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I plan on installing Debian 6 on my server build with a E3-1270, 16GB DDR3, and 2x120GB SATA3 SSDs. But this has me wondering, should I use Intel's built-in, on-board software RAID or the OSs'? Which will perform more efficiently? Which is simpler? Please give me a solid answer. Thanks!

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    There's plenty of people with opinions of Intel's FakeRaid technology; they're pretty universally negative. See also serverfault.com/questions/9244/…
    – Chris S
    Aug 20, 2012 at 0:34
  • Also consider serverfault.com/questions/214/raid-software-vs-hardware (Disclamer : I like the answers about software raid)
    – user130370
    Aug 20, 2012 at 0:42
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    If you use HW RAID: keep a spare HW RAID card handy in case it dies (or a support contract). It you use fake RAID, keep a spare motherboard handy (preferably with the same BIOS). If you use software RAID keep a spare OS ready (but that is easy, just reinstall and look in your documentation for RAID config).
    – Hennes
    Aug 20, 2012 at 0:46
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    Maybe I'm the only person on the planet that's had a generally positive experience with Intel's fakeraid. Then again, I only use it on desktops and then only in RAID 1 mode. I'd never trust it on a server when there are much more flexible options available. If you can't afford a real hardware RAID on your server, at least go software instead of fake.
    – Charles
    Aug 20, 2012 at 1:11

4 Answers 4

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OS-based software RAID is more portable in the event of a hardware failure. Use that over motherboard-based fakeRAID. all things equal, use mdadm or ZFS over the motherboard.

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  • I agree, the RAID provided by the OS have always been stable(my opinion) compared to the so called RAID found in motherboards. Aug 20, 2012 at 6:15
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Hardware RAID > Software RAID > fake RAID.

(Honestly, I prefer no RAID above fake RAID, but that's probably a matter of personal preference.)

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They both work the same way. The only difference is who keeps the container information.

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    I don't agree. Software RAID has been known to actually work from time to tine. Seems like a difference worth noting. Aug 20, 2012 at 1:04
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I would suggest to find an Hardware RAID setup which is optimized for use with SSDs. AFAIK most SSD are RAID similar setups internal (connecting the modules in the frame and providing caching), which might perform slow on 'normal' (hardware or software) RAID controllers. Most (cheap) SSDs carry a JMicron controller, so perhaps you should focus on a decent hardware RAID controller for JMicron SSD devices, to improve life expectancy and read/write speed/caching on the RAID setup.

Unfortunately i've never reasearched this myself, but i know special SSD RAID setups exist..

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