Some software RAID schemes offer data protection through mirroring (copying the data to multiple
disks in case one fails) or parity data (checksums that allow error detection and limited rebuilding of
data in case of a failure), but it should be noted that all software RAID solutions on workstations will
require the shutdown of the system so that the failed drive can be replaced before redundancy can be
restored. Currently only external hardware RAID allows online, invisible failure recovery through a
hot-swap, however, the replacement for failed drives in software RAID requires only a minimum
amount of work. Hardware RAID is not supported by HP Linux workstations.
Performance and Bottlenecks
Disk I/O bandwidth is typically limited by the system's bus speeds, the disk controller, and the disks
themselves. Each generation of disks tends to get faster and newer rotation speeds premiere from time
to time. The balance of these hardware limiters, as affected by the software configuration, determines
where the real bottleneck is in the system.
Several RAID levels offer improved performance relative to a standalone disk. If your disk throughput
is throttled by a single disk controller, there is probably little you can do with RAID to improve the
performance without adding another controller. On the other hand, if the raw disk performance is the
bottleneck, a tuned software RAID solution can dramatically improve the throughput. In fact, the
slower the disk is relative to the rest of the system, the better RAID performance will scale, since the
slowest piece of the performance pipeline is being directly addressed by moving to RAID.
RAID-Linear: Concatenating Disks
RAID-linear can only generously be considered to be in the RAID family. It is generally used as a
method of making two smaller disks look like a larger one by "appending" one to the other. For
instance, two 40GB disks configured with RAID-linear look like one 80GB disk. RAID-linear offers no
practical performance or reliability gains over standard separate disks. Spare disks are not supported
in RAID-linear; if one disk fails, the RAID array fails as well. RAID-linear is not supported by HP Linux
RAID-0, or striping, means that the data is spread out in small chunks over multiple disks so that a
read or write operation can fully utilize all the disk and disk controller bandwidth available by having
each disk and/or disk controller share the load of any particular operation. The drives in the array
are treated as one large address space and successive data blocks are typically written to different
drives in the array. RAID-0 arrays are comprised of a minimum of two disk drives. In order to optimize
read and write speeds, partitions in RAID-0 arrays should be located on different physical hard disks.
RAID-0 was not included in the original RAID proposal as it does not technically meet the redundancy
requirement, nor does it offer any error protection. Software RAID-0 is supported by HP Linux