RAID RAID: RAID is an acronym for Redundant array of Inexpensive Disks or Independent Disks.

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is an acronym first used in a 1988 paper by Berkeley researchers Patterson, Gibson and Katz. It described array configuration and applications for multiple inexpensive hard disks, providing fault tolerance (redundancy) and improved access rates. The basic idea of RAID was to combine multiple small, inexpensive disk drives into an array of disk drives, which yields performance exceeding that of a Single Large Expensive Drive (SLED). Additionally, this array of drives appears to the computer as a single logical storage unit or drive. The Mean Time between Failure (MTBF) of the array will be equal to the MTBF of an individual drive, divided by the number of drives in the array. Because of this, the MTBF of an array of drives would be too low for many application requirements. However, disk arrays can be made fault-tolerant by redundantly storing information in various ways. Why use RAID? Typically RAID is used in large file servers, transaction of application servers, where data accessibility is critical, and fault tolerance is required. Nowadays, RAID is also being used in desktop systems for CAD, multimedia editing and playback where higher transfer rates are needed.

TYPES OF RAID: JBOD: Just a bunch of drives. These are independent connected drives with no RAID interconnection RAID 0: Striped Disk array without Fault tolerance. RAID Level 0 is not redundant, hence does not truly fit the "RAID" acronym. In level 0, data is split across drives, resulting in higher data throughput. Since no redundant information is stored, performance is very good, but the failure of any disk in the array results in data loss. This level is commonly referred to as “Disk striping”.

In the figure below each column represents a drive. So there are 4 drives represented in the figure. The entire data has been split into blocks of data like A, B, C, D, E etc and written onto different drives.

It is not a true RAID because it is not fault tolerant. The failure of just one drive will result in all data in an array being lost. Cannot be used in mission critical applications. It is recommended to use RAID 0 in Video production and editing and also image editing. RAID 1: Mirroring and Duplexing. : RAID Level 1 provides redundancy by writing all data to two or more drives. The performance of a level 1 array tends to be faster on reads and slower on writes compared to a single drive, but if either drive fails, no data is lost. This is a good entry-level redundant system, since only two drives are required; however, since one drive is used to store a duplicate of the data, the cost per megabyte is high. This level is commonly referred to as mirroring.

In the above figure there are 8 drives. The data on drive 1 & 2 are the same. Similarly the data on drives 3 & 4 are the same and so on. It is the simplest RAID storage subsystem design. 100% redundancy of data means no rebuild is necessary in case of a disk failure, just a copy to the replacement disk.

RAID 2: Hamming code ECC

Here A0 to A3 represents each bit of a data word. In other terms A0 to A3 represents 1 word. Each bit of data word is written to a different data disk drive (4 in this example: 0 to 3). Each data word has its Hamming Code ECC word recorded on the ECC disks. On Read, the ECC code verifies correct data or corrects single disk errors. "On the fly" data error correction is done. It is not commercially viable. RAID Level 2, which uses Hamming error correction codes, is intended for use with drives which do not have builtin error detection. RAID 3: Parallel transfer with parity: RAID Level 3 stripes data at a byte level across several drives, with parity stored on one drive. It is otherwise similar to level 4. Byte-level striping requires hardware support for efficient use.

The data block is subdivided ("striped") and written on the data disks. Stripe parity is generated on Writes, recorded on the parity disk and checked on Reads. Disk failure has an insignificant impact on throughput.

RAID 4: Independent data disks with shared parity disk. RAID Level 4 stripes data at a block level across several drives, with parity stored on one drive. The parity information allows recovery from the failure of any single drive. The performance of a level 4 array is very good for reads (the same as level 0). Writes, however, require that parity data be updated each time. This slows small random writes; in particular, though large writes or sequential writes are fairly fast. Because only one drive in the array stores redundant data, the cost per megabyte of a level 4 array can be fairly low.

RAID 5: Independent data disks with distributed parity blocks. RAID Level 5 is similar to level 4, but distributes parity among the drives. This can speed small writes in multiprocessing systems, since the parity disk does not become a bottleneck. Because parity data must be skipped on each drive during reads, however, the performance for reads tends to be considerably lower than a level 4 array. The cost per megabyte is the same as for level 4.

Each entire data block is written on a data disk; parity for blocks in the same rank is generated on Writes, recorded in a distributed location and checked on Reads. RAID 5 is the most commonly used category of RAID. It is the most versatile form of RAID.

Recommended Applications: 1) File and application servers 2) Database servers 3) WWW,E-mail, and News servers 4) Intranet servers Other RAID levels such as level 0+1,1+0,6,7,10,30,50, 53 are also available. A DEMO ON RAID: Please click on the link below or Cut and Paste the address in your explorer. In the page displayed click on the option/ link called as Intel RAID tutorial. The tutorial gives a demo on the working of different categories of RAID. RAID Controllers: Raid Controllers are the Motherboards, which will be controlling the operation, Data flow of the various drives making up the RAID.

Size of the Drives in the array: With few exceptions, all RAID arrays are constrained by the size of the smallest drive(s) in the array--any drives larger than this will not utilize their additional capacity. This means that if you have an array with five 9 GB drives and you add a new 36 GB drive to it, 75% of the drive (27 GB) capacity of the new drive will sit there wasted. Interfaces used for Connecting RAID: For slower data transfer rates the IDE (Integrated drive Electronics) otherwise known as ATA (Advanced technology attachment) technology is used. For higher data transfer rates the SCSI (Small computer Systems interface) is used. SATA stands for Serial ATA.

Drive Bays: Drive Bays are the spaces in the Computer system case where you mount your hard disks or floppy disks. Most PC system cases are designed, well, under the assumption that they will be used for regular PCs. Typically, space is provided within the case for one, two, or maybe three hard drives. Sometimes there will be enough space for four or more, and you can also "make space" by using Drive Bay adapters. This system will be satisfactory for small RAID arrays of 2, 3 or 4 drives, and certainly this is the least expensive option. This is option however would only suit a low-end, IDE/ATA RAID. For "serious RAID" using many drives and the SCSI interface more drives are often needed. In particular, drive swapping has become an important feature that most high-end RAID users insist upon. To enable hot swapping and large numbers of drives, you must look beyond regular PC cases. One way to enable RAID and features such as hot swapping is to use a case specifically designed for servers

The above figure shows a server case, which has lot of bays to accommodate a RAID with a lot of drives. We call a drive bay as “External drive bay” when we can operate with the bay easily from outside. Floppy and CD-ROM drives are examples of External drive bays. Hard disk drive is an example of “Internal drive bay”. Storage Capacity of RAID: The storage capacity of a RAID unit will be the combined storage space of the individual drives. This value can range from Megabytes to Terabytes of storage capacity.


8 Bay SCSI-IDE desktop RAID:

HOT SWAPS IN RAID: An important feature that allows availability to remain high when hardware fails and must be replaced is drive swapping. Now strictly speaking, the term "drive swapping" simply refers to changing one drive for another, and of course that can be done on any system. What is usually meant by this term though is hot swapping, which means changing a hard disk in a system without having to turn off the power and open up the system case. In a system that supports hot swap, you can easily remove a failed drive, replace it with a new one and have the system rebuild the replaced drive immediately. The users of the system don't even know that the change has occurred. To support Hot Swaps the system must support what are called as “External Drive bays”. These drive bays facilitate easy removal and replacement of the failed drives, as the drives are externally accessible. TYPES OF SWAPPING: • Hot Swap: A true hot swap is defined, as one where the drive can be replaced while the rest of the system remains completely uninterrupted. This means the system carries on functioning, the bus keeps transferring data, and the hardware change is completely transparent. • Warm Swap: In a so-called "warm swap", the power remains on to the hardware and the operating system continues to function, but all activity must be stopped on the bus to which the device is connected. This is worse than a hot swap, obviously, but clearly better than a cold one. • Cold Swap: The system must be powered off before making the swap. HOT SPARES IN RAID: In this case, additional drives are attached to the controller and left in a "standby" mode. If a failure occurs, the controller can use the spare drive as a replacement for the bad drive. The main advantage that hot sparing has over hot swapping is that with a controller that supports hot sparing, the rebuild will be automatic. The controller detects that a drive has gone wrong, it disables it, and immediately rebuilds the data onto the hot spare. This is a tremendous advantage for anyone managing many arrays, or for systems that run unattended. Do you really want to have to go into the office at 4 am on a rainy Sunday to hot-swap a drive for the benefit of your overseas users? As features, hot sparing and hot swapping is independent: you can have one, or the other, or both. They will work together, and often are used in that way.

SCSI BUS /PROTOCOL: SCSI is a local I/O bus that can operate over a wide range of data rates. The primary objective of this interface is to provide host computers with device independence within a class of devices. Thus, different disk drives, tape drives, printers, optical media drives, and other devices can be added to a host computer without requiring modifications to generic system hardware or software. SCSI Bus Diagram:

SCSI Domains contain a maximum of the total number of addressable SCSI devices as specified in the SCSI standards - normally 8 or 16 devices A SCSI bus terminated at both ends:

There are two electrical alternatives for the SCSI bus: • Single-Ended and • Differential. Single-Ended and differential devices are electrically incompatible and can not be mixed on the same physical bus.

SCA (Single Connector Attachment) Adapters: These adapters convert 80-pin SCA to 68-pin and 50-pin SCSI connectors. This adapter is suitable for wide SCSI systems across the board. 80 pin female to 68 pin female adapter

With the SCA system, the regular 68-pin data connector, 4-pin power connector, and several configuration jumpers on a hard disk are all replaced by a single, unified 80-pin connector. The intent of the design is to create a single point of contact for all electrical and electronic connection necessary to operate a SCSI peripheral. Advantages: Probably the best feature of the Single Connector implementation is the capability it provides for "blind mating" the drive to the host. Since all necessary functions are integrated within the connector, a single action is all that is necessary to install a drive. Blind mating greatly simplifies peripheral attachment in critical applications such as network data servers.

The above figure shows Front of a server case with the door open, showing three hard disks in carriers with handles partially inserted into three of the case's external SCA drive bays.

The above diagram shows how SCA SCSI works. The female connector is on the backplane within the PC The male connector is attached to the device (typically a hard disk). The advanced grounding contacts allow hot swapping without creating electrical problems The SCA SCSI arrangement allows easy removal and adding hard disks while Hot Swapping operation is going on. The connection is restricted to a single point blind mating connection.

Configuration of RAID in Digital Sprite: The RAID is pre-configured with the following parameters: Parameter RAID level Default setting 5 Remarks RAID level 5 is recommended as it provides high reliability and high disk capacity. Digital Sprite Lite can connect up to 7 SCSI devices. It is important that the last SCSI device in the chain is always terminated, all other devices need to be unterminated – Termination OFF Each SCSI device must have a unique SCSI address ID. If Additional Raid’s are added, the SCSI address needs to be changed.

SCSI termination


SCSI Address ID


Warning: All images on the RAID will be lost if the RAID level or SCSI Address ID is changed after installation. Ensure these are set correctly before connecting to the Digital Sprite Lite. Installation Digital Sprite Lite has a 50-pin SCSI-2 port, which is used to connect external storage devices. 1. Install disks into the caddies If not already installed, the hard disks supplied with the RAID have to be inserted into the RAID. Please ensure that the hard disk drive trays are securely locked into place before proceeding to the next step. 2. Connect the RAID(s) to Digital Sprite Lite Make sure the Digital Sprite Lite is not powered up, perform a System Shutdown in the System Options menu and remove power if necessary, connect the SCSI cable provided From the Digital Sprite Lite’s SCSI-2 port to the RAID’s SCSI port. Note: The 68-pin to 50-pin cable supplied with the RAID is for connection to a Digital Sprite Lite only. If multiple RAIDS’ are to be connected to the system, RAID’s must be connected together using a 68-pin to 68-pin cable (not supplied). 3. Apply power: Before applying power ensure that both voltage selector switches on the back of the RAID are set to your regional voltage setting (115V or 230V). Apply power to the RAID(s) first and wait at least 10 seconds before applying power to the Digital Sprite Lite. Digital Sprite Lite will automatically detect the RAID(s) and add the RAID disk capacity to the internal storage. Warning: Failing to power up in this sequence will prevent the Digital Sprite Lite from Detecting the RAID(s).

Few Manufacturers/Dealers of RAID: 1) Digi-data – Storm F8 Controller – Upto 840 drives support, Over 120 TB of raw storage (using 146 GB drives). Visit 2) Enhance Technologies – Ultrastor RS2080 ATA RAID storage – supports upto 2 TB of raw storage, hot swappable components. Visit 3) Kintronics – DuraStor 6220 - Upto 2.7TB SCSI connection, very high data transfer rate. Visit 4) SeekSystems – FasFile RAID - FasFile RAID supports 18GB, 36GB, 73GB, 146GB and 180GB disk drives in pedestal, rackmount and cabinet enclosures. A single system can have up to 32 disk drives per controller. Visit 5) Intel - 82801ER I/O Controller Hub - Industry’s first desktop RAID controller integrated directly into the chipset – Visit 6) Dedicated Micros – Zero D RAID – 160GB to 375 GB, SCSI transfer rate 40 MB /sec, preconfigured at RAID level 5. Visit


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