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10 TB for $1,000: Tom’s Hardware's Über RAID Array

10 TB for $1,000: Tom’s Hardware's Über RAID Array
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Need more capacity? Want more hard drive performance? Knowing that hard drive prices are about to drop below $80 for a 1 TB drive, we decided to create the ultimate RAID array, one that should be able store all of your data for years to come while providing much faster performance than any individual drive could. Twelve Samsung 1 TB hard drives helped us to reach speed records and an impressive 10 TB net capacity.

Some of you may want to argue over this performance statement. After all, doesn’t everyone know that hard drives don’t stand a chance against solid state drives (SSDs)? It’s true. More and more high-end SSDs can now exceed 200 MB/s read and 100 MB/s write throughput with virtually zero access time—numbers that are becoming standard for more and more high-end SSDs. However, lofty SSD costs remain an issue, which is where good old hard drives kick in.

While hard drives can’t match an SSD’s quick access times, higher throughput can be achieved by using more than one drive in a striping RAID mode—and throughput is still the top characteristic people care about on their desktop systems. In addition, hard drive capacities exceed SSD capacities by many times over and also beat SSDs in terms of cost per gigabyte. For example, $1,000 won’t buy you more than 1 TB in SSD capacity, and even to get close requires taking a step or two down in performance. Meanwhile, with hard drives, we had 12 x 1 TB at our disposal. The only reason we didn’t use larger hard drives was constrained availability in quantities of ten or more.

The Idea: Massive Hard Drive Storage Within a $1,000 Budget

The prospect of using up to 12 3.5” hard drives in RAID certainly isn’t very applicable for desktop PCs. Twelve drives require a lot of space, a suitable SATA RAID controller, and they produce a noticeable amount of heat, noise, and vibration, as well. Still…it’s cool, and we’ll soon see what a massive RAID array using conventional hard drives can actually do.

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  • 33 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2009 6:13 AM
    pointless seeing as the controller alone costs $1,199.99
  • 18 Hide
    IzzyCraft , July 10, 2009 6:24 AM
    Can't trust a huge array without the expensive controller though.
  • 14 Hide
    apache_lives , July 10, 2009 6:12 AM
    somehow i wouldnt trust 12 samsung hdd's in a raid array...
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    apache_lives , July 10, 2009 6:12 AM
    somehow i wouldnt trust 12 samsung hdd's in a raid array...
  • 33 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2009 6:13 AM
    pointless seeing as the controller alone costs $1,199.99
  • 18 Hide
    IzzyCraft , July 10, 2009 6:24 AM
    Can't trust a huge array without the expensive controller though.
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2009 6:38 AM
    this is nothing else than tehnological perversion
  • 14 Hide
    seatrotter , July 10, 2009 7:00 AM
    Quote:
    We wanted to build an array with at least a 10 TB capacity, and with 12 drives, we were able to reach a total gross capacity of 12 GB.3rd page, 1st paragraph, 1st sentenct.

    12 GB!?! That's awesome! That's more than my 8GB memory!

    12GB! FTW!
  • 12 Hide
    XD_dued , July 10, 2009 7:01 AM
    12GB of important data + raid0 + hard drive failure = :D 
  • 11 Hide
    twisted politiks , July 10, 2009 7:32 AM
    tacoslavethats about what a monster gaming computer costs but then again most gamers (well at least me) dont have a lot of money to spend around 2500 for hard drives and controller. imagine the monster fps rates youd get im truly jealous of whatever computer that would go into.


    why would the fps go up with that array?
  • -8 Hide
    yrmoma , July 10, 2009 7:35 AM
    Yeah, but can it run Crysis?

    But seriously, this is just an interesting look at what you can do if you have gobs of money laying around. While 99% of us don't, it's still cool to see what it does. Consider it them doing something ridiculous for you so you don't even have the temptation of being the only person to have done it.
  • 2 Hide
    apache_lives , July 10, 2009 7:43 AM
    IzzyCraftCan't trust a huge array without the expensive controller though.


    Incorrect

    What you should have said is "Can't trust a huge array without redundancy (depending on if up-time is importance) and sufficient backups (depending on importance of data).
  • 12 Hide
    mavroxur , July 10, 2009 7:47 AM
    Holy crap, failure is a sure thing with 12 cheap-o Samsung Spinpoints in a RAID-0.
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , July 10, 2009 7:49 AM
    BTW from my last server array (minimal use - storage mostly) using 3x1tb WD GP's (16mb cache versions) in RAID5 (freenas software) - looking at my S.M.A.R.T status of all the drives showed me that 2 of the 3 hdd's developed bad sectors (or re-allocated sectors) - any could have been fatal etc - all this from minimal load and what not!

    With a array like that i wouldnt even go with raid5 with those HDD's - too much data all on one array to risk - id prefer smaller arrays (from experience)
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2009 7:52 AM
    Now another interesting test would be to take the same drives, skip the expensive controller and use OpenSolaris and ZFS with its RAIDZ2 configuration (equals RAID 6) and see what performance you could get using "normal" SATA-ports.
  • -3 Hide
    apache_lives , July 10, 2009 7:54 AM
    mavroxurHoly crap, failure is a sure thing with 12 cheap-o Samsung Spinpoints in a RAID-0.


    We call them sam-dungs at my work

    Atleast they didnt use 12 seagate hdd's with "SD15" or slightly older firmware - we call them sea-fate's :D 
  • 4 Hide
    FSXFan , July 10, 2009 8:10 AM
    The title was a little misleading. It's not like I have a $1k+ controller card in my back pocket, and I'm sure most other people don't either.

    It would be sweet for a media server though, then I wouldn't have 4 drives in my PC. And it could heat my room in the winter.
  • 1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , July 10, 2009 8:11 AM
    apache_livessomehow i wouldnt trust 12 samsung hdd's in a raid array...

    I wouldn't be too worried really. So long it isn't seagate drives, it'll probably keep working.
    I've got an array with 16x250gb samsungs, and another with 12x250gb samsungs here at work (regular desktop sata drives), and so far only one drive's failed - and as you can tell by the size, they're not new.

    In contrast, I've had 7 1TB seagate hotswap server drives fail between january 19th this year and wednesday this week.
  • 3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , July 10, 2009 8:13 AM
    tacoslavethats about what a monster gaming computer costs but then again most gamers (well at least me) dont have a lot of money to spend around 2500 for hard drives and controller. imagine the monster fps rates youd get im truly jealous of whatever computer that would go into.

    Not sure what you're trying to say, but despite not improving fps, faster drives still make a huge impact. Sure it's irrelevant if the game stutters, but waiting for the load screen to go away in wow or any other game is almost just as frustrating. I'm using a raid 0 with two 500gb wd's as system, and I still find it rather slow. In fact the 5x500gb I used as storage earlier felt slow as well. Harddrives just never are fast enough, no matter the speed.
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , July 10, 2009 8:27 AM
    neiroatopelccI wouldn't be too worried really. So long it isn't seagate drives, it'll probably keep working.I've got an array with 16x250gb samsungs, and another with 12x250gb samsungs here at work (regular desktop sata drives), and so far only one drive's failed - and as you can tell by the size, they're not new.In contrast, I've had 7 1TB seagate hotswap server drives fail between january 19th this year and wednesday this week.


    Hence the name "sea-fate" :D 
  • -3 Hide
    ytoledano , July 10, 2009 8:36 AM
    I know it seems the RAID5 array with 12 disks is reliable, but it's less reliable than a single disk. I'll explain: Say this array has been running for about 4 years as storage = minimal use, no intensive or long read/write operations. You're happy that no drive has failed yet and you're confident at the array's reliability since is RAID5. What you don't know is that if a drive fails and you attempt a rebuild there is a huge chance that another will fail since a rebuild of a 1TB drive is a lengthy IO operation and these drives are getting old. 12 drives is probably past the point where an array is less reliable than a single stand-alone drive.
  • -2 Hide
    Sharft6 , July 10, 2009 8:59 AM
    I don't see what the problem is with samsung and reliability. I have 3 80GB that are about 5 years old and all of them still work. For what its worth I also have a 750GB sammy that is still working after 1 and a half years. Just like motherboards I think hdd reliability comes down to luck.
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