RAID card Suggestion?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by EDITMAN2411, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. EDITMAN2411 macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2011
    So Im a freelance Editor/Motion Graphics guy with no real understanding of RAID Controller Cards, or how they work.

    As of right now I have three 1TB drives inside my Mac Pro, RAIDed together (stripe 0) using the OS. No Raid card.

    The drives are all 7200rpm from varying manufacturers. (not sure if this matters.)

    My questions is; is it beneficial for me to get a RAID card to control these drives vs. leaving it to the OS to handle? Any suggestions for me?


    2010 8-Core Mac Pro 2.4
    14GB RAM
  2. JollyJoeJoe macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2011
    3 drives in RAID0 ? Yikes, anyone of them goes and your machine is out of action. RAID0 offers no fault tolerance as no drives in the array share parity info or are mirrored.

    You would most certainly see a benefit in a hardware RAID solution, especially if you are going to switch to a RAID level with some redundancy, like RAID5 or RAID10. Also a true hardware RAID takes the processing load off your processors and memory.

    If on a budget you could go with RAID-Z, it involves switching to the ZFS file system. RAID-Z1 apparently offers similar performance to RAID5. Read this thread for further insight.

    I would get an SSD for the OS and use the 3x 7200rpm Disks in RAID5.
    RAID5 is great for storing uncompressed video data and in your case would offer protection against a single drive failure.

    or Just RAID5 with 3x HDD's and partition the RAID volume.

    The most recommend cards right now are the Areca 6g 1880 series or the new ATTO 6G series. For your needs something like the ARC-1880-i SAS 6G RAID Controller would suffice if you don't plan to connect external RAID/Storage solution.

    I would go with a 6G controller so as to take advantage of new fast 6G SSD's etc.

    nanofrog is the RAID-whizz around here and I am sure he would be able to suggest something for you.
  3. EDITMAN2411, Apr 23, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011

    EDITMAN2411 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2011
    Sorry should have been more clear (like I said Im dumb) I have a 500GB Boot drive that lives independently from the (3) 1TB drives RAIDED together via the OS.

    And ALL data (3.5TB's) is backed up by an external 4TB Time Machine RAID (2 drives @ 2TB each)...which is connected via 2 eSATA cables via the eSATA PCI Card I bought from OWC...which I guess is actually RAIDed by the OS as well.
  4. noushy macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2008
    Detroit, MI
    Raid Card

    Not sure what you are looking at, since 3 drives is sort of an odd combination. I have a 2009/2010 Mac Pro Nehalem, running the apple sas card for the 4 internal bays (yes I know they make adapters to use 3rd party cards), and the performance is fair, not great but fair. About 300Mb/s read/write with 4 WD Black edition drives (1tb each). Externally, running an Areca 1680x card, with a 8 drive ProAvio chassis, 8 SAS Seagate 15k7 drives (450GB) which gives close to 900MB/s. I have tried multiple cards over the years, nano and I have exchanged lots of posts/messages. Email/PM me with specific questions and I will try and help you. Beware of most of these 3rd party slot adapters/etc. they are more hassle than they are worth.

  5. nanofrog, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011

    nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It all depends on the details of how you use the system (RAID is supposed to be configured to the specific usage, so there's no "one size fits all", though for narrowed usage patterns, you will see similarities).

    I'd advise you to search out previous RAID threads (there's quite a few), and pay attention to the various questions asked, and get back to us with some answers). I'd also recommend you review Wiki's RAID page (pay particular attention to the different levels).

    If you're a paid professional, using a stripe set (RAID 0) is a disaster waiting to happen. Even with a backup, you'll spend a fair bit of time to perform a recovery when a disk dies (matter of when, not if), and this also means re-performing work that was done between the most recent backup and when the array failed (beyond replacing the bad disk and restoring all the backup files, which presumably <worst case>, will be multiples to return all the data you have from your backup media).

    Glad to see you at least have some sort of backup with your current configuration. :)

    Now if you go with a RAID card, you'll need to use enterprise grade drives for stability reasons (different recovery timings in the firmware than consumer models, which tend to be unstable as a result). Unfortunately, they're not as cheap (in fact, can be 2x as expensive as their consumer counterparts for the latest capacity).

    Consumer disks are fine for backup purposes though, and this can save you a considerable amount of funds, particularly if your capacity requirements are high (i.e. eSATA card + Port Multiplier based external enclosure; example kit).

    There are some inexpensive products that claim RAID 5, but be careful. Some are software based, which should never be used for this level (no solution to the "write hole issue" associated with parity based arrays). Others use very inexpensive hardware RAID controllers (aka RoC = RAID on a Chip). They're slow for primary usage, and is why they're cheap (compromise on performance vs. proper RAID cards).

    This can get complicated on the software end though, and not recommended for those that aren't comfortable with the additional complexity (patches for OS X or via VM), particularly for a DAS system (has more merit with NAS or SAN IMO).

    So I'd stick with a 3rd party hardware RAID card, assuming this is actually needed, enterprise disks and any enclosures/mounting hardware necessary. Much simpler in terms of software (install the drivers, and any interface software that's required to access the card settings), and the hardware aspect isn't that difficult either.

    Most cards don't deal with consumer grade disks very well (ATTO and Area definitely don't).

    But consumer disks are fine for backup purposed (i.e via eSATA and PM enclosures) due to the lower duty cycle (where you can cut costs effectively, and not endanger the data).

    I wouldn't do this if both partitions are to be used simultaneously (i.e. primary data one one partition, scratch data on the other).

    Those are the best recommendations as far as brand and series per. As to a specific model, it will depend on the specifics, particularly for growth (i.e 8 ports may be outgrown in under 3 years, so getting a card with sufficient ports to last that long would be cheaper in the long run - just add disks and enclosures as necessary).

    A separate boot disk is advisable, as you still have a working OS if the array goes down (allows you to access the card, use the browser to search for help, or deal with Support from the card manufacturer if needed).

    That backup solution is a RAID 0. The overall backup solution will almost certainly need to change in order to be sufficient for the primary storage pool you'll end up with.

    I've not heard or seen any issues with the MaxUpgrades kit.

    As per Apple's card, I'm no fan of it, particularly due to the cost/performance ratio.

    BTW, the OP only has 2 posts at the time of writting this, so returning a PM isn't possible yet (needs to have 5 posts IIRC). email would work if you have that enabled.
  6. EDITMAN2411 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2011
    Thank you very much for the very thorough responses.

    As I said I am not the most tech savvy guy in the world and sometimes it's frustrating (as a creative professional) to try and learn the tech side of things on top of having to master FCP,AE,PS,C4D,AI, etc etc.

    The flip side of course, is tech geniuses have to put up with my amateurish questions. Heh.

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