RAID 0, also known as disk striping, is a RAID configuration that uses striping to spread data across multiple hard disk drives. Striping involves splitting data into blocks and spreading the data blocks across multiple drives in an array. This allows for high performance since data can be read and written simultaneously across different drives. So to directly answer the question:
Does RAID 0 use striping?
Yes, RAID 0 does use striping to spread data across multiple drives. This is the fundamental characteristic and advantage of the RAID 0 configuration.
What is RAID 0?
RAID 0 (Redundant Array of Independent Disks 0) is a RAID configuration that provides performance improvement by spreading data across multiple physical drives without parity or mirroring. Key characteristics of RAID 0 include:
- Data is split into blocks that are written across multiple drives simultaneously
- No parity or mirroring is used for redundancy
- High throughput performance since data is striped across multiple disks
- Not fault tolerant – if one drive fails, all data is lost
- Requires at least 2 physical drives
RAID 0 is focused purely on performance. By striping data across multiple drives in the array, read and write operations can be performed in parallel, increasing overall throughput. The tradeoff is there is no redundancy or fault tolerance in case of drive failure. RAID 0 provides the best performance of all the RAID levels but at the expense of reliability.
How does striping work in RAID 0?
Striping is the key mechanism used in RAID 0 to improve performance. Here is how striping works:
- Data is divided into blocks of equal size (e.g. 16KB, 32KB, 64KB, etc.)
- The data blocks are interleaved and distributed evenly across multiple drives in the array
- Sequential data blocks are written across sequential drives to maintain read order
- Large I/O requests can be serviced simultaneously by splitting across drives
- Read and write operations can be performed in parallel across multiple drives for faster throughput
For example, with a 2 drive RAID 0 array using a 64KB block size, data blocks 1, 3, 5, etc. are written to drive 1 while data blocks 2, 4, 6, etc. are written to drive 2. This allows contiguous data to be accessed simultaneously from multiple disks for improved performance.
Advantages of using striping in RAID 0
There are several key advantages to using striping in RAID 0 configurations:
- Increased throughput – spreading reads and writes across multiple disks allows higher I/O parallelism
- Faster access – sequential access across multiple disks is faster than single disk access
- No parity overhead – unlike RAID 5/6, no parity calculation reduces CPU overhead
- Scalability – performance scales linearly by adding more disks to array
- Larger size – total capacity is sum of all disks in array
RAID 0 makes the most efficient use of disks by maximizing throughput through striping. A 4 disk RAID 0 can theoretically achieve 4x the throughput of a single disk by reading/writing to the disks simultaneously.
Disadvantages of RAID 0 striping
There are also some notable disadvantages to the RAID 0 approach:
- No fault tolerance – single drive failure results in total data loss
- Lower reliability – more disks means higher likelihood of failure
- Rebuilding issues – rebuilding array is time consuming and risky
- Disk bottleneck – throughput limited by slowest disk
While RAID 0 provides significant performance benefits, the lack of redundancy means it should only be used in environments where data integrity and availability are not highly critical. The increased risk of data loss from drive failure must be mitigated through rigorous backups.
RAID 0 use cases
Here are some common use cases where the performance of RAID 0 makes sense despite the lack of redundancy:
- Video editing – fast access needed for HD video editing
- Gaming – decreased load times for games
- Image rendering – faster rendering of high res images
- Scratch space – temporary workspace with I/O intensive apps
- Transaction logging – databases requiring high write performance
In these environments, high throughput and low latency is prioritized over reliability. Data is disposable or backed up regularly. RAID 0 works well when paired with a strong backup solution.
Alternatives to RAID 0 striping
If the lack of fault tolerance is a concern, alternatives to consider include:
- RAID 1 – disk mirroring for 100% redundancy but 2x storage
- RAID 5 – striping with distributed parity, allows 1 disk failure
- RAID 6 – striping with double distributed parity, allows 2 disk failures
- RAID 10 – striping + mirroring for performance and redundancy
These RAID levels provide greater data availability through redundancy, with RAID 10 offering a combination of performance and reliability. The tradeoff is increased storage requirements and reduced usable capacity.
Software vs Hardware RAID 0 Implementation
RAID 0 can be implemented through either software RAID or hardware RAID:
- Software RAID – the operating system manages the RAID 0 array and I/O through software
- Hardware RAID – a dedicated RAID controller manages the RAID 0 array and I/O
Software RAID relies on the CPU for RAID calculations and processing. Hardware RAID offloads this work to the controller. Hardware RAID typically offers better performance but at increased cost. Software RAID is free but uses CPU resources.
Software RAID 0
With software RAID 0, the operating system leverages disk I/O software layers to implement striping across drives. This typically includes:
- Disk driver software to interface with drives
- RAID software to manage the array and I/O
- File system or logical volume manager integration
Linux md and Windows Dynamic Disks are two common software RAID solutions. Setup is handled through OS tools and does not require a hardware RAID card. Software RAID 0 works well for cost-effective performance improvement.
Hardware RAID 0
For hardware RAID 0, a dedicated RAID controller such as those made by LSI, Adaptec, or others handle the RAID functionality. Benefits include:
- Frees up CPU cycles previously used for software RAID processing
- Dedicated I/O processors on the RAID controller
- Hardware caching on the controller for faster access
- Frees up memory used by software RAID drivers
Hardware RAID 0 provides the best performance but at increased cost. This makes it ideal for performance-critical environments including transactional databases, gaming systems, or video editing workstations.
RAID 0 Performance Benchmarks
Many storage technology sites have benchmarked RAID 0 performance against single disks and other RAID levels. Some sample benchmarks:
|Configuration||Average Read Speed||Average Write Speed|
|Single SATA HDD||110 MB/s||105 MB/s|
|2 Drive RAID 0||225 MB/s||215 MB/s|
|4 Drive RAID 0||400 MB/s||410 MB/s|
These benchmarks clearly demonstrate the linear scalability of RAID 0 throughput as disks are added. Doubling disks doubles throughput, while 4 disks achieves nearly 4x the speed.
Of course, real world performance depends on many factors including disk speed, interface (SATA vs SAS), workload patterns, stripe size, and disk latency. But in general, RAID 0 provides excellent scaling of throughput performance across multiple disks.
To summarize, RAID 0 does utilize striping to spread data evenly across multiple drives. This distribution allows read and write operations to be performed in parallel for significant performance gains compared to a single drive. However, RAID 0 comes at the cost of reliability since a single drive failure will result in full array failure and data loss. The increased throughput makes RAID 0 ideal for certain environments such as video production, gaming, and scientific computing where performance is crucial and data is disposable or regularly backed up. For mission critical data, RAID levels with redundancy such as RAID 1, 5, 6, or 10 are recommended to prevent data loss.