Kill SCSI II: NetCell's RAID 0 Performance + RAID 5 Security Equals SyncRAID

High-End RAID On The Desktop PC: NetCell SyncRAID / RAID XL Put To The Test

Earlier this month, RAIDCore launched its new architecture, with the intention of reducing professional application costs while boosting performance and flexibility. Now, only one week later, NetCell claims to have paired the performance of a RAID 0 with the fail-safe system of a RAID 5. We wanted to know more.

Of course, like a well worn out record, vendors strive to reverse engineer everything to lower cost while boosting performance. Storage makers reduce costs by making professional applications rely on serial ATA instead of on SCSI. Compared to memory performance trends of years past, performance is increased when compared to how recent hard drive generations did not increase in speed in the same proportion as did other components, such as processors and graphics cards.

In fact, the subjective impression of a computer's performance relies heavily on the processing speed of the hard drive and/or the hard drive subsystem. A simple and effective approach is to add a RAID 0 and work alternately with two or more hard drives - this increases the read/write capacity almost directly in proportion to the number of drives used. However, the risk of data loss from a crash rises at the same time, because with four modules being run at the same time, the risk of a crash is also four times as high as when only one hard drive is being used.

As an antidote, we recommend using a RAID 5, which, although it needs an additional hard drive, still distributes parity information alternately across all drives. But access to the RAID in every case means a lot of work on the part of the so-called XOR unit that generates or checks this parity data.

NetCell practically claims to have created a true Renaissance machine, i.e. one that works on a RAID-5 level at top performance and is fail-safe at the same time. This is made possible by reactivating an almost forgotten RAID mode, namely RAID 3. A hard drive is set aside specifically for saving parity data, which on many hard drives acts as a bottleneck. However, according to its own description, NetCell has circumvented this and dubbed the new procedure RAID XL.