Which Configuration is Best

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

?"> Matrix RAID is available on any motherboard or system with the ICH6R I/O controller hub—its not restricted to Intel motherboards. However, well use Intels latest 925XE motherboard, the D925XECV2. We need to zero in on the RAID BIOS, which will be the same on any motherboard using ICH6R, including Taiwanese boards. Before we launch into the intricacies of the BIOS, you need to decide how you want to configure your RAID drives. Intels Matrix RAID feature lets you create two RAID volumes using one pair of drives. As-suming you want to create more than one RAID volume, here are your options:
  • Two drives in a RAID 0 array
  • Two drives in a RAID 1 array
  • One RAID 1 and one RAID 0, RAID 0 drive bootable
  • One RAID 0 and one RAID 1, RAID 1 drive bootable
If youre just looking for raw performance, then using two RAID 0 drives is probably pointless. Just create one RAID 0 volume. You get no protection from having two drives in a RAID 0 array if one of the drives fails. If youre really a belt-and-suspenders kind of person, then two RAID 1 volumes may make some sense. Unless you simply dislike having large volumes, it may be better just creating one large volume. The most intriguing configuration results when you create one RAID 0 and one RAID 1 volume. That way, youll have a RAID 1 volume to protect valuable data and a RAID 0 volume for performance. If you decide on this course, the next question is which drive you should make bootable.
This is a critical point for Windows users, because Windows will only install on the first RAID volume created in the RAID BIOS. So if you want to boot from RAID 0, to benefit from faster boot and load times, then youll want to install Windows on the RAID 0 drive. If you want the bootable drive to be the safer one, then youll want RAID 1 to be the boot drive. That way, if one drive dies, youll still be able to boot into Windows. But you will lose anything on the RAID 0 volume.
The first RAID volume created usually uses the outer tracks of the hard drive. That means if you use the RAID 1 volume as the boot drive, then the RAID 0 array be built using the slower, inner tracks. Of course, you could simply set up a small RAID 0 array to be the boot drive, and use the RAID 1 volume as your data drive. It all depends on what youre trying to accomplish. If all you want is a fast volume for Photoshop scratch files, editing DV capture files, or Windows swap files, then creating the RAID 0 array second will still net some performance gain. Now that weve visited configuration issues, lets roll up our sleeves and create a pair of arrays.

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.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel