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I'm trying to speed up compiles on my system, and have found that harddisk write performance seems to be one of the bottlenecks (as the compiles write a lot of object files and associated debug information).

As I have lots of memory and can easily recreate the generated files if bad things happen, I wonder if it's possible to allow files to be written without any synchronisation. It is completely acceptable if files vanish or even have inconsistent data after a system crash, as I can recreate generated files easily.

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RAID 0 my friend. More disks equal better performace as they spread the load. Further you could instead go with SSDs to see if that is enough OR... you could get REAL crazy with it and go for a RAID 0 with SSDs in the array. If your system does not already support RAID then you can get a pretty cheap controller with very little problem for whatever type of slot you have available.

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You will have problems down the road with the lack of TRIM support in RAID configurations. SSDs cannot write over files that were deleted. The SSD will have to first delete the old files and then write over them. TRIM takes care of that issue my making it realtime. – kobaltz Dec 16 '11 at 4:14
I did do a Raid0 of two SSDs before and will admit that the initial performance is awesome. However, after several months I was in a position where a two 7200RPM HDD RAID0 setup would have been faster. – kobaltz Dec 16 '11 at 4:24
Good Info, thanks. I actually am still a little shy of them. We do use them some here and there but unless my senior admin tells me too I generally stick with regular ol' drives :) – OG Chuck Low Dec 17 '11 at 6:43

We found that consumer grade SSDs weren't necessarily faster than spinning rust for sustained writes.

Raid0 (ie stripping with no parity) a pair of reasonably fast 1Tb Sata drives gave almost double the rate of a single drive. Around 190-200Mb/s compared to 105-110Mb/s for single drive.

Interestingly there wasn't much speed difference between Windows7 built in stripping and the Intel raid function on the motherboard sata controller.

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This is very true. Always look at the IOPS of a SSD and their Read/Write speeds prior to purchase. – kobaltz Dec 16 '11 at 4:15

I was in the same situation as you when I was shopping around for a new computer. I knew that the system that I was buying peaked in every aspect. However, I did not want my new system to suffer sluggish read/write speeds. Intel has a newer technology called SRT (Smart Response Technology) which will allocate a SSD drive to cache data from your Primary setup.

My current configuration is:

1 x SATA3 128GB SSD (Read/Write Speeds of 550MB/s) 2 x 1TB 7200RPM Hard Drives in RAID 0

I am getting right about 525MB/s constant speeds on boot, running applications, managing documents, etc. The SSD is acting as a cache for my RAID0 hard drives. I get the space of platters and the speed of SSD.

If you look at even more current motherboards, some of them have a 20GB SSD built onto them for SRT SSD Caching.

In short, I would pick up a Sata3 SSD. Down the road if you're looking to upgrade your system, get one that supports SRT technology and use that SSD as your cache. If you happen to get one with more than 64GB (limit of SRT is 20GB to 64GB of usable SSD space) then you can partition the rest as a separate drive letter. I'll do this and put Photoshop caching on this spare partition.

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A RAM drive might be in your future in this instance.

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That might help, but will probably not be sufficient. A single compile run generates about 2 GB of data, and I need to keep several copies of the data around. – Simon Richter Dec 7 '11 at 15:04

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