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RAID 6, Take 2

New storage system controllers are taking their shots at trying to improve RAID 6 by eliminating performance hits that have slowed its adoption.

The AMCC 3ware 9650SE SATA II RAID controller family, which AMCC will sell through OEM partnerships, and Overland's Ultamus RAID SAN system both recently launched with the promise of improving RAID 6 performance. (See AMCC Ships Controllers and Overland Ships Raid System.)

It's too soon to know how successful they will be. AMCC's controllers won't show up in products for months. Overland says it has customers using its Ultamus systems, but one we spoke to says he hasn't tried RAID 6 yet.

Few question the need for improved RAID 6, though. "Originally, RAID 6 caused a big performance hit because of how they applied the algorithms," says analyst David Hill of the Mesabi Group. "I think these new controllers are kick-starting RAID 6."

The idea behind RAID 6 is to improve on RAID 5 by letting organizations recover from the loss of two drives simultaneously. However, RAID 6 controller performance typically drops dramatically when the second disk in the RAID group fails and two disks are being rebuilt. This has limited use of available RAID 6 systems, and made other vendors leery of bringing out RAID 6 controllers.

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