I am going to building a new custom workstation based on this Supermicro barebones system:
My system needs to be high performance. My main tasks (related to stock data processing) stress both the CPU (I will be sticking at least one, maybe two, xeon 5420's in this box) as well as mass storage (I routinely process ~100GB spread among, say, 5,000 or so files--so large file sequential reads/writes are what I mainly care about).
Concerning mass storage, it seems that solid state drives are just not cost effective at this point. Plus I am too nervous to trust brand new technologies with my precious data. So I am left with plain old hard drives.
I am thinking of the new single platter 320 GB WD drive (WD3200AAKS)
as it is almost as fast as the best SATA drives out there (except maybe for small random file operations; but all hard drives suck for this anyways). Please recommend a drive that you like better than this, however.
I was originally going to buy 2 of these and configure them in RAID0 to get max large file performance.
I do a daily backup of all my data, so this is not as dangerous as it sounds. Nevertheless, if a drive was to fail, it would be a pain to have to reinstall everything. So I am open to considering higher RAID levels, which I need your advice on.
I think that RAID 1 is out because it gives me zero performance improvement. My understanding is that RAID1 not only performs (slightly) worse than a single drive for writes, it also performs no better than a single drive for reads. (This assumes that there is but a single read thread, which will typically be the case for me. However, if you have multiple read threads, such as in typical server applications, then RAID1 can actually have almost as good read performance as RAID0 because any decent controller will concurrently read different files from the individual drives, since they do not data integrity checking on reads.) Is this understanding correct?
In theory, RAID5 looks very interesting. If a 3-disk RAID5 setup could get 90+% of both the read and write performance of a 2-disk RAID0 setup, then I would gladly pay 50% more for the extra drive.
Unfortunately, the web research that I have done one RAID5 is highly confusing. I have come across completely contradictory reports, some claiming RAID5 performance being close to RAID0, others denying it, and others warning about it being highly dependent on your raid controller. Anyone know of some good modern benchmarks (for my box, or at least the controller that I describe below, would be superb).
By the way, the motherboard on that Supermicro box uses a "Intel ESB2 SATA 3.0Gbps Controller". Questions:
--is this actually a "fake hardware raid" controller?
--anyone know how well it is regarded? In particular, is it well suited for RAID5 or pathetic?
--while I will (unfortunately) initially be running windoze xp on it, I ultimately want to run linux (probably ubuntu) on it; will that be a problem? The supermicro link above claims that "RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support (Windows only)"
If this RAID stuff is ultimately impossible, then I may reluctantly just buy a single velociraptor (which is an utter ripoff at $300; if it was $150 i would not complain).