Smart Array RAID is a technology that is used to increase the performance and/or reliability of data storage. The abbreviation stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. A RAID system consists of two or more drives working in parallel. These disks can be hard discs, but there is a trend to also use the technology for SSD (solid state drives). There are different RAID levels, each optimized for a specific situation. These are not standardized by an industry group or standardization committee. This explains why companies sometimes come up with their own unique numbers and implementations. This article covers the following RAID levels:

  • RAID 0 – striping
  • RAID 1 – mirroring
  • RAID 5 – striping with parity
  • RAID 6 – striping with double parity
  • RAID 10 – combining mirroring and striping

The software to perform the RAID-functionality and control the drives can either be located on a separate controller card (a hardware RAID controller) or it can simply be a driver. Some versions of Windows, such as Windows Server 2012 as well as Mac OS X, include software RAID functionality. Hardware RAID controllers cost more than pure software, but they also offer better performance, especially with RAID 5 and 6.

RAID-systems can be used with a number of interfaces, including SCSI, IDE, SATA or FC (fiber channel.) There are systems that use SATA disks internally, but that have a FireWire or SCSI-interface for the host system.

Sometimes disks in a storage system are defined as JBOD, which stands for ‘Just a Bunch Of Disks’. This means that those disks do not use a specific RAID level and acts as stand-alone disks. This is often done for drives that contain swap files or spooling data.

Advantages

  • RAID 0 offers great performance, both in read and write operations. There is no overhead caused by parity controls.
  • All storage capacity is used, there is no overhead.
  • The technology is easy to implement.