RAID Structure in Operating System

Disk drives have continued to get smaller and cheaper, so it is now economically feasible to attach many disks to a computer system. Having a large number of disks in a system presents opportunities for improving the rate at which data can be read or written, if the disks are operated in parallel. Furthermore, this setup offers the potential for improving the reliability of data storage, because redundant information can be stored on multiple disks. Thus, failure of one disk does not lead to loss of data. A variety of disk-organization techniques, collectively called redundant arrays of independent disks (RAID), are commonly used to address the performance and reliability issues

Table of Contents


RAID storage can be structured in a variety of ways. For example, a system can have disks directly attached to its buses. In this case, the operating system or system software can implement RAID functionality. Alternatively, an intelligent host controller can control multiple attached disks and can implement RAID on those disks in hardware. Finally, a storage array, or RAID array, can be used. A RAID array is a standalone unit with its own controller, cache (usually), and disks. It is attached to the host via one or more standard controllers (for example, FC). This common setup allows an operating system or software without RAID functionality to have RAID-protected disks. It is even used on systems that do have RAID software layers because of its simplicity and flexibility

RAID Levels

Mirroring provides high reliability, but it is expensive. Striping provides high data-transfer rates, but it does not improve reliability. Numerous schemes to provide redundancy at lower cost by using disk striping combined with “parity” bits (which we describe shortly) have been proposed. These schemes have different cost–performance trade-offs and are classified according to levels called RAID levels. We describe the various levels here; Figure 10.11 shows them pictorially (in the figure, P indicates error-correcting bits and C indicates a second copy of the data). In all cases depicted in the figure, four disks’ worth of data are stored, and the extra disks are used to store redundant information for failure recovery

RAID Levels

Leave a Comment