RAID—redundant array of inexpensive disks—is one way of either getting more capacity or more data security out of your storage system. If you’re willing to commit enough disks, you can get both speed and performance improvements. Today, though, we’re going to take a look at the RAID controllers built onto motherboards, delve briefly into Microsoft’s software RAID and Intel's SRT, and show you how to set up a simple RAID setup.
Adaptec seems to have come up with a new use for sold state drives. The new MaxiQ RAID controller cards use a modified 32GB Intel X25-E SSD, in conjunction with Adaptec software, to dramatically increase RAID array performance. How dramatically? The company is claiming a fivefold performance boost. The system also requires no operating system drivers, meaning it should be compatible with all setups.
SSDs are known for their performance, but have yet to catch up to standard rotating drives in capacity. The new Adaptec system aims to get the best of both worlds with huge read/write speeds, and the capacity people are accustomed to. The kits won’t come cheap, though. Each 32GB module has a retail price of $1295.
In the November 2007 issue, we took an in-depth look at RAID—short for Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or Independent) Disks—and broke down the pros, cons, and most importantly, speeds of the various RAID permutations you would find on a typical multidrive setup. Here we’ll examine the medium itself: the RAID controller, which tells the drives in a RAID setup how to interact. As you’ll see, there are RAID controllers of differing types, technologies, and price points, and we want to learn whether these variations translate into performance differences. After all, even the fastest RAID configuration ultimately depends on the performance capabilities of its physical host.