Linux Software RAID 6

Software RAID or hardware RAID? That has been a long running question that every Architect faces when designing storage infrastructure for customers. In the Enterprise, this is usually a pretty straight-forward choice. It is hardware RAID. The next question would be the RAID level. RAID 5, RAID S, RAID 10 and some other more exotic vendor based levels are typical available. The choices of the level are typical set by application, risk and budget concerns.

Now, what is the home user to do? Intel offers semi-hardware RAID on their current motherboards which for most users will be adequate. (Just make sure you have good backups if using consumer hard drives!) If you are using Linux, other choices are available. Software RAID is an interesting option. Recently, I implemented a 14 disk Fiber Channel RAID 6 solution. Despite the write penalty that RAID 6 introduced, the performance is still very good. Writes exceeding 150MB/s on a 2Gb/s fiber channel SAN make the old SAN solution I have seem old!

If you are thinking of using Linux and RAID 6, give it a try! With Fiber Channel and SAS disks the performance should be quite good without breaking the bank.