What cost in terms of performance RAID have when compared to a non-RAID system for Oracle databases?
The answer all depends on your RAID level. If you implement mirroring (RAID 1), then competing reads and writes can work off one mirror while the other I/O operation uses the other mirror. But this all depends on the vendor's implementation of RAID 1. RAID 3 and 5 use striping which lets multiple disk volumes spread out the workload. But RAID 3 and 5 introduce a write penalty to compute parity bits. So write operations can be slower in RAID 3 and RAID 5 environments.
Many RAID systems are implemented in Storage Area Networks (SANs) which use disk caching. In these cases, disk reads and writes can be very fast.
There are many factors that contribute to the performance success of RAID for Oracle databases. Stripe size, disk speed, disk connection architecture, mirroring. In the end, your mileage may vary due to your configuration. So testing is of utmost importance in deciding which RAID level, if any, to use.
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