RAID trouble

August 20, 2010

I had heard about software RAID and hardware RAID, but I had not heard about fakeRAID. And how typical it is that I learn about this on the Ubuntu wiki after an evening spent on:

1) Squeezing myself into the tight space under our staircase to install a cheap SATA/RAID controller in my server

2) Setting up keyboard and monitor to get into the BIOS of that controller

3) Creating a RAID0 set and discovering that this did not “just work” under Ubuntu. Ubuntu still sees two distinct drives…WTF?

4) Lots of Googling and reading through forum threads

5) Getting uncomfortable again to uninstall the cheap controller card that I now hate!

It turns out that some controller chip vendors, Silicon Image included, produce some inexpensive “RAID” controllers that are really just SATA controllers with a BIOS on them to assist in setting up the RAID arrays. I’ll admit that I don’t understand (or care about) the details of this, but these controllers seem to offer better performance than pure software RAID, plus they allow most OSs to boot from the RAID array.

However, not being a real HW RAID means some OS interaction is required. The array is not presented to the OS as a single, large drive. So the advantages of fakeRAID are uninteresting to me, because what I wanted was easier setup.

So I have decided to go with an ordinary Linux SW RAID, which by all accounts is very reliable and relatively easy to set up. If I run into any interesting “learning opportunities”, I’ll blog about it.

By the way, the controller in question here is a DeLock branded 4-port SATA controller. The chipset on it is a SiI3114. Here it is on the website of my local parts shop.

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