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Thread: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

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    RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    I'm moving up in the world with regards my home setup... Having just moved into a house, I've had a great idea of sticking a NAS up in the loft and beaming everything down from there. I'm wanting to run 4x 1TB drives in RAID5, as I've come close to losing stuff one too many times!

    I've acquired a HP DC7100 which has 4 Sata ports. As yet, I'm not sure if this will do Hardware RAID5. I'm guessing it wont.

    As such, I believe my options are;

    Software RAID via Windows. Will Server/7 allow a software RAID5 config? I'm not sure it will... If it does, what happens if the windows drive goes tits up. Will the Array die? A bit of me says Microsoft wouldn't be so stupid to let that happen, then the other bit says "how can the array continue to work without the RAID config in place?"...

    This brings me onto the next thing, getting a Hardware RAID setup, if the DC7100 doesn't support it... I'd obviously need a Serial ATA RAID Controller. Problem... They all seem to be RAID0, RAID1, JBOD compatible. Why is this?

    Is there a PCI Serial ATA RAID Controller out there that will support RAID5?

    The DC7100 is a P4 SKT775, is there a motherboard out there that has SATA RAID5 on board capabilities? Maybe replacing the motherboard is the option??

    Thoughts?

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    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Quote Originally Posted by Vini View Post
    I've come close to losing stuff one too many times!
    RAID is not a backup replacement. It increases availability and gives you some redundancy, but it is by no means the only thing you should do if you data is important to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vini View Post
    I've acquired a HP DC7100 which has 4 Sata ports. As yet, I'm not sure if this will do Hardware RAID5. I'm guessing it wont.
    If it did hardware RAID it would be shouting this from the roof tops.

    As such, I believe my options are;

    Quote Originally Posted by Vini View Post
    Software RAID via Windows. Will Server/7 allow a software RAID5 config?
    Windows itself doesn't do RAID software (perhaps server does, but I'm not sure). It's up to the specific controller drivers and software to handle the RAID.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vini View Post
    Is there a PCI Serial ATA RAID Controller out there that will support RAID5?
    Real hardware RAID is a lot more involved and expensive than just having a SATA controller card with 4 ports. Even the overpriced Highpoint cards aren't true hardware RAID, they do rely on the drivers and everything is done in software.

    For a good performing, quality RAID card you are looking at about £150 for 4 ports.

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    I understand RAID is not a backup replacement, but giving the extra redundancy is a far better step than where I'm at...

    I also understand that a cheaper controller is not a fully fledged hardware raid controller, but figure that the RAID array would still be in tact, if;

    The RAID Controller dies; buy a new one with the same chipset.
    The Windows Install dies; rebuild re-apply RAID controller drivers.
    The Motherboard dies; rebuild Windows with RAID controller drivers.

    For not a lot of cash, it's certainly something that I'd like to implement.

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    If you're going to be pumping data through a wireless card, then softraid definately wont be a bottleneck. Also, if you want a proper software raid solution (which means you can use any mixture of SATA chips), you would probably be better off using a prerolled NAS distribution like FreeNAS or openfiler, or even a generic linux distribution like Ubuntu.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
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    VTECmeous Vimeous's Avatar
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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Vini in the scenarios you describe I suggest the following will generally happen:

    The RAID Controller dies: Restore from backup;
    The Windows Install dies: Reinstall Windows and restore from backup;
    The Motherboard dies (onboard RAID): Reinstall Windows and restore from backup;
    The Motherboard dies (add-in RAID card): Rebuild PC with old RAID card and all should be well;

    The problem you're likely to have is that RAID controller chips are changing fairly regularily and with the advent of SATA3 it won't be long before an identical replacement RAID card will only be available s/hand on ebay. I'm sure you'll agree that is not a great survival strategy.

    RAID is good. But it's primary use is to keep you running when a drive fails, the thinking being the drives are less reliable than the controllers.


    Of course there is pure software-raid which you might think would be a brilliant escape. Controller failure? No matter just replace the hardware and off we go. However I'd argue the software is less reliable than any of the hardware involved so if it is flakey you're back to rebuilding from backup again.

    I digress

    I can't tell if the ports on the HP DC7100 are RAID capable. HP list all the other ports online but don't seem capable of listing the SATA ones. You'll need to look in the BIOS.
    If it is RAID capable there may be a separate RAID BIOS that will appear if the controller is switched on in the main BIOS.

    Other than that a separate card would be fine. Just check the driver availability for the OS you plan to use.
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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Apparently the DC7100 is ICH6 and not ICH6-R, so RAID doesn't look like a goer out of the box.

    I've pretty much ruled out full-software RAID and am leaning towards;

    A SIL-3124 Chipset, controller. Capable of RAID5. Lycom ST-124 (Scan)

    or,

    A new motherboard that will take the gubbins from the DC7100 and provides on board RAID.

    MSI P6NGM-FD £45
    Asus P5Q Turbo £105 (Cheaper elsewhere)
    Gigabyte GA-EQ45M-S2 £80
    Asus P5N-D £80
    ASRock N7AD-SLI nForce 740i £65
    Gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2 £42

    A controller card/new mobo, will give me the results I want. ie. a 3TB store, over 4 drives, with one redundancy. This is sufficient for my needs.
    Last edited by Vini; 03-09-2009 at 04:24 PM.

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    VTECmeous Vimeous's Avatar
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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Which DC7100 do you have?
    Only the mini-tower seems to use a standard microATX mboard. If it's not that you are likely to fit 3rd-party boards won't fit your case.

    I use a SIL3114 in one of my machines for RAID10. SI's drivers since then have much improved so it should do the job you need well.
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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    One reason why software raid5 is bad is it works your CPU a lot harder calculating the parity. Every time you write some data, it has to theoretically read all the data from the other stripes in the array to recalculate the parity. So 1 write causes 2 writes and (N-2) reads where N is the number of drives in the array, this works the sata sub system alot harder. If you have a controller card doing it in hardware all these extra reads and writes are hidden from the main system, allowing it to do more important things. This perhaps answers your question about why only striping mirroring and Jbob in cheap controllers. This is because its easy to do, raid 5 or 6 in hardware already requires hardware XOR circuity for calculating the parities. Where possible, raid 5 large static data sets, put rapidly changing data/temp files on mirrored pairs.

    As to availability of controllers... get a SAS one you can use SATA2 drives with a SAS controllers and SATA2/3 with a SAS2 one. Plus you get access to 15K hard disks which are only available as SAS. Most hardware manufactures are not bothering much with SATA RAID cards as there isn't much market for them.

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Quote Originally Posted by Vimeous View Post
    Which DC7100 do you have?
    Only the mini-tower seems to use a standard microATX mboard. If it's not that you are likely to fit 3rd-party boards won't fit your case.

    I use a SIL3114 in one of my machines for RAID10. SI's drivers since then have much improved so it should do the job you need well.
    HP DC7100 Convertible Mini Tower, not yet arrived. Bought it as I was informed it had 4 SATA ports, then transpired it probably wouldn't do RAID and I then found RAID5 cards are quite expensive.

    I just wanted something cheap to house 4x 1TB drives. At present I have the 4 plugged into all 4 usb slots on my Mac Mini.

    Now I'm in a house, the CMT will go out of the way, and I'll 'stream' the data via ethernet

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    If it does have 4 SATA ports, and you can fit 4 drives in there, an option would be Windows Home Server.

    It uses it's own redundancy system and can use any old hardware like that.

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Quote Originally Posted by Funkstar View Post
    If it does have 4 SATA ports, and you can fit 4 drives in there, an option would be Windows Home Server.

    It uses it's own redundancy system and can use any old hardware like that.
    I presume you mean Windows Home Server in RAID?

    This is the option I discussed in the original post, but, (I honestly don't know the answer) if windows went tits up. Would the Array survive?

    http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthr...uid=0&t=869321

    I do not plan to have the OS on the 'Array', but might mirror the OS drive......
    Last edited by Vini; 03-09-2009 at 05:16 PM.

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Quote Originally Posted by Vini View Post
    ...if windows [WHS] went tits up. Would the Array survive?
    As a pure software based solution it should. Same goes for a software based array surviving hardware failure (as long as the drives themselves survive).

    RAID 5 can only tolerate one drive dying. RAID 6 (which can tolerate 2 drive failures) would be better but controllers that support that are firmly at the expensive end of the market AFAIK. Or better yet use RAID 1 for the whole array / each disc (getting expensive again)... Either way RAID ties you into using the same drives (presumably bought at the same time from the same or similar batches) which may be an issue if you get a dodgy batch.

    Backup is a better solution in theory but in a home environment what do you use to backup TBs of data? Forget DVDs / BDs. Tape drives aren't a great option which really just leaves more HDDs. Perhaps you should be looking at a setup that lets you have hot spare(s) (ideally kept spun down) but again that starts to get expensive. You could also buy extra drives as cold spares (i.e. offline / stored outside of the machine) that you've tested on arrival and kept safe since... But again that's an expensive option for home use particularly as you may never actually come to use the drive so it could just sit there depreciating.

    You're probably best off running all the drives through their paces when you get them (to check for any errors on arrival and infant mortality) and then taking the attitude that you will replace them every 2 to 3 years by which time you ought to get a lot more space for your money though you'll need to know how to migrate from the old array to the new; in fact it I were building a 'serious' array it probably makes sense to replace the whole thing every few years (PSUs die too as do fans, controller technology moves on as does performance per watt)... If it's a pure server onboard GFX and a low end CPU will suffice (as would a relatively low end PSU though if you have a lot of drives it would be safer to use a controller that can stagger spinning up each drive)...

    Other things to consider:

    AFAIK most RAID solutions do not spin down drives when they are not in use so you may actually be wearing them out quicker than if you'd used them all as separate arrays and let the OS spin them down when they're idle for extended periods of time. (I'm assuming some form of wear and tear still applies even with fluid bearings being used on all drives these days).

    4 * 1TB in RAID 5 = 3TB for ~£200, 3 * 1.5TB in RAID 5 = ~£210 but with less heat and power consumption. Either way you can only tolerate 1 drive failure. 4 * 1.5TB in RAID 1 = 3TB for ~£280 but with a higher level of redundancy and less demands on the underlying system (assuming driver / CPU based parity calculations). I'm talking drives only here - a separate controller or WHS obviously adds to the cost. If I wanted to do RAID cheaply I'd either use software (e.g. FreeNAS) or buy something with an ICH10R or similar chip as these are unlikely to become unavailable in short time frame (though firmware changes may affect them)
    Last edited by malfunction; 03-09-2009 at 06:44 PM.

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Windows XP does have software Raid five built in you just have to modify some system files to enable it and also you cannot boot off it so you need to have a smaller boot drive for the os + apps.

    Advantages:
    Easy to configure
    Easy to Admin

    Disadvantages:
    Windows XP is not a server os.


    other options are specific *nix distributions like clarkconnect (linux) openfiler (linux) or freenas (freeBSD) all of these have there own software raid implementations.

    Advantages
    Easy to setup
    Dedicated server software
    Easy to admin

    Disadvantages
    Can be inflexible when your trying to add more roles to the server.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
    What kind of emergency would need Windows 95? I think you are already in a bad state of emergency when your backup plan is Windows 95.
    Beginners guide to raid Beginners guide to raid post edition Hexus.Social - FAQ

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    Re: RAID5...Hardware or Software? HP DC7100 or Serial ATA Card capable of??

    Quote Originally Posted by Vini View Post
    I presume you mean Windows Home Server in RAID?

    This is the option I discussed in the original post, but, (I honestly don't know the answer) if windows went tits up. Would the Array survive?

    http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthr...uid=0&t=869321

    I do not plan to have the OS on the 'Array', but might mirror the OS drive......
    WHS doesn't do RAID, it does logical volume management, spanning files over multiple disks, and it's redundancy method is mirroring files and folders between disks. It's not terribly efficient, or fast, and if the system disk goes, the machine is a dead duck until you replace it and reinstall WHS.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    ...every time Creative bring out a new card range their advertising makes it sound like they have discovered a way to insert a thousand Chuck Norris super dwarfs in your ears...

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