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Help with RAID setup

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May 24, 2009 5:23:46 AM

Hello. I am dumb about hardware, cars, electricity, etc, its a miracle I can write all of this. I have a thread somewhere else if you are interested on details, but I think I am being more to the point here.
http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=147269

I want to record video from my videogame consoles or tv or future videocamera in lossless quality. That means a lot of space required and a lot of disk write speed required.

I currently own a computer, the seller designed it so I don't know if it was the best for its price or not, but it performs good. It has:
GA-EP43-DS3L motherboard <- not R, no raid, it has five sata 1 ports tho, pcie slots: one x16 and four x1, also two pci slots no idea what version, it also has an LPT header without a "connector".
E7200 Core 2 Duo processor
ASUS HD4850 video card (msinfo32 says EAH4850 series)
7200.10 250GB Seagate Barracuda SATAII hard drive, connected to one of the sata ports.
Corsair memory, 4GB PC2-6400 800Mhz XMS2 with DHX (is this good?)
RP-500-PCAR Power Supply 500WATTS
CPD 1006i Power Regulator 600WATTS (the pc, monitor and vg console (150WATTS) connect to it).
Windows XP


Back then I just wanted to upgrade my Pentium 3, but now I have a clear objective. What I want / require:
1. A computer where I can run at least all the games I can right now. If more its fine but not necessary, ie I can't run dx10 games I hear. So I got a solution: Keep current video card.
2. An LPT port available for an old device I got that uses it... Simple solution: Use an old computer I got that has it, then transfer files over network, etc, annoying but works. I'd rather have it on the main pc. Anyway...
3. Room for two cards, one uses pciex1 and the other pci v2.1. These are the video capture cards I'll use. Solution: Current motherboard has room for those.
4. Ability to write 350MBps of video data to disk, usually just for 30 minutes, but allowing at least two hours, and preferably four.
I get the value from 1280*1024 screen @60fps 32 bit color mode + possible audio.
Solution: I only see a RAID 0 with big disks could be the solution (the other to drop the idea :D )
5. Keep the OS and everyday files on a RAID-less disk, the RAID only for the video capture and temporary storage. Solution: just do that, it's possible right?
6. Keep all the devices with correct power and temperature so the stuff lasts.

So I cant solve number four, because my mobo doesn't support RAID. If I get a raid controller I only have three pciex1 slots, and I keep reading the max bandwidth for that is 250MBps. In another thread someone suggested this card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... but then I read a review and it says it just gets up to ~180MBps while something on some Intel boards allows much more, but sounds like onboard so it will take processor cycles and I will mind if that means the pc games run slower if I try to record while playing.

Then on the topic of disks I just read on another topic that if you want certain time of recording at an x speed you need a raid with double the size. So I would be needing something like five 2TB disks for the 4 hours I wanted originally, if those can reach 350MBps on raid 0 of course. I read there aren't 7200rpm disks with 2TB, only 1.5TB and those had problems, leaving only 1TB drives to choose from, which means I'd ideally want ten 1TB drives, that sounds like it would need a very very expensive array controller, although the card on the example supports four so I could settle with 4TB and ~2 hours recordings, or wait until bigger drives are released and also drop in price I guess.

I see room for 4 drives on my case, and there's two bays that look like they can fit a drive to but have these plastic locks on the side, I don't what they are for, so if I wanted 10 drives what do I do :D , are there even bigger cases? Will that need double the fans too? Right now I got three fans, one on the video card, another on the processor and another on the back of the case, oh and the power supply also has one. The tool that is installed to check the video card temperature says 42 celsius.

So, I can upgrade the processor to C2Q if that's gonna help.
The memories are at the limit of Windows XP.
The disks I need at least 4TB, with 10TB prefered, but the rest I don't know.
I need to upgrade the motherboard, that's a given, but to what I'm not sure.
I might need to buy a RAID controller card, which, no idea.
The power supply, may need upgrade?
The regulator, may need upgade?
The case, how do I fit so many disks?
The fans, how do i keep the system temperature? is it a no-issue?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

More about : raid setup

a b G Storage
May 25, 2009 5:59:00 AM

The bad news is that, if you want to go RAID, you'll have to rely on 1TB drives, as they're more reliable than 2TB ones. Looks like you'll need to get more HDDs.
May 25, 2009 4:09:25 PM

Ok, but what controller/motherboard will allow 350MBps actual write speed?
Related resources
a c 126 G Storage
May 26, 2009 1:51:17 PM

You want a high-speed RAID setup on a Pentium 3, did i get that right?

I suggest you buy a new machine first, with 6 onboard chipset-supplied SATA ports plus available PCI-express ports and a nice dualcore at least. If you want kick-ass performance without the use of hardware RAID you can go Linux ofcourse but Windows also offers software RAID0. As long as you do not use PCI you should be fine. It can achieve up to 500MB/s with 8 disks.

Note that Windows isn't a good OS for many disks in a RAID0, because windows probably doesn't have any tuning for the read-ahead/buffering mechanisms. So eventually you will see a limit here, that linux and other operating systems can go beyond.

So probably the best option would be a new system with 6 onboard SATA and a 4-port PCI-express x4 controller or two 2-port PCI-express x1 controllers. The latter are the cheapest, around 15/20 dollars each.

If you can switch to Linux, you would not need any hardware RAID and can stick to software RAID. Speeds in excess of 500MB/s - 1TB/s are possible with the right RAID setup. You need proper PCI-express SATA controllers, not any controller that is PCI!

But is that an option to you?
May 26, 2009 3:41:45 PM

You kidding? My specs are right at the beginning.

"So probably the best option would be a new system with 6 onboard SATA and a 4-port PCI-express x4 controller or two 2-port PCI-express x1 controllers."
Can you explain this please?

I want 350MBps, but PCIex1 max is 250MBps, how could I get 1TBps with a PCIex1?
Is it something like crossfire? All the cards I've seen are single cards.
Why does the board need 6 hard drive ports? do you not connect the drives to the controllers instead?

For all the possible lazy and/or people that somehow do not understand me at all :( 

What motherboard+RAID controller (exact names) could achieve 350MBps actual write speed and at least 4TB disk capacity using SATAII drives under Windows XP. Note I don't mean read speed.
a c 126 G Storage
May 28, 2009 5:30:58 PM

The idea is that, if you use Linux or BSD, you do not need a hardware controller. Just a simple "fake RAID" controller used without the RAID drivers that come with that cheap controller. By using the Software RAID capabilities of Linux/BSD you save the cost of true hardware RAID; which is more or less a necessity if you want to run RAID5 on Windows.

Since 6 ports will be delivered by the chipset, at 300MB/s full bandwidth on-die interface, you already have a lot of I/O covered on the fastest subsystem possible, the chipset ports go at maximum bandwidth and lowest latency, not even hardware RAID via PCI-express can compete with that, though its only a marginal difference. But if you want 8 ports, you need to add 2 more SATA connectors, a simple PCIe x1 card will be more than sufficient to run 2 HDDs. Before the 250MB/s becomes a problem, you would have a total bandwidth usage of:

(250/2)*8= 1000MB/s = 1GB/s.

Because 250MB/s with 2 disks means the two disks would be using 125MB/s at a maximum. More likely, your RAID-array will run slower so the bandwidth of PCI-express x1 does not get saturated. In other words, you can safely add cheap controllers and combine all the ports into one big software RAID, when using Linux or equivalent systems.
May 28, 2009 11:44:35 PM

You said you're currently using a PCIe x1 (v1.1 based on your mobo specs) and a PCI video capture cards?

Assuming that's what you are using for video capture, and you aren't using both at the same time: (a) The PCIe x1 card has a peak xfer rate of 250MBs; (b) the PCI card has a peak xfer rate of 133MBs. Either those cards are not capturing anywhere near your desired resolution/rate, or they're using compression (lossy or lossless).

Lossless codecs can also significantly reduce capture size and disk I/O bandwidth requirements (obviously at the expense of some CPU time). There are quite a few out there, some of which are designed for real-time use, whether capturing from an external source using a card, or internally.

I'd suggest you step back from the "350MBs disk write speed", and consider:

1. Video capture card and lossless codec, either done on the capture card on in the CPU. That will indicate whether you need a new video capture card, upgrade your CPU, or need additional disk bandwidth.

2. Reconsider the disk IO bandwidth requirement based on (1). 350MBs is probably much more than you really need. (Not to mention that getting close to 350MBs sustained write to disk is not easy or cheap.)

My guess is that you'll find: (a) your CPU is OK, although it will depend on what else you want to do while capturing; (b) you might need a bit more disk bandwidth (but nowhere near 350MBs); and (c) you'll save a lot of money vs. trying to achieve sustained 350MBs disk write bandwidth.
May 29, 2009 1:02:34 AM

sub mesa: Cool, but I want to record games that use directx.

jrst: reading...
ok, yes, I think is not on the post I put here, because I was going more to the point. But I did calculate my capture cards won't reach 350mbps, at least video only. The pci is for 480i, and the pciex1 is for 480p, although it can go as high as 1080i. Both are lossless, or as close as it gets. But then you have to add the windows games which are recorded directly, and a possible digital camera I want to buy, new console, or hdtv subscription.

I got 350mbps from calculating a 1280*1024 game running at 60fps with 32 bit color mode and adding a random number and another one just in case for audio. If I only need 150 that would be cool. I didn't factor compression since I don't know how much is it and it probably varies depending on the image...

Since you guys are such a help :p , finally google gave me a promising result, a guy that got around 600MBps writes using ARC-1231ML raid card, and found its price is around $700. Now I dont need that much but given I'm in the dark I could save a bit and just buy it, and then start filling it with disks until I reach the speed I want.
a c 126 G Storage
May 29, 2009 2:37:56 AM

By the way, i can remember the paid version of FRAPS also supports on-the-fly compression, lowering the disk throughput you need. Might be something to checkout?
May 29, 2009 4:12:48 PM

Its useless, right now the only hardware I can trust is that card and due to a single post on the internet, so far I've been asking for names of parts that work and got nothing. I can technically go and buy anything but that doesn't mean the cards actually perform like they seem they will.
Anonymous
a b G Storage
July 22, 2009 12:00:40 PM

I use a Intel mobo(DQ35JO) with a E6750 chip and 4gs of memory.
I have 2 500 gig hard drives in a RAID 0 using the on board RAID controller
I have 2 more 500 gig hard drives as mirror(RAID 1) for the RAID 0 drives also using the same on board RAID controller
I use this set up to download video from my video camera for a TV show St.Louis Motorsports Review(www.stlmotorsportsreview.com)
This system seems to work well as I don't have dropped frames
I think you are wrong about the frame rate.
You said the frame rate was 60 frames per second.
All TVs in the US use 29.97 frames per second also known as 30 frames per second
NO TVs in the US can do 60 frames per second Except maybe some that NASA mayt being using
a c 126 G Storage
July 24, 2009 12:54:29 PM

60 would apply to the refresh rate (which is FPS by the monitor). The 29.97 would apply to the video displayed.

Like all televisions that do PAL/NTSC, the FPS by the television signal is something different than the refresh rate of the screen; which is always above 60Hz or you will get motion tearing and other distortions. Some better TVs have 200Hz, which implies 200fps on the monitor end. This would make any change in the television signal propagate faster and without visible distortions, unlike a lower refresh rate.
!