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Loading samples from RAID

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I'm speccing a new computer system that will be used primarily for audio work. A possibility I'm considering is to have three internal SATA drives: an OS/page-file drive and a two-drive RAID for storing sample libraries. The RAID will be set up to increase the transfer rate rather than to mirror data. My goal here is mostly to cut the initial load times for large projects (I assume that playback performance would be better improved by adding RAM).

Has anyone here used a RAID for sample libraries, and if so, are load times substantially decreased? Would it be worth adding an additional drive so I could use RAID 2 or 3 (which, if I understand correctly, require three drives) instead of a two-drive RAID 0?

EDIT: The limited reading I've done on this indicates that it may be a better idea to break up sample libraries across multiple drives rather than using a RAID. Confirm/deny?

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RAIDs are strikingly expensive for the boost in speed you get, honestly. once you've paid for a good raid card and the three or four drives you need (not two, not worth it), it'd be about the same price for a few 600gb velociraptor drives when they're finally in stock in a week or two. not the same amount of space, but far more reliable.

you really won't see that much real-world increase in speed overall. just get a few nice caviar black drives with a high cache size (WD black drives have two processors in them, which actually does speed up large file access a bit), and you'll be happy for much less. spend the extra cash on a big crucial realSSD C300 for your system drive =)

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RAID tests show speed improvement for large randomly placed files.

But samples are small, sequenced files. Not so small, however, that one would fit nicely inside a single memory block, no, it would be spread out over a few.

The problem is that you will find yourself loading a single sample across multiple drives. It's a waste of drive time.

You're better off spreading your libraries across multiple independent drives and loading multiple samples simultaneously rather than dedicating 2+ drives to loading a single sample at a time.

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note that when he says spread your libraries, he doesn't mean to separate the libraries themself, moseph. he means to put one big one here, and one big one there, etc.

And honestly, the best way to do it would be to put the samples that are most likely to be played/loaded at the same time on separate HDDs, but some libraries you just can't split up.

My farm computer has six separate 10krpm HDDs, I've decided to put a type of library on each. So Brass on one, WWs on another, Strings on another, Choir on another, percussion on another, and etc stuff like guitar/ethnic inst/etc on another.

Then I have two other HDDs, storage and OS on separate drives.

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I know that you asked about using RAID for speed access increases, and not reliability, but I thought I'd just point out that many people mistakenly think that doing mirrored RAID is a backup.


RAID basically allows you to keep your machine online as long as possible, so that if a drive fails, your machine will keep running until you can install another drive.

So keep those backup solutions handy!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the responses, all. I'm abandoning the RAID idea and am just going to use eSATA to connect to the new computer the external drive that currently holds my libraries and will add a second internal drive if that doesn't seem fast enough. Much more budget friendly this way, and hopefully no lengthy library re-installations unless the move to Windows 7 requires it.

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