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I will mostly be working with Autocad Software, Photoshop and maybe some other design software (architecture).

I will have a Quadro FX graphics card for rendering. So I am not so much interested in the performance of the design software (as that might mainly depend on the graphics card), but more interested in the Windows running speed (boot time, opening and closing apps, transferring files).

  • A: 1x SDD with only Windows 7 installed + 1x HDD just for data
  • B: 2x HDD Serial ATA 7200 RPM in RAID0 Strip (means data are split up, 2 HDs work simultaneously)

My guess would be that a) is still a bit faster, because there is much smaller delay in accessing files. For transfering files I would guess a) and b) are quite equal. What do you think?

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2 Answers 2

SDD vs. HDD/RAID0

Read/Write Speed

  • SSDs have much faster read and write speeds than HDDs because they don't have a moving platter, which increases the seek time. At boot, a SSD doesn't need to spin up, which might save a few seconds. HDDs give about 100 MB/s sequential IO, so your RAID 0 would have a theoretical max of 200 MB/s. Any good SSD can give you 600 MB/s, so sequential access will be substantially faster. Random access will be ~50x faster.
  • RAID0 cuts data blocks into pieces and divides them over the disks, which improves the read and write times. Two HDDs in RAID0 would, in theory, double the read and write speed of a single disk. The initial speed depends on the brand and model.

Boot-time / Launching programs

Since SSDs are faster than HDDs, the Windows boot-time would be much shorter. Programs that are installed to the SSD also get this benefit.

Durability

  • SSDs have no moving parts, this makes them less prone to failure than HDDs.
  • Because RAID0 has no parity, and data blockes are striped, it is much harder to repair the array after a drive failure. If you are using a proprietary RAID card, then you have to find that exact same card again, in order to repair the array.

Answering your question with the above writeup: Technically, option A will give you the most benefits.

Mechanical snail deserves credit for the speed details in section 1.

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Some more details: HDDs give about 100 MB/s sequential IO, so your RAID 0 would have a theoretical max of 200 MB/s. A good SSD can give you 600 MB/s, so sequential access will be substantially faster. Random access will be ~50x faster. For boot, an SSD doesn't need to spin up, which might save a few seconds. –  Mechanical snail Sep 19 '11 at 20:52
    
@Mechanicalsnail Incorporated in my post with credit for integrity. Thanks. –  Duijf Sep 19 '11 at 21:07
    
"half [sic]" their read and write speeds? With striping (no redundancy), both reading and writing should be faster. –  Ben Voigt Sep 19 '11 at 21:11
    
@BenVoigt Corrected. I reversed my thoughts there. –  Duijf Sep 19 '11 at 21:49
    
actually according to this article SSDs seem to fail a lot even after a couple of days. What "expert" should I believe now, that they fail after one year or that they last 20 years? –  user670186 Sep 20 '11 at 2:04

Well, I doubt you will see any speed increases in (b) over a non raid setup as you will not be able to control which drive the data/OS is on.

Technically A should be faster for booting, and if you install Autocad on there, it will launch faster - but - if you have a lot of big documents, then, putting them on their own hard drive will speed things up a little, but, it may be faster to leave them all on the SSD.

However, this really is hard and depends entirely on the brands and models you choose.

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