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RAID5 built into motherboards?

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September 4, 2008 2:15:10 PM

Hey folks,

I was looking at some motherboards, and noticed that a lot of them claim to support RAID0/1/0+1/5/JBOD. I had never noticed that many boards are supporting RAID5 on the chipset. I'm certain it's not a really great way for optimized RAID5, but it's still interesting.

Here's the board I have, it's a relatively cheap board, but claims to have RAID5 support, which I never knew it had:

Asus M2N-SLI
http://usa.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=101&l3=573&l4...

So far, the board has done what I wanted it to do nicely. Though now that I'm seeing it says it supports RAID5, I'm curious, and may want to try it out. I currently run 2x WD 80gig 7200rpm drives. They're cheap and easy to replace and get more of. I could grab a 3rd one and throw it in there for a RAID5 setup with the same storage I have now, but parity added.

Any thoughts on these motherboard chipsets for basic RAID5?

Very best,

September 5, 2008 1:39:06 AM

Most boards made today support raid 0/1, some also have 5. It's not going to offer the best performance (a separate, dedicated card will) but you can try it out for yourself if you want. Unless you're very concerned with not losing data, it's probably not worth it.

Also, what cpu are you using? You will probably be able to notice the extra strain it puts on the cpu if it's older.
September 5, 2008 2:00:02 AM

Heya,

It's an AMD 5000+ dual core. Not terribly worried about losing data, I use external backups. Was just thinking of trying it for the sake of trying it. I've used RAID0 a long time. Just figured I'd see the `feel' of a RAID5 setup after having read a bit on it.

Very best, :) 
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September 5, 2008 2:20:52 AM

I've also wanted to try it just out of curiosity. If you have the time, take some benchmarks to see what the speed differences are. Raid 5 will probably be a little slower because of the added overhead of parity.
September 5, 2008 2:42:20 AM

I have personally used RAID5 from a motherboard chipset.. here's a few quirks to think about...


1. It's not bootable.
2. It was only usable in Windows(no Linux, but yours may be different).
3. I couldn't figure out what made the RAID5 on the "chipset" vice the RAID5 that Windows can set up any different.
4. Read performance was on par with a RAID 5 from a real RAID controller.
5. Write performance was on par, as long as you didn't write any data. LOL. What I mean is that if you saved a small file(like a word file) performance seemed unaffected. Now if you try to copy a large file(like 1GB), then the system cache fills, and your copy fails because the system would stop for several minutes while it tries to clear the cache. During that time the copy would timeout and fail. Got VERY frustrating.

I would HOPE that by now #5 was taken care of, but 1,2,5 were so significant I would never use it again.

Hope this help you.
September 5, 2008 2:53:13 AM

Quote:
1. It's not bootable.

I didn't know that. I guess I should look into it a bit more before trying it...
September 5, 2008 3:10:25 AM

cyberjock said:
I have personally used RAID5 from a motherboard chipset.. here's a few quirks to think about...


1. It's not bootable.
2. It was only usable in Windows(no Linux, but yours may be different).
3. I couldn't figure out what made the RAID5 on the "chipset" vice the RAID5 that Windows can set up any different.
4. Read performance was on par with a RAID 5 from a real RAID controller.
5. Write performance was on par, as long as you didn't write any data. LOL. What I mean is that if you saved a small file(like a word file) performance seemed unaffected. Now if you try to copy a large file(like 1GB), then the system cache fills, and your copy fails because the system would stop for several minutes while it tries to clear the cache. During that time the copy would timeout and fail. Got VERY frustrating.

I would HOPE that by now #5 was taken care of, but 1,2,5 were so significant I would never use it again.

Hope this help you.


1. It is bootable, this is usually set in the RAID "bios" or if there is no option for bootable (in my experience) any array created usually is, you just need the driver to install windows "F6 for additional drivers"
2. This is only because of driver support and im sure there are drivers out there for linux for these chipsets.
3. RAID-5 isnt available by default in XP (there are ways around that) server editions are the ones that support it. The main difference i know of is that a RAID-5 created by windows doesnt protect you from an OS failure, from what i know youd have to setup the RAID-5 again once you re-install windows (loosing your data)
4. A high end controller will have fast read performance, a high end controller has its own memory cache and XOR processor to do all the calculations which takes the load off the CPU.
5. Sounds like your problem was something more to do with hard drive issue than anything else. Of course a small file isnt going to be any different because it will usually only be writing to one disk, which write speed cant be increased with RAID when only writing to one disk. This is directly related to the stripe size.
a b V Motherboard
a b G Storage
September 5, 2008 3:51:55 AM

I've set up a RAID 5 before, and at least on the newer intel chipsets, it is absolutely bootable.

Oh, and small writes should actually be slower on a RAID 5, as it has to do a read of the rest of the data in the stripe to recalculate parity when the written data is smaller than one stripe (so it has to write, read, and then write, rather than a single read). Large writes should be far less affected.
September 5, 2008 4:32:03 AM

Hi,

I am running a RAID 5 in my machine right now. I have a P5N-D with an E8400, SLI 8800GT and four drives (three 500 Gb and one 1 Tb).

All that I can say is that works really great. I run this system TRULY 24/7 as VPN host, Server for my notebooks, centralized backup/shared drive and media sharing.

I was using RAID-0 for a long time and I was happy with it, but now I moved one step ahead for RAID5.

Some of my thougths:

- Speed-wise RAID5 is similar to RAID-0. On a daily activity, barely could notice a difference. In comparison to a regular single drive, the performance increase is VERY significant.

- Security of the data is amazing. I did a test on purpose to evaluate if RAID5 really works. Call me nuts but I unplugged one HD from the array in the middle of a Windows session copying a 8 gb file. Amazingly the system only threw a warning on the screen telling me that the array was compromised BUT KEPT RUNNING like if never had happened. After playing with the computer with one drive down for a while, I rebooted and fixed the array in the nVidia BIOS Mediashield, like if I had switched the defective drive. Booted into Windows (even with one drive down Windows booted like if nothing happened) and in the background the array was rebuilt after a couple hours. No downtime whatsoever! However, I still have a regular backup (on the 1Tb single drive) just in case I am hit by a virus or an accidental deletion.

- I can somehow notice that some resources are being taken by the array but, honestly speaking, my system was idling on 2-5% before and after the array was set up. Plus, in games, programs and other stuff I couldn't feel any significant difference in performance.

Bottom line is, if you have the opportunity, go for it. For me it has been a great thing so far, but this is just me and my experience.

I hope that helps.

Good luck,
September 7, 2008 3:17:26 PM

Performance on many RAID arrays can be improved by a procedure of 'aligning' your Hard Drive and RAID parameters to very precise settings. I am using a new MSI GeForce 8200-based Motherboard with RAID 5, and the differences I experienced with performance is impressive. Before I tweaked my array, I was getting performance only slightly-better than the XP/2003-based software RAID-5 performance. After wiping and rebuilding the array, performance skyrocketed.

I'm using three 500GB Hitachi HD's on an MSI K9N2G Neo.

http://forums.storagereview.net/index.php?showtopic=25786&st=0

That post is the source of my information. Not only does it give some detailed procedures, there's also one poster in that thread that gives some very detailed charts on performance at different settings.

The only issue now I now must resolve, is the reliability of running RAID like this. I ran Software-based RAID5 for about 18 months (before the previous motherboard died), and I could abuse that array fairly well - even put it into a new computer without having to do anything special to bring the RAID back up. So far this NVidia Array is working alright, and rebuilds much faster, but I do have some concerns about it's overall reliability (I just made another post here based on these concerns). http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/246796-32-nvraid-problem-concerns-geforce-8200-based-chipset
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