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Do I really need Intel Matrix Storage Manager (or is it RST now)?

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October 19, 2013 1:10:04 AM

Hello,
Just installed a Crucial 500M SSD in my Dell XPS 435MT & so far so good but have a question regarding Intel Matrix Storage Manager (or Intel Rapid Storage Technology)? There is a great deal of info on this & somewhat confusing.

Before the fresh install of Windows I selected RAID in the BIOS Advanced Chipset Features, my understanding that is how to enable AHCI. The device manager no longer shows IDE ATA/ATAPI controller but does now show instead Storage Controllers.

I downloaded Intel Matrix Storage Manager version 8.​​9.​​0.​​1023 & the readme file says:

5. From the Device Manager, look for an entry named
'Storage Controllers' for Windows Vista and
'SCSI and RAID Controllers' for Windows XP and later
operating systems.If this entry is present,
expand it and look for one of the controllers listed
in the Overview Section1. If the controller identified is
a RAID controller, then the system is in RAID mode.

If none of the controllers above are shown,
then the system is not running in RAID mode and
you should continue with step 6 below.

6. From the Device Manager, look for an entry named
'IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers'. If this entry is present,
expand it and look for one of the controllers listed
in the Overview Section1. If an AHCI controller is
identified, then the system is in AHCI mode.

If none of the controllers above are shown, then
your system is not in AHCI mode. No other modes are
supported by the Intel(R) Matrix Storage Manager
software and you should continue with step 7 below.

My controller = "- Intel(R) ICH8R/ICH9R/ICH10R/DO SATA RAID Controller" is listed the Overview Section1 so apparently my system is running in RAID however I really thought I was shooting for AHCI. Because I keep seeing msgs telling me NOT to install RAID in a single drive configuration. According to the folks at Dell the only way to get AHCI enabled in the BIOS is by selecting RAID - the only other option being ATA.

About to install the Matrix Storage Manager & found references that it was outdated & Rapid Storage Tech was really the way to go now.
"Proper TRIM support didn't begin until version 9.6 of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology driver, and so this is one reason why the latest version is recommended."
I have checked & Trim is enabled too.

So I guess my question is two part: Do I really want one of Matrix Storage Manager or Rapid Storage Tech, if so which one?


Guess one other question to, sorry. How will this affect my optical drives?

Thank you
a c 87 G Storage
a b å Intel
October 19, 2013 1:29:39 AM

Hi there,

Rapid Storage Technology is the new name for Intel Matrix Storage

Intel's PCH storage controller can be used in three different modes of operation:

1. IDE. This is an old mode of operation for operating systems that do not have native SATA support. All SATA port controllers behave as emulated PATA port controllers. Many advanced features such as hot swapping, native command queuing, and advanced power management will not work.

2. AHCI. This is the controller mode that was designed to go hand in hand with the SATA standard. Most operating systems native support for AHCI which allows for the advanced features found on SATA to be used

3. RAID. RAID modes are generally vendor exclusive. On Intel's PCH it enables a firmware service which sits between AHCI driven ports and the operating system. (enabling RAID also enables AHCI). Disk volumes that are members of a RAID will be exposed as a single volume through the RAID service. Disk volumes that are not members of a RAID will be exposed as normal AHCI volumes.

Optical drives do not use the ATA command set. Instead they use the SCSI command set which is packetized within the ATA command set using a protocol called ATAPI. Optical drives will be passed through to a soft SCSI controller rather than to the AHCI controller.

Windows ships with native AHCI drivers but Windows 7 does not have full support for the RAID controller on Intel 7 and 8 series chipsets (including X79) out of the box. If the storage controller is in RAID mode, drivers will need to be provided at installation time. This problem does not exist for Windows 8 or Windows 8.1

Although Intel's reference implementation is used for Window's native AHCI drivers, Intel provides their own drivers which enable some features not found natively. These features are mostly found in the Rapid Storage Technology UI which allows for raid volumes to be managed and monitored from within the OS itself rather than the firmware settings.

I hope that this answered your question.

EDIT: to answer your question about TRIM

TRIM has been supported for non-member volumes when the storage controller is in RAID mode since version 9.6, but was not supported for member volumes.

TRIM has been supported for member volumes since about 11.2 or 11.6
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October 19, 2013 2:21:00 AM

OK, well I may have spoke to soon, the system seems to have degraded quickly. Takes quite long to start & the video drivers I just installed went south.
A msg rolls across the screen @ startup so fast I had to use my tablet to capture it:

Intel(R) Matrix Storage Manager option ROM v8.5.0.1020 ICH10R wRAID5
Copyright(C) 2003-08 Intel Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


I'm not sure how to provide the RAID drivers at installation time. Where would I find them.

Edit: Let me clean that last bit up a bit, I have absolutely no experience with RAID.
My understanding is that Windows 7 loads the SATA drivers, these are not something you would for instance install from a System/ Utilities Disc. You are saying full support for RAID controller does exist in Windows 8 but not 7.

Perhaps I need to put my Barracuda drive back so there will two drives installed & somehow get into RAID0 (no mirror - no parity). RAID5 looks it require a minimum of 3 discs?
Not sure if that msg is telling me it's in RAID5 or supports RAID5.
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Related resources
October 19, 2013 3:51:26 AM

This must apply to me:
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST)

Setting up RAID when the operating system is already installed
If your operating system is already installed, you can use RAID if the following requirements are met:
•Your system has a RAID I/O controller hub (ICH).
•Your RAID controller is enabled.


If both requirements are met, follow these steps to create a RAID volume:
1.Download and install Intel® Rapid Storage Technology.
2.Turn off the system and install one or more additional hard drives.
3.Turn on the system.
4.Use the Intel Rapid Storage Technology user interface to create a RAID volume. You can migrate the data from a single hard drive to a RAID volume that includes that hard drive and the new hard drive(s). You can also create a new RAID volume using the newly added hard drives.

And in my case it looks like it is Intel Matrix Storage Manager 7/17/2009 version 8.9.0.1023.

Need also to edit a registry subkey in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci
before installing the Intel Matrix Storage driver.
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a c 87 G Storage
a b å Intel
October 19, 2013 10:32:10 AM

snoots said:
This must apply to me:
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST)

Setting up RAID when the operating system is already installed
If your operating system is already installed, you can use RAID if the following requirements are met:
•Your system has a RAID I/O controller hub (ICH).
•Your RAID controller is enabled.


If both requirements are met, follow these steps to create a RAID volume:
1.Download and install Intel® Rapid Storage Technology.
2.Turn off the system and install one or more additional hard drives.
3.Turn on the system.
4.Use the Intel Rapid Storage Technology user interface to create a RAID volume. You can migrate the data from a single hard drive to a RAID volume that includes that hard drive and the new hard drive(s). You can also create a new RAID volume using the newly added hard drives.

And in my case it looks like it is Intel Matrix Storage Manager 7/17/2009 version 8.9.0.1023.

Need also to edit a registry subkey in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci
before installing the Intel Matrix Storage driver.


There's a firmware ROM installed which is generally fixed along its major version (in your case it looks to be 8) regardless of what drivers you install. You should always install the latest RST drivers
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October 19, 2013 1:15:17 PM

Hi Pinhedd,
I am sorry to be such a dodo brain but this RAID business has me buffaloed.
I have a msg that pops up at startup telling me that I have No RAID volumes defined & allowing me to enter the Configuration Utility by pressing CRTL-i. If I do nothing it proceeds to boot normally.

Do I want to define any RAID volumes? All I really want is AHCI.
If I were to define these volumes I suppose RAID 0 (no redundancy) would be preferred but my guess the No Raid volumes defined message is just informational & I can ignore it?

thanks
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Best solution

a c 87 G Storage
a b å Intel
October 19, 2013 2:25:59 PM

snoots said:
Hi Pinhedd,
I am sorry to be such a dodo brain but this RAID business has me buffaloed.
I have a msg that pops up at startup telling me that I have No RAID volumes defined & allowing me to enter the Configuration Utility by pressing CRTL-i. If I do nothing it proceeds to boot normally.

Do I want to define any RAID volumes? All I really want is AHCI.
If I were to define these volumes I suppose RAID 0 (no redundancy) would be preferred but my guess the No Raid volumes defined message is just informational & I can ignore it?

thanks


On some Dell PCs the only options are IDE and RAID. Since RAID also enables AHCI you can safely enable RAID mode without creating any RAID volumes. You can simply ignore that screen.
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October 19, 2013 2:45:21 PM

Thank you for the assist :) 
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a c 87 G Storage
a b å Intel
October 19, 2013 3:07:11 PM

snoots said:
Thank you for the assist :) 


you're most welcome
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