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I have looked at a number of messages regarding software vs. hardware RAID here on SF but can't figure out which one I should use. The server I'm installing is HP Proliant ML330 G6 and the RAID controller on that is HP Smart Array B110i SATA RAID Controller (RAID 0/1/0+1). Is this a real HW RAID or should I just skip it and use the SW RAID?

The box has three disks, one 250GB and two 1.5TB disks. The smaller one I thought will have the /boot, / and /swap partitions and the two bigger ones will be on RAID1. How do I actually set this up? I tried using the tools that came with the server (StartSmart, as well as the ROM configuration utility) and configured the two disks as a RAID array, but the Ubuntun installer still sees them as two separate disks.

Should I just first install Ubuntu on the small disk and then configure the RAID array or should I somehow be able to configure the RAID array so that the two disks are shown as one to the installer?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Unless you enabled the battery backed cache and have a cache at all (not all HP SmartArrays come with that anymore, which boggles the mind) then I don't see much difference between the two. Software RAID is ever so slightly more fragile in extremity, but for nearly all running should perform just as fast. If not faster.

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I don't seem to be able to find info on whether this model has the battery backed cache or not. –  Marko Poutiainen Jul 8 '10 at 6:32
    
Quickest way to find out may be to pop the hood and look. You'll be able to locate the smartarray controller board, and if it's got a BBWC, there'll be a tombstone-shaped black battery wired onto it. –  Chris Thorpe Jul 8 '10 at 6:35
    
@makis During boot, when the RAID card come up, it'll say something like, "Smart Array P110i (v2.33 / 0MB)". The number in parenthesis are the firmware version and the cache-size. –  sysadmin1138 Jul 8 '10 at 14:01

I always go for hardware RAID. Software RAID takes CPU resources from the applications running on the server. Especially if the server has a high disk IO load.

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A RAID 1 software doesn't take much resources. And if the raid controller is those kind of software/driver raid (not real hardware raid) then a raid made by OS is the only way to go. –  Pier Jul 8 '10 at 8:18
    
For RAID 1 software RAID shouldn't be much of a problem. When you start getting into problems is with RAID 4-6 as there is a lot of math which needs to be done for each write operation. –  mrdenny Jul 9 '10 at 10:06

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