Can Heterogeneous RAID Arrays Work?

Test Setup

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System Hardware
Processor(s)2x Intel Xeon Processor (Nocona core)3.6 GHz, FSB800, 1 MB L2 Cache
PlatformAsus NCL-DS (Socket 604)Intel E7520 Chipset, BIOS 1005
RAMCorsair CM72DD512AR-400 (DDR2-400 ECC, reg.)2x 512 MB, CL3-3-3-10 Timings
System Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar WD1200JB120 GB, 7,200 U/Min, 8 MB Cache, UltraATA/100
Mass Storage Controller(s)Intel 82801EB UltraATA/100 Controller (ICH5)Promise SATA 300TX4Promise FastTrak TX4310Driver
NetworkingBroadcom BCM5721 On-Board Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics SubsystemOn-Board GraphicsATI RageXL, 8 MB
System Hardware
Performance Measurementsc’t h2benchw 3.6PCMark05 V1.01
I/O PerformanceIOMeter 2003.05.10Fileserver BenchmarkWebserver BenchmarkDatabase BenchmarkWorkstation Benchmark
System Software & Drivers
OSMicrosoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, Service Pack 1
Platform DriverIntel Chipset Installation Utility
Graphics DriverDefault Windows Graphics Driver

Hard Drives Used

We used three different hard drives for this article : A Samsung Spinpoint T166, Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.10 and a Western Digital WD3200JD. All of them hold 320 GB each.

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ManufacturerSamsungSeagateWestern Digital
FamilySpinPoint T166Barracuda 7200.10WD Caviar SE
Model NumberHD321KJST3320620ASWD3200JD
Capacity320 GB320 GB320 GB
Rotational Speed (RPM)720072007200
Cache (MB)16168
Warranty3 years5 years3 years

RAID Controller : Areca

Areca’s 1680ML series provide high I/O performance and very good throughput for up to six drives. Have a look at our RAID Scaling Charts for more details.

  • Typically, I'd say, run RAID-1. When it's time to upgrade, get two more identical drives, plug-em in and set up another mirror. Then, for Windows, delete your system hdd from the device manager and reboot to a Norton Ghost CD (assuming it supports your raid controller). Clone the partitions to new mirror. Power off, remove old mirror, boot to a new mirror. It will most likely re-detect the new mirror and request a re-boot, after that you're good to go on. Old drives can be wiped and sold on e-bay. Or turned into a backup volume.