Notes on RAID

Notes on Raid

Level
Description
Minimum # of disks
Space Efficiency
Fault Tolerance
Image
"Striped set without parity" or "Striping". Provides improved performance and additional storage but no redundancy or fault tolerance. Any disk failure destroys the array, which becomes more likely with more disks in the array. A single disk failure destroys the entire array because when data is written to a RAID 0 drive, the data is broken into fragments. The number of fragments is dictated by the number of disks in the array. The fragments are written to their respective disks simultaneously on the same sector. This allows smaller sections of the entire chunk of data to be read off the drive in parallel, increasing bandwidth. RAID 0 does not implement error checking so any error is unrecoverable. More disks in the array means higher bandwidth, but greater risk of data loss.
2
n
0 (none)
'Mirrored set without parity' or 'Mirroring'. Provides fault tolerance from disk errors and failure of all but one of the drives. Increased read performance occurs when using a multi-threaded operating system that supports split seeks, very small performance reduction when writing. Array continues to operate so long as at least one drive is functioning. Using RAID 1 with a separate controller for each disk is sometimes called duplexing.
2
n/2
n-1 disks
Hamming code parity. Disks are synchronized and striped in very small stripes, often in single bytes/words. Hamming codes error correction is calculated across corresponding bits on disks, and is stored on multiple parity disks.
3



Striped set with dedicated parity or bit interleaved parity or byte level parity. This mechanism provides an improved performance and fault tolerance similar to RAID 5, but with a dedicated parity disk rather than rotated parity stripes. The single parity disk is a bottle-neck for writing since every write requires updating the parity data. One minor benefit is the dedicated parity disk allows the parity drive to fail and operation will continue without parity or performance penalty.
3
n-1

Block level parity. Identical to RAID 3, but does block-level striping instead of byte-level striping. In this setup, files can be distributed between multiple disks. Each disk operates independently which allows I/O requests to be performed in parallel, though data transfer speeds can suffer due to the type of parity. The error detection is achieved through dedicated parity and is stored in a separate, single disk unit.
3
n-1

Striped set with distributed parity or interleave parity. Distributed parity requires all drives but one to be present to operate; drive failure requires replacement, but the array is not destroyed by a single drive failure. Upon drive failure, any subsequent reads can be calculated from the distributed parity such that the drive failure is masked from the end user. The array will have data loss in the event of a second drive failure and is vulnerable until the data that was on the failed drive is rebuilt onto a replacement drive. A single drive failure in the set will result in reduced performance of the entire set until the failed drive has been replaced and rebuilt.
3
n-1
1 disk
Striped set with dual distributed parity. Provides fault tolerance from two drive failures; array continues to operate with up to two failed drives. This makes larger RAID groups more practical, especially for high availability systems. This becomes increasingly important because large-capacity drives lengthen the time needed to recover from the failure of a single drive. Single parity RAID levels are vulnerable to data loss until the failed drive is rebuilt: the larger the drive, the longer the rebuild will take. Dual parity gives time to rebuild the array without the data being at risk if a (single) additional drive fails before the rebuild is complete.
4
n-2
2 disks
Nested (hybrid) RAID
The most popular of the multiple RAID levels, RAID 01 and 10 combine the best features of striping and mirroring to yield large arrays with high performance in most uses and superior fault tolerance. RAID 01 is a mirrored configuration of two striped sets; RAID 10 is a stripe across a number of mirrored sets. RAID 10 and 01 have been increasing dramatically in popularity as hard disks become cheaper and the four-drive minimum is legitimately seen as much less of an obstacle. RAID 10 provides better fault tolerance and rebuild performance than RAID 01. Both array types provide very good to excellent overall performance by combining the speed of RAID 0 with the redundancy of RAID 1 without requiring parity calculations.
RAID 0+1 and RAID 1+0
RAID 0+1 configuration where multiple disks are striped together into sets (sets A & B in the diagram, each set being as large as the resulting final volume), and then two or more sets are mirrored together.


RAID 1+0 configuration where two or more drives are mirrored together (mirrors 1-4 in the diagram), and then the mirrors (as many as are needed to result in the desired amount of space) are striped together.


The key difference from RAID 0+1 is that RAID 1+0 creates a striped set from a series of mirrored drives. In a failed disk situation, RAID 1+0 performs better because all the remaining disks continue to be used. The array can sustain multiple drive losses so long as no mirror loses all its drives.
RAID 5+1: mirror striped set with distributed parity (some manufacturers label this as RAID 53).
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