RAID confusion

jonnymalone

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Apr 18, 2008
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Hi guys

Firstly, I can sense this being a long post so apologies there. I'll try and keep things as concise as possible.

I'm looking to build a new computer in the next couple of weeks and have been having some trouble deciding on what to do in terms of HDDs. I've had a good search of the net and haven't quite find the answers I need, then stumbled across this forum and been reading through a load of threads on RAID configurations and whether they are worth it or not. Have to say, I'm quite confused now about what is best for my build so would be grateful for some input from you lot since you seem to know what you're on about!

Bit of background to the build - It'll be a new desktop build to replace my creaky old machine. Planning on installing both XP32 and Vista64 with XP being used solely for music production and Vista for gaming, photo and (some) video editing and general office use. For the music, fast and fairly large drives are needed owing to the streaming of multiple large wav files. Overall noise of the system needs to be kept to a mimimum but some noise can be tolerated as I'm no a pro or anything!

I think I have three options available which each generate their own questions with the overriding question of which will give best performance and security:

Option 1

Mobo: Asus P5K-C (4 Sata, RAID 0 and 1)

HDD1: WD Raptor 150GB
HDD2, 3 and 4: WD Caviar 250GB SE16

Solution: Partition the Raptor and install XP and Vista onto each partition. RAID0 HDD 2 and 3 and use as scratch drives for music etc. No data to be stored long-term on these drives. HDD 4 for data storage (photos, MP3s etc) with external backups.

Option 2

Mobo: Asus P5K-E (6 Sata, RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10)

HDD 1-5: WD Caviar 250GB SE16

Solution: RAID0 Drives 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 leaving 5th drive as a standalone. Install XP onto one pair and Vista onto 2nd pair. Use 5th for data storage. Partition Vista RAID array and use blank partition as scratch drive for XP music.

Option 3

Mobo: Asus P5K-E (6 Sata, RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10)

HDD1 to 5: WD Caviar 250GB SE16

Solution: RAID5 drives 1, 2 & 3 and RAID0 drives 4 & 5. Partition RAID5 drives and install XP on one partition and Vista on other partition. Data to be stored on this drive as the redundancy in array to offer protection and maintain external backup. RAID0 array to use as scratch drive with no need for protection as no data stored.


Clearly Option 3 will be more expensive but I think this is my preferred choice based on what I think the drives should be capable of. Main issues that I have been unable to find conclusive answers on are:

1) Is it possible to create both a RAID5 and RAID0 configuration using the oboard RAID (JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller)

2) Is it possible to create the RAID5 and then partition this drive maintaing the array but being able to install XP and Vista on the same physical drives?

3) Is it even possible to create 2 pairs of RAID0 drives using the onboard RAID?

Any thoughts on how people think these setups would work, or even alternative configurations.

Thanks in advance!
 

boonality

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To start off with, option 3 is your best bet. Now the implimentation, You should invest in a RAID controller as motherboard RAID can get a little finicky and you are probably going to benifit greatly from a hardware RAID controller.
 

Zenthar

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I never used RAID, nor am I really familiar with its scaling performance, but if you are going to get 5 drives, why don't you just RAID 5 all of them? Yes, I think it is possible to partition a RAID array for multi-boot (or just plain data management).
 

jonnymalone

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Thanks for the thoughts. Unfortunately the RAID controller pushed things a bit too far over budget for now but will certainly consider that as a later upgrade.

I think I've actually reached something of an answer:

I have an existing WD Caviar so buy another 2 of them along with a Raptor. I RAID5 the 3 Caviars and partition them installing the two O/S's as planned and then use the Raptor as the scratch drive. This potentially offers some upgradability later as I can think about adding extra Raptors and RAID5 them at a later date if this all works well, possibly adding in a card to get the extra SATA ports.

If the partitioned RAID doesn't work then I can shift things about, partition the Raptor and use this as the main drive with the O/Ss, and create a RAID0 from 2 caviars and add a 3rd for data.

That sounds to me like the least risk of buying the wrong stuff!
 

UncleDave

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Must you have two O/S on the machine? You life will be much simpler if you decide on one OS and stick to it. Raptors are falling out of favour due to price and noise, most people are recommending Seagate 7200.11s. I'd also like to make sure that you understand that RAID is not a backup, it is there to prevent data loss when a hard drive fails (with the exception of RAID 0). It also appears that there is some debate about the effectiveness/efficiency of RAID5 on motherboards as opposed to a dedicated RAID controller. It sounds like RAID 5 on motherboards is not as well implemented as dedicated RAID cards with RAID 5 having the most fingers pointed at it. That said I just don't know enough about your board Asus P5K-E to say if it's RAID5 implementation is efficient or not.

I would advise you to go for four drives in two level 1 arrays. The reason is that this is the simplest and not tied to a specific controller. I think that the performance of the Seagates will be sufficient for your needs. Install O/S and applictions on the primary drive, I would also create a small (twice your RAM) FAT32 partition on the primary drive and use it for your swap file.

Option UD :D

Mobo: Asus P5K-C (4 Sata, RAID 0 and 1)

HDD1 & 2: RAID 1: Barracuda 7200.11 SATA 3Gb/s 320-GB Hard Drive (ST3320613AS)
HDD3 & 4: RAID 1: Barracuda 7200.11 SATA 3Gb/s 1-TB Hard Drive (ST31000340AS)

The depth of your pockets will help decide the size of the drives, you'll need to check your local supplies to find the best price-point.


5c.

UD.
 

jonnymalone

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Thanks UD!

There's a couple of reasons to have 2 O/Ss. I'll be getting 4 or 8GB RAM so need the 64bit O/S to make full use of that. Also, might as well give Vista a go sooner rather than later. I'm not sure how long it's here to stay but hey!

The reason for XP is purely for the music. It's best to have a clean install that is used entirely for music production as installing lots of hardware and software that isn't used for the music can cause issues leading to latency etc. Also, I have some more obscure music hardware that doesn't have signed drivers and little possibility of Vista drivers ever being produced as most are now no longer produced.

I'm aware that RAID isn't a backup solution. I'll always be maintaining external backups (lessons learnt in the past). I've had a couple of HDs fail on me in the past and so, whilst building a new machine, thought I might as well implement some kind of stability into the system as well.

Thanks for the thoughts on onboard RAID5. Didn't realise there were issues so something else to research. Will also do some research on the drives you mention and give it some more thought. Definitely one to sleep on.

Thanks again, much appreciated!
 

Crazy-PC

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Yes, option 3 would be better but try Seagate SATA 2 harddrive. Regarding to your questions where I stated as below:

Clearly Option 3 will be more expensive but I think this is my preferred choice based on what I think the drives should be capable of. Main issues that I have been unable to find conclusive answers on are:

1) Is it possible to create both a RAID5 and RAID0 configuration using the oboard RAID (JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller)
Answer: The JMicron JMB363 does not support Raid, you need to use the Raid function control from Intel chipset ICH9R to create Raid 0 and Raid 5 by Intel Raid Matrix, this link can tell you the fact
"http://support.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/CS-020681.htm"

2) Is it possible to create the RAID5 and then partition this drive maintaing the array but being able to install XP and Vista on the same physical drives?
Answer: I have no idea about partition magic or partition manager, depends on the hardware level they handle; if low level is not OK.

3) Is it even possible to create 2 pairs of RAID0 drives using the onboard RAID?
Answer: Yes, either the combination of 2 Pairs Raid 0 or 2 Pairs Raid 5 or Raid 0+Raid 5 is available, same internet link listed on answer 1.
 

Crazy-PC

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I made a mistake on the ASUS mainboard model you quoted, the JMicron JMB363 just not provide RAID function on P5E (X38 chipset) but provide RAID function on ASUS P5K-E (P35 chipset).
 

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