Which is Faster: Single 15K SCSI U320 or UDMA133 Raid O??

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Which is Faster: Single 15K SCSI U320 or UDMA133 Raid O??

Postposted on Sat Feb 08, 2003 11:28 pm

I am in the process of designing a pair of workstaions for the office and am triying to decide which drive setup will best serve our purposes and give us the best bang-for-the-buck drive performance.

My workstation will be used for creating maps in AutoDesk 6. Each map contains high-resolution color aerial photographs in the one to two gigabyte range.

The other workstation will be used for creating water drainage and groundwater models--which also involves large file sizes.

The price of either system is around $2,200. Each will run Windows XP Professional and will utilize Xeon DP (533mhz FSB) 2.4Ghz socket 604 processors.

If I go SCSI, I will use a Supermicro X5DPL-8GM motherboard with an on-board Adaptec AIC-7902 133mhz/66bit U320 controller (1066 MB/sec bandwidth) and a single Seagate 15K rpm U320 36Ghz drive as the primary C:/.

If I go UDMA, I will use a Supermicro X5DAE motherboard, a HighPoint Rocket RAID133 controller and a pair of Maxtor 6Y080P0 80GB 7200rpm 8MB Diamond Max drives.

Two Questions:

(1) Which is a faster, better, more bang-for-the-buck setup for what we are doing with each workstation?

(2) Do you know of anyone on the web who has recent real-world SCSI vs UDMA RAID-0 comparsions posted?

Thanks a lot!
Ken
Last edited by K Brown on Sun Feb 09, 2003 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
K Brown
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Postposted on Sat Feb 08, 2003 11:39 pm

While I tend to shy away from highpoint IDE controllers, the IDE should give you better sequential reads and even faster writes than the SCSI whereas the SCSI is better for situations where random access is more important (serving data to a lot of computers, using programs that access a lot of files randomly, etc).

You could check http://www.storagereview.com for some numbers, but chances are most of the benchmarks won't apply quite directly to your situation.

It's a relatively difficult decision. Good Luck.
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Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2003 7:25 am

;) Overall the SCSI should be decently faster AND you have less chance of big probs. All in all I'd urge you to simply consider a 7200rpm 8MB drive using fluid much like the Maxtor series. RAID isn't truly worth the added cost (or hassle) and SCSi is pretty pricey too. Perhaps consider 2x 120GB 7200rpm 8MB Maxtor and just manage them well. ie. put the OS, progs and games on HD1 and all the temp files, swapfiles, downloads, drivers etc on HD2 ... of course you can have a VERY nice dual boot system with 2 seperate HDs too.
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Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2003 10:06 am

Actually, the 10k scsi drives has a higher areal density then most 15k rpm drives, so they are usually faster in read/writes, but the 15k rpm drives have way lower access times. So a compo of a boot 15k rpm drives, for os and swap, then a 10k rpm or raid array for data would probably be the best all over compromise. But if going raid, go for something more durable then a raid 0, they can fail, then all data is pooched, but you may have a going backup sollution, so thats probably not an issue.
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Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2003 10:19 am

Thanks for your inputs.

Quote: "While I tend to shy away from highpoint IDE controllers…"

I have based my choice on results posted on some of the test sites and the need to get as much performance per dollar spent as possible. The card is lousy in a four drive RAID, but seems to do quite well in a two drive setup. Why do you shy away from them?

[/url] http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2002 ... dex.x?pg=1
[/url] http://www.tomshardware.com/storage/200 ... er-12.html
[/url] http://www.overclockers.com.au/techstuf ... d0_ata133/


Quote: "Overall the SCSI should be decently faster AND you have less chance of big probs"

The dependability issue has come to my attention by reading some of the other posts on this site. It seems that consumer market UDMA drives have a far shorter life in RAID 0 setups. There seems to be conflicting information on how much shorter. I would expect a 50% reduction in life but some are saying it is more like 70% or 80%. I do not understand why it would be that high.


Quote: "All in all I'd urge you to simply consider a 7200rpm 8MB drive using fluid much like the Maxtor series."

Actually, the part number for the 80GB UDMA133 drives should be 6Y080P0. Those are Maxtor's new DiamondMax 7200rpm 8MB drives with the FDB motors.


Quote: " …So a compo of a boot 15k rpm drives, for os and swap, then a 10k rpm or raid array for data would probably be the best all over compromise. But if going raid, go for something more durable then a raid 0, they can fail, then all data is pooched, but you may have a going backup sollution, so thats probably not an issue.

My budget would not allow the combo you suggest. I am at the dollar limit now, but thanks for the idea. My reason for going RAID 0 is simply for data transfer speed. I back up my workstation two to three times a week. If a drive crashes, I will loose one to two days worth of data plus the time required to reload--which is the real hassle. I will look at the difference between the 10K and 15K transfer rates. That could be a important consideration.

Thanks again folks,
Ken
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Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2003 2:08 pm

I would recommend going to http://www.storagereview.com and http://www.lostcircuits.com and doing some comparisons of different disk subsystem tests. Other quality web sites (like TR and AcesHardware) also qualify.

Generally, SCSI is much more powerful at random data being thrown at it. It can handle a lot of small multi-tasked work much more efficiently than IDE can.

If you're talking large monolithic, mostly sequential files, then the only real differential is the speed of the interface and the speed of the drive.

The Seagate 15k.3 is the fastest drive in the world, bar none. An U320 controller on a 133MHz/64-bit PCI bus is killer too, but one thing to keep in mind: these are both WAY faster than a single drive, and you will only use a small fraction of that bandwidth.

Very high performance IDE drives in a RAID-0 configuration will give very good large-file sequential performance. Will they give as good as the Seagate 15k.3? Well check out the StorageReview 15k.3 review and extrapolate from there.

Personally, if you go IDE RAID I'd recommend the 3ware 7500-4 or 8500-4 over any other IDE RAID card. I believe it is the most powerful IDE card (most SCSI-like), and doesn't really reach its true potential until pushed hard.

My guess is that for you, the IDE RAID setup might be just as good as the SCSI setup for reads/writes of big files. If you end up doing a lot of random reads/writes, the SCSI may pull ahead.


Now, another important issue. IDE drives are disposable. Seriously, they die much sooner and in larger quantities, if you analyze a large enough data set. They are not made as well, to get the cost down and the density up. It's just a fact of modern manufacturing and market demand.

Couple that with RAID-0 which SIGNIFICANTLY increases your exposure to drive failures, and you should just plan ahead for the eventual loss you will exprience. Keep decent backups and maybe a spare drive on hand. Alternately, you might investigate doing RAID-10, which gives very high performance and very good fault tolerance.

On the other hand, SCSI drives are much more reliable, especially over an extended amount of time. Nobody can guarantee a drive won't fail, and SCSI drives do fail as well. But the chances are lower, and the drive will likely withstand harder use and still last a lot longer.

For what it's worth...
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Postposted on Mon Feb 10, 2003 4:22 pm

Thanks everybody.

It looks like I am going to opt for the single U320 SCSI instead of the UDMA Raid-0.

I am concluding that the speed difference between the two systems does not seem to be that major.

On a $2200 computer the difference in cost is unimportant.

The dependability of the system is a key issue. SCSI drives are built to take abuse in a server for years. UDMA drives are mass produced consumer items and are meant to be used in lower end computers. If a manufacturer feels his product is only worthy of a one year warranty, maybe I should listen. Why should I have more faith in his product than he does?

Going with the SCSI still gives me the option of adding a U320 SCSI RAID-0 card and another drive. If I go with the UDMA I have, well, a UDMA. To move to a SATA or SCSI would mean replacing the entire drive system.

I do not see SCSI drives going anywhere any time soon. At some point SATA may replace them but I do not see that for a few years down the road. Maybe fibre controllers and drive systems will drop in price someday but that is anyones guess.

So, now it is time to get some bids on a couple of systems. I might even buy one of these for the house. Mine is pushing four years now and it is time for a change.

Thanks again!
Ken
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Postposted on Mon Feb 10, 2003 4:57 pm

I think a lot of big-server admins who have to make them reliable and keep them running would object to "SCSI drives going anywhere any time soon." :-)
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Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2003 3:46 pm

SCSI can't be beaten for two things:

a) Reliabilty
b) Command queuing.

Point a) speaks for itself, I've got a "server" in the office using 3 old SCSI-2 drives (one 4GB and 2 8GB), all of them _at least_ over 4 years old. The thing has no case in it, heats up like an oven, makes a lot of noise, but just doesn't fail and keeps on chugging.

Point b) is important for the overall "responsiveness" of your system, especially when you're doing disk-heavy tasks. Using SCSI, your system won't slow down nearly as much, with a very fast SCSI drive (15K rpm), you'll almost feel the hard disk is "transparent".

For any sort of heavy-duty disk-grinding work (not just plain storage), nothing ever beats SCSI.
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Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2003 4:08 pm

K Brown: I have the Cheetah 15k (36g)- this drivers older brother, I wouldn't give it up for any ide raid. Keep in mind, it's not a quiet drive :)
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