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RAID0, 6Gb/s SATA, lots of questions.

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August 17, 2010 7:29:38 PM

I have a Gigabyte P55A-UD3 motherboard (Rev 1.0), with the Marvell 9128 6Gb/s raid controller onboard, along with the standard Intel that's part of the P55 chipset. Using this Marvell controller cuts the first PCIe slot to 8x speed.

I have a new EVGA 460 GTX 1GB video card installed in the first PCIe slot.

I have an older Caviar Black 500gb which is not cutting it in terms of size, and seems to be lagging a bit in performance.

I'm looking at buying either:

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 6Gb/s SATA drive.
or the
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 3Gb/s SATA drive.

And strongly considering buying 2 of whichever one I choose.

Are either of these drives suitable for RAID 0? Which is better for RAID 0? What would be the best RAID configuration options for such a setup?

If I were to buy the WD 6Gb/s drive(s), should I actually use the Marvell 6Gb/s controller for it? Will that cripple the bandwidth going to my video card, or is 8x plenty for this card?

Lastly, what's the best way to migrate my data from the existing 500gb drive to the new drive, drives, or RAID 0 array? And should I keep this drive in the system, to put my virtual memory pagefile on or something, and have it on a different controller?

Is there any benefit to having different drives setup for different functions on both the Marvell and Intel different controllers, like using one for a boot drive and one for games/apps?
a c 357 G Storage
August 17, 2010 7:43:11 PM

Remember this: no mechanical (spinning disk) hard drive will even get up to the SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) data transfer rate - it takes longer than that to move drive parts. SATA 6.0 Gb/s is really best suited now for SSD's. So using up your Marvell SATA 6Gb/s ports for WD Black , Spinpoint, or whomevers' HDD is a waste.
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August 17, 2010 7:49:02 PM

I understand the transfer rate limitation, though a few articles I read showed the performance of that SATA controller was just higher in general, which is probably more to do with system architecture than actual transfer rates.
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a c 177 G Storage
August 17, 2010 7:51:18 PM

There is generally no real world(vs. synthetic transfer rate benchmarks) performance advantage to raid of any kind.
There are some specific applications that will benefit, but
gaming is not one of them. Even if you have an application which reads one input file sequentially, and writes
it out, you will perform about as well by putting the input on one drive, and the output on the other.

For capacity, either of the 1tb drives will do well. Keep the 500gb drive also if you wish.

If you care about the data on them, plan on some sort of external backup.

Today, the SATA 6gb capability is of marginal utility. It can only be used to transfer data from the drive cache to the sata controller. A task it will do very quickly, but even the 3gb transfer is so quick that you will not be able to tell the difference. The performance of a hard drive is still determined by it's mechanical characteristics.
You will not notice any performance degradation on your video cards regardless of how you set it up.

If you want hard drive performance, look at the WD 600gb velociraptor or the Seagate momentus XT hybrid drive.
You will pay a premium for such performance.

The best performance would come with using a SSD as the boot and OS drive. Put highly used data and apps on it.
Today, the SSD market is getting very competitive and gen3 drives are expected by the end of the year. It may pay to wait.
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August 17, 2010 7:58:40 PM

geofelt said:
There is generally no real world(vs. synthetic transfer rate benchmarks) performance advantage to raid of any kind.
There are some specific applications that will benefit, but
gaming is not one of them. Even if you have an application which reads one input file sequentially, and writes
it out, you will perform about as well by putting the input on one drive, and the output on the other.

For capacity, either of the 1tb drives will do well. Keep the 500gb drive also if you wish.

If you care about the data on them, plan on some sort of external backup.

Today, the SATA 6gb capability is of marginal utility. It can only be used to transfer data from the drive cache to the sata controller. A task it will do very quickly, but even the 3gb transfer is so quick that you will not be able to tell the difference. The performance of a hard drive is still determined by it's mechanical characteristics.
You will not notice any performance degradation on your video cards regardless of how you set it up.

If you want hard drive performance, look at the WD 600gb velociraptor or the Seagate momentus XT hybrid drive.
You will pay a premium for such performance.

The best performance would come with using a SSD as the boot and OS drive. Put highly used data and apps on it.
Today, the SSD market is getting very competitive and gen3 drives are expected by the end of the year. It may pay to wait.


I do plan on adding an SSD when the costs come down. I was looking for the best/most efficient performance I can get at a cheap price right now though, as I need expanded storage anyway.

If the third gen SSDs use SATA 6gb/s, will I want to take advantage of that, or is that going to cripple my video performance on this motherboard?
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a c 177 G Storage
August 17, 2010 8:19:21 PM

I really doubt that you will notice any difference.

How likely is it that you will be doing massive I/O while gaming?

Even then, I would look at it as a plus. The 6gb I/o will just get done sooner, reducing the utilization on the system.
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August 17, 2010 8:20:58 PM

geofelt said:
There is generally no real world(vs. synthetic transfer rate benchmarks) performance advantage to raid of any kind.
There are some specific applications that will benefit, but
gaming is not one of them. Even if you have an application which reads one input file sequentially, and writes
it out, you will perform about as well by putting the input on one drive, and the output on the other.


You clearly aren't a mover of big files. Or file in general. I run a 2 x WD Caviar Black 1TB in RAID 0 and a 2TB Hitachi Deskstar, and for the raid set, copying an entire lossless album of music is usually instantaneous. Also, video rendering (some settings) and lossless music conversion are both bottlenecked by HDD speed in my system, and RAID really helps. You said 'input one drive output another'. Input from a RAID set output to a normal. That gets you better.

Moral of the story, any working with large files, and if you move many files around managing media libraries, RAID 0 is very helpful.
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a c 177 G Storage
August 17, 2010 8:52:37 PM

Nope, I am not a big file mover.

Your example is exactly the sort of thing where raid-0 can be very helpful.

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August 17, 2010 9:49:36 PM

No one has actually addressed my question about the PCIe limitations yet. Merely attaching a 6Gb/s drive to that controller, cuts the PCIe slot the video card is in to 8x? Is this significant? Should I use this Marvell controller or not, regardless of whether I'm using a SATA 3Gb/s or 6Gb/s drive?
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August 17, 2010 11:37:19 PM

Unless you are running more than 2 graphics cards, running in 8x mode should be acceptable. The only performance drops that usually occur are either very small or when there's way more than 60fps and it doesn't matter. Using the Marvel controller and cutting a single video card to 8x should be fine. If you were running an SLI/CrossFire setup and that would reduce one/more of the cards to below 8x, that could cause a performance drop.
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a c 177 G Storage
August 18, 2010 2:00:48 AM

Radborne said:
No one has actually addressed my question about the PCIe limitations yet. Merely attaching a 6Gb/s drive to that controller, cuts the PCIe slot the video card is in to 8x? Is this significant? Should I use this Marvell controller or not, regardless of whether I'm using a SATA 3Gb/s or 6Gb/s drive?


Perhaps a diagram will help clear things up.
http://techreport.com/articles.x/17513

The graphics pcie lanes are controlled by the processor. Either one x16 lane or two X8. No single graphics card can saturate 8 lanes today, let alone 16.
As scotu said, any performance difference is not meaningful, and only shows up with multiple high level cards. Think 2-3% or so.

The sata ports are managed by the P55 chipset which is limited to 6 ports @3gb each.

To get 6gb capability some motherboards will come with a 6gb sata chip to manage a couple of 6gb sata ports.
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