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RAID across multiple partitions--other advice on Speed?

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May 29, 2008 6:03:17 PM

I searched the threads before posting, but pardon any redundancy...

I want to speed up my gaming system. I have read the usual materials on the pros/cons of RAID. I now have some specific questions and am looking for your recommendations.

My Goals:
If possible, it would be great to get an overall "snappier" system in addition to improving game loading times. I also want to do a massive transfer of my music collection, and want to make sure I don't lose it (will take some weeks to rip, and won't want to do it again!).

Options:
1) I am considering a new WD6400AAKS HD. Actually 2. Can I create and RAID multiple partitions? E.g., I would like to RAID0 a partition for Gaming (like 50 GB), but can I then RAID1 the rest? If so, can I RAID0 a 50 GB partition on each drive for gaming, create another 50 GB partition on each drive to RAID0 my OS (XP), then RAID1 the rest? I would get speedier game loading, speedier Windows environment, and redudancy for my music collection. This is ideal if possible. I don't mind having to reinstall my games if my RAID0 crashes. Nor do I mind reinstalling my OS if my RAID0 crashes (an OS reinstall now and then isn't a bad thing anyway), as long as I don't lose all the rest of my data.

or am I better off with

2) 2 x 6400. ~600 GB RAID1 for redundancy, then ~40 GB on one for non-RAID gaming, and ~40 on the other for non-RAID OS? This would protect my data (including music). And doesn't separating a gaming drive from an OS drive make the system faster--even if not RAID0?

or

3) Buying a single 6400, then buying 2 smaller 160 GB drives to RAID0 for my gaming? The 6400 is supposedly very fast, so I should see a faster overall system, including Windows. And the smaller RAID should definitely speed my game loading--even if the 160GB WD is not as fast as the 640 GB version. But no back up for my music...

I have a MSI P35 Neo2 FR motherboard, which has that ICH9R chipset (believe it can do Matrix RAID). I can do up to 6 HDs, but would like to stay at 3 total. Maybe 4 if you guys come up with some kick-arse suggestion. I would like to keep the whole budget to ~$200 (WD 6400 is $99 at NewEgg currently, and 1600 is ~$45--so one 6400 is about the same price as two 1600s).

My current WD 250 GB HD is a couple years old, and supposedly not nearly as fast as the latest models. I assume I would just give it away or use it on another computer. Unless you have any suggestions or scenarios where it could still be useful...

Thanks!
May 29, 2008 6:52:04 PM

Hey...
Hope this helps

You can can raid across multiple partitions but NOT the way you want it.
RAID 0,1,5 10 whatever works across PHYSICAL volumes (actual drives) not logical ones (partitions). There may be a way to emulate what you describe with software RAID (vs Hardware)
but I am not aware of such a solution (try google) and even if it were possible I would not recommend any form of software RAID ever! Ever ever ever! whats the point ? You might get some redundancy but loose stability and perfomance...so you might actually be putting you data in greater risk but thats just my opinion.

The way I meant that ou can is you would select your raid level (0,1,5 whatever) for two physical drives (say 2x500's) and then create multiple partitions, (C,D,E) but they would all be and fall under whatever raid levels the two physical drives are. But this is not what you were describing.

Here is My RIG...and this is just my preference...I put the OS on RAID 1 for stability
most of the content is under RAID 5 for resiliency and redundancy
and the extra GAMES and Video drives on RAID 0 for SPEED

Good luck with yours! :) 


2x200 (RAID 1) 5 Partitions

C: ~20 GIG (WIN XP)
X: ~20 GIG (VISTS 64 Ultimate) Dual boot- becomes C: when under Vista
D: ~40 GIG (Appz) (applications like Office, Norton, Ultilites and stuff)
E: ~40 GIG (Net) (Browsers, Newsreaders, E-mail, Ftp, network tools and apps)
F: ~40 GIG (Graphics) (Photoshop, Lightwave, Premiere- photo and video editing software)
G: ~40GIG (AUDIO) (cakewalk, Reason, other music software)

4x500 (RAID 5) (1.5 terrabytes or ~1.3TB formated)

H: ~300 GIG (Media) (My photos, music and small videos)
I: ~300 GIG (Archives) (Driver and misc downloads) (game save files and misc backups)
J: ~300 GIG (GAMEZ#1) (Older games - pre-2004 or so- MAME, game EMU's and ROMS)
K: ~300 GIG (SCRATCH) - Temp storage for Video files, music track scratchs etc
L: ~300 GIG (ISO'z) Compressed CD/DVD images ready for mounting on D-tools

2x400 (RAID 0)

M: 495 GIG (Gamez#2)
N: 300 GIG (VIDEO) Fast RAID 0 for Video scratch and Video Swap drive
S: 5 GIG (SWAP) - Windows Swap File HERE
May 29, 2008 7:00:28 PM

Whoa!!! Thats 8 drives on 1 system??? I bet it flies though!

So if I understand you correctly, it looks like I am stuck with option 3), and no back up for my beloved music files.

So then, for roughly the same price, am I better off skipping RAID0 altogether, and going RAID1 with 2 WD6400s?
Related resources
May 29, 2008 7:44:57 PM

You can do what you want (your option 1) with 2x 640GB drives and your Intel Matrix RAID.
May 29, 2008 7:47:13 PM

Thanks SomeJoe. That's great news. But do you all RECOMMEND it though???
May 29, 2008 8:22:34 PM

Wow. After reading up on Matrix RAID, there are lots of options (assuming you all recommend it).

It looks like I can Matrix RAID0 a partition on each 6400 for games, and another for my OS. Then, I can use my old 250 GB HD and Matrix RAID1 both of those partitions as a quick backup. I then Matrix RAID1 the remaining storage on my 6400s for redundancy for the music files and all other data and programs.

All data is backed up. And gaming + OS are sped up, yet can be recopied via the the RAID1 backup or individually reinstalled if necessary.

Very cool.
May 29, 2008 11:36:30 PM

husky mctarflash said:
Wow. After reading up on Matrix RAID, there are lots of options (assuming you all recommend it).

It looks like I can Matrix RAID0 a partition on each 6400 for games, and another for my OS. Then, I can use my old 250 GB HD and Matrix RAID1 both of those partitions as a quick backup. I then Matrix RAID1 the remaining storage on my 6400s for redundancy for the music files and all other data and programs.

All data is backed up. And gaming + OS are sped up, yet can be recopied via the the RAID1 backup or individually reinstalled if necessary.

Very cool.


There are some limitations to the Matrix RAID. I believe it can only do two logical RAID volumes (i.e. one RAID 0, one RAID 1, and no more).

To do your option 1, you would get 2x 640GB drives, create a 100 GB RAID 0 (uses 50 GB on each drive), then create a 590 GB RAID 1 (uses 590GB on each drive). Then when you install Windows (using the F6 driver option), you would create a 50GB partition for your C: on the RAID 0 logical volume, this is where Windows would be installed.

Later, after Windows is up and running, create another 50GB partition for your D:, also on the RAID 0 logical volume (this will be your games partition). Finally, create a 590 GB partition for E: on the RAID 1 logical volume.

I cannot in good conscience recommend any on-board, software-based, consumer-level RAID system. I've seen too many problems with them, including the Intel Matrix RAID. There are times when these arrays just stop working and corrupt data for no reason. RAID's purpose is availability and protection from hard drive failure. It's not really meant to be used as a backup solution or a performance solution.

If you really want to do a RAID array like this, I suggest a dedicated, hardware-based RAID card from a company that specializes in these products, e.g. Adaptec, AMCC/3Ware, LSI, Promise, Highpoint, Areca. Be aware that most of these companies make both consumer/entry-level RAID cards, which are no better than the on-board motherboard solutions, as well as enterprise-level mid and high-end RAID cards, which is what I recommend. Also, these cards are not cheap. Expect to pay at least $300 for a decent 2-port card.
!