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Is RAID better than VelociRaptor?

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October 31, 2009 2:57:22 AM

Just saw an article at Techwarelabs.com that said that using RAID reduced load times for levels but did not help (and may hurt) FPS. Is that the general consensus? And what about RIAD compared to WD's VelociRaptor? And if there is a difference, it is a real world one that will actually affect moderately high ending gaming systems?

More about : raid velociraptor

November 1, 2009 12:02:37 AM

It seems like you don't have all information on what RAID for and RAID types.
RAID means an array of disks, nothing more.
RAID can be configured as either optimized for speed, or optimized for reliability and other stuff. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID
November 1, 2009 7:38:18 AM

Raid 0 of Spinpoint F3s (or a similar high density HDD) would destroy a Velociraptor.
Related resources
a b G Storage
November 1, 2009 10:32:42 AM

Only for certain tasks. It will never beat a velociraptor for access times at low queue depth for example (which is fairly relevant for boot times).
November 1, 2009 3:11:54 PM

My question is because I just upgraded my system with new mobo (P6T) and CPU (Core i7). With old mobo & CPU, I had 2 Hitachi 500GB SATA II 3.0 GB 16MB 7200RPM in Raid 0.

For reasons too complicated to go into here, I have started up my new system with just the one Seagate Bararacuda 500GB in AHCI mode for my OS & general stuff. And I was thinking of installing 1 VelociRaptor in Raid 0 for just my games (with an option of connecting another VelociRaptor in Raid later) so that I can start improving the graphics quality/speed.

Therefore, the question is: will having a set up like this (1 disk for running computer, etc. and a VelociRaptor for games) make sense? Or should I start over and return to a 2 or 3 HDs in Raid 0 formation for the entire computer? (That is, does it matter that the OS is on a separate drive from the "gaming" drives?)

Here's some info on my set up as it is now. Thanks.

------------------
System Information
------------------
Operating System: Windows Vistaâ„¢ Home Premium (6.0, Build 6000) (6000.vista_gdr.090805-0102)
Language: English (Regional Setting: English)
System Manufacturer: System manufacturer
System Model: System Product Name
BIOS: BIOS Date: 05/19/09 12:10:39 Ver: 08.00.15
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67GHz (8 CPUs), ~2.7GHz
Memory: 3062MB RAM
Page File: 1031MB used, 5276MB available
Windows Dir: C:\Windows
DirectX Version: DirectX 10
DX Setup Parameters: Not found
DxDiag Version: 6.00.6000.16386 32bit Unicode
---------------
Display Devices
---------------
Card name: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Chip type: GeForce 8800 GTX
DAC type: Integrated RAMDAC
Device Key: Enum\PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0191&SUBSYS_C8313842&REV_A2
Display Memory: 2020 MB
Dedicated Memory: 745 MB
Shared Memory: 1275 MB
Current Mode: 1920 x 1080 (32 bit) (60Hz)
Monitor: Acer H243HX
Driver Name: nvd3dum.dll,nvwgf2um.dll
Driver Version: 7.15.0011.8250 (English)
DDI Version: 9Ex
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Driver Date/Size: 3/27/2009 23:03:00, 6082560 bytes
WHQL Logo'd: Yes
WHQL Date Stamp:
Device Identifier: {D7B71E3E-42D1-11CF-C87B-3AE802C2CA35}
Vendor ID: 0x10DE
Device ID: 0x0191
SubSys ID: 0xC8313842
Revision ID: 0x00A2
Revision ID: 0x00A2
Video Accel: ModeMPEG2_A ModeMPEG2_C ModeVC1_B ModeWMV9_B ModeVC1_A ModeWMV9_A
a c 415 G Storage
November 1, 2009 6:17:49 PM

jbakerlent said:
Raid 0 of Spinpoint F3s (or a similar high density HDD) would destroy a Velociraptor.
(sigh) It's statements like these that cause so much confusion.

There are several different aspects to disk performance, and here you're only looking at one of them (transfer rate). But RAID doesn't do squat to improve latency, and the reason you pay extra money for a Velociraptor is exactly because it has a lower latency and therefore faster random I/O access times.

RAID arrays are good for some kinds of performance, low-latency drives like Velociraptors are good for others. Neither one "destroys" the other...
a c 415 G Storage
November 1, 2009 6:20:40 PM

rsugden said:
Therefore, the question is: will having a set up like this (1 disk for running computer, etc. and a VelociRaptor for games) make sense? Or should I start over and return to a 2 or 3 HDs in Raid 0 formation for the entire computer? (That is, does it matter that the OS is on a separate drive from the "gaming" drives?)
I'm not a gamer, so you may want to take my comments with a grain of salt - but if I were in your shoes I'd probably use the Velociraptor for the OS drive since that's where its low latencies and resulting fast random/IO are usually of the most benefit.
November 1, 2009 7:08:55 PM

sminlal said:
I'm not a gamer, so you may want to take my comments with a grain of salt - but if I were in your shoes I'd probably use the Velociraptor for the OS drive since that's where its low latencies and resulting fast random/IO are usually of the most benefit.

Thanks for clarification. I am very new at this and I have seen the benchmarks that show what you say. However, I am such a novice I am not even sure of the lingo. From what I can gather, the issue for gamers is that games with high end graphics/audio, the speed of the game is partially based on how fast data can be found and read from a drive, that fast writing times are less important as there is little writing that happens. From my naive point of view, both set ups do that well, though supposedly if you had a RAID set up with 3 or more disks, you are theorectically decreasing the read time as you don't have to wait for an individual disk to complete it's previous read to go get more data. Someone else said that RAID is not that useful as its performance benefits are for very large files. So, if RAID doesn't do squat for latency, what does it do? And how might you understand where RAID's performance would help a game?
a c 115 G Storage
November 1, 2009 7:29:11 PM

Since you are mentioning fps ..... I'd forget about RAID as RAID 0 does just about squat fir gaming performance. See the RAID 0 articles on Anandtech and storagereview.com

Storagereview's benchmarks showed an increase in gaming benchmark from 509 to 519 ... a whopping 2%. Anandtech did a wide range of tests and the best one of them showed an increase of 7% IIRC.

RAID has overhead associated with it, so whatever gains you see first have to overcome that initial penalty.

-High rpm drives are good for finding and accessing very small files. The Raptor does well at this but no where near as well as 15k SCSI drives.

-High density drives (read 500Gb per platter) do very well at pulling of data at a very high rate. The WD 2 TB Black, the Spinpoint F3 and the 7200.12 fall into this category.

-SSD's do both well but are limited by size and cost per GB.

The favored route for many enthusiasts is to grab an SSD (Intel 160 GB G2 is $600+ but way cheaper than 4 drives in RAID 0) and a hi density (500 GB per platter) drive. The OS goes on the SD and then you can install a bunch of games to the SSD on say C:\Mygames\[insert each game name here] till it's getting near full. Then copy those [insert each game name here] folders over to the HD. Then you can copy / paste or cut / paste the games from one to the other.....leaving the games you are actively playing at any given time on the SSD and the ones you are taking a time out for on the HD.
November 1, 2009 9:14:38 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
Since you are mentioning fps ..... I'd forget about RAID as RAID 0 does just about squat fir gaming performance. See the RAID 0 articles on Anandtech and storagereview.com
-snip-
The favored route for many enthusiasts is to grab an SSD (Intel 160 GB G2 is $600+ but way cheaper than 4 drives in RAID 0) and a hi density (500 GB per platter) drive.
-snip-

I'm confused. 4 Spinpoint F3's would be about $220 so that's much cheaper than the SSD.

But from you've said and a previous poster, forget about RAID. Put OS and games on low latency drive and the rest on a standard drive. Since my board doesn't support SCSI, then VelocioRaptor would be the choice the low latency drive, no? And since that I have VelocioRaptor, unopened (hence my questions--to see if should keep it), and a Seagate Barracuda 500GB, I should just use these.)

P.S. If RAID does nothing for gaming, why is there all this out there about using it for "extreme gaming."
a c 127 G Storage
November 2, 2009 12:49:32 AM

Games shouldn't need to access your disk while you're gaming (though sometimes, this is not true). So it won't increase your FPS or frames per second. It will reduce the time required to launch the game and load the map/data, but after that it shouldn't make any difference.

For some games, like online games, it can be important to have fast disks or even SSDs; as entering the world and being able to play before other players can, gives them an advantage. This doesn't apply to offline games.
a b G Storage
November 2, 2009 12:52:49 AM

RAID 0 with 2 Velociraptor could be another option.
a c 415 G Storage
November 2, 2009 1:35:49 AM

rsugden said:
From what I can gather, the issue for gamers is that games with high end graphics/audio, the speed of the game is partially based on how fast data can be found and read from a drive, that fast writing times are less important as there is little writing that happens.
Again, bearing in mind that I don't run games... Performance is an important aspect of games, and the developers spend a lot of time trying to make them run fast and smooth. Since ANY hard drive is slow compared to the CPU, that means loading as much as possible from the disk into memory and keeping it there.

For the most part, if you have enough RAM I'd wouldn't expect a game to need to access the disk all that much, perhaps with the exception of scene changes where new models and textures have to be loaded. If you don't have enough RAM then it could well be a different story - but in that case the best thing to do is to buy more RAM, not spend more money trying to make the discs faster.
a c 127 G Storage
November 2, 2009 3:51:48 AM

In case of WoW that would mean 16GB+ RAM, which is not that affordable. But at least 4GB or even 8GB would be nice - and would help reduce subsequent disk accesses. So if you leave the PC on and don't reboot that much, having lots of memory would help apps including games to not use the disk at all, like sminlal said.
a c 115 G Storage
November 2, 2009 4:29:26 PM

rsugden said:
I'm confused. 4 Spinpoint F3's would be about $220 so that's much cheaper than the SSD.


I don't think there's a 500 GB per platter Spinpoint F3 at $55 each but I could be wrong. Anything less than 500 GB per platter is last generation tech with lower areal density and therefore significatly slower.

Quote:
P.S. If RAID does nothing for gaming, why is there all this out there about using it for "extreme gaming."


Misinterpreation of Benchmark Data ? Wishful thinking ? The desire to get that extra 2% and thereby be "king of the benchmarks" ? My giess is the 1st as peeps see a large increase in one aspect and mistakenly infer that the benchmark result will transfer to their intended use. In all but a few applications, it doesn't.

Here's the articles:

http://faq.storagereview.com/SingleDriveVsRaid0

SR Gaming DriveMark 2002 Single Drive = 519 IO/sec RAID 0 = 529 IO/sec

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2101&p=...
Western Digital's Raptors in RAID-0: Are two drives better than one?

"If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer. The real world performance increases are negligible at best and the reduction in reliability, thanks to a halving of the mean time between failure, makes RAID-0 far from worth it on the desktop."



November 3, 2009 12:13:11 AM

I'm running 2 spinpoint f3 in raid 0. Very happy with it so far.
a c 127 G Storage
November 3, 2009 12:14:58 AM

Don't link that storagereview article about RAID0, its conclusions are false. They have been attacked by other reputable sites and have not responded to these allegations.

They were using simple PCI RAID card with bad drivers and a bad setup with stripe misalignment. Storagereview is dead and they should have ashamed themselves for creating such a bad article concerning RAID.

RAID is not the solution to all storage problems and the increase in performance can be questioned especially for gaming, booting and application-launch. But they tried very hard to make RAID0 look as bad as possible with the worst possible RAID setup one could create. StorageReview looks dead to me now, with no relevant or good reviews for a long time.

Instead, they might have added that the combination of Windows and RAID was a bad combination and the problem lies in software design more than its a weakness of RAID. Solid State Drives have the same problem; they want to be used but applications tend to be single threaded, use blocking I/O and therefore don't utilize the SSD to full potential. HDDs are serial by design but RAIDs and SSDs are not. Now we pay the price as both RAIDs and SSDs don't scale as well due to this weak software design.
November 3, 2009 12:43:20 AM

Thanks for all this input. I think, for my purposes, I now understand things a bit. (I came into this naive.) Basically, it seems for most gaming purposes (which was my interest), the super-fast access to HDD is not actually an issue, except maybe in those situations where the load to the disk is paramount (as in online games) or leveling up with some ultra-dense graphic-heavy games like Crysis. Also, the idea of shaving seconds or milliseconds on load times or disk read (as often shown in benchmarks) become of little use when both the speed of disks for the general public has gone to 7200rpm and memory is getting so cheap/motherboards-CPUs getting faster.

Now that I think of it, I had memories of waiting in the middle of action or when leveling up while the game appeared to be slowly access the HDD. This was probably more of a memory issue. And, of course, I know see clearly that the FPS/video quality and consistency is mostly tied up with CPU's and GPU's.

Finally, I'll have to admit to being one of those who has gotten suckered in by all this talk of tweaking systems, without understanding the basic issues. I know when I bought my first system a few years ago (though I am of a certain age, I was completely new to gaming), I just got things cause it sounded like it would be faster/better. 2 disks in RAID 0? Sure, I've heard that speeds things up. A CPU cooler? Sure, even though I was far from at the latest generation-maximum power fiend CPU, and I am not overclocking anything.

I can image it is frustrating for people like you, who though you may disagree on points, at least understand the issues involved. So, again. Thanks for the time and education.
a c 115 G Storage
November 4, 2009 12:37:58 AM

sub mesa said:
Don't link that storagereview article about RAID0, its conclusions are false. They have been attacked by other reputable sites and have not responded to these allegations.


I can find no evidence to support this. In order to give the issue a fair shake however, I'd welcome the chance to read these "other reputable sites". I scoured 10 pages of hits on yahoo and Google (400 hits) and could not find a site contradicting storagereview. I did find about 8 or 9 pointing to it though as a reference.

Storagereview site is pretty much dead these days.....seems the owners lost interest. But their conclusions are pretty much echoed by everyone else I have seen who has looked at the issue. The anandtech article draws the same conclusion....as does many, many articles. "On board" RAID was particularly cited for reducing performance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID_0#RAID_0

http://www.anandtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=2101
"If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer. The real world performance increases are negligible at best and the reduction in reliability, thanks to a halving of the mean time between failure, makes RAID-0 far from worth it on the desktop."

http://www.techwarelabs.com/articles/hardware/raid-and-...
".....we did not see an increase in FPS through its use. Load times for levels and games was significantly reduced utilizing the Raid controller and array. As we stated we do not expect that the majority of gamers are willing to purchase greater than 4 drives and a controller for this kind of setup. While onboard Raid is an option available to many users you should be aware that using onboard Raid will mean the consumption of CPU time for this task and thus a reduction in performance that may actually lead to worse FPS. An add-on controller will always be the best option until they integrate discreet Raid controllers with their own memory into consumer level motherboards."

http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1001325
However, many have tried to justify/overlook those shortcomings by simply saying "It's faster." Anyone who does this is wrong, wasting their money, and buying into hype. Nothing more.

http://computer-drives-storage.suite101.com/article.cfm...
The real-world performance benefits possible in a single-user PC situation is not a given for most people, because the benefits rely on multiple independent, simultaneous requests. One person running most desktop applications may not see a big payback in performance because they are not written to do asynchronous I/O to disks. Understanding this can help avoid disappointment.

http://www.scs-myung.com/v2/index.php?view=article&id=7...
What about performance? This, we suspect, is the primary reason why so many users doggedly pursue the RAID 0 "holy grail." This inevitably leads to dissapointment by those that notice little or no performance gain.....As stated above, first person shooters rarely benefit from RAID 0.__ Frame rates will almost certainly not improve, as they are determined by your video card and processor above all else. In fact, theoretically your FPS frame rate may decrease, since many low-cost RAID controllers (anything made by Highpoint at the tiem of this writing, and most cards from Promise) implement RAID in software, so the process of splitting and combining data across your drives is done by your CPU, which could better be utilized by your game. That said, the CPU overhead of RAID0 is minimal on high-performance processors.

Even the HD manufacturers limit RAID's advantages to very specific applications and non of them involves gaming:

http://westerndigital.com/en/products/raid/
a c 127 G Storage
November 4, 2009 2:33:41 AM

http://tweakers.net/reviews/515/9/raid-0-hype-or-blessi...

Quote:
AnandTech and Storage Review should be wise to investigate matters more thoroughy before jumping to quick conclusions. You don't judge a Porsche on its capabilities to carry groceries. A car like that serves a different purpose, and it should be judged on that instead - even if it will never fulfill its true purpose in real life. Power users, tweakers and hardware enthusiasts, the target audience AnandTech, Storage Review and Tweakers.net try to please, use their desktop systems in a different way than the pretty blonde next door who only uses it to check her Hotmail account. What we're trying to say is that you shouldn't assess the performance of RAID 0 with benchmarks that are not made to test the performance of the storage subset. AnandTech and Storage Review's negative verdict on RAID 0 in the desktop environment will likely have a profound influence on the opinions of uninformed users for years to come. A sure loss, since their verdict couldn't stand up to trial.


Note that even these results are not optimal, as Vista did not exist yet and they did not want to turn to Linux or other 'proper' operating systems to test RAID performance. So even with a 'broken' RAID setup, their results are alot better than SR/Anandtech's. It seems to me they first wrote the conclusions and then found ways to make the benchmark results support their initial conclusions; anyone using RAID0 is 'ignorant'. Good thing no-one bothers to visit StorageReview anymore; its had its death penalty.

Some other false conclusions:
- Onboard RAID uses CPU time leading to lower FPS; false since with dualcore cpu's one core is free anyway and simple RAID levels like RAID0 and RAID1 consume virtually zero CPU cycles; its interrupt usage by shitty PCI RAID cards that can count for up to 20% CPU usage. DO NOT USE PCI its crap. PCI should be removed from any computer.

Instead, onboard ICHxR RAID with Write Caching enabled may significantly improve performance as you have the benefit of a large RAM buffer; something the operating system can do itself but as Windows does not come with any advanced storage technology this is left to third-party drivers to do. As i game on Linux instead this is no issue to me; i don't even have a local harddrive in my gaming PCs.

Anyway i could go on for hours about RAID performance. I have done alot of performance tests myself and have a fairly good understanding of the performance concepts of RAID; which i cannot say for other people or even techsites which often produce bad reviews and judge RAID on some specific implementation instead of the theory. Sure if i want RAID to look bad i'll take some JMicron/Silicon Image PCI card and configure it in the worst possible way and do some tests that reveal this failed setup and conclude anyone using RAID is a dumbass. Luckily i know better. :) 

That said, it is true striping doesn't scale well with gaming, as games as especially Windows does not put enough load on the RAID array and everything is 'tuned' for a single HDD. The same problem applies to Solid State Drives and the optimizations of the past hinder both RAIDs and SSDs to utilize their maximum potential. That's why Windows will have to change alot of stuff under the hood. They are still using an obsolete single-threaded storage backend. Poor windows users.
November 4, 2009 7:50:11 AM

should i get another wd caviar black to compliment my current one and have them in raid or buy a wd raptor for my os and games and just have one caviar black for media and other files? thanks
a c 127 G Storage
November 4, 2009 8:22:35 AM

Well you've got plenty opinions and insights by now. Its your choice.

You know the best choice would be an SSD for your system drive. If you cannot afford that its going to be a compromise and 20% more or less performance won't change deserts into jungles. Only an SSD can really provide enough performance difference to really feel the difference.

Personally i think it would be alot easier to just stick with plain disks without RAID. If you do go the RAID route; be sure to get to understand how RAID works and what to do if it fails. If you don't have the time to do that, i think plain disks would be the best solution. In that case a single Velociraptor would be the best choice.
November 5, 2009 2:13:01 PM

sub mesa said:
Well you've got plenty opinions and insights by now. Its your choice.

You know the best choice would be an SSD for your system drive.

What size SSD would I need if I use it solely for the Vista OS and place all else on various HDDs?
a c 127 G Storage
November 5, 2009 3:06:32 PM

16GB is the most extreme you can go. I used a 32GB SSD for Windows 7 + World of Warcraft and it fit. :) 
But its a bit tight ofcourse.

Since the best SSD is the Intel X25-M and it comes in 80GB flavour, this is a good size to be a system disk. In the future SSDs like 250GB will be more popular and allow you to store more apps/games on it. But you can get the benefits of SSDs right now if you can fit your OS + installed apps on lower capacities available now for a decent price.
!