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Top Forums UNIX for Dummies Questions & Answers RAID software vs hardware RAID Post 302438726 by Corona688 on Tuesday 20th of July 2010 02:09:23 PM
Hardware RAID is handled by a specialized RAID controller card which does its own processing to make many devices act like one. This card is either configured through BIOS extensions(you may get an extra 'hit ESC to setup' message on boot) or through proprietary utilities. Once configured, the separate drives act like one device to the OS that you could do anything to you'd do with a normal drive, including boot from.

Software RAID on the other hand takes several devices already apparent to the OS and just accesses them through special routines, so they're treated as one device. The computer has to do all its own processing, so there may be some performance cost there. It may not be able to combine reads the way a hardware RAID could, i.e. you might not get double-speed reading from a mirrored array, but implementations vary. Because the drives still present themselves as many seperate drives to the kernel, it's harder to boot properly from a software RAID. I won't say impossible, but the kernel may need special configuration to properly autodetect and mount the array.
 
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ARCMSR(4)						   BSD Kernel Interfaces Manual 						 ARCMSR(4)

NAME
arcmsr -- Areca Technology Corporation SATA/SAS RAID controller SYNOPSIS
arcmsr* at pci? dev ? function ? DESCRIPTION
The arcmsr driver provides support for the PCI-X and PCI Express RAID controllers from Areca Technology Corporation: - ARC-1110 PCI-X 4 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1110ML PCI-X 4 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1120 PCI-X 8 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1120ML PCI-X 8 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1130 PCI-X 12 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1130ML PCI-X 12 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1160 PCI-X 16 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1160ML PCI-X 16 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1170 PCI-X 24 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1200 Rev A PCI Express 2 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1202 PCI Express 2 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1210 PCI Express 4 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1220 PCI Express 8 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1230 PCI Express 12 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1230ML PCI Express 12 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1231ML PCI Express 12 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1260 PCI Express 16 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1260ML PCI Express 16 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1261ML PCI Express 16 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1280 PCI Express 24 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1280ML PCI Express 24 Port SATA RAID Controller - ARC-1680 PCI Express 8 Port SAS RAID Controller - ARC-1680LP PCI Express 8 Port SAS RAID Controller - ARC-1680i PCI Express 8 Port SAS RAID Controller - ARC-1680x PCI Express 8 Port SAS RAID Controller - ARC-1681 PCI-X 8 Port SAS RAID Controller These controllers support RAID levels 0, 1, 1E, 3, 5, 6, and JBOD using either SAS or SATA II drives. arcmsr supports management and monitoring of the controller through the bioctl(8) and envstat(8) commands. Please note, however, that to use some features that require special privileges, such as creating/removing hot-spares, pass-through disks or RAID volumes will require to have the password disabled in the firmware; otherwise a Permission denied error will be reported by bioctl(8). When a RAID 1 or 1+0 volume is created, either through the bioctl(8) command or controller's firmware, the volume won't be accessible until the initialization is done. A way to get access to the sd(4) device that corresponds to that volume without rebooting, is to issue the fol- lowing command (once the initialization is finished): $ scsictl scsibus0 scan any any The arcmsr driver will also report to the kernel log buffer any error that might appear when handling firmware commands, such as used by the bioctl(8) command. EVENTS
The arcmsr driver is able to send events to powerd(8) if a volume or any drive connected to the volume is not online. The state-changed event will be sent to the /etc/powerd/scripts/sensor_drive script when such condition happens. SEE ALSO
intro(4), pci(4), scsi(4), sd(4), bioctl(8), envstat(8), powerd(8), scsictl(8) HISTORY
The arcmsr driver first appeared in NetBSD 5.0. AUTHORS
The arcmsr driver was originally written for OpenBSD by David Gwynne. It was ported to NetBSD and extended by Juan Romero Pardines. BSD
March 3, 2008 BSD

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