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Thread: RAID, research to implementation

  1. #1
    Titanium Member Tinker's Avatar
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    Post RAID, research to implementation

    RAID Part 1

    This is going to be the first of several installments on my installation of a RAID system into my machine. I am doing this because I had a hard time finding information in a quick and timely manor. I spent the better part of 20 hours doing research on RAID and the availed components that will make it work. First I will give you my system layout.

    ASUS P4T system board w/i850 chip-set
    768 Meg RAMBUS 800-45
    PNY Geforce4 MX-420
    Maxtor 40 gig HDD ATA 100
    Other standard goodies, CDRW, Floppy, USB goodies

    As you can see the system is pretty well off except for the fact that if the HDD dies I have to start all over and rebuild the OS and software set-ups. You well see as we go along I went a bit high end for this RAID set up and that is because I tried to plain for future use and in a couple of years the system board and CPU will be due for upgrade.

    O.K. here we goEE..



    RAID Concept#

    RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is an acronym first used in a 1988 paper by Berkeley researchers Patterson, Gibson and Katz. It described array configuration and applications for multiple inexpensive hard disks, providing fault tolerance (redundancy) and improved access rates.

    RAID provides a method of accessing multiple individual disks as if the array were one larger disk, spreading data access out over these multiple disks, thereby reducing the risk of losing all data if one drive fails, and improving access time.










    Click here to see the rest of the information to above.

    Once you have had a chance to digest that information you can see why RAID 0,1 would be a nice addition to a system. Of course you could use RAID 1 for redundancy and always have a back up drive ready to go in case the main C: drive should fail. The benefit is that you do not have any down time and you can change out the bad drive when you can schedule it in (you know have the money and time to do so). If you should choose to use RAID 1 only 2 drives are needed. Now the tricky thing is that you want all of your drives to be the same size and type. I got four (4) 40 Gig HDDs to use on my system. The main reason I used 40 Gig is that the price difference was only a few dollars from 20 Gig to 40 Gig so why not? To be more exact the drives are 40 Gig ATA133 7200 rpm.

    Check out this information and ask questions and give remarks then we will move to Part 2..

    Have Fun..
    Last edited by Tinker; July 10th, 2002 at 02:08 AM.

  2. #2
    Titanium Member Tinker's Avatar
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    Part 2

    Now let us look at some hardware in the installation. Firs the selected RAID board. The Promise FastTRAK TX2000 was my choice after doing the research for my system. Package contents include software, two (2) 80 conductor 40 pin UDMA cables, two (2) users manuals, RAID board, etc. Before the installation of the RAID there looks to be plenty of room in the case which is a MID-Tower. Now we have to find room for the HDDs. As you might know in a MID-Tower case there is not much room for 4 HDDs, you have to pack them in or do some creative placement of the items in the case to make everything work to obtain as much air flow in the case as possible. Location of the board became and issue as well because of cable length. The front of the case had an red LED added to show RAID activity, there is a place on the board to plug in the LED.

    Any questions? Comments? I will address pricing and product selection in Part 3.
    Last edited by Tinker; January 23rd, 2003 at 10:31 AM.

  3. #3
    Titanium Member Tinker's Avatar
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    RAID Part 3

    Looking at my many choices on the RAID scene I decided on the FastTRAK TX2000 for the controller and Maxtor for the HDDs.

    I have used Maxtor HDDs for a few years and always have good luck with them. I had to return a bad drive for replacement and it was a very smooth transaction to say the least. The HDD that I chose is the 40GB D740X ATA/133 8.5ms 7200RPM model #6L040J2. I bought four (4) of these HDDs at a price of $82.05 each including shipping. That would be of course a total of $328.18 for all 4 drives. This is a O.E.M. HDD so all you get is the HDD, no cables, screws, manuals, etc. Maxtor link...

    Some the main reasons for choosing the FastTRAK TX2000 are:

    1) Bus mastering, this means that the controller will work independent of the CPU to access things such as memory, other drives in the system and the like. This will aid in not tying up the CPU to do RAID duties.

    2) BIOS, this board has its own BIOS and sets its self up in the booting of the system.

    3) Many other goodies that can be better seen on the links.

    There are serverl other items that are covered in this review.

    There is also a video review.

    I paid $96.86 for this RAID controller including shipping. It only took a couple of days for it all to arrive.

    A total of $425.04 to get this set up in the computer room. Now I could have bought a new Bare Bones for this price but I would still would not have the data security that I want and the increase in access speed to that data. Shop around and you can find some deals out there. I choice to use a vender that I like and trust (kind of)

    Comments? Questions?
    Last edited by Tinker; July 10th, 2002 at 02:05 AM.

  4. #4
    Titanium Member Tinker's Avatar
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    RAID Part 4

    In this section we are going look at the cooling aspect again. Remember how crowded the inside of the case became after adding the 4 HDDs? This promotes poor air flow in the case and since this is a mid-tower I decided to add a fan for the 2 HDDs that are on the bottom in the 3 1/2" drive bay. The fan I choose is a PCI slot fan. I choose this one because it will fit inbetween the two HDDs. Fan spec.... In the top 5 1/4 bay there is more separation of the HDDs so I choose this HDD Cooler (back of fan). The front fan installed will cool both HDDs in the 5 1/4 bay. This may seem like a lot of over kill but remember we have just added 3 more sources of heat in the case (3 new HDDs plus the original). There are seven fans in my case now and I am thinking of adding one more. The reason for all of this is because if I buy the full tower case that I want it will be around 200 bucks and I am not ready to spend that amount of money on a case just yet. My girlfriend says it will not be long and I will have it however. She is probably right.... for now..
    Last edited by Tinker; January 23rd, 2003 at 10:39 AM.

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    Titanium Member Tinker's Avatar
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    RAID Part 5

    Once again I have a concern about air flow in the case after adding so many items in a Mid size case. I found 24" round IDE cables in a local shop for $12 each and installed 3 of them. The installation only took about 45 minutes and the total cost was less than $40. The image shows that the round cables open the case for increased air flow. This of course is nothing new but looking at the fact that a Tower Case would cost me around $150+ for all the parts and another $50 for shipping. This makes adding the round cables and a couple of fans cost effective. Or at least it is for me...

    The RED cables are the RAID and the BLUE cable is IDE1 from the mother board which is connected to a CD-RW.......

    Please feel free to ask any questions.........
    Last edited by Tinker; January 23rd, 2003 at 10:41 AM.

  6. #6
    Titanium Member Tinker's Avatar
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    RAID Final

    Well it is going on three months and I have had the RAID to crash once about 2 weeks after I installed it. Started over again and it is working great to this point..

    There is some maintenance that will have to be done manually or schedule in. I have found that it is necessary to synchronize the RAID. This will take one mirror and copy all the data bit for bit to the other. This maintains the data so it is the same on both mirrors. I did have a case where I could not find files under explorer but could find them doing a file search. I Synced the RAID and all was fine again..

    Other than the one crash (which I probably caused myself not being filmier with this technology) things are going good. From the standpoint of being useful this is a great idea. However from the standpoint of cost it is not. I have the price of a new low end PC in this RAID. By the time all items were acquire and adjustments made it is around $700 bucks (USD).

    As always if you have any questions please fell free to ask..
    Last edited by Tinker; September 13th, 2002 at 08:07 AM.

  7. #7
    Techzonez Governor Super Moderator Conan's Avatar
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    700 bucks, Holy Cow!

  8. #8
    Titanium Member Tinker's Avatar
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    That is the same thing I said after adding up the cost....

    I thought that should be be brought out....

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Super Moderator Big Booger's Avatar
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    Got any tips for making a little less pricey?
    BB

  10. #10
    Succeded in braking Windo TZ Veteran Dehcbad25's Avatar
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    Hehe, you guys just made me scare. I wanted to try RAID in my PC, since the Mobo has it. I finally freed up an HDD that I needed and I have 2 of those. I didn't know I could not ghost it in NTFS. I don't want to spend days seting up my system, so I was planning to ghost this one and move it over to the RAID (I use NTFS in all drives)
    Have in mind my drives are 160GB, so it is a lot of data to lose if it crashes, and I usually have it full

  11. #11
    Junior Member peng's Avatar
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    If you are planning on doing this I recommend staying away from the Promise cards. If you want the best performance you can get then look at the 3Ware Cards. The biggest difference is that the 3ware has it's own processor. This is a significant performance increase of the Promise cards.

    Also note that Raid 0 is not really a Raid Array. If one disk goes bad then you are screwed. To get any sort of redundancy you have to have at least a Raid 1 setup.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Super Moderator Big Booger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peng
    If you are planning on doing this I recommend staying away from the Promise cards. If you want the best performance you can get then look at the 3Ware Cards. The biggest difference is that the 3ware has it's own processor. This is a significant performance increase of the Promise cards.

    Also note that Raid 0 is not really a Raid Array. If one disk goes bad then you are screwed. To get any sort of redundancy you have to have at least a Raid 1 setup.
    Promise do make cards with their own processor on the PCI board... They are called Supertrack cards...

    6-channel Ultra ATA/100 RAID 5 Card with onboard processor

    http://www.promise.com/product/produ...&product_id=86

  13. #13
    Junior Member peng's Avatar
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    I have one sitting right here on my desk and it is a piece of crap. 3ware cards are much better performers.

  14. #14
    Super Moderator Super Moderator Big Booger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peng
    I have one sitting right here on my desk and it is a piece of crap. 3ware cards are much better performers.
    Do you have the supertrack model? And how do you compare the two? Do you have both a 3ware card and a promise card?

  15. #15
    Junior Member peng's Avatar
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    I have the Supertrack SX6000 and I have both the IDE and SATA versions of the 3Ware. The 3ware blows it away in every category. Setup, compatablilty, performance, management.

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