Setting up Intels Matrix RAID for the ICH6R

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2004-11-30 Print this article Print

Intel's Matrix RAID offers new, flexible ways to mix-and-match RAID formats for personal RAID. We show you how to set up a Matrix RAID array to maximize both performance and security.

To RAID or Not to RAID?
Personal RAID storage is a hot topic—even somewhat controversial. Theoretically RAID 0 offers better performance, but at the cost of increased risk: If one of the two drives fails, you lose your data. RAID 1 offers redundancy and protection, but you only get half the capacity of the two combined drives. What if you could do both, with just a single pair of drives? As it turns out, you can, if your motherboard is based on Intels 900 series chipset. The RAID-enabled version of Intels latest I/O controller hub, ICH6R, lets you use two drives to set up both a RAID 0 array and a RAID 1 array. This makes a lot of sense. Serial ATA drive capacities are at 300GB and more. Unless youre editing massive video files, a 600GB RAID 0 array makes little sense. And tying up two 300GB drives to get a sin-gle, 300GB RAID 1 array may be overkill for most users. On the other hand, many users are editing digital photographs and creating DVDs from DV camcorder content, which makes RAID 0 useful, but they can also appreciate the security of RAID 1s redundancy.
Well show you how to create a mixed RAID array setup from two drives. Well also suggest strategies for boot drives and sizing the array. But first, lets move on to the nuts and bolts of setup.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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