RAID 5 Issues!

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JamesCRocks

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Jul 7, 2003
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174
Hi,

I have an ASUS P5ND2 775 SLi motherboard which I was using with 1Gb memory and a pair of SATA 150 80GB drives in a RAID 0 (non-redundant) stripe set quite happily with Windows XP Pro but being a PC phreak I have wanted to upgrade that for sometime.

So yesterday I installed what I considered to be my dream disk system … 4 x 320GB Seagate SATA 300 drives in a RAID 5 configuration which theoretically should give me the best of speed and redundancy.

It runs like a dog … no joke!

What I initially did was use a disk imaging program to copy my original build and create an image. That went fine. I then installed the drives, set up the RAID 5 very easily and ended up with .96 terabytes of disk space. When it came to putting the image back on the system … it took ages and after about 2 hours (12% done) I gave up. I re-enabled my original system and it worked fine.

So, on the assumption that the disk imaging program wasn't up to the job, I decided to do a full Windows XP rebuild on the array … this went swimmingly until I got to reformatting. It took over an hour to reformat a 250Gb partition and at present the system appears to be (but probably isn't) locked on "Setup is copying files…" (11%, Copying driver.cab).

I mean this is supposed to be my dream system, I've upgraded to the latest BIOS, I've used the latest SATA RAID drivers for the installation!

It's quite evident to me that this is a hardware issue and not OS related (I haven't got that far yet and al the grindingly slow bits have been at pre-GUI OS level) but can anyone give me any ideas at all as to why this might be?

Kyu
 

JamesCRocks

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Jul 7, 2003
Messages
174
OK,

I've not solved the issue but have got around it.

My system worked well using 2 striped drives but worked poorly (exceptionally so) using 4 drives in a RAID 5 config (striped with parity) ... RAID 5 s supported by the ASU P5ND2 (that it supports RAID levels 0, 1, 1+0, 5, 10 & JBOD was one of the key reasons I bought it) but maybe, for whatever reason, the BIOS's implementation of RAID 5 is poor.

So I reconfigured the RAID 5 array to RAID 0 (striping across 4 disks) which the manual doesn't explicitly say the board supports (it only explicitly says that works with 2 drives) and that worked fine and gave me 1.2 terabytes of disk space (shame).

Of course that means the disk set is no longer redundant and I suppose I could try either RAID 0+1 (striped mirrors) or RAID 10 (mirrored stripes ... not entirely sure what the difference is there) which would return me to a redundant system but reduce my available disk space to 0.6tb which is more than enough (though I am conceited enough to admit I like having that much space whether I used it or not).

Anyway ... suffice it to say that the system currently works well in RAID 0. Given that the system was previously build on 2 80GB SATA 150 disks (striped) I was curious what the benefit, if any, I might get from the new configuration. Despite the technical specifications, in real life SATA II (300Mb/sec) does not perform significantly better than SATA I (150Mb/sec) but I nevertheless measured the disk speed for all three disk types used in my system with HD Tach with the following results:

1. Maxtor 160Gb ATA/133 8Mb cache, 92Mb/sec
2. 2 x Seagate 80Gb SATA 150 8Mb (striped), 169Mb/sec
3. 4 x Seagate 320Gb SATA 300 16Mb (striped), 221Mb/sec

So it appears there is some improvement but I am not sure whether the SATA II or the additional disk drives is the key to that speed increase ... my best guess is that it's a combination of factors but that the number of disks in the array is the most important one.

Kyu
 

crjdriver

Moderator
Joined
Jan 2, 2001
Messages
41,408
FWIW I always recommend a real raid card instead of the onboard controller. I doubt you would have this issue with a promise, adaptec, etc raid card.
If you want to continue to use the onboard controller, I would setup a raid0 array with two disks and connect the other two as non member disks and use those for backups, image files, etc.

BTW I use sata2 disks with ncq and see no difference between those disks and the older sata1 drives [the controller supports sata2 ncq] I think the benchmarks were just about equal as well.
 

JamesCRocks

Thread Starter
Joined
Jul 7, 2003
Messages
174
Hi Eric,

erick295 said:
Wow, four drives in a RAID 0 configuration? I hope you make a lot of backups :)
... and no!

I have a Windows 2003 server at the centre of my network where I store all the documents for me and my family who each have their own XP system. That has shadow copies enabled and it has a DLT drive ... of course it's not an automatatic backup so the DLT rarely gets used. So it's better than relying on a 4 disk array but I really must do a full backup sometime.

Kyu
 
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