Parallelism has been a topic of interest within the PC technology industry ever since its inception. The basic principle of computing is to accomplish incredibly large and complicated tasks through the completion of smaller individual tasks, which in some cases, can be executed concurrently to maximize performance. We've seen examples of exploiting parallelism in computing with technologies such as multiprocessor systems, Hyper Threading and, of course, the long-missed Voodoo2 SLI.

The benefits of parallelism vary depending on the application. For example, the impact of dual processors or a Hyper Threading enabled CPU can be as little as 5% for a normal desktop user, but as much as 50% for a server system. Graphics rendering is virtually infinitely parallelizable, with a doubling in raw GPU power resulting in close to a doubling of performance. But what about hard drive performance? Are two drives better than one?

Of course, the technology that we are talking about is RAID, standing for Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks. As the name implies, the technology was introduced for redundancy, but has morphed into a cheap way to add performance to your system. With the introduction of their 875P/865 chipsets, Intel brought the two simplest forms of RAID to desktop users for free: RAID 0 and RAID 1. With the majority of Intel's chipset shipments featuring RAID support, desktop users are beginning to experiment, now more than ever, with RAID as a method of increasing performance.

On paper, RAID can provide dramatic increases in performance. But as we've shown in our other hard drive reviews, the real world often differs greatly from the realm of synthetic disk benchmarks. So, what happens when you measure the real-world impact of RAID on today's fastest, most disk limited systems? Should we all start buying two hard drives instead of one? Or should RAID still be used for redundancy and not for performance when it comes to the average desktop user?

Let's find out...

Doubling Theoretical Performance: RAID-0
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  • Denial - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    As you can see by what i wrote above, I agree with you. What he meant and what he said are different things though. The fact that he left out too much of the systems configuration in order for us to see if it was configured properly means that the test cannot be replicated and is therfore useless. Whatever you think regarding IDE RAID 0, which I have no experience with, you cannot dispute the fact that leaving out critical configuration settings is a no-no for a review such as this. When he runs those gaming tests for one of those new overpriced video cards, he invludes quite a bit more details in the review, yes? Suppose he didn't say what resolution the game was run at, AA on or off, filtering level, etc. Would you be able to verify his results? No.

    Why does he spend so much time and put so much detail into a review for items as "important" as a 3d card, then completely blow it on this review? I don't have an answer to that, do you? My assumption is that he is not well versed in modern storage technologies and how the file system and many other details play a major role in overall performance, in which case he should have had somebody else perform the tests and write the article, as he does with many of the other articles on the site.
    Reply
  • Pariah - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Denial, you need some help in determining "target audience." 99% of home users using RAID or thinking about it are likely thinkinb about a 2 drive RAID 0 array. Those 99% of users are who this article is targetted at. And when he says RAID in his conclusion, the setup he tested (2 drive RAID 0), is what he means.

    If you are thinking about going with something more complicated/advanced, then this article was NOT for you.
    Reply
  • Denial - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    #50, did you not read the article?

    "If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer. The real world performance increases are negligible at best and the reduction in reliability, thanks to a halving of the mean time between failure, makes RAID-0 far from worth it on the desktop."

    This statement is so far fetched it is rediculous. This might be applicable to Raptors on an Intel onboard garbage RAID controller, but the above is a general statement. Maybe if it was changed to

    "If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for an ATA RAID-0 array on a desktop computer using an Intel onboard RAID controller."

    Written this way his conclusion might be correct, but the way he wrote, it's flat out WRONG.
    Reply
  • Pariah - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    #48, your post was even more worthless than Anand's article. At least Anand's article had a setup that was remotely applicable to what a user he was targetting with the article would have.

    Despite what numerous people seem to think in the comments, for a 2 drive ATA RAID 0 array, the controller you use is about as irrelevant an issue as there is. $500 card, free onboard, hardware, software, me using a piece of notebook paper and crayons to calculate drive assignments for data will not make any noteworthy difference in performance.
    Reply
  • Denial - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    The above comments about stripe size are true as well. Depending on the app, a 64k array stripe matched with a 64k stripe in NTFS will produce much different results that the default 4k(?) that windoze uses on NTFS partitions. We're talking a HUGE *HUGE* **HUGE** difference in performance here. HUGE!!!! I've never used one of those onboard raid solutions, do they even allow the option of setting the stripe size? I'd wouldn't be surprised if they didn't which would make this review even that much more useless. Reply
  • Denial - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    What kind of scientific testing was this? ALL RAID 0 is useless because an Intel onboard RAID solution sucks? Why did Anand waste his time on this?

    I can tell you for a fact that my 8 disk RAID 10 array, with 15k 73GB Cheetahs, running on a LSI 320-2, installed in a 133MHZ PCI-X slot on my dual Xeon 7505 motherboard (Vero) is just a *tad* faster than a single drive setup. ;)

    Anand must be on crack making a blanket statement like that. Is this the best he can gve us after a few years of college? What a sorry article.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    #1 that's called placebo effect! Same goes for any other "feels" faster hardware such as the A64. The user spent the money, expecting a return, and it gave a false positive.

    I have been droning on about how raid 0 is worthless waste of money since I read this:

    http://faq.storagereview.com/tiki-index.php?page=S...

    And thanks to anands wonderful work we have coorberation.

    Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    As others are stating, RAID 1 on any *decent* RAID controller should have faster read rates. www.StorageReview.com has shown this in a recent article. So the statement "We won't be benchmarking RAID-1 here because, for the most part, there's no performance increase or decrease" while true in part (you didn't perform the benchmarks), was a bad decision, as performance should differ from a single drive. Of course, for single-user usage, RAID 1 would be even less useful than RAID 0 - except for adding redundancy. Reply
  • MajorKong - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    It's a shame that a RAID 1 array with the same Raptor II (and 7200 RPM drives) wasn't benchmarked. The read performance of RAID 1 can be as good as that of RAID 0 on a good controller. The only case where that's not true is if a lot of writing, which is slower than either RAID 0 or a single disk is being done to the array while reads are in progress. Reply
  • Kaido - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    Wow, this article's conclusions were nice to know...I had wanted to do this.

    My other idea was to get three of them in RAID 5...how would that compare to a single drive? (It'll take a bit more saving tho lol)

    Also, what's the best RAID controller, or does it matter?
    Reply

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