Dell Perc

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'Fake' onboard RAID and external PCI card RAID.Do you think I should bother with a PCI RAID adapter?

I'm using the onboard raid, which is intel, but I'm hearing that it is much better to have an off-motherboard RAID interface, for reasons of CPU loading, reliability, RAID recovery etc.

Would your experience of RAID usage agree?

Here is a toy I'm cosidering: http://www.adaptec.com/en-US/products/raid_tech/sata_drives/AAR-2410SA/

I know its not a Dell Perc etc, but what do you think? Are there performance advantages to be gained here?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
ron allen: I'm already using WD Raptors at 10,000rpm a piece...but my mind is thinking serially attached scsi for the future, and I understand many of these new cards are forward-compatible to this standard.
Any more ideas? I've already tried RAM-based drives from Gigabyte, but the space was an issue.....

While some RAID adapters can be somewhat more efficient than others, the real bottleneck with regard to hard drive performance has more to do with the speed the drive reads data from the platters than the actual transfer of data via the IDE or SATA bus.

CPU usage isn't really much of a factor as long as DMA mode (direct memory access) is active. If your IDE or SATA drives still use PIO mode (programmed input/output), transferring data from your drives will eat up some CPU cycles.

Personally, I have used onboard RAID systems with Promise and NVIDIA RAID controllers. I have also used PCI RAID cards, more often than not with cards bearing the Adaptec name.

While there may be variances, the performance differences are for the most part negligible. Whether a RAID controller is onboard or on a PCI card, they still connect to the PCI bus to the chipset's southbridge, so I think performance should be the same.

If speed is really what you're after, faster drives will probably provide a more noticeable performance gain than moving to a PCI RAID controller.

The advantages PCI RAID controllers have is that they are more flexible when it comes to RAID configurations. Onboard RAID controllers are typically limited to RAID 0, RAID 1, or 0+1.

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