000 ones). I was not that inpressed with the performance. Im not saying it was bad, it was great for a 7200 drive. But I put the Raptor back in and the difference was huge still.
Now when bringing up the 15k Seagates its obvious that should beat a Raptor, they are 15k spin up.

I still stand by Raptor beign a great performer. Im not saying its the BEST, but I would still highly recommend it.

PS I also compared it to the WD500AAKS series I own, which are to be leading the 7200K hard drives according to Toms and the Raptor still performed better than this top-line 7200k
a c 114 G Storage
February 7, 2008 8:15:11 PM

Again, it's always best to check what ya usage is. In some benchmarks like Sims 2, the Raptor rocks. HD's and memory I never really had favorites....I just bought the best bang for the buck at the moment.

However in recent years, my biggest concern has been reliability. I had too many WD's fail and then WD wouldn't cross ship even w/ credit card. They were doing extremely well with their exterior drive line but took a huge image hit when they added DRM to their exterior drives. Now with the 7k's, F1's and 7200.11's taking away the SATA speed crown, and Fijitsu making significant server inroads, they have no niche product. Watching newegg prices in recent months, it seems that they are heavily discounting everything to remain a presence in the market but one has to wonder how long they can remain viable with such a strategy. No doubt this will keep them popular with system builders who don't specify their component brands but over time will hurt their bottom line. For example, last iSuppli report I read showed Seagate's margins varying over 2007 from 21- 25% and WD's at 15 -18%.

That's why I wanna see WD do something to make them attractive again other than wearing the "cheapest HD on the market" crown.

>PS I also compared it to the WD500AAKS series I own, which are to be leading the 7200K hard drives according to Toms and the Raptor still performed better than this top-line 7200k<

What article you reading ? doesn't seem to jive what I am reading on TH by a long shot:

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/11/05/the_terabyte_bat...

Hitachi and Seagate battle head to head when it comes to winning the heart of the enthusiast who wants as much performance as possible. The Deskstar 7K1000 still does okay in the access time and I/O performance tests, but it loses ground when it comes to transfer rates. The Barracuda 7200.11 offers the best low-level benchmark results, jumping over 100 MB/s read or write transfer rates and accessing data in an average of 12.7 ms. With the exception of access time and I/O benchmarks, it also clearly beats Western Digital's 10,000 RPM Raptor, and sets the new standard for desktop hard drives. (It's about time for Western Digital to come up with a new Raptor drive. Based on current technology, it should be able to regain everything that has been lost to Seagate right now.)

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/12/21/toms_reference_s...

The WD5000AAKS is a Caviar SE16 drive with 16 MB cache, Serial ATA/300 and a 7,200 RPM spindle speed. Though it cannot compete with the latest hard drive generation (Samsung Spinpoint F1 or Seagate Barracuda 7200.11), it is a solid performer and a reliable workhorse. Thanks to its under $120 price tag, this model offers an exceptional price/performance value.

The 7200.11 is $119 ....th WD5000AAKS is now discounted down to $104

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/11/21/samsung_overtake...

it beat Hitachi, Seagate and Western Digital when it comes to performance. Hitachi and Seagate still offer better access times, which is why Samsung does not dominate the I/O benchmarks, but only the Barracuda 7200.11's access time is noticeably quicker. The maximum throughput of 118 MB/s is up to 18% faster than Seagate's 100 MB/s maximum, and the average and minimum throughput when reading and writing also dominate the benchmark results. When compared to WD's Caviar GP, the new Spinpoint F1 by Samsung offers roughly a third more throughput, which is very respectable.


a c 114 G Storage
February 7, 2008 8:24:52 PM

Anonymous said:
But I put the Raptor back in and the difference was huge still.


What Seagate 7200.10 or 7200.11 ? And what size ? If 500 GB 7200.11, might be interested in buying if price was right.
February 8, 2008 3:09:02 AM

JackNaylorPE said:
The Raptor is no server HD.


How do you figure? If you go to Western Digital's site and click on "Enterprise Drives", the Raptor is the first drive listed. It has a 5 year warranty, and a reliability rating of 1.2M hours MTBF. It's 10K RPM with 2.5" platters, and has server-tuned firmware. How is this not a drive intended for servers?

JackNaylorPE said:
And will similarly be destroyed by the 15k Cheetah so what's your point ? If you wanna argue that the expense of the Raptors are "worth it", you've argued yourself into a set of 15k Cheeetah's.


Whoa, wait a minute there, my man. When did Cheetahs enter this discussion? We were discussing the original poster's server configuration, where he stated that he had an accounting/inventory application built around SQL server, and was wondering if the Raptor would increase his performance compared to 7200RPM drives. Cheetahs were never a possible choice.

For a database application, the access time and high IOPs of the Raptor will indeed thoroughly beat any 7200RPM drive. While it's very true that the Cheetahs are then another level of performance above the Raptor, that is academic. The OP wasn't considering a SAS/SCSI solution.

I also disagree that the expense of the Raptors argues yourself into a set of 15K Cheetahs. While the difference in price/GB between the Raptors and the Cheetahs isn't large, the Raptor has the huge advantage that for an entry-level server, you don't need a SAS controller. The Raptor plugs into the motherboard SATA controller and delivers higher performance for those specific applications that benefit from it. The Raptor definitely sits in its own middle tier as a choice in the server market for those servers that need higher performance than 7200RPM without the costs of SAS.

JackNaylorPE said:
"According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, the Western Digital Raptor WD1500 is more reliable than 12% of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation."

Yeah, I'm sure many IT folks wanna put their jobs on the line putting the company's mission critical apps on hard drives which are 1/8th as reliable, handle half the I/O's and are outperformed by 50% !


The WD1500 is the first-generation Raptor, made 4 years ago. The current generation is the WD1500ADFD, which is the 3rd revision of the Raptor. Does Storagereview differentiate? How many of its results were influenced by 1st-generation hardware? Or, if they really weren't careful, did they mix in results from the WD1500AHFD (the Raptor X, with the window)? The Raptor X has an MTBF less than 1/2 of the MTBF of the normal Raptor and didn't have the 5-year warranty until recently. I question their reliability result here.

JackNaylorPE said:
I have a 4 disk 15k SCSI box with twin tape drives about 8 feet behind me. We replaced it a couple of months back with an NAS with no impact on network (9 users) performance....the SCSI box now used for backups.


If that worked for you, great. But the OP has 21 more users than that, and needs to use the machine for a database server, not a file server. This is a different task.

JackNaylorPE said:
If you can't justify the cost of the Cheetahs, then one is hardly in position to call their needs "mission critical".


All businesses' needs are mission critical. It's a matter of cost tradeoffs.

On another note, you also keep citing sequential transfer rate performance of the 7200 RPM drives as evidence that they are "faster". As I said before, on a server, sequential transfer rate is of little importance. Gigabit Ethernet can transfer around 115MB/sec, real-world speeds. Windows networking (SMB) tops out at around 35-40 MB/sec for a single file transfer. So to fill the network bandwidth, you need at least 3 computers trying to read or write from the server simultaneously. They will all be working on a different file, or doing different database transactions, or whatever. That means seeks are happening all over the drive. The only thing that can speed that up is a reduction in access time. If you had a choice between a 7200RPM drive with a 12.5 msec access time, or a Raptor with a 7.6 msec access time, which would you want serving the database?

The point is, you will never have a server operating where the sequential transfer rate of the storage system is the limiting factor -- the limits lie in the network transfer and the access time to the storage system.

I still believe that if the OP wants to do a 2-drive system, that a 7200 RPM drive for his OS and a Raptor for his database application is a nice entry-level server configuration. Obviously, many other configurations can work, but I was trying to stay within the hardware specifications he set out to begin with.
February 11, 2008 6:56:14 AM

Hi dips,

Would you care to share with us what you have decided to do?

UD.
a c 114 G Storage
February 11, 2008 9:49:13 PM

SomeJoe7777 said:
How do you figure? If you go to Western Digital's site and click on "Enterprise Drives", the Raptor is the first drive listed. It has a 5 year warranty, and a reliability rating of 1.2M hours MTBF. It's 10K RPM with 2.5" platters, and has server-tuned firmware. How is this not a drive intended for servers?


MTBF is a meaingless statistic. Manufacturer's can "claim" anything they want. Just how many HD's have ever lasted 1.2 million hours ? Interesting how WD claims two different MTBF's for identical mechanical and electrical hardware. Kinda makes their "claims" very suspect. So as to their "claims" of it being "server hardware", I give it as much credence as i give their different MTBF claims.....think about it....the 1,200,000 MTBF rated HD goes to market $50 cheaper than their 600,000 MTBF rated HD ? Then they conform that the two are mechanically and electrically identical ? And just because WD puts fishes the market with what they say is intended to be a low cost alternative to SCSI drives, doesn't mean that the market has bitten the bait. Note how storagereview puts WD's position in the market.

"The "Raptor 150" (WD1500ADFD) continues the line's tradition as a low-cost alternative to the SCSI drives that dominate the server world. "

I think the word "dominate" says it all.

SomeJoe7777 said:
Whoa, wait a minute there, my man. When did Cheetahs enter this discussion? We were discussing the original poster's server configuration, where he stated that he had an accounting/inventory application built around SQL server, and was wondering if the Raptor would increase his performance compared to 7200RPM drives. Cheetahs were never a possible choice.


No, he never mentioned using Raptors as an alternative to 7200 rpm drives Let's actually read what the OP said:

"Is it worth getting the raptor considering all of my data is on the larger sata drives". He's asking whether it's worth using the Raptor for his OS drive when all his data is on the larger slower drives. Now tell me how the Raptor's 8.0 - 9.0 ms access time is going to help you pull that data off any faster when the data isn't even on them ?

SomeJoe7777 said:
For a database application, the access time and high IOPs of the Raptor will indeed thoroughly beat any 7200RPM drive. While it's very true that the Cheetahs are then another level of performance above the Raptor, that is academic.The OP wasn't considering a SAS/SCSI solution.


You have to pick an argument and stick with it. If ya wanna say he wasn't considering SCSI's, you must also stick with the fact that he wasn't considering Raptors for his database either. IF you want to limit the discussion to what the OP said, then Raptors aren't on the table other than for the OS. Now since you have put Raptors on the table, outside of the OP's scope, than everything else is fair game for discussion.

SomeJoe7777 said:
I also disagree that the expense of the Raptors argues yourself into a set of 15K Cheetahs. While the difference in price/GB between the Raptors and the Cheetahs isn't large, the Raptor has the huge advantage that for an entry-level server, you don't need a SAS controller.


The OP stated he already has a SCSI card.....If he was able to "handle" one on the past, where's the "huge disadvantage" ? I'm not even sure it can't be reused since it's type/ data capacity hasn't been stated.,

SomeJoe7777 said:
The WD1500 is the first-generation Raptor, made 4 years ago. The current generation is the WD1500ADFD, which is the 3rd revision of the Raptor.


No, the WD1500 was not the 1st generation. The first generation was a 36 Gigger. The 2nd was a 74 gigger. The 150 Gigger comes in two versions....from the article which you may have noted bears the title "A tale of two drives" attesting to the two different versions in the latest generation.:

"Western Digital's solution to the conundrum is two separate SKUs. The "Raptor 150" (WD1500ADFD) continues the line's tradition as a low-cost alternative to the SCSI drives that dominate the server world. The "Raptor X" (WD1500AHFD) caters to the enthusiasts and gamers that have carried the family since its debut. What's the difference? Cosmetically speaking, the Raptor X pays homage to the DIY crowd that enjoys things such as clear PC cases with... well, a transparent cover. The Raptor 150, on the other hand, features the more staid, standard look that debuted with WD's latest 7200 RPM units.....Here at least, differences really do extend only skin deep. Thus, given that the drives are mechanically and electronically identical"

here again we see what version is the big seller....the "enthusiast" version "carrying" the family.


SomeJoe7777 said:
Or, if they really weren't careful, did they mix in results from the WD1500AHFD (the Raptor X, with the window)? The Raptor X has an MTBF less than 1/2 of the MTBF of the normal Raptor and didn't have the 5-year warranty until recently. I question their reliability result here.


As well you should. Not the careful wording in the artcile:

"The Raptor X is officially specified with a 600,000 hour MTBF while the 150 features a 1.2 million hour claim. Both units receive 24 hours of factory burn-in are backed by 5-year warranties. As attractive as the concept may sound to enthusiasts, the two different versions do not feature significantly differing firmware. .....Here at least, differences really do extend only skin deep. Thus, given that the drives are mechanically and electronically identical, it should come as no surprise that the unit featuring the more complexly-engineered cover commands a price premium"

So what do we see here....the more expensive unit is the enthusiast version but the cheaper "server" version is "mechanically and electrically identical".....hmm....identical drives with non identical MTBF's....something awful fishy here.

SomeJoe7777 said:
Does Storagereview differentiate?


Very much so. You'll not right after the quote I copied it states that the previous generation a 94% rating....only the new generation drops down to the 12%.

SomeJoe7777 said:
If that worked for you, great. But the OP has 21 more users than that.


He has 21 more users he has to give AV dat files to. Hardly a "hi demand server" oriented task. He only has one more user for his application. A to how the demands of that application compare to anything else .... no information given so am not in position to judge.

SomeJoe7777 said:
On another note, you also keep citing sequential transfer rate performance of the 7200 RPM drives as evidence that they are "faster"...... If you had a choice between a 7200RPM drive with a 12.5 msec access time, or a Raptor with a 7.6 msec access time, which would you want serving the database?


No, I quoted DTR, Server I/O and access time....and..... **if access time is important**, I'll take the 5.3 over the Raptor's 8.0 - 9.0.

SomeJoe7777 said:
I still believe that if the OP wants to do a 2-drive system, that a 7200 RPM drive for his OS and a Raptor for his database application is a nice entry-level server configuration.


Interesting conclusion since that's the exact opposite of what he typed.

SomeJoe7777 said:
Obviously, many other configurations can work, but I was trying to stay within the hardware specifications he set out to begin with.


You didn't accomplish your stated goal. His hardware specifications were:

1 74GB Raptor for the primary drive with SQL Server and Antivirus Management Software.
2 Sata II 7200 RPM drives in Raid 1 for the actual data being run by SQL Server.
February 12, 2008 1:04:23 AM

I'm gonna make it short & sweet. The OP wants a database server for his users, and he's looking at money in the neighborhood of 1 Raptor and 1 large drive.

If the OP wants maximum performance for that equivalent amount of money, my recommendation stands: Put the database on the Raptor (assuming it will fit within the Raptor's size) and the OS on the "larger SATA drive". That gives maximum performance without spending anything extra.

That's my recommendation, for all the reasons I stated in the many posts above. Both the OP and you can take it or leave it.

If there's a more specific question that the OP has regarding his server configuration, or if he'd like to present more concrete and specific constraints (like must use X motherboard, must use Y drive, must use Z case or rack-mount form factor, can't spend more than Q dollars), then recommendations may change and may get more specific. And I'd be happy to address those things.

In the meantime, you and I are arguing over minutiae, and it's beginning to sound like the presidential candidate debates, which I loathe.
a c 114 G Storage
February 12, 2008 10:55:55 PM

SomeJoe7777 said:
That's my recommendation, for all the reasons I stated in the many posts above. Both the OP and you can take it or leave it.


That's all fine and good but if you were not addressing the OP. It was my post which you quoted and my post which you criticized with various claims of Raptor superiority. In response, all I did was provided published sources which refuted each of those claims. The Raptor had it's day....that day is over. The rug has simply been pulled out from under them. I expect we would have seen a new perpendicular model with 32 MB cache by now which would have shown competitive numbers but my guess is that the drop in their reliability index from 94 % to 12 with the last generation is something they have to address first.
February 12, 2008 11:26:38 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
That's all fine and good but if you were not addressing the OP. It was my post which you quoted and my post which you criticized with various claims of Raptor superiority. In response, all I did was provided published sources which refuted each of those claims. The Raptor had it's day....that day is over. The rug has simply been pulled out from under them. I expect we would have seen a new perpendicular model with 32 MB cache by now which would have shown competitive numbers but my guess is that the drop in their reliability index from 94 % to 12 with the last generation is something they have to address first.


Why do you insist to continue to be argumentative? We have agreed on nearly every point and you continue to try to create friction where there is none.

We've agreed that:

- The Raptor is faster for databases than 7200RPM drives.
- There are other solutions faster than the Raptor.
- The OP's system has several possible configuration options to increase performance (of which I pointed out one, and you pointed out some others).

I don't see any conflicting arguments here, so what's the problem?
February 13, 2008 1:26:11 AM

For a 30 user server...
If you have -not- bought the Raptors then -don't-.

The Seagate 7200.11 (not last years 7200.10's) will beat it in all but one -heavy- server bench mark and the smallest one made,500GB, sales for only $89-119 USD.
Your small user server is does not fall into the -heavy- user field.

Avoid Raid-0 if you value your data!
Raid-1 is better for you and for the price of one Raptor you can have a -two- better drives with 500GB each for less money.

@ JackNaylor PE...
The first Seagate 7200.11's had 16 MB cashe...the newer lot is shipping with 32MB.
Chips are cheap so all makers should be doing this soon or miss out getting a ride on "the money bus" at the end of this years Xmas sales.

If the OP really values his data then he should have a 2nd system built to make daily backups after work and invest in a copy of SpinRite 6.0 to run on them every 6 months in mode # 5....swaping the SpinRight check between the 2 systems on a weekend.
I still have systems that use XP when it came out 6-7 years ago that have never lost data useing this program.
In fact...SpinRite 6.0 has -repaired- 2 systems that would not even BOOT after an electric storm!
www.grc.com


I have bought the 500GB Seagate/WD/Maxtor drives @ Fry's from November 2007-Febuary 2008 with walk-in sales prices of $89 USD....and walked out the door with a TB of each brand for $194 USD includeing California sales tax (which is the highest in the country).

www.Google.com does not use Raptors nor does it use the Seagate Cheetah (you can by a new car for the price of one).
They use -walk in store Hard Drives- which they run 24/7 and 365 1/4 days a year....and they beat the holly sh!t out of them!
WD fails a bit sooner than others but the overall failure I recall reading under this heavy useage was in fact 5 years.
a c 114 G Storage
February 13, 2008 2:48:19 AM



We've agreed that:

- The Raptor is faster for databases than 7200RPM drives.
[/quotemsg]

We can agree that a 10k drive has a faster access time than a 7200 rpm drive. To my mind that doesn't necessarily constitute faster database performance. Won't it matter whether the database is comprised of ten thousand small files or a two hundred large files ?

Servers generally have large amounts of memory and the server is going to want to keep as much of the frequently accessed information in memory as possible. Let's not forget that we have a whopping 10 users here....I don't know that that is enough I/O to strain any desktop hard drive and much information will stay in memory.

Unless the required I/O exceeds 100 operations per second, the Raptor's advantage here won't come into play. Can each user consistently initiate 10 I/O requests each per second ? If not, I don't know that the Raptor can show a real gain from it's advantage here.

Also having many small records in a database does not necessarily mean extensive reads as the server could place a group of records on one page and will attempt to cache tables that are often used or changed. So with so few users, at what point does seek time begin to outweigh the larger cache size ? At what point does DTR on larger files begin to outweigh the seek time ?

So what will control ? Lots of repeated seeks and I/O ? From what I have seen I don't think so. So will the application benefit more from short seek time or disk writes or larger cache ? Are we accessing one or several large file or lots and lots of little files ? I don't know.

I think that looking at game benchmarks may provide some relevance....after all aren't games to some extent just databases full of files ? Bitmap backgrounds, and lots and lots of files which are used repeatedly from weapons , garments, items, etc ?

You will notice the Raptor still holds the performance crown on Sims2.....logic suggest that the game stores lots of information in many, many small files which a look in the Sims2 folder will confirm. Looking at other benchmarks like WoW suggest that it loses here because WoW is more dependent on DTR. Looking at the last game I played, I see 301 files taking up well over 6 gigs.....I think that game gonna be more DTR dependent.

Without guidance from the program vendor, I don't know whether or where the system will bottleneck.....in all likelihood it could be network speed making the entire discussion irrelevant.

As to the general issue of the Raptor's relevance in today's market, I think WD has to up the capacity a bit. If Seagate can make a 450 GB HD at 15k rpm with 1.6 MTBF, someone oughta be able to do 750 at 10k .... but heck at least do 500 GB with a 32 MB cache and return the reliability to the 3rd generation levels like it was when the older 74 GB model was the top of the line.
February 13, 2008 6:13:53 AM

I think I forgot to mention that I am from the Philippines. Unfortunately, we don't have the newer drives yet. Raptors aren't even sold here. With your help and after consultation with my software supplier, I was informed that data transfer speed shouldn't be an issue since the database would comprise of really small sizes. A year's worth of data would supposedly take up only about 10gb of hd space.

Unfortunately, since i already committed to buy a Raptor, I decided to just use it as the primary driver for OS and applications. Since the server will not run 24/7 maybe I can better utilize the speed of the raptor on boot-ups and antivirus management.

Given that I didn't need huge drives for the data, I just got 2 160GB 7200.10 that I will run in RAID 1. (The 7200.11 drives are not available here yet) The software will automatically save daily backups and I will just have an external drive as the main backup for the database and storage for the image of the primary drive.

a c 114 G Storage
February 13, 2008 4:06:23 PM

dips said:
With your help and after consultation with my software supplier, I was informed that data transfer speed shouldn't be an issue since the database would comprise of really small sizes. A year's worth of data would supposedly take up only about 10gb of hd space.


Curious....do you mean lots of small files or that that the whole shebang overall just isn't that big.

And yes given the reliability ratings, it seems that the old 74 GB model Raptor you mentioned is much more reliable than the new generation ones.

With the usage you have described, I think your biggest performance concern will be what AV program you use. I could make a good living removing Norton from people's machines for example.....one gets dropped off here at least once a month with CPU utilization issues and disabling Norton usually solves the problem.

I am very happy with the Zone Labs Suite package which includes AV, malware, spyware and firewall protection. I also use F-Prot. You wouldn't want to have two AV programs scanning every file upon opening (known as "active scanning" or "file system protection") but a 2nd program set to do only nightly HD scans is a good backup. We have only had two infections here in 23 years of computer usage. One was anti.exe which came in and infected one box on a 5-1/4 floppy (will give ya an idea of how long ago that was). The other was AnnaK which blew by Norton on one box but was picked up and removed by F-Prot in the nightly scan.

F-Prot has very favorable licensing terms....30 seat license will cost ya $130/year

http://www.f-prot.com/

February 14, 2008 1:51:12 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
We can agree that a 10k drive has a faster access time than a 7200 rpm drive. To my mind that doesn't necessarily constitute faster database performance. Won't it matter whether the database is comprised of ten thousand small files or a two hundred large files ?

Servers generally have large amounts of memory and the server is going to want to keep as much of the frequently accessed information in memory as possible. Let's not forget that we have a whopping 10 users here....I don't know that that is enough I/O to strain any desktop hard drive and much information will stay in memory.

Unless the required I/O exceeds 100 operations per second, the Raptor's advantage here won't come into play. Can each user consistently initiate 10 I/O requests each per second ? If not, I don't know that the Raptor can show a real gain from it's advantage here.


For the file structure question, that does depend somewhat on the exact database software in use, as different databases use the file system differently. However, Microsoft SQL server maintains each database as two files, one containing the actual data (the .mdf) and one that is the transaction log file (the .ldf). Each insert/update/delete transaction to the database has to update the log file and then the data file. So there is always seeking back and forth to the two files. For select queries, the .ldf is not involved, but if there are several records to be retrieved or table joins to be performed, there is seeking within the .mdf file to locate all the data required for the query.

You're quite correct that memory is a very nice thing to have. SQL server is quite smart about caching frequently used tables & records in memory, and will avoid going to the disk when possible. Large SQL servers that serve hundreds of users can increase performance dramatically if you load them up with RAM.

While the number of users might be low, there are certain applications that can whack a SQL server pretty good just because of the amount of transactions they do or sometimes the inefficiency of the program. When Microsoft GP Dynamics (an accounting package) runs certain reports, a single user can tie up the SQL server for a 1/2 hour or more.

JackNaylorPE said:
I think that looking at game benchmarks may provide some relevance....after all aren't games to some extent just databases full of files ? Bitmap backgrounds, and lots and lots of files which are used repeatedly from weapons , garments, items, etc ?

You will notice the Raptor still holds the performance crown on Sims2.....logic suggest that the game stores lots of information in many, many small files which a look in the Sims2 folder will confirm. Looking at other benchmarks like WoW suggest that it loses here because WoW is more dependent on DTR. Looking at the last game I played, I see 301 files taking up well over 6 gigs.....I think that game gonna be more DTR dependent.


Yes, the games do access their packed resource files somewhat like a database, but there are differences: 1. The records being retrieved out of the game file are large (e.g. textures, graphics, sounds). This makes STR come into play vs. most databases where the records being retrieved are tiny by comparison. 2. The game database is being accessed by a single user instead of multiple users, so there is no contention for queued reads. 3. The game database is read-only, whereas a standard database is doing a mix of select/insert/update/delete, with the latter 3 involving the transaction log file. 4. Read queries to the game database are retrieving one record from one table, whereas a standard database is frequently doing table joins, which involve reading and linking multiple records from multiple tables.

By the way, thanks for continuing the discussion without being argumentative. I think we all discover and learn when discussion continues in a civil fashion.
a c 114 G Storage
February 14, 2008 3:25:45 PM

SomeJoe7777 said:
By the way, thanks for continuing the discussion without being argumentative. I think we all discover and learn when discussion continues in a civil fashion.


A discussion where people take opposing sides is by definition argumentative. But when used as an adjective for "arguing for the sake of arguing", I don't see anything in the post that you quoted and where you brought this up that fits that definition.
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