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RAID Without Additional Hardware: Do It Yourself With Windows 2000

IDE Vs. SCSI RAID

Although many people tend to believe that SCSI is already dead in the mainstream market, it still has several important advantages over IDE.

IDESCSI
Bandwidth100 MB/s (UltraATA/100)160/320 MB/s(Ultra160, Ultra320 SCSI)
Cable Length45 cm per cable~150 cm
Devices per Channel27/15
ScalabilityAverageExcellent
Multitasking PerformanceDepends on controller, usually averageDepends on controller, usually good
CostsLowMedium to high
CPU LoadMediumLow

Factors like scalability, multitasking performance and the CPU load may be less important for home or office use, but trivial things like the cable length could make the whole thing a bit difficult: The IDE cable length of only 45 cm will give you a hard time trying to attach cables to several IDE drives in the upper drive bays. The same happens to high-end IDE RAID controllers like the Promise SuperTrak100: This device even supports RAID 5, but attaching the required devices (usually 5 or 6) can be quite difficult in many computer cases. In case of SCSI, you can attach up to 7 devices to one after another to a single cable, which should usually be easy to realize.

RAID 0 Via Software

The basic idea behind striping is not particularly new and therefore it is no real surprise that Windows 2000 does not require a hardware RAID controller to setup RAID 0. You can do this just with software, and in fact, Windows 2000 supports not only single drives and drive spanning (setting up several drives to act as a single drive), but also striping. Sceptics may object that running drives in striping mode via software puts an extra load on the CPU. It certainly does, but today's processors should be able to handle this, and actually, the amount of processing power used by a software RAID solution is not much different than that used by a hardware RAID controller.