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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Performance, Quality and Reliability | Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) | RAID Concepts and Issues | General RAID Concepts ]


Duplexing is an extension of mirroring that is based on the same principle as that technique. Like in mirroring, all data is duplicated onto two distinct physical hard drives. Duplexing goes one step beyond mirroring, however, in that it also duplicates the hardware that controls the two hard drives (or sets of hard drives). So if you were doing mirroring on two hard disks, they would both be connected to a single host adapter or RAID controller. If you were doing duplexing, one of the drives would be connected to one adapter and the other to a second adapter.

Block diagram of a RAID duplexing configuration. Two controllers are used
to send the same information to two different hard disks. The controllers are
often regular host adapters or disk controllers with the mirroring done by the
system. Contrast this diagram with the one for straight mirroring.

Duplexing is superior to mirroring in terms of availability because it provides the same protection against drive failure that mirroring does, but also protects against the failure of either of the controllers. It also costs more than mirroring because you are duplicating more hardware. Duplexing is one option when implementing RAID 1 (though most people think of RAID 1 as only being mirroring, and certainly, mirroring is much more commonly implemented than duplexing.)

Since hardware RAID is typically set up under the assumption that the RAID controller will handle all the drives in the array, duplexing is not supported as an option in most PC hardware RAID solutions--even fairly high-end ones. Duplexing is more often found in software RAID solutions managed by the operating system, where the operating system is running the RAID implementation at a high level and can easily split the data between the host adapters. (There are hardware RAID duplexing solutions but usually only on very expensive external RAID boxes.)

Next: Striping

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