Testing Sanity

The core task of software development is sanity testing.

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The Dangers of Software RAID

19 Sep 2007
Posted by cgp

I experienced firsthand the dangers of software RAID as implemented by an onboard SATA controller posing as a RAID controller. Many computer enthusiasts who want to utilize RAID take the lower cost controllers found on a motherboard and use them considering them to be a full RAID solution. Not so. While the performance numbers are nearly indistinguishable from most of the cheaper full RAID solutions, there are some features found on real hardware RAID controllers which really set them out from your onboard software controllers.

Here are some traits of a true RAID controller:

  1. Diagnose hard drives on their own. They can detect SMART failures, and/or read failures.
  2. Use native RAID commands instead of SATA/IDE ones provided by the BIOS.
  3. Have a read/write cache built on board. They have a battery backup in case of power failure.
  4. Upon detection of failure, they recover without the use of a driver.
  5. They present a single drive per RAID volume/array to the OS, never multiple)

If your card is missing any of these traits, it's probably not hardware RAID.

Somewhere out there, Chad is laughing, hopefully not too hard. (for his own good) :)

References

  1. Linux faq-sata-raid