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Thread: Questions - SATA performance, RAID, reliability

  1. #1
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    Questions - SATA performance, RAID, reliability

    Hey guys,

    I'm a relative newbie to the whole mass storage side of computing, but I'll flesh out my scenario to give you a context of where I'm coming from. Sorry if it's a long read

    Short version: Will an SATA RAID controller solve the problem of heavy I/O lagging Windows XP?

    ---

    My system consists of:
    E6700, 2GB of RAM, P5WDH
    WD Raptor 150GB, WD 320GB JD SATA, WD 500GB KS SATA, all on the non "EZ-RAID" connectors.
    BenQ DW1655 DVD Burner and LG GDR8164B (16X DVD-ROM) hooked up to my one IDE port on the motherboard.

    Windows XP w/SP2

    Things to note:
    - None of these drives are in RAID, my DVD burner is set to Master
    - My 500GB has been slowly degrading, as in, sectors are going bad without me doing anything.
    - Windows is on the Raptor
    - The other two drives are used for data storage
    - CPU usage is 30% or less

    This stuff is housed in my P180B, with all three hard drives in the lower compartment, airflow from my Seasonic S12-600W. All the drives are kept around 45 - 50 C. No other drives but the 500 GB have been exhibiting problems.

    ---

    My issues with this setup:

    Heavy I/O activity brings my computer to its knees:
    When I do the following activities at the same time, Windows becomes very unresponsive:
    - Extracting a large RAR set from the Raptor to the 500 GB --OR-- Just doing a checksum verification on the large RAR set on the Raptor
    - Burning a DVD from the 320 GB
    - Downloading at 500 k/sec to the 320 GB

    I tried launching Word 2007 to work on a report, and it gave me one of those "blank" application windows where you can see the title bar of the window, but the rest of the window is the gray like an empty dialog box.

    If I abort the checksum verification, I can use the system with no major slowdown or lag.

    This performance problem first happened to me under similar circumstances when I had an X2 3800+, 2GB of RAM, on a DFI Ultra-D. My DVD burns would drop to less than 1 X.. simply unacceptable. At first I attributed it to the nForce4 chipset... but now it's happening on a completely different platform.

    My friend informs me that heavy I/O can bring even the fastest machine to its knees. Is this typical of regular 'consumer' level boards?

    If I get a 'workstation' grade board with the same chipset, intuition tells me I'll have the same performance problems.

    Now this, along with my slowly dieing WD 500 GB (this is the second time data has corrupted itself. I've already repaired it once with the WD Diagnostics tool) pushes me towards getting an SATA controller with hardware RAID.

    ---

    SATA HARDWARE RAID:

    Why hardware?
    - A separate controller so I can migrate from platform to platform without losing data by relying on a motherboard's built in raid feature
    - Offload calculations to the card so that Windows is free to do useful things like run MATLAB or encode video
    - My friend setup a 4x120 GB IDE RAID once and literally blew up the motherboard IDE controller when dumping stuff on it over his 100mbit network.

    My ideal setup:
    - RAID5 with 3 x 500 GB SATA drives. Or eventually fill it up with the 1 TB drives from Hitachi

    Some questions that I will look into on my own (but feel free to answer, as I'm nearing exams and will be pretty busy soon hehe):
    - Will RAID automatically do an integrity check every X days to ensure a particular drive is not failing (and if it is, warn me which drive)?
    - Let me expand the RAID dyanmically if I decide to add a 4th drive to a 3 drive setup?

    My MAIN question:
    - Will a separate SATA controller with drives in RAID solve my problems with heavy I/O making Windows lag like crazy?


    Locally there's a Highpoint RocketRaid 2310. From what I can tell from posts here, it seems like a decent card.
    ( http://infonec.com/site/main.php?mod...tail&id=129613 )

    ---

    If you made it this far, hopefully you aren't shaking your head at me, and hopefully you're willing to help Thanks in advance.
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  2. #2
    I am Xtreme tiro_uspsss's Avatar
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    ok so the part concerning the workstation board: yes u r right - esp if the chipset is same, u'll get lil or no performance increase. the part about bringing a pc to its knees is also true IF there is heavy hdd i/o (hdds r the slowest parts in any pc) - and it has nothing to do with 'consumer' level mobos... if u r absolutely confident that there is a huge amount of hdd i/o happening, then yes, raid will help - i run raid 0, & i can vouch for it when i have many processes/apps open... as for the example u gave:
    "Heavy I/O activity brings my computer to its knees:
    When I do the following activities at the same time, Windows becomes very unresponsive:
    - Extracting a large RAR set from the Raptor to the 500 GB --OR-- Just doing a checksum verification on the large RAR set on the Raptor
    - Burning a DVD from the 320 GB
    - Downloading at 500 k/sec to the 320 GB

    I tried launching Word 2007 to work on a report, and it gave me one of those "blank" application windows where you can see the title bar of the window, but the rest of the window is the gray like an empty dialog box."

    The hdd action thats happening on the 320 wont b affecting u - & it shouldnt slow down the burning process by much if its d/l @ same time... the reason word07 is taking its time is definitely cause of all that other stuff ur doing with the same hdd @ the same time - in this instance raid will help OR u can get another hdd to do a seperate task; ie raptor1 has OS & apps & raptor2 has ur rar stuff or whatever ur doing... another thing to consider is this: if ur rar stuff doesnt take up much space, consider 'dedicating' a hdd to RECIEVING the extracted files - u might only need a cheap 80gigger....
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  3. #3
    I am Xtreme tiro_uspsss's Avatar
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    ok answering a few other questions: if ur ONLY reason for wanting to buy another hardware controller is so u can migrate from platform to platform, then i see this as unrecommendable, purely cause a fresh install of ur OS along with brand new & possibly very diff drivers (ie going form a amd pc to an intel); not very recommended at all, so if ur going to format, it pretty much doesnt matter if u use onboard controller... as for the whole 'offload' thing - ur chipset raid controller is just that - a inbuild hardware raid controller - it doesnt tax ur cpu more or less to a point that u should worry about. as for ur friend and his ide raid array - dare i say he possibly got unlucky - plenty of ppl out there with raid arrays using inbuilt raid controller - incl. me
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  4. #4
    I am Xtreme tiro_uspsss's Avatar
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    just noticed what u said about the location & temp of ur hdds in relation to ur 500 fudging up; read the part on the specs page about operating temp: http://www.westerndigital.com/en/pro...sp?DriveID=301 ur hdd temp r on the high side, plus if ur 500 is already acting, might wanna replace or rma it...
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  5. #5
    Xtreme Mentor uOpt's Avatar
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    Get more RAM and a working harddrive.

  6. #6
    I am Xtreme tiro_uspsss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uOpt View Post
    Get more RAM and a working harddrive.
    wow awesome reasoning, with the perfect explanation
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  7. #7
    Xtreme Mentor uOpt's Avatar
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    He's saying he already knows his main HD is going bad, reallocating sectors. What you do you think that's doing to performance?

  8. #8
    I am Xtreme tiro_uspsss's Avatar
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    def agree with u on that one - quite surprised that he hasnt taken it back already - but i highly doubt he needs more ram, not to forget he's running xp, which is no good at handling more the 2gb from what i hear
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  9. #9
    Xtreme Mentor uOpt's Avatar
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    When a non computer savy person says "extremely heavy I/O lagging", they usually lack RAM, no faster disks.

    An actual description of what is slow when might help

  10. #10
    Xtreme Member Order's Avatar
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    If it truly is extremely heavy I/O lagging after you thoroughly test it, SCSI/SAS is your best bet .

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    Hey guys, thanks for all the input. I finished a couple exams (still three left!) and finally had time to tinker a bit.

    With the help of one of my friends, enabling AHCI solved my performance issues. I originally asked him about RAID controllers, and he told me to try enabling AHCI first... I had no idea about this option until he mentioned it to me. It seems to have solved my performance issues for now, as I've stressed my machine in a similar manner to my original post, without Windows lagging out.

    Replying to people's posts:

    1. Word 2007 was slow loading, but it was also slow AFTER it was loaded (everything should have been in RAM by then).

    2. Get more RAM? I have 2 GB and barely half of it was in use during the scenario I described.

    3. Get a working hard drive? The only time I've had it affect performance is when Windows encounters a bad block and forces the drive to unmount. There seems to be only a small cluster affected, so it shouldn't have affected the case I described, as the rest of the drive reads fine. I'm going to attempt an advanced RMA so I don't need to buy another drive in the mean time...
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  12. #12
    I am Xtreme tiro_uspsss's Avatar
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    where do u enable it?
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    It was in the BIOS settings of my P5WDH.

    I had to:
    1. Move OS drive over to the JMicron controller
    2. Install Intel Matrix Storage Manager drivers in Windows
    3. Move OS back to Intel controller and disable JMicron

    I filed for an Advanced RMA with WD today too... should be back to error free goodness soon
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  14. #14
    Xtreme Member wforl's Avatar
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    i was wondering if you could help me out,

    Im experiecing the same constant laggs, and continuous hd IO, even though nothing is happening.

    I tried enabling ahci in bios, but now, before i reach the desktop, i get a blue screen and a restart.

    I tried setting the ahci setting in bios, and then had plans to install the matrix driver, but i obviously cant get that far.

    maybe im setting it up wrong in bios, here are the options i have


    Main Page

    sata config tab

    Intel RObson Proctection [enable/disable]
    Configure sata as [achi/ide/raid]


    Advanced page

    onboard devices tab

    Jmicron esata/pata controller [enabled/disabled]
    controller mode [raid/ide/ahci]


    heres my setup, all stock


    q6600 stock
    p5k deluxe wifi p35
    4 gb ddr2
    2 500gb seagate 16mb sata 2

    disk 1 - partition 1 = Vista64 (100gb) , partition 2 = xp64 (100gb)
    disk 2 - All storage, 1 partition

    Could you help me out, what do you mean by Move OS drive over to the JMicron controller?
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    My P5WDH has two SATA controllers:
    - Intel ICH - Five ports (Three native southbridge, two EZ Raid)
    - JMicron - One eSATA on the rear motherboard I/O panel, one SATA near the PCI Express slot

    The P5K Deluxe ALSO has two SATA controllers:
    - Intel ICH - Six ports on the motherboard
    - JMicron - Two eSATA ports on the rear motherboard I/O panel

    HOWEVER, the P5K Jmicron is for eSATA. You'll need to find an eSATA->SATA cable if you want to swap to AHCI after Windows has been installed.

    You will have to:
    1. Hook up your Windows drive over eSATA
    2. In BIOS set Advanced->JMicron enabled
    3. In BIOS set Advanced->JMicron to IDE mode
    4. In BIOS set SATA Config->Intel Robson Enabled
    5. In BIOS set SATA Config->Configure SATA as AHCI
    6. Boot into Windows (possibly in safe mode if you still get blue screens)
    7. Install Intel Matrix drivers
    8. Swap your hard drive back to the normal motherboard SATA port
    9. Disable JMicron controller
    10. Boot into Windows
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  16. #16
    Xtreme Member wforl's Avatar
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    would it be the same method if i just did a windows reinstall,

    1. set everything in bios to achi
    2. install windows
    3. install INF utility
    4. install matrix drivers

    thanks
    3700, San Diego at 2.8
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  17. #17
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    If you install Windows with AHCI mode enabled, you will need a driver disk so it can detect your hard drives.
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  18. #18
    Xtreme Member TI66ER's Avatar
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    you can switch from ide mode to ahci mode without reinstalling,i did it on vista 32bit but i'm sure it works on xp too.

    http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.ph...entry588980114
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