Raid Types

Feb 9

Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks

RAID combines two or more physical hard disks into a single logical unit by using either special hardware or software. Hardware solutions often are designed to present themselves to the attached system as a single hard drive, so that the operating system would be unaware of the technical workings. For example, you might configure a 1TB RAID 5 array using three 500GB hard drives in hardware RAID, the operating system would simply be presented with a "single" 1TB disk. Software solutions are typically implemented in the operating system and would present the RAID drive as a single drive to applications running upon the operating system.        


“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 has greater consequences with more disks in the array (at a minimum, catastrophic data loss is twice as severe compared to single drives without RAID). 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.


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.


Striped set with dedicated parity or bit interleaved parity or byte level parity. This mechanism provides fault tolerance similar to RAID 5. However, because the strip across the disks is a lot smaller than a file system block, reads and writes to the array perform like a single drive with a high linear write performance. For this to work properly, the drives must have synchronised rotation. If one drive fails, the performance doesn't change.


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.

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.

RAID 6 extends RAID 5 by adding an additional parity block; thus it uses block-level striping with two parity blocks distributed across all member disks. It was not one of the original RAID levels.

RAID 1+0, sometimes called RAID 1 and 0, or RAID 10, is similar to a RAID 0+1 with exception that the RAID levels used are reversed — RAID 10 is a stripe of mirrors.


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