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What is the big difference between software RAID and hardware RAID at the low level?

What is really going on that sets the two apart?

As far as I know, the only difference is the RAID card can have cache and it has its own processor on-board. But are there other aspects that go in the background that can make one better then the other in certain situations?

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marked as duplicate by Ramhound, Dave, Journeyman Geek May 18 '14 at 15:32

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

The main difference is, that with "software RAID" (quotes intended), the OS performs and manages the task of slicing, dicing, combining, striping, parity-ing, caching and whatever the individual disks (or disklike devices such as SSDs), while with "hardware RAID" these tasks are outsourced to a secondary system running one or more secondary processors (and most possibly ASICS), running their own software, mostly called firmware.

Both approaches have their respective pros and cons: E.g. while using a specialized hardware subsystem may save resources on the main system, this comes at a cost: In the event of a catastrophic failure, disks under direct OS control are much more likely to allow recovery of data.

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