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Test notes
Today we'll be looking at Matrix RAID's performance versus traditional RAID, all while using only two drives. Since Matrix RAID has no direct peers, we'll only be looking at the performance of RAID 0, RAID 1, Matrix RAID 0, and Matrix RAID 1 with Intel's ICH6R south bridge. Here's how each test configuration was set up:

  • RAID 1 — Two Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ 160GB drives were configured in a RAID 1 array. With data mirrored between the two drives, the array offered 160GB of total storage.

  • RAID 0 — Two drives were configured in a RAID 0 array with Intel's recommended 128KB stripe size for optimal desktop and workstation performance. Due to the nature of RAID 0, the array offered 320GB of total available storage.

  • Matrix RAID 1 — Drives were configured in a Matrix RAID array with a RAID 1 volume on the first half of the disk and a RAID 0 volume on the second half. This arrangement gave us an 80GB RAID 1 volume and a 160GB RAID 0 volume. Again, we used the recommended 128KB stripe size for RAID 0.

  • Matrix RAID 0 — To ensure that our Matrix RAID results weren't hampered by the fact that the RAID 0 volume was at the physical end, rather than the beginning, of the disk, we created a second Matrix RAID configuration with a RAID 0 volume on the first half of the disk and a RAID 1 volume on the second half. This gives us another 160GB RAID 0 volume and 80GB RAID 1 volume, but this time, their positions on the disk are reversed. As before, a 128KB stripe size was used for the RAID 0 volume.
To clarify, in the results you'll see on the following pages, anything labeled "Matrix RAID 0" is the result of testing the performance of the RAID 0 volume at the start of the Matrix RAID array. Likewise, anything labeled "Matrix RAID 1" is the result of testing the RAID 1 volume at the start of the second Matrix RAID array. In no case will you see results for a RAID 0 or RAID 1 volume located in the second half of the array, even though this will be an unavoidable placement for one of the two volumes in Matrix RAID.

When comparing the performance of the traditional and Matrix RAID configurations, keep in mind that our traditional RAID 0 array offers 320GB of storage that extends from beginning to end of both physical drives. Similarly, our RAID 1 array packs 160GB into the same space. In Matrix RAID, the physical space on each disk space is split between the RAID 0 array and the RAID 1 array.

Since it wouldn't be a party without a little single-drive action, so we also tested our system with a RAID-less single hard drive.

In all cases, the system's operating system was located on a single hard drive, separate from the drive or array being tested.

Our testing methods
All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test systems.

Processor Pentium 4 3.4GHz Extreme Edition
System bus800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard DFI LANParty 925X-T2
Bios revision925LD920
North bridgeIntel 925X MCH
South bridgeIntel ICH6R
Chipset driversIntel
Memory size1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory typeMicron DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz
CAS latency (CL)3
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)3
RAS precharge (tRP)3
Cycle time (tRAS)8
Audio codecALC880
Graphics Radeon X700 Pro 256MB with CATALYST 5.2 drivers
Hard drives Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 SATA NCQ 120GB SATA
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus D740X 40GB ATA/133
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updatesService Pack 2, DirectX 9.0C

All of our test systems were powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor's Choice winners in our latest PSU round-up.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests. All of the 3D gaming tests used the high detail image quality settings.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.