Processor Magazine has a new article looking at different flavors and implementations of RAID technology called Moving Toward Software-Based RAID: Tapping In To Fast Multicore CPUs For Performance & Flexibility. The exact number of categories is up for debate as you could make it as simple as either hardware or software RAID similar to all the variations of RAID levels in hybrid configurations. You could further break it down to different types and locations of implementations of software based RAID such as in a volume manager or file system, operating system, software driver stack, or standalone software stack to transform a general purpose processor into a RAID controller, or, software to leverage RAID off-load capabilities in hardware.
Speaking of hardware, one could debate that some off the shelf processor chips have some amount of RAID capabilities or primitives while other specialized off-load chips do more. There are dedicated RAID on a Chip known as ROCs that may include a RAID6 or other special purpose functionality or rely on external chips for parity rebuilds or other functions. ROCs can be embedded on a processor mother board in the form of RAID on Mother Board (aka ROMB), ROCs can be found on RAID adapter cards that plug into a PCI, PCIx or PCIe I/O slot with a SCSI, SAS or SATA I/O port for disk attachment. Then there are RAID controllers external to a computer that resides in external storage system of various size and shapes.
What does this all mean is that there are many different implementations and vendor packaged solutions and approaches to delivering RAID technologies to different market and price band segments, some are software based, some are external hardware based, some include various combinations. The bottom line is that RAID after 20 years is still relevant enough to warrant discussion of new and varying implementations schemes and packaging approaches. See additional links to articles, tips, presentations, webcasts and commentary pertaining to RAID and related topics on the portfolio and portfolio archive pages on the StorageIO website.
Ok, nuff said.
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