I think the best solution is CF raid setup, with single 2.5 HD for all read/write media, the CF raid partition is to be only read from to not wear out the CF cards, its to provided a XPe or nlite version of XP.

Prices have gone down and new fast CF cards are out. CF sata adaptors are out as well for reasonable price, these support udma your CF card looks like a HD to the computer, format in whatever you like stripe size etc… bootable etc… (based on bios/mobo)

I found 266x CF cards 2-4GB ranging from 20-40 each, and adaptors that go from 15-35 depending on were you buy and what brand.

My results so far and this needs tweaking.
tests done with HD tach

seems that 4k stripe with 512b/1024b cluster gives you best results 52.8 mb/sec max and 46mb/sec avg .2 ms


I think ideal is 4k stripe and 4k clusters? But we only care about boot up times so im not 100% sure what cluster size is optimal or even stripe? It depends on filer sizes IO’s and other things but stripe is 4k smallest while cluster is 512b its small different between 512b and 4k cluster

ill keep this thread updated with progress