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Software raid vs hardware raid

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Foolios

Member
Joined
May 9, 2006
Just learned that there are two types and not just raid.
From what I've searched, there can be a software raid that windows will show as two partitions on one drive in drive management. And there is the hardware raid that will show up in drive management as one drive.

Will there be any noticeable performance differences between the two.
I am thinking there probably will be but why is there a difference?

If your board is supposedly raid capable, why is software controlling it? Is every board raid capable via software then?
 

ou_phidelt

Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Location
Rockingham, NC
That's a bit of a loaded question. The typical software raid is done through your motherboard. It uses the onboard controller and a bit of software to take care of the RAID overheard. The downside is that it takes away CPU power and it will not be as fast as hardware RAID.

Hardware RAID is done with a dedicated RAID card. The performance is supior to software RAID. The downside if cost, good RAID cards are not cheap. You can easily spend close to $300 for a good RAID card.

For most home users software RAID is good enough. I used matrix RAID for a while was was very pleased with the performance. But for the power user where performance is the highest priority hardware RAID is the way to go.

One other consideration is portability. With software RAID, if you change your system you have to completely redo the array. With hardware RAID you can simply install the card in your new system and be on your way.(that is the theory anyways but is not always the case. Also for data arrays only, a windows install would still have to be done again.)
 

Bobnova

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2009
What about the chipsets that have raid functionality built in? Mine for instance is an ICH10R.
 

Sydney

Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2009
Location
Reykjavík, Iceland
Sydney's dual booting RAID guide said:
There are three ways to control a RAID array, hardware, software and fake. Hardware is when you have a dedicated RAID card that does all the work, leaving no work for the CPU, therefore yielding the best performance, and since it is connected to the control card it has maximum mobility, that is: You can transfer the array between system worry-free. Software RAID let's the operating system take care of the RAID array, this should be the easiest to set up and is recommended unless you want to dual boot Linux and Windows off a single array. Fakeraid let's the southbridge control the array, and therefore both Windows and Linux can see and use the array.
In windows, you can only software raid after the OS is installed, so if you want your OS to run on a RAID you need a fake RAID or a hard RAID. Decent hardware RAID cards cost a small fortune, so I recommend just using your southbridge for RAIDing.
 

visbits

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
What about the chipsets that have raid functionality built in? Mine for instance is an ICH10R.


Its not true raid, it links the drives together in the controller and the driver in the OS sees it as one logical device but its not. They are still two different hardware ID. :salute:
 

>HyperlogiK<

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2004
Location
Sword Base
Its not true raid, it links the drives together in the controller and the driver in the OS sees it as one logical device but its not. They are still two different hardware ID. :salute:

But I think I remember reading that Intel ICH9R/10R can kick the *** of many dedicated RAID adaptors in certain benches for Raid 0/10.
 

visbits

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
But I think I remember reading that Intel ICH9R/10R can kick the *** of many dedicated RAID adaptors in certain benches for Raid 0/10.

I cannot firm or disprove that. I would think a hardware controller would perform better for more than 4 drives just because of its greater IO bandwidth at drive level.
 

Mr Alpha

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
I cannot firm or disprove that. I would think a hardware controller would perform better for more than 4 drives just because of its greater IO bandwidth at drive level.
There was a review a while back where the ICH10R defeated hardware RAID cards in performance when RAIDing SSDs. My hypothesis as to why this is is that hardware RAID controllers are highly tuned for hard drives and a lot of this tuning isn't appropriate for SSDs. The ICH10R instead relies on the brute force performance of modern CPUs and thus is much more neutral towards what kind of devices you are RAIDing.
 

visbits

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
There was a review a while back where the ICH10R defeated hardware RAID cards in performance when RAIDing SSDs. My hypothesis as to why this is is that hardware RAID controllers are highly tuned for hard drives and a lot of this tuning isn't appropriate for SSDs. The ICH10R instead relies on the brute force performance of modern CPUs and thus is much more neutral towards what kind of devices you are RAIDing.


That very well could be, I've also been under the impression hardware raid controllers are designed for business use vs personal. In a production environment its not about how fast you can read 1 file, its about how fast you can read 5 files and write 5 files at the same time. :thup: