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MidnightUT

RAID 5 Questions

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Hey All,

 

I 400GB drives finally got cheap enough that I ordered 3 for a nice RAID 5 setup. Naturally as I'm eagerly anticipating the UPS guy in the next day or two I started sifting through the forums to see if I could absorb some wisdom from others who have similar setups. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed to read all the posts about how terrible the SIL 3114 chipset's implementation of RAID 5 is, especially since this was one of the key features that got me to buy this board over some of the other models.

 

Some Background Information

The biggest complaint I've the most about is the horribly slow write speeds(looks like about 5-10MB/s from the benchmarks I've seen). While this will be a bit irritating it's not exactly the end of the world for me. I mainly just want a giant chunk of space for mass storage. I have plenty of smaller, faster drives for all my active use, and I can schedule overnight backups to write to the RAID 5.

 

The most important thing for me is to have a good reliable backup, I'm going to be putting family photos, wedding pictures, all my purchased music etc on the RAID and it will be my only copy in some instances even though I'll try hard to archive the absolute most important stuff to other drives or DVD. It is also important for me to try to find as cheap a solution as possible without sacrificing reliability. In other words I know getting a nice dedicated hardware RAID5 card would be optimal, but I spent several months of savings on the hard drives so its not going to happen. But anyway enough rambling.

 

The Questions

1) Is the built in SIL 3114 RAID 5 implementation "good enough" for my needs? Which are basically reliable mass storage where speed is nice but not really that important.

 

2) Would Windows software RAID5 be a better choice? By better choice I mean is it more reliable, faster, more portable, any/all of the above? I've used software RAID5 in Windows 2003 Server, so I'm mainly just interested in how it compares to the 3114 implementation.

 

2a) Does the registry hack to enable RAID5 in XP Pro still work? I haven't researched it yet to see if its still possible to enable it, I know it used to work.

 

3) I could possibly spend another $125 or less if the added reliability, portability, speed, peace of mind, etc justify it. It'd be painful on the wallet, especially with it being the holiday season, but if its an absolute must I'm not going to be unreasonable. In this case I could either use the extra money to buy a 4th drive and use another flavor of RAID, or I could buy a raid controller card of some sort. Between the two I'd rather buy a RAID 5 card of some sort, and have the ability to add a 4th drive later and the flexibility to move it to a different computer. This is actually a ton of questions jumbled together :)

 

3a) If the answer to 3 is a yes, and the consensus is that a card is the way to go, what are some good options in the $125 and less range? I like the looks of the Highpoint RocketRAID 2300 at Newegg, but I'm open to suggestions.

 

Sorry for the long post, but thanks in advance to any guidance!

 

-Mid

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I think that if you are only going to spend about $100 on a raid card you may as well use the onboard SIL raid. Cheap controllers like that are fine, however they are not a true hardware raid solution. Maybe buy the 4th drive and look into the 0+1 nForce raid. I was in the same boat as you, and quite upset to learn that the raid 5 sucks. Later in its life, this computer with my DFI mobo may become a dedicated media server in which case I can sacrifice performance of SIL raid since I will not be using the computer for daily usage.

 

For now I am slowly buying 500gb 16mb buffer NCQ 7.2k Samsung Spinpoint T series HDDs and using them as a JBOD setup until I acquire four at which point I will backup my data and create a 0+1 raid.

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Guest erico

RAID 5..you're kidding right? :shake: :D :nod: Thought you were a Gamer. Unless you have a system that you use for business then that is some serious overkill...

 

If you're gonna spend that kinda bucks on HDDs think about upgrading your CPU, your value RAM or PSU instead.

 

But Hey.. It is your RIG...the more HDDs the merrier (sure gonna kill that PSU and maybe your MOBO though...check out the power requirements for all that extra stuff) and then you will be saying.."What happened?" Can I RMA it?

 

May I end with ...just my two cents

 

hmmm.. is this April fool's day? ...nah..

Merry Christmas

:);)

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I think that if you are only going to spend about $100 on a raid card you may as well use the onboard SIL raid. Cheap controllers like that are fine, however they are not a true hardware raid solution. Maybe buy the 4th drive and look into the 0+1 nForce raid. I was in the same boat as you, and quite upset to learn that the raid 5 sucks. Later in its life, this computer with my DFI mobo may become a dedicated media server in which case I can sacrifice performance of SIL raid since I will not be using the computer for daily usage.

 

Have you tried RAID 5 out on the SIL in a real world setting? I'm okay with "slow" as long as its not "unusably slow" for just simple data storage which shouldn't require that much speed. Granted if we're talking actual write speeds of 2-3MB/s that would almost make it unusable even for mass storage, unless you've got an insane amount of patience. About the only thing I'd actively do on the drive would be file searches, listen to some mp3s, open a few jpegs for viewing only. And occasionally watch or stream a video from it. And in the worst case for the video I'd even put up with copying the files to one of my smaller "active use" drives first.

 

And your point on the software raid controller is well taken. I was just thinking that:

1) it couldn't be any slower than the SIL chip

2) It'd allow me to transfer the RAID to another computer if the mobo ever died on this one or if I just needed to move it

3) It might be slightly more reliable, and definantly easier to upgrade as I don't think DFI has incorporated any of the SIL BIOS upgrades into the official DFI Mobo BIOS upgrades have they?

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But Hey.. It is your RIG... , ......and then you will be saying.."What happened?" Can I RMA it?

 

The OP, in his questioning, sounds a bit smarter than that.

 

A1, If it's not mission critical data, yea, it'll do what it is you want. I wouldn't keep my companies books on it though.

 

A2, For true portability in your budget a PCI add-in fakeraid card is the route to go. OS portability too. I wouldn't trust even my MP3's(albeit 2.6Tb!) to a Windows hack.

A2a, Looks like it, but read above.

 

A3, If the need is now save the $$$ and use the 3114. An Areca ARC-1210 HARDWARE RAID 4port 256mb cache PCIe card is ~$300US.

Have you considered building a cheap NAS box/file server? It'd shift the strain and resources off your 165 and Powerstream.

 

A3a, Read all the above. A cheap Sempron or even lower file server can be build for a token amount more than you're looking at spending now.

 

You're down there in Dell Land, a cheap used box shouldn't be that terribly hard to come by. Yea, another box would consume that much more space but IMHO the benefits far outweigh anything negative about one.

 

As mentioned in the post above mine you'll be close to overtaxing, if not exceeding, with four more drives in addition to the other HW in your sig the Powerstreams ability. Nice solid PSU, but .......

 

 

.. Rick

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RAID 5..you're kidding right? :shake: :D :nod: Thought you were a Gamer. Unless you have a system that you use for business then that is some serious overkill...

 

If you're gonna spend that kinda bucks on HDDs think about upgrading your CPU, your value RAM or PSU instead.

 

But Hey.. It is your RIG...the more HDDs the merrier (sure gonna kill that PSU and maybe your MOBO though...check out the power requirements for all that extra stuff) and then you will be saying.."What happened?" Can I RMA it?

 

May I end with ...just my two cents

 

hmmm.. is this April fool's day? ...nah..

Merry Christmas

:);)

I'm a moderate gamer, a computer enthusiast, and a recovering college student. In other words I'm poor :)

 

I'm a big fan of "bang for the buck" as it lets me enjoy my hobby to the fullest with a limited budget. And as far as "bang for the buck" goes it doesn't get any better than RAID5 as its a somewhat cost effective way of maximizing storage space while still maintaining data integrity as it gives you (n-1)/n storage space where just about every other method gives you n/2. Speed isn't the only benchmark of performance, to me reliability + maximum storage space are king. I've got my Raptors for speed, and my demands just aren't that high.

 

As far as powering all the drives I don't think I should really have a problem. I'll let someone else chime in here as I haven't looked at power specs of different components in quite some time. I've got a good solid 520 Watt power supply, even if I was draining maximum power through the processor, video card, and all 5 hard drives at the same moment it should be enough. Close to the limit probably from the numbers I remember, but I can't think of a single instance where I'd be doing that anyway. Again definitely correct me if I'm wrong here, and I'll look up some of the specs if I get time as its something to think about.

 

And I'm perfectly content with the speed of my processor, my 2 gigs of RAM, my nice shiny PSU. For a lot of people your suggestion might make sense. For me however I'm having a storage space shortage so hard drives are where my money is going.

 

Thanks for the suggestions though, looking at things from every different angle helps.

 

-Mid

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The OP, in his questioning, sounds a bit smarter than that.

 

A1, If it's not mission critical data, yea, it'll do what it is you want. I wouldn't keep my companies books on it though.

 

A2, For true portability in your budget a PCI add-in fakeraid card is the route to go. OS portability too. I wouldn't trust even my MP3's(albeit 2.6Tb!) to a Windows hack.

A2a, Looks like it, but read above.

 

A3, If the need is now save the $$$ and use the 3114. An Areca ARC-1210 HARDWARE RAID 4port 256mb cache PCIe card is ~$300US.

Have you considered building a cheap NAS box/file server? It'd shift the strain and resources off your 165 and Powerstream.

 

A3a, Read all the above. A cheap Sempron or even lower file server can be build for a token amount more than you're looking at spending now.

 

You're down there in Dell Land, a cheap used box shouldn't be that terribly hard to come by. Yea, another box would consume that much more space but IMHO the benefits far outweigh anything negative about one.

 

As mentioned in the post above mine you'll be close to overtaxing, if not exceeding, with four more drives in addition to the other HW in your sig the Powerstreams ability. Nice solid PSU, but .......

 

 

.. Rick

 

Thanks for the great reply!

 

I won't be keeping my companies books on it, but family photos are probably worth just as much to me.

 

Some great suggestions. I've looked at the FreeNAS software and had thought about going that route. I hadn't thought about the low cost of the components before you mentioned it. I've got a spare case and a solid power supply. All I'd really need would be a cheap mobo with built in video (for setup only), a cheap CPU and a stick of RAM. I've actually got a mobo/cpu/ram laying around but it doesn't have SATA ports so I'd have to buy a card if I went that route.

 

One of my drawbacks of going the NAS route is that I'd be tempted to leave it on all the time. So that'd be one more computers worth of electricity, and more importantly one more computers worth of heat. As you mentioned I'm in Texas and its amazing what one computers worth of heat adds to a house. Granted I could just not be a lazy butt and turn it off when I'm not using it but what fun is that? :)

 

And I think your right. I should toss the Windows hack out, the software raid card is probably a better solution all around if I don't want to limp along with the SIL and decide not to go the NAS route.

 

Definitely some more options to ponder, thanks again for your suggestions and insight.

 

-Mid

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Thanks for the great reply!

 

NP

 

One of my drawbacks of going the NAS route is that I'd be tempted to leave it on all the time. So that'd be one more computers worth of electricity, and more importantly one more computers worth of heat. As you mentioned I'm in Texas and its amazing what one computers worth of heat adds to a house.

 

Try eight+ boxes in a study. It's winter here, although no snow and mid 40's F, the required window AC unit still kicks on ocassionally. Yea, unfortunately during the winter a window unit is needed now and then.

 

Agreed though. I spent some time in New Braunfels. I can honestly say after two weeks there I'm a temperate region kinda guy.

 

Eh, as it'd be for scheduled BU's only(?) there's always WOL to power up the box, and software to power it down when the BU's are finished. Otherwise you can power it up normally if and when needed.

 

 

.. Rick

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erico, I think you WAY over estimate the power needs of a HDD.

 

The power needs of 4 drivers dones not change with the size of the drive, rotational speed if the biggest factor. According to Seagte's website, only 2.8A are needed per drive.

 

Yes that is 12A on HDD alone for 4 drives. What does a mid to high end Vid card need? 15, 20? (but hey just my 2 cents)

 

MidnightUT, the biggest problem with the SiL controller is the BUS is lies on. It is on the PCI Bus, NOT the PCI-e bus, thuis limiting it to 133 MB/s. ANY RAID Controller that is PCI will have the exact same limitation. PCI-e cotroller do not have this limitation, but wil cost more $$.

 

If it is only for back-up, go with the Sil. Try it, if you are happy with the performance, stay with it, if not, look for other solutions then. As far as Using another PC as a file storage, you will get better performance of file transfer with an "in-house" solution (RAID in the same computer) vs network performance (remember 100 mbits is 100 Mega BITS, not MEGA BYTES = ~ 10 MB/s

 

Also, anything that you dont want to loose, I'd burn to DVD pretty often as hard back ups

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Try eight+ boxes in a study. It's winter here, although no snow and mid 40's F, the required window AC unit still kicks on ocassionally. Yea, unfortunately during the winter a window unit is needed now and then.

Ha I've had my share of 5 computers in a room with a window unit back in college. Its why I'm pretty conscience about heat output and electricity usage. I've narrowed my household down to 3 desktops and two laptops, but only one is up 24/7. I don't even leave my Opty box up, just turn it on to game or when something needs a bit more horsepower.

 

Enjoy the holidays and thanks again.

 

-Mid

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