RAID-10 vs Nested (RAID-0 on 2x RAID-1s)

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I’m about to embark on a new installation of Centos 6 x64 on 4x SATA HDDs. The plan is to use RAID-10 as a nice combo between data security (RAID1) and speed (RAID0). However, I’m finding either a lack of raw information on the topic, or I’m having a mental issue preventing the osmosis of the implementation into my brain.

Option #1:
My understanding of RAID10 using 4 drives (now known as a,b,c,d) is:

a+b – RAID1 (md0)
c+d – RAID1 (md1)

md0+md1 – RAID0 (md3)

This is of course simplified as /boot needs to be on RAID1 (last I checked Grub couldn’t boot from anything other than RAID1).

Option #2:
I’ve also found the kernel provides a direct method of RAID10 without the manual assignment of the arrays as noted above. I performed a test installation, selecting RAID10 as the type in the installer, and it “works” but I’m just not seeing the distinction between what disks/partitions are actually the mirror or stripe portion of the array. Details:

[root@c6r10tester ~]# mdadm --detail /dev/md1
Version : 1.1
Creation Time : Thu Mar 29 16:14:17 2012
Raid Level : raid10
Array Size : 36695040 (35.00 GiB 37.58 GB)
Used Dev Size : 18347520 (17.50 GiB 18.79 GB)
Raid Devices : 4
Total Devices : 4
Persistence : Superblock is persistent

Intent Bitmap : Internal

Update Time : Thu Mar 29 16:28:49 2012
State : active
Active Devices : 4
Working Devices : 4
Failed Devices : 0
Spare Devices : 0

Layout : near=2
Chunk Size : 512K

Name : c6r10tester:1 (local to host c6r10tester)
UUID : be38645d:4d3c8b77:0f6df687:08016c6a
Events : 51

Number Major Minor RaidDevice State
0 8 3 0 active sync /dev/sda3
1 8 19 1 active sync /dev/sdb3
2 8 35 2 active sync /dev/sdc3
3 8 51 3 active sync /dev/sdd3

Am I overthinking this? Does the kernel handle the mirror/stripe configuration under the hood, simply presenting me with a magical RAID10 array? Or, is this something different and I really should be performing the RAID creation manually as noted in option #1?

Help me CentOS-Kenobi, you’re my only hope.


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