nForce3-250 - Part 1: Taking Athlon 64 to the Next Levelby Wesley Fink on March 23, 2004 11:55 AM EST
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nForce3-250Gb: 4-Drive SATA RAID and IDE RAIDIntegrated RAID capabilities have become common with most of today's chipsets. Most competing chipsets provide the ability to use SATA RAID 0 (Striping) for Performance or RAID 1 (mirroring) for Data Protection. The nForce3-250 chipset takes these capabilities even further, however, with four drives instead of the two supported by other chipsets. These 4 drives can also be configured as RAID 0+1, which combines both striping and mirroring for speed and data protection.
RAID Level 0+1 Disk Striping and Mirroring
Cross-Controller RAIDThe nVidia RAID solution is also unique in supporting both Serial ATA (SATA) and parallel ATA disk devices within a single RAID array. Users don't need to worry about whether hard drives are SATA or IDE - - the nVidia RAID controller treats both IDE and SATA drives the same and allows them to be combined in any way in the RAID controller. A single setup procedure applies to all drives, which makes it possible to use all the storage devices available. Users can also expand the number of drives easily without worrying about whether the drive is IDE or SATA.
On-the-Fly Rebuilds and Spare Disk AllocationCorporate RAID users are accustomed to RAID arrays with "hot spares" and on-the fly rebuilds, but those RAID 5 features have been expensive additions to a home PC. The nVidia RAID controller adds both these features to a home PC that is running any type of mirroring. If a disk fails, RAID 1 allows continuous operation by taking advantage of the mirrored data copy in the array. The nVidia RAID solution goes a step further and lets a user rebuild a new mirrored copy for the data while the system is up and running, without disrupting user and application access to the data set. Rebuilding on the fly eliminates down time and maximizes protection for critical storage resources.
nVidia RAID 1 also lets users designate spare drives that can be configured as hot standbys, protecting arrays in the event of a disk failure. A shared spare can protect multiple arrays of drives, or a dedicated spare can serve as a hot standby for a particular drive array. The spare disk feature, which offers protection that goes beyond mirroring data, has traditionally been limited to high-end RAID systems. Truthfully, the RAID capabilities that nVidia has built into nForce3-250 will blow away almost any high-end home user. This isn't RAID 5 on a home PC, but the flexibility and data protection capabilities are truly impressive.