Onboard vs. Discrete Raid Controller For Raid 5

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by imported_nunya, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. imported_nunya

    imported_nunya Senior member

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    A few months ago I picked up 3 Seagate 400GB drives when Fry's was letting them go for dirt cheap. A couple of weeks ago the price dropped again so I picked up a fourth. I'd had the first 3 running in a RAID 5 on my DFI NF4 board, and just dumped everything on them to external and added the fourth HD to the raid. Performance seemed very reasonable when I only had the 3 drives but now that I've added the fourth it seems extremely slow. Copying about 400GB back to the raid took around 8-9 hours from a 500GB external. Copying another 100GB over my 100mb network also seemed to take a really long time. Additionally, when I right click and hit properties to check how much space is being used by the folders that hold my music and movies it takes a long time to count it all up, about a minute compared to 10-15 seconds on my other machine that has the same data stored on just 1 drive. The machines are virtually the same, Opteron 165 and DFI NF4 SLI-DR boards in both, Seagate 400GB 7200.10 drives. I expected some overhead from the RAID but not this much, and I didn't expect adding another drive to impact the performance like it has, so I'm wondering if I should buy a discrete RAID controller. Of course, this is basically just a fileserver for my media so I'm not looking to spend hundreds of dollars on it, maybe a hundred or so tops. Is there a RAID card in my price range that would give me better performance or should I just suck it up and leave it be?
     
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  3. RebateMonger

    RebateMonger Elite Member

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    I think it's pretty well accepted that running RAID5 without a dedicated CPU (an add-in RAID 5 card with processor and memory) is really SLOW. If speed is important, don't do RAID 5 or get a dedicated RAID card.

    There are PCI/PCI-E/PCI-X cards with CPUs and memory starting around $175 and up. I'm not sure if I'd really recommend anything that's less than $300 (low-end 3Ware), though. A lot of the cheaper ones have issues with "losing drives" and such. If you don't mind supporting such problems (which YOU may not have at all), then you could consider a $200 or so HighPoint SATA card.
     
  4. Madwand1

    Madwand1 Diamond Member

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    I've seen similar behavior with nForce 430 -- 3-drive RAID 5 is fast for writes (with 32k stripe size, created via BIOS), but 4-drive RAID 5 is always slow, regardless of stripe size. My best guess is that there's some simple optimization that works fine for the 3-drive case, but doesn't for 4 drives. However, I haven't tried your version, so there's a small chance that some other stripe size would restore your performance. I suggest 16k.

    Highpoint 23xx series cards perform much better than the slow version of nvRAID, and aren't very expensive.

    Good, cheap, fast. Pick two?
     
  5. imported_nunya

    imported_nunya Senior member

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    Thanks for the input, it's what I needed. I may try to pick up one of those Highpoint controllers and see how it works out.
     
  6. integramodder

    integramodder Senior member

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    Do you guys have any experience with RAID 5 on the Intel P965 chipsets?

    I bought a PB5 Deluxe last month and how that I can get decent 500GB drives for 100 bucks I'm thinking of getting 4 and getting rid of my various drives.
     
  7. Madwand1

    Madwand1 Diamond Member

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    I've used RAID 5 on a similar chipset -- Q965, and it's been pretty good -- decent sequential read/writes when measured locally.

    At this time, I think the Highpoint 23xx is a bit better, especially in terms of the feature set, but for on-board, I think it's about as good as it gets (perhaps short of ICH9R).
     
  8. Quasmo

    Quasmo Diamond Member

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    I've done alot of research on this (I had to setup a raid5 for video editing) We started out using onboard nvRAID and performance was terrible, it's literally software raid. So we ended up having to get a dedicated card, even though you don't need it, for those popping into this thread for information, the best card I found with 8 ports was the Areca 1220 PCI-E card, it is lightning quick. Areca makes an awesome raid controller, you might look into their 4 port card the 1210, I dont know if it's in your price range though.
     
  9. integramodder

    integramodder Senior member

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    This will be used to store movies, music, tv shows and software. I wont really need crazy performance, so hopefully the onboard will be enough for me.