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HDD Parallelism: Single, Dual Or Quad Hard Drives

Parallel Processing, Part 2: RAM and HDD
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Hard drive parallelism sounds awkward, but it has been possible to combine the performance of multiple hard drives for years. The key to it is Redundant Array of Independent Drives (RAID) technology, which allows a RAID controller to distribute data across multiple hard drive, combining the throughput of the individual drives. While add-on RAID controllers have been popular on enthusiast motherboards since the times of the Athlon XP or Pentium 4 on Socket 478, chipset makers soon added basic RAID capabilities to their core logic products.

The option to combine two hard drives in a RAID 0 stripeset or mirrored in a RAID 1 array has been around for years. Current chipsets with four or six Serial ATA ports are capable of spanning arrays across all ports. We decided to put up a conventional setup with a single hard drive against two RAID 0 configurations: one with two hard drives and the other with four drives. We selected four WD1500 Raptor hard drives for these tests.

Most enthusiast motherboards offer at least six Serial ATA ports.

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