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What Raid configuration do you suggest?
Is the Intel x79 w/ RST considered a "hardware" or "software" raid, and is there a recommended number of drives to use for a Raid array on the Sata-II ports?
And if there is, which is worse: either having all 4xHD's on the Intel on-board raid controller OR not having disk failure protection in your storage array?
I'm open, but my options are either:
(a) Raid 0: lose 0% capacity, (2) 2xHD/raid array, fail 0 HD per array (b) Raid 1: lose 50% capacity, (2) 2xHD/raid array, fail 1 HD per array (no performance hit) (c) Raid 5: lose 33% capacity, 4xHD/raid array, fail any 1 HD (performance hit until rebuild) (d) Raid 10: lose 50% capacity, 4xHD/raid array, fail any 2 HD (no performance hit)
For this build, affordable storage space capacity is a priority because I think I can use an external backup/security solution (eSata-III or USB-3.0) should I lose an entire Raid array and need to recover quickly.
Between the Intel, Marvell, and ASMedia a fourth SATA controller card and drivers to manage is not preferred. I'm hoping for a way to avoid that. According to Intel they support two separate raid configurations using their on-board raid controller. But i'm wondering if that's necessary or if it's better to just build a 4xHD Raid? Why am I doing this? Because I don't want to go with any mechanical drives larger than 1TB and I have not researched the whole UEFI-MBR or UEFI-GPT yet based on the Linux dual boot option. Plus I like SSD's now anyway for my money. I'm also looking to minimize the drive mappings for what it's worth, makes my work a lot easier when I do.
Option (a) keeps the full storage capacity available, which is good. But not ideal because I still have multiple drive letters and multiple Raid arrays to manage and absolutely no HD failure security. But with the two separate array's i'm minimizing the risk somewhat in that a single HD failure only kills half of my storage data.
Option (b) is secure and I could fail 2xHD's (but not from the same array) and still see no performance hit, that's good. But I lose half my capacity and it still forces me to accept multiple drive letters and multiple Raid arrays to manage.
Option (c) keeps me with a single drive letter and Raid array to manage plus give me some security in that I can fail 1xHD which is good. I lose one third of my storage capacity, and I will see a performance hit while I rebuild a failed drive. Also, like you said 4xHD's on a singe on board raid controller seems a task better suited for a dedicated Raid controller card.
Option (d) is the most secure because the data can survive failing 2xHD's and still see no performance hit, plus I only have one drive letter and Raid array to manage so that's great. But I lose half of my storage capacity, and again this leaves me with 4xHD's on a single on board Raid controller.
I think i'm leaning toward (a) or (d) right now, but (c) is still a viable option of compromise.
Intel RST raid is considered a software raid. There is no recommended number of drives to use, except the minimum number of drives required for particular raid level. I believe, you can use up to 6 drives (4xsata2 + 2xsata3) with IRST on this board.
I would go with raid 5. Option A is too risky and option D has too great capacity penalty. Advantage of A & D is that they are slightly faster than raid 5.
For normal, home usage, I think that chances of 2 HDD malfunctioning simultaneously are minimal. 1 redundant disk should suffice.
Should I be concerned about Intel RST stealing CPU cycles and causing graphics card or system instabilities?
Can anyone vouch for the performance and reliability of the Intel RST software raid solution on x79 under some moderate to high stress?
And what about for non-normal usage? This will be a 3D graphics workstation doing animation and visual effects primarily (not ultra, high tolerance specs). My research has returned mixed reviews about software raid performance and reliability, but most of that is in regards to after market solutions.
I really don't want to have a PCI dedicated raid controller card if I can avoid it.
I think it should be stable enough for graphics workstation. I wouldn't be worried unless you are about to run a heavy loaded database server. With 3930k you don't have to worry for CPU cycles there is plenty of headroom and it won't cause any instability. Neither does integrated audio or NIC, and both use your cpu .
You may consider buying other drives than this Seagate you mentioned. Despite it being one of the fastest drives, that model is not optimized for heavy workload. Have a look at WD RE4 and Seagate Constellation ES (5 years warranty) or WD RED (3 years, NAS optimized).