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Windows 7: Enabling RAID in BIOS

08 Dec 2009   #11
Cluent

Windows 7 Professional
 
 

It's a Dell Studio 540 desktop. I do not know the Mobo offhand. The Intel chipset is Series 4 and the IO controller is ICH10R LPC. I don't know whether there is more than 1 SATA controller.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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08 Dec 2009   #12
gregrocker

 

Looking at the product Downloads page for your model there are several BIOS updates since Win7 release date which you might need to proceed: http://support.dell.com/support/down...dex=&typeid=-1

There are also SATA controller drivers listed which have been updated since Oct release date of Win7. I would work from this.

You can even chat with Dell tech support there to find out model-specific answers to your RAID questions.

If you want to proceed on your own with a RAID config then I would google to find my exact mobo model and read the manual on the mobo's support downloads web page.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2009   #13
Cluent

Windows 7 Professional
 
 

Thanks Greg. I've already downloaded the BIOS updates, and the SATA drivers don't come with an install routine and there are no instructions on how to install them. Very sloppy work by Dell. I am going to have to abandon this project for now as it seems likely that either my hard drive, mobo or Dell's implementation of it don't support NCQ.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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11 Dec 2009   #14
gregrocker

 

Unzip the SATA drivers to your desktop, browse to them from the Device Manager>SATA controller>Driver tab>Update drivers to see if it picks them up.

Others who are more familar with Dell may have more specifics.

We won't give up if you don't.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2009   #15
M17x

Windiows & Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
It also needs two drives to be RAID, I believe, as it is redundant array.

RAID is completely redundant IMO with drive imaging now even built into Windows 7.
Recalling from my memory......NOT redundant if the two drives are configured using RAID level 0 (zero) as it stripes across the drives without redundancy. RAIS level 1 (one) however creates a mirror image on the secondary drive. However if I remember correctly WRITES are serauilized but READS are parallel off which ever disk is free from work at the moment of the request.

Three or more drives being used at RAID 3 through 5 will stripe with a check digit to maintain redundancy and RAID 10 or 1+0 provides striping with a mirror.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2009   #16
gregrocker

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by M17x View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
It also needs two drives to be RAID, I believe, as it is redundant array.

RAID is completely redundant IMO with drive imaging now even built into Windows 7.
Recalling from my memory......NOT redundant if the two drives are configured using RAID level 0 (zero) as it stripes across the drives without redundancy. RAIS level 1 (one) however creates a mirror image on the secondary drive. However if I remember correctly WRITES are serauilized but READS are parallel off which ever disk is free from work at the moment of the request.

Three or more drives being used at RAID 3 through 5 will stripe with a check digit to maintain redundancy and RAID 10 or 1+0 provides striping with a mirror.
Is RAID better for Win7 installations?

Can you suggest to the OP how to approach his problem?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2009   #17
bobkn

Windows 7 Pro X64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cluent View Post
It's a Dell Studio 540 desktop. I do not know the Mobo offhand. The Intel chipset is Series 4 and the IO controller is ICH10R LPC. I don't know whether there is more than 1 SATA controller.
Dell doesn't seem to give a manual for the BIOS settings for your model at support.dell.com. There may be a setting somewhere for the SATA controller mode, but I don't know where it would be. (On my Asus motherboard, it's under the Storage Configuration submenu off the main menu screen.)

It looks like the 540 uses the Intel SATA controller, only. Windows 7 includes AHCI drivers for that, if you can figure out how to set AHCI in the BIOS. You don't need to use the Intel matrix drivers.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2009   #18
M17x

Windiows & Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cluent View Post
Despite the warnings, I tried enabling RAID in BIOS (Intel chipset) and almost fried my Win 7 installation. So, I now believe for myself that the only way to enable RAID is to also reinstall Windows 7.

Does anyone know whether a data partition on the Windows boot drive would be affected?

Are there any clear advantages to RAID in a one-drive system? (I did not see a way to enable NCQ).

RAID really requires more than 1 drive to be truly effective and make true performance gains and to really be considered as true RAID at all. Most RAID configurations use drives of equal specification however drive size doesn't have to be equal. However the the larger drive extra space will get wasted.

There are plenty of a technical sources for RAID on the WEB that provides some good information about using RAID.

A couple of things...though RAID can be "installed" off the cuff, it is advised that you think things out. One major question you want to ask yourself is whether or not the user(s) will be performing primarily READ actions or WRITE actions. If the RAID type isn't matched to the primary activity that will be performed then the full RAID benefit one would expect won't happen.

For example, if the majority of the activity will be READS then RAID 5 is the usual preferred configuration. However if the primary activity will be WRITES then RAID 1+0 (also called RAID 10) is the usual pick.

Another example is whether your environment is going to be OLTP or OLAP. OLTP involves primarily single row random access READ and WRITES. Whereas OLAP involves voluminous multi-row READS or WRITES access.

Another question to ask is what is more important to you...performance or reliability. A firm understanding in answering these types of questions will provide the direction as to what RAID technology one should choose to use.

To be honest, I have come to the conclusion that these points are the least understood by most folks when configuring RAID. Everyone just seems to go with RAID 5 all the time without giving much thought as to what is the goal to be achieved. There are 5 primary levels of RAID and many more hybrids above that. Each has their strength and each has their weakness. Each has a specific reason to exist for its use. Learn what those reasons are and identify your needs accordingly before doing a RAID configuration.

Also another thing. There is hard RAID which is hardware controlled by way of the controller and there is soft RAID which is operating system driven. From a performance perspective and reliability perspective HARD RAID is preseferred over SOFT RAID. HARD has the best performance as it avoids the usual associated context switching characteristic of an operating system managed RAID...as HARD RAID directly accesses the hardware bus. Also HARD RAID is more reliable than SOFT not bieng prone to process glitches. The single advantage that SOFT RAID has is that it is cheaper to achieve for a home consumer.

On this SOFT v. HARD point, HARD is always the better way to go.
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15 Dec 2009   #19
Cluent

Windows 7 Professional
 
 

Thanks M17x. According to Intel it is possible to enable RAID with just one drive. I don't need RAID; what I am after is NCQ. According to Intel, enabling RAID will enable NCQ even if you only have one drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Dec 2009   #20
M17x

Windiows & Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cluent View Post
Thanks M17x. According to Intel it is possible to enable RAID with just one drive. I don't need RAID; what I am after is NCQ. According to Intel, enabling RAID will enable NCQ even if you only have one drive.

I understand that you are trying to force the controller to "rearrange" it's sequence of the data delivery off the platters. However I offer this quote in regards to NCQ:

"Command queing only becomes usefull at queue depths of >16."

Is the system you are referring to just a single user system? The gains in performance result as a summation of the time-units contributing to total throughput via the request "rearrange" of disk access and delivery.

I wonder how much noticeable performance gain can be actually noticed by a single user system if the command queue never saturates to the suggested depth where performance gains can actually add up to something significant and noticeable?

Enabling the NCQ is one thing, but actually putting such a load on the system where a gain can be noticably apparent is a different thing.
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 Enabling RAID in BIOS




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