The Basics and RAID Preparation
A redundant array of independent disks (RAID) is when you use multiple drives to achieve higher speeds or to ensure data is better protected. There are many types of RAID, and with two drives you can deploy RAID 0 or RAID 1. In RAID 0, the two drives combine into one with data written across both. It's like if you put two pieces of paper side by side and just continued to write out your sentences without going down a line until you reach the right end of the second piece of paper.
In RAID 0 if the two drives are identical then their total capacity will be the sum of their capacities (minus overhead), in theory, sequential performance can almost double, but if one drive fails, then you lose all the data. With RAID 1 the two drives are like clones of each other (mirror), with the point being data redundancy, so if one drive fails the other still has its data. With RAID 1 if your two drives are the same size then total drive size will just be the size of one drive, and you won't get a performance boost. Since modern SSDs are pretty reliable, we see many people stick with RAID0 rather than RAID1 as it offers performance benefits, and it's just cool.
While the theory behind RAID is great, actually getting it up and running can be difficult for those who have never attempted it before. Today you will learn how to setup NVMe RAID, the latest in consumer RAID technology, on any of SuperMicro's Z370 motherboards. There are many settings to change, and they need to be changed in a specific order. We used SuperMicro's C7Z370-CG-IW mini-ITX motherboard, which offers two M.2 drives capable of NVMe RAID. Both of those M.2 slots are directly routed to the PCH and don't go through switches that are designed to share bandwidth. Kingston was nice enough to send over two 480GB KC1000 NVMe M.2 drives, which offer excellent performance.
Intel's Z270 chipset is one of their most advanced; it offers the ability to RAID three M.2 drives (each with x4 PCI-E 3.0). However, there is a 3.5GB/s limit because of the DMI bus that connects the PCH to the CPU. Intel's RST technology is routed into each of these M.2 clusters (highlighted in red). We can see that some of the SATA connections overlap with some of the M.2 drive bandwidth, and many motherboards will share or switch bandwidth, but not the C7Z370-CG-IW.
We will RAID two x4 PCI-E NVMe M.2 SSDs, and we have to remap both of those drives to Intel's RST.
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