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I just got two new WD5000AAKS 500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s drives, and I need to put them in a RAID-0 array (I know that motherboard-RAID generally isn't the best for speed increases, but I have little choice). This RAID array will be just storing backups on a Linux server, and trust me, I know first-hand that RAID is not backup.*

My server is using a recycled D975XBX Intel motherboard (OEM is Alienware) with a Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4 GHz. The motherboard has two groups of 4 SATA ports:

  • 4 controlled by the ICH7R with Intel on-motherboard RAID @ 3.0Gb/s
  • 4 controlled by a Silicon Image (SiI) 3114 controller @ 1.5Gb/s

My question is, for RAID0, which would be faster, using the built-in RAID with the Intel ports, or using the Silicon Image RAID?

As far as I can tell, the ICH7R uses the CPU for all of its calculations and RAID processing (and my server is very low-load so it wouldn't really matter), but I don't know if the SiI 3114 controller does any of the RAID calculations or if the operations are left to the BIOS & CPU. I suppose I could setup the drives on each and do some benchmarking with bonnie++, but I figured that I should ask here first. Cheers! * That's not even really relevant since it's a RAID0 array; not meant for redundancy of any sort.

EDIT: I just found this article from AnandTech with a review of the motherboard. It would appear that the ICH7R has better performance without RAID, but the article doesn't contain any tests with a RAID set.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

After performing some (rudimentary) benchmarks with hdparm and bonnie++, and reading this forum thread on ICHR vs SiI, I have come to the conclusion that the ICH7R Intel Matrix RAID controller is slightly faster than the SiI 3114 controller for sequential reads, and much faster with random reads under RAID-0 conditions with two WD5000AAKS drives.

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Do not use Sil controller at all. It's connected trough PCI bus at 33 MHz, so the maximum speed you can achieve is around 133 MiB/sec. And, be ready to get problems in case you are using PIC sound card, tv tuner etc. I was so disappointed. Intel made it really bad.

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