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Topic: RAID 0 for Sample Libraries?

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  1. #1

    RAID 0 for Sample Libraries?

    (I'm not sure if I should post this to this thread or to hardware... If it belongs in hardware feel free to move it.)

    Hey everyone. I'm new to this board and have a quick question... Does anyone know if a RAID 0 (striping) array would work well for storing the libraries for large sample-based VSTi's like Synthogy Ivory, Drumkit From Hell Superior, or any of the large Quantum Leap packages? I know it's best to store the libraries on a seperate audio drive so all of the drive's read speed can be used for the samples (instead of wasted on running programs), and that a faster drive is better. So I would assume a RAID 0 array would be ideal, because it shares the work between 2 (or more) drives and thus reads and writes a lot faster. My question is about specifics... Does anyone know what a good stripe size and cluster size for the array would be? The drives are both 160GB Western Digital SATA drives. I was thinking that probably a larger stripe and cluster size (the max stripe size in my RAID utility is 128kb, and from what I've read the max cluster size in XP is 64kb) would be best, since from my reading on the subject it sounds as though a larger stripe size gives better positioning speed (like, the speed of the drive at finding files, rather than reading and writing them) which seems like it would be important for sample libraries (ie finding the right wave file right away when you press a key). And for cluster size, from what I've read larger cluster sizes yield better speeds, but at the expense of some wasted space if you're storing a lot of small files on the drive (which wouldn't be the case for sample libraries). So I'm leaning toward just using the max stripe and cluster size, but I don't know for sure, and I'm not sure if there should be some ratio between the stripe and cluster size (like if having them the same would be good, for example). Anyone with experience at this? Any help would be very greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tom Crowning's Avatar
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    Re: RAID 0 for Sample Libraries?

    Generally what you say is all true (you did your homework for sure), but we
    can discuss striping size if you want

    First, the RAID controler is an important factor, some are better with larger,
    some are better with smaller striping sizes. Increasing the size to get
    better positioning speed mainly relies on the controler modell, e.g. some
    controller are designed to not do any writes until they have enough data to
    fill all disks in the RAID array, so you wouldn't see any difference at all.

    What I would avoid is to use the extrem ends of the possible values (min or
    max striping size) because if your usage of the drive is one of the worst case
    scenarios of this given RAID controler things can become realy bad.

    In your case (large audio sample files) it's better to decrease(!) the size to
    improve the probability that a given file is spread on both disks.

    Best regards.
    Tom

    PS: and speaking for Win XP, I'd use large cluster sizes because statistically
    you're using a small numer of large files (okay, if you use VSL, the number
    is not small ) so the disk space you'd lose isn't the deciding factor.

  3. #3

    Re: RAID 0 for Sample Libraries?

    Thanks for your reply, VERY helpful.

    The controller I'm using is the onboard Silicon Image 3114R RAID controller on my Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard. It also has NVRAID, but I used that on my last board and found it seemed to make Cubase not work (wouldn't even start up, though it might have been another issue that caused that and it just happened to coincide with when I first set up the RAID). I'll check with the Silicon Image website and see if I can find info on how their RAID controller works exactly.

    Really, descreasing the stripe size would benefit positioning performance? Because I read the exact opposite of that. I couldn't find the exact same site I read it on before but I found one that says basically the same thing:

    As stripe size is decreased, files are broken into smaller and smaller pieces. This increases the number of drives that an average file will use to hold all the blocks containing the data of that file, theoretically increasing transfer performance, but decreasing positioning performance.

    I would think that positioning performance would be of at least equal importance for sample libraries, if not MORE important than transfer speed.

    Anyway, thanks again for your *very* informative reply. I'm going to cruise to the Silicon Image website now and see if I can find any info on how exactly their controller works.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tom Crowning's Avatar
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    Re: RAID 0 for Sample Libraries?

    Quote Originally Posted by HorseloverFat

    Really, descreasing the stripe size would benefit positioning performance?
    No, sorry for the missleading statement: increasing stripe size may increase
    the positioning performance, but it depends on the controler.
    But decreasing always increases the probability that data is spread on both
    drives and can be read faster because of parallel reading.

    So if in doubt better make it on step smaller (probably 32k, but the RAID
    manufactures normaly won't disclose exact data because their competitors
    would learn from that about the used algorithms).

    Tom

  5. #5

    Re: RAID 0 for Sample Libraries?

    The default stripe size that my controller wants to use is 64, so maybe I'll just use that and 64 for the cluster size as well. I *think* I remember reading somewhere that 1:1 or 2:1 ratios for stripe:cluster work best, for some reason.

    If I were going to email Silicon Image and ask them how their controller works to see if they are willing to give me relevant info, what exactly would you recommend I ask them?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tom Crowning's Avatar
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    Re: RAID 0 for Sample Libraries?

    Quote Originally Posted by HorseloverFat
    The default stripe size that my controller wants to use is 64, so maybe I'll just use that and 64 for the cluster size as well. I *think* I remember reading somewhere that 1:1 or 2:1 ratios for stripe:cluster work best, for some reason.

    If I were going to email Silicon Image and ask them how their controller works to see if they are willing to give me relevant info, what exactly would you recommend I ask them?
    Start windows file explorer, select the folder and/or drives with the samples
    you currently have installed, right mouse click->properties.

    You should see something like folder size and number of files, so they will be
    able to compute the average file size.
    Include this information, the specification, number and modell of your drives,
    Windows version and the planed usage.

    That should be all they need.

    Tom

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