HDD short stroking – is it worth it?

I’ve got some old 250Gb drives that are starting to show their age. I’ve currently got them setup in a 3x RAID 0 config which presents about 750Gb of space.

I’ve got everything on a single partition (meh, i’m lazy). I’ve done various speed tests in the current setup (with all space allocated), but i thought i’d re-image onto a short stroke partition.

I only use about 150Gb of space on my main machine (most of my data is on another box), so i’m going to try creating a 200Gb partition to test if this provides any kind of performance boost.

So reducing my raid 0 from 750Gb to 214Gb, and here are the results…

Before with all 750Gb presented…

Same disks but short stroked to 214Gb….

Conclusion : Yip, seems like its worth it if you have the spare space. Average throughput is up by 10MB/s and seek has improved by almost a third loosing 4ms.

You will get even more of an improvement if you can use a smaller % of capacity per drive and / or more drives for your stripe.

Updated : 07/02/2010

btw – the above was without write-back cache enabled…. if i turned that on i got the following…

fakeRAID vs Software RAID (windows)

O.k. here is the latest from atomic magazine… I’m talking about RAID 0 (stripe) here.

Software RAID (i.e. windows stripe) is faster (both in throughput and seek time) than the “hardware” fake RAID built in to most new mother boards. Apparently it doesn’t matter about the stripe size of your raid either…. Software raid still wins??

I’m a bit skeptical about this, and will have to en devour on a few tests to conclude whether this is true or not…

What i propose…. i have 3 x 120Gb disks in my machine…. In both cases i will use windows solely on the first disk. The other two disks will then be created using fake raid first (bios raid), then i will recreate the raid using software raid.

In both cases i will test throughput / average seek times using HDTach, but i will also perform some real world tests such as loading times for games etc…

further reading shows that Software RAID may only beat fake RAID at the 64K stripe set — which is actually a highly recommended size .

I have been unable to reproduce the results, as i’m having troubles restoring my system back to a single drive. Oh well, i’ll try and remember to do it the next time i’m rebuilding my machine.

Edit : ZFS is faster than both! – by a long shot. ;)   …but of course it is not currently an option within windows.