CloudFlare agrees: Disk performance is improved when you get rid of hardware raid

hardware raid photo

Photo by wwward0 Creative Commons Logo

I know this article is a little old, but I wanted to bring it up as it raises an interesting point. We’ve had a few articles here about hardware raid, detailing when we think it’s a good idea, and when it’s a waste of money (or worse). In general, if you’re looking for “big DD scores”, or if you’re running an OS without software raid support, hardware raid can be a good choice. Otherwise, save your money.

Cloudflare had an article a while back detailing their current hardware choices and layout, which is an interesting read if you have the time:

One quote I’d like to mention is what they had to say about hardware raid:

One thing we pulled out of our G4 setup was a RAID card. We’d experimented with hardware RAID but found we got more performance addressing each disk individually and using consistent hashing in the algorithm to spread files across disks. Specifically, we saw a 50% performance benefit addressing disks directly rather than going through the G3 hardware RAID.

Even today, many years after hardware raid is no longer the best way to improve drive performance, you still hear the old wive’s tale of using hardware raid whenever you care about performance. Although it will probably be many years before this myth is put to rest, I am happy to see one more nail in the coffin.

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