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Thinking about drive configurations

Discussion in 'Techno-Magic' started by Ragusa, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    As a result of my RAID crash, I am thinking about my future drive configuration.

    I am reluctant to entrust my OS to my twin 250GB HDDs again, if I get the broken one replaced. I have used them, and considering that they are 24/7 drives, and one broke, quite extensively. I bought the two together, so they're probably from the same production lot. The other one probably show signs of wear as well. In retrospect, I recall that my computer has the last months a few times restarted when I didn't expect or order it to, that could have been early signs of my drive breaking.

    Anyway, key ideas are: I want speed and reliability and a degree of redundancy at low cost (like everyone, I guess :D )

    Options:
    1. lower capacity SSDs are becoming affordable. I can get two 30 GB Vertex SSD at about € 260, two 30GB OCZ Agility at about € 200. But I feel I'd rather have two 60GB units, which would increase costs. SSD are fast. They're maturing; firmwares are improving. Two in a RAID0 would be very fast. The small size would be easy to back up. I estimate that by mid next year I could back them up on a USB stick (that's a seriously interesting idea btw). I'll use Win7, so SSD support won't be an issue.
    2. I buy a single 60 GB OCZ Vertex (Turbo) or the like. Advantage: Cheaper, easy to back up. Disadvantage: Somewhat slower than the RAID, but fast nonetheless.
    3. low capacity SATA I (i.e. ATA-150) Raptors are cheap to get atm. Advantages Speed. Easy to back up (see above). Disadvantages: They're only SATA I. Question: Would the speed do me any good with the limited throughput?
    4. Get a single SATA II 150GB Raptor. Advantages: Good speed. Disadvantages: Price. Comment: A RAID0 with twin SATA II Raptor I can't afford.
    5. I get myself two new and smallish 7.200/32MB cache drives and set up a new RAID. Advantage: Comparatively cheap; good speed rivalling the single Raptor. Disadvantage: Back up requires an additional drive.
    6. I wait for my HDD to be replaced, reset them as a RAID, and buy a decent additional 7.200/32MB cache drive of at least 500GB as my dedicated back up drive.
    7. I buy a decent 7.200/32MB cache drive and use hat, and wait for SSD to get cheaper, and in the meanwhile am content with the lower speed. Advantages: Cheapest option. Disadvantages: Slowest option.

    Other options, suggestions and comments are welcome.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  2. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    If you're thinking about 6, why not just get a third identical drive and do a RAID 5? It protects you just as well from a single drive failure, you'll have the same amount of useable space, it's easier to recover from a drive failure than a failure in one of the RAID 0 drives (and the array is still useable until you replace the failed drive). The only disadvantage is that the speed won't be quite the same, though I don't know how much worse (it will be better than a single drive).
     
  3. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    In that case BTA, would my drives need to be identical or can I actually set up a heterogeneous RAID?
     
  4. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    The size should be the same, though I think if you get a bigger one it would work, just the excess memory would go to waste...

    If you don't get an identical drive, you should check the docs to see what the limitations are if any.
     
  5. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Presuming for a moment I would buy a single 60 GB SATA OCZ Summit (€ 150) as it offers 0.1 ms max reaction time, 220 MBps (read)/ 125 MBps (write), a 128MB cache - and another one at a later date for a RAID0.

    Probably the performance of a single one would beat my deceased RAID.

    As for an SSD RAID - could I sensibly use the speed of the two in a normal RAID0 via motherboard, or would I need a hardware RAID controller? Wouldn't the possible speed exceed the bandwidth of SATA II, which is iirc 300MBps - that is some 120 MBps would go to waste?

    ---------- Added 12 hours, 8 minutes and 16 seconds later... ----------

    Afterthought: No, SATA II is actually 3GB/s i.e. 3000MB/s, so I wouldn't have any problems with throughput. Still, am I correct?
     
  6. Merlanni

    Merlanni Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Alas, a lot of bills have made this unreachable for me. I think that it is wise to keep the data separate from the OS.

    With the Os on a ssd, is two cheap HDD's for data in a raid 1 possible?
     
  7. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I am broke-ish too atm as well. Well, I expect a tax return. Anyway, I don't want to spend that much. With said tax return I might sink a part of that money into two 30GB OCZ Agility SSD. If I won't get my tax return, well, what's so bad about just one new ok-ish 7200/32MB drive to replace and augment the old ones? Well, I tell you, it's not as cool and fast as two SSD :borg:

    I mean, I can get a lowly 7200/32MB drive now, install my OS on it, suffer the misery of having a normal computer, and make it super fast with two 30GB OCZ Agility SSD or 60GB OCZ Summit SSD later, that is, as soon as I have the excess money to afford those. Or I'll buy a single VelociRaptor 150GB and have a rather fast computer and use that drive as a back up for my SSD later.

    One thing that's clear for me is that I'll banish my two 250GB Barracudas into an external case to use a a file dump, that is, for not read/write intensive use. I'm weary of their reliability under high workload. My trusted computer guy has told me that of eleven 250GB 7200/32MB Barracudas he built in for customers five failed. He didn't have that with the 500GB and larger ones. So that were probably teething problems. My bad luck ...

    I concede that I am not entirely reasonable on that matter. Originally, but that failed due to lack of funds, I wanted to have two SSD right from the start when I bought my comp last year. Actually I'm glad I didn't because the current breed is far better, more mature and more affordable than SSD's were 12 months ago. The pace of technological advance is amazing.

    But now seriously, I am by no means settled in my decision. Any suggestions other than BTA's?
     
  8. Merlanni

    Merlanni Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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  9. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I've not followed the SSD developments very attentively, but a few of the things that I have heard and that've stuck with me are that, while SSDs could be faster than for instance a 10,000 rpm Raptor, they usually aren't, or only under very specific conditions. The limiting factor for most SSDs is the controller chip, which does not make the most of the potential of an SSD. Also, my understanding is that putting two SSDs in a RAID 0 is pointless, as SSDs don't benefit from this in the same way that HDDs do.

    So, while it is very sexy to have your OS on an SSD, I'm pretty sure that putting it on two Raptors (or something similar) in RAID 0 configuration is both cheaper and faster for the time being. An SSD would be quieter, though, if that's a factor in your considerations.

    Me, for the PC that I'll be putting together as a replacement for my current PC, I was planning on using two smaller and faster HDDs for OS and programs and use 5x 1, 1.5, or 2 TB HDDs in a RAID 5 for data.
     
  10. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    My tax return has not manifested it yet, so I haven't yet decided on what to buy.

    Only constant in my considerations is that I want to get a WD Green Power 1TB drive as a file dump. I just dent my drive to Seagate for replacement, and in the meanwhile my surviving drive occasionally crashes. Nothing serious so far, but disturbing anyway.

    I don't really know. SSD do appear very attractive to me.

    I certainly miss the speed of my old RAID. I am just in parallel installing Mass Effect on my computer and it is really slow compared to before.
     
  11. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I'm pondering options again; some premises in advance:

    SSD's are, as far as speed is concerned, awesome. Putting them into a RAID-0 means to effectively double their read speed, which for the better ones comes close to approaching the SATA-II bandwidth limit. Writing, in particular smaller files is another matter, and there SSD's are on par with or inferior to faster HDD and RAID-0.

    I read in a Toms Hardware test that as far a IO operations go, Intel beats OCZ, but OCZ beats Intel on large file operations - i.e. using Intel will boost my OS and everything, using OCZ will in particular boost unpacking and copying large files, but won't so much affect boot-up and the like. Access time for both will be minimal anyway. Read speeds will be greatly improved for both variants.

    The high speed suggests that even with one SSD I might achieve speeds rivalling my broken RAID-0. I would have the option to ascend to an SSD RAID-0 at a later time.

    A really good hardware RAID controller is too pricey for me atm.

    I have three free SATA plugs atm, meaning that the external case only is relevant for RAID-0 setups.

    As for Raptors: I can get a 74 GB SATA-II Raptor for about 100 € atm. They're fast, but I can get a 150GB SATA-II for approx 130 €, suggesting to double the size for barely 30% more.

    WD Green Power 5400-7200rpm/32MD HDD are said to beat or equal my old 7.200/32 MB Barracudas.

    If I have to (re-)invest anyway, I want an improvement.

    My options as I see them now are as follows, from conservative (i.e. sensible) to tech happy (i.e. way cool and somewhat silly):
    1. 2x 1TB WD Green Power 5400-7200rpm/32MB HDD - while using my two old Barracuda's as the back-up, probably in an external case.

      Estimated price: 130€ for the two new HDD; and 35 € for the external case.
      Pro: Good enough; increase in space; cheapest option. Low risk.
      Con: ... effectively status quo ante with more space; not as cool as SSD's or Raptors.
      .
    2. 2x VelociRaptor 150 GB in RAID 0 - while using my two old Barracuda's as the back-up, probably in an external case.

      Estimated price: 230 € for the Raptors + 35 € for the external case
      Pro: Improvement over he status quo ante i.e. it would be at any rate clearly faster than what I had before; moderately expensive. Low risk.
      Con: More expensive. Pretty cool, but cool enough?
      .
    3. 2x OCZ Agility 30GB SSD - while using my two old Barracuda's as the back-up, probably in an external case.

      Estimated price: 210 € for the two SSD + 35 € for the external case
      Pro: Probably great improvement over he status quo ante; pretty pricey for the drive volume. Really way cool. SSD Raid-0!
      Con: Even more expensive. Higher risk because of potentially not matured technology.
      .
    4. 1x OCZ Summit 60GB MLC SSD + 1x 1TB WD Green Power 5400-7200rpm/32MB HDD

      Estimated price: 230 €
      Pro: Faster boot up time; faster system operation. Way cool.
      Con: Even more expensive. Relatively small drive volume; technological risk. No SSD RAID-0.
      .
    5. 1x Intel X-25 M 80GB Gen.2 MLC SSD + 1x 1TB WD Green Power 5400-7200rpm/32MB HDD

      Estimated price: 240 €
      Pro: Faster boot up time; faster system operation. Larger volume than with the OCZ Summit or the Agility RAID-0. Way cool.
      Con: Even more expensive. Relatively small but ok-ish drive volume; technological risk. No SSD RAID-0.
    My 'pain limit' for upgrades is currently about 225 €; less is better. Opinions, insights and suggestions are most welcome.
     
  12. Kitrax

    Kitrax Pantaloons are supposed to go where!?!?

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    I'd go with option #3.

    2 SSDs in a RAID 0 would be too sweet to pass up. Would you make your 2 old HDDs a RAID 1?
     
  13. Proteus_za

    Proteus_za

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    This article: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531&p=1

    and this one: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3631

    are very good SSD articles, well worth a read.

    Everything I've read about SSD's versus Raptors seems to say that SSD's are so much faster than Raptors as to make them obsolete. Raptors werent that much better than ordinary hard drives anyway, while SSDs are leaps and bounds ahead.

    I'd go for a single 120GB SSD for your OS, and a 1TB normal hard drive for data. Your PC will boot up quickly, it will be somewhat more failure tolerant than a RAID 0 setup is, and you have lots of space.
     
  14. Kitrax

    Kitrax Pantaloons are supposed to go where!?!?

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    Geeze...that's $350 for a decent 120GB SSD, and another $100-$200 for a 1TB HDD!

    I wish I had your kind of money... :p
     
  15. Proteus_za

    Proteus_za

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    Haha, I definitely dont have that kind of money!

    But Ragusa was talking about getting 2x SSDs, which is quite a lot of money anyway.
     
  16. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Depends. I saw a good deal for the two 30GB OCZ Agility - they go for 100 € apiece i.e. 300 $. A lot of money, and if possible, I'd like to spend less. It is only that I write this to the sound my surviving HDD chirping in what must be agony, while being appalled by the palpable loss in speed compared to my old RAID-0 set up.

    After reading AnandTech's reviews I greatly fancy a single 80GB X-25 M, because of the great all round performance. The OCZ's Vertex Turbo, Summit and Agility beat it at sequential writing. Point is that the review from AnandTech makes a very compelling case for Intel as far as general use is concerned.

    • As for 4KB random writes the two Agility in a RAID-0 would write at a max of 26-15 MB/sec new and used, compared to the single X-25 M Gen.2 with a constant 36 to 35 MB/sec. For all the mundane stuff the Intel is clearly faster. Surprise! The VelociRaptor does ... 1,5 MB/sec there, new and used.
    • As for 2 MB sequential writes the score for an Agility RAID-0 is a whopping 320 MB/Sec new and 260 MB/sec used versus 79 MB/sec new and 78 MB/sec used for the Intel. The VelociRaptor does 120 MB/sec and indeed beats the Intel.
    • The real stunner however is the 2MB sequential read test - the Agility RAID-0 would achieve about 500 MB/sec used - good the SATA-II bandwidth limit is per port - and the single Intel X-25 M Gen.2 performs at 259 MB/sec. For comparison: The VelociRaptor achieves 120 MB/sec here.
    So it'll will be SSD - either it is two Agility (180 €), or a single 80GB Intel X-25 M (190 €). I only have to decide for myself whether the better IO performance of the Intel is what I want, or the fantastic read and write performance the RAID-0 appears to offer. Oh, and wait for my tax return :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2009
  17. Kitrax

    Kitrax Pantaloons are supposed to go where!?!?

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    I'd go with 2 X-25 M SSDs...go with a lower capacity so you can afford to get both, and put those speedy little suckers in a RAID 0! :bigeyes:



    Speaking of price...the price should start dropping dramatically after the end of 2009. Sandisk and Toshiba have developed a 32nm process using immersion-lithography...to those not in the know, this means they can squeeze 32GB in to the finger nail sized MicroSD cards. This will cause a ripple effect into SSDs as wafer fabs convert over to 32nm.

    (This doesn't come cheap though...my work recently introduced a new product line that required new tools that can handle the smaller die. Last quarter, our Utah fab spent over $75 million on new tools alone...and we're getting more before the end of the year. IIRC, our plant is approved for $150 million per FY just for new tools. :money: )

    The rumors I've been hearing (from new Fairchild employees who came over from IM Flash) is that they're ramping up production, but still have yield issues...

    So...if your scratching your head and wondering what I'm babbling about, all you really need to know is:
    Flash prices are going to drop in early 2010.
    The recession used up a lot of companies' "rainy day funds" so they aren't willing (or financially unable) to buy new tools...but during this pre-christmas manufacturing rush, they will have to. And that's good for the consumer.
     
  18. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    You certainly have a point as far as the Intel is concerned.

    What makes that drive interesting is the larger and more sensible volume of 80GB and the generally good and steady performance. I can do without the spectacular write speeds of the OCZs if I get a general improvement, and in many ways a single Intel still outperforms the OZC SSD Raid. It will outperform my current and recent drive setup anyway, and it will meet my goal of improving my computer, when I (feel I) have to invest into new hardware anyway.

    I can persuade myself that it is reasonable to invest some more into a single, slightly more expensive Intel instead of the two OCZ SSD. That said, a X-25 M RAID-0 would cost me 380 € - and that is far more than I can afford.

    If prices do indeed fall I can imagine going for an SSD RAID next year, where there still is an open question whether it is sensible to use two drives that are of different age and differ in their state of use.
     
  19. Merlanni

    Merlanni Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I still do not know if I get a second hdd to make a raid array. Is it really worth it?

    I do not download huge files, I just game and surf.
     
  20. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I think it is. You'll notice the speed difference. My RAID-0 array felt like to reduce game install times by some 40%. My first installation of Windows 7 took me less than 30 minutes, and then I went on line the first time. It very notably reduced loading and saving times for games. With my two 32MB cache 7.200 rpm Barracudas I had a throughput rates to 200+ MB/sec.

    My only problem with RAID-0 is the manifest risk of data loss. That is why I prefer to keep a RAID-0 small, and use something larger and separate for back up. Of course, with a lot of drives you can make a RAID-5 or something of the sort. More on the variants here.

    My trusted hardware dealer says that if you go for a RAID you are well advised to go for a hardware RAID controller. According to him normal software RAID or hybrids using the on-board chip set will suck away some CPU performance. A decent RAID controller sells at about 150 €. Long term, I fancy something like this or that, or this, with a preference for ARECA.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
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