Intel's Matrix RAID explored


Your array is ready, Mr. Anderson
— 12:00 AM on March 9, 2005

RAID HAS BECOME an increasingly popular feature on desktop motherboards over the years. The RAID revolution started with high-end boards that integrated third-party PCI RAID controllers, but as chipset manufacturers began integrating RAID capabilities into their core logic, RAID trickled down to more affordable price points. These days, it's hard to buy a motherboard that doesn't support RAID in one form or another.

Despite its popularity as a checkbox feature, RAID has remained a tricky proposition for those with only two drives. A two-drive RAID 0 array may offer better performance, but that comes at the cost of reliability. A two-drive RAID 1 array gives the peace of mind of a mirrored backup drive, but its performance benefits aren't quite as compelling as RAID 0's. RAID levels 10 and 0+1 combine the best of both worlds, but require at least four drives. If only there were a way to balance the benefits of RAID 0 and RAID 1 with only two.

Enter the Matrix. Err, Matrix RAID.

Intel's Matrix RAID technology allows users to combine RAID 0 and 1 arrays with only two drives, promising mirrored redundancy for important data and striped performance for speedy access. That sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it? Read on to see if Matrix RAID really delivers the best of both worlds.

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