Should you use RAID with Frost Canyon?

I had a question recently about whether Frost Canyon supports RAID. It has only one m.2 slot and one SATA connection, but can those two drives be used in a RAID array?

The short answer is yes they can, at least in theory. Per ark.intel.com, Frost Canyon does indeed support RAID:

The specs say it supports either RAID-0 (striping) or RAID-1 (mirroring). But the better question is…why would you want to?

I can’t think of many occasions where mirroring or striping an SSD with an m.2 drive makes sense. With any RAID configuration you’re always going to be throttled by the slowest component in the array. If you have one drive that’s slower than the other, it will slow down the array. If you have one interface that’s slower, same thing. That’s why it makes sense to use identical drives in an array.

For example, here are the performance results for a Patriot NVMe drive next to an OWC SATA drive:

In Frost Canyon, and other NUCs similarly configured with one of each port, you’re not likely to find an m.2 drive and SSD that match performance-wise. Even if you did, you’d be limiting yourself because the m.2 slot would be capable of so much more. M.2 with NVMe can run circles around a SATA SSD. Pairing an NVMe SSD with a SATA SSD in a RAID-0 array would be a waste of NVMe.

The same is true for mirroring. Sure you’ll be protected should your main drive fail, but you’ll also be slowed down by the slower SSD.

I don’t see any harm in including the feature, but I can’t think of a good reason to actually use it. Unless, I suppose, you had a slower m.2 drive and a faster SATA drive and wanted to just play around with the configuration. Even then the results would be less than ideal.

If you want performance from your storage, go with NVMe. And if you want to protect your NVMe drive, throw a SATA SSD in the 2.5″ drive cage and use some decent backup software to back your data up.

Unless you have at least two matching ports in your NUC, like Skull or Hades Canyon, you’re better off not relying on RAID for anything critical.

3 thoughts on “Should you use RAID with Frost Canyon?

  1. With the speed and dependability of modern drives, there is never any use for RAID types other than 1.
    Yes, using RAID 1 on a standard NUC would cripple one drive, the only effective way to do it would be to pair the internal hdd with a USB 3 external drive or with a pair of external drives.
    If you must keep a backup of the M2 drive, a far better option would be a snapshot at the partition or directory level.
    Does the NUC sata port support drive expansion? That would introduce possibilities for data security.

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  2. I see no reason – in typical use cases – to have raid in NUCs at all.
    I would rather use m.2 drive for boot and data and have SATA device as a backup drive. It means it could even be a very slow 2Tb HDD.

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    1. @Leonid, agreed. So the question is why is the feature included? I mean, I’m working with Chaco Canyon right now, which has eMMc storage, but also an m.2 slot. No RAID option on it because pairing an m.2 drive with eMMc would be silly. It’s little more than a curiosity, I suppose, but I’d like to know Intel’s logic behind including RAID.

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