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JJ Myers

Software RAID vs. hardware RAID

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In anticipation of migrating all my systems to W/O ver5, I am reconfiguring all my machines to RAID configurations. I have decided what level of RAID I want to use. What I cannot decide is whether to go with a software RAID using Windows 7 Disk Management tool, or use hardware RAID configurations (when able). I keep running into limitations with hardware configurations, so I am leaning towards software RAID sets, but am interested in getting feedback from the W/O community in regards to software RAID sets. Are there any drawbacks that anyone has encountered?

 

Many thanks,

 

JJ Myers

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I also just read that a software RAID can use extra CPU cycles, but I'm wondering if it's negligible? I'm guessing it becomes even more negligible in cases of RAID 0 vs. RAID 5, or any set that uses parity....

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Hi JJ,

 

I would recommend hardware over software RAID, especially since almost all motherboards have it, these days.

 

Out of curiousity: Why RAID? Performance or safety reasons?

 

Why not use one (or two - OS/Media) fast SSD:s instead?

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I intend to slowly migrate to SSDs. However, I currently have a stock of over 30+ machines. If I want to have a decent amount of storage, I would need to go with 240 GB SSDs @ +$300/each x 30 = $9000 in storage upgrades. There goes my budget for upgrading W/O keys :-(

 

The 4 machines I am currently building RAID configurations on have motherboards that only support RAID or non-RAID (cannot have mixed RAID/non-RAID partitions). I'm running into many brick walls trying to put the Windows installation on the RAID set. It can be done.... it's just gonna take some jumping through hoops (for reasons too long to explain here). So... I'm trying to keep the Windows installation on a separate non-RAIDed partition and the storage side on a RAIDed partition. And since the solution is temporary until I go all SSD, I figured perhaps software RAIDs would be adequate.

 

Do you perhaps know of any data on the web that compares processing overhead on software RAIDs vs. non-RAIDs? Anything would be greatly appreciated!

 

JJ

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Ok, I see...

 

What motherboard do you use?

Maybe a separete RAID-controller card is one way?

 

Here is a link to an Adaptec pdf, although somewhat old, on the subject:

http://www.adaptec.com/nr/rdonlyres/14b2fd84-f7a0-4ac5-a07a-214123ea3dd6/0/4423_sw_hwraid_10.pdf

 

This another one re: Performance

 

With the software based RAID0 and RAID1 performance is negligible.

However, performance goes down when you use parity-based arrays and/or several arrays at the same time.

The performance of a software-based array is dependent on the server CPU performance and current load.

 

http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/raid-hardware-vs-raid-software.html

 

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JJ,

 

Testing a RAID 10 (via software) on a couple of rackmounts right now for an upcoming project. So far so good, (obviously still in WO 4.3)

utilizing live capture cards/multiple streams of Mpeg/ProRes files...it wouldn't run on the "stock" configuration without crashing.

 

Standard Seagate XT2 7200RPM drives (four x 2 TB) (left overs from an IT project)

Win 7

 

plan on letting it spool for the next couple of weeks to see if I run into any issues.

 

Goldie

 

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Just to follow up. I have been benchmark testing my software RAID 0 across 3x WD Caviar Blacks on a Win7 installation. The process is working very well. Although I do not have a hardware RAID to compare it to, I would say the performance is beyond acceptable.

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